The digital revolution of HR won’t be youtubed

Hr are aware of the risk of being downgraded but also know that digital transformation is a real opportunity for them, so they try to pull together and take over leadership on the matter. They logically wonder what digital is going to change in their job.

The risk is to put the car before the horse. Don’t get me wrong : it’s a very common behavior that is not the proper of HR but since the most recent example I have is from HR I’m going to use it to back my views.

So, digital is going to transform HR. Or, rather, HR will have to transform if they won’t want to be overturned by the wave. What leads to such discussions.

– What is digital going to change for us ?

– Well. You have recruitment, talent development, career management, engagement,  employer branding, learning issues. Globally speaking you must understand what disintermediation, data, employee empowerment mean to you. But  don’t go for it head first : depending on your culture and starting point, it won’t mean the same as for the companies you’re observing. You must build a clear vision of what digital means to you from a strategic and operational point of view. An employee experience approach can also help you to explore new territories, for instance IoT to make work simpler, more efficient etc… and not only for white collars.

– But…practically ?

– Consider data for instance. There are things to do in career management, recruitment, it can help to put the right people at the right place and fight against discrimination. In terms of L&D you have Social Learning, MOOCs that allow on-demand learning and make learning at work easier.

– yes but very practically ? I we see businesses making funny and engaging videos to change their employer image and recruit more easily. That’s what we want to know and learn.

Oh. Wait a minute.

If you consider that the digital transformation of HR means making funny viral videos on youtube you’re really in a bad way. Being very focused on delivering tangible projects is good but if you don’t take time to think before, you can be sure you’re going to hit the wall.

Such videos are employer branding tactics. Let’s see how it works.

– At the beginning you have a promise. It’s what your promising to your employees to help them deliver the promise made to the customer, to support their colleagues and develop themselves over time.

– then you project the promise by communicating. Videos are a part of this step.

– then comes the reality, what really happens at work, and the gap between what your employees understand of your promise and what they really experience.

— then comes the way they share their experience and talk about you outside. Your employer brand discourse loses power as your employees start having their own voice on social networks (offline matters too but it’s more difficult to track). At a given moment the voice of the employee is more powerful than your official channels when it comes to “selling” the promise.

Back to basics.

What’s your business ? Your culture ? What’s the experience at work ? What is your ambition in terms of employee experience ?

I mean that the brands making such videos have an history, a culture that is theirs. Copying what they do, their image, will be useless and counterproductive. It may even make make people outside and inside the company laugh at you ! And if it matches your ambition in terms of culture, work and management model, maybe youtube is not the right thing to start with.

Back to basics (bis).

There is strategy and tactics. Copying what others do is nice but understand why they do it is much better because focusing on the why will make you realize than your original idea is not relevant or that there are tons of prerequisites to deal with before. So one must improve his digital proficiency and clearly state what is his ambition regarding to digital transformation. In this case : what will be the role of HR tomorrow, their value proposition. And then only how it breaks down into tactics. Online and offline.

This example is about HR and employer branding but works for any department.

What is peculiar to leaders, to those you’re watching and want to copy is that they didn’t copy. They invented. They assessed the current landscape but, since the matter was news, they built their own way since nothing existed. More, any existing digital initiative is perfectible since it’s a new and fast moving topic.

But it requires to take time to acculturate and think instead of jumping on the visible part of the iceberg and overlooking all the invisible structuring work that must be done before.

When it comes to employer branding, digital transformation and employee experience you can choose between “looking like” and “doing”. I won’t advise you to take the first option.

The digitization of HR won’t start on Youtube. Or it would be a very worrying signal.



Crédit Photo : dolphfyn /

Head of Employee and Client Experience @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of Employee and Client Experience @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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