How about HR making worklife simpler ?

As I often say to people wanting to start the digital transformation of their business but don’t know where et start and where to head : try to make things simpler for both the employee and the customer.

It may sound simplistic but I promise your it helps to quickly make sense of things and find a couple of concrete initiatives. Why has it never been done before ? Before it’s much more simple to add and pile up than remove and simplify. Historically, complication was the leading way to improve, change and transform and we all know where it took us.

The 2015 issue of the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends study gives us lots of insights on what will matter for HR

• Develop leadership (87%) which is still too often considered as a short term option and not a long term vision.

• Favor learning and development (85%) through digitization.

• Use HR data (75%) since 78% of respondents consider their expertise in this field is poor.

• Improve HR technologies (73%) by implementing an HRIS

• Simplify work (70%) to improve productivity and well being.


HR can contribute to digital transformation in many ways (ex : here and here) but I’d like to highlight two points of the study.

HR must simplify work

HR have a major role to play in work simplification. As the study says it’s both a matter of well being and productivity. This point can be seen from two perspectives.

The first one is that without enough mastery, digital is a factor of complication, “bad being” and even of stress. From this perspective there is a lot to do not on mastery but on usage, on the way to manage both incoming and outgoing information (we’re all both torturer and victims). Better information management means better  time and stress management. It’s also about good behaviors and I often consider than the use of communication tools is a matter of politeness in  workplace conversations and that practices are far from being what they should be. The digital work environment, and most of all email, is a world of rudeness, with behaviors and ways to express oneself that one one would dare having in a face to face meeting for fear of looking boorish or getting slapped.

The second lies in tool mastery. Even if we all agree to say that it’s mainly a matter of usage, no one can feel serene and comfortable when he does not know what to do, how to do it, think he lags far behind his colleagues and is afraid of triggering a disaster at each click.

Work simplification is bigger than the traditional scope of HR

At the beginning of the summer, I attended a very interesting panel on employee experience. Understanding that customer experience follows employee experience, the panelists insisted on making HR processes more simple all along the employee journey, his life cycle in the company from the moment he applies to the moment he leaves.

In my opinion, this simplification can take many forms.

• pure and simple simplification : less steps, formalism, constraints, better user experience (simplicity, fluidity) when an interface is used. Kind of “lean HR”.

• process socialization : bringing collective intelligence back into the process design and execution by involving all the stakeholders.

• process uberization : simplify the intermediation between the employee and the provider even if it means putting HR out of the loop and make it a platform provider. Very useful for the new needs and experience in terms of learning.

Even if HR processes are (too ?) many and omnipresent in the employee’s life, work simplification goes much further. It’s about the work environment in the broad sens, non-HR processes and, talking about that, I don’t see HR being legitimate enough to deal with this field that accounts for more than 90% of work simplification. Their role should me more about awareness and setting stakeholders in motion.

Learning must not be an intricate project anymore

My second point is about digitizing L&D. This one is much related to work simplification and is essential. Learning is not only aa matter of classroom learning anymore even if the “old way” will always have an upside : they help to get people out of their bubble and make them socialize. Learning is also something very granular that should happen on demand and not always by a professional trainer. It’s social learning. Employees need an easy way to access to access knowledge and the people who “own” the piece they need to have it delivered right on time.

When it comes to interfaces and content, that’s to say experience, learning is also concerned by the growing demand for consumerization, and customer-grade online experiences. We’re light years away from that.

Digital is anything but easy for HR professionals who must digitize themselves before they digitize others. But HR can’t say they have no levers, no field to explore, no way to be relevant. Here are at least two that will be enough to consume all their time for a couple of years. Much better than putting viral videos on youtube to attract millenials.

Image Credit : Make it simple by Krasimira Nevenova via Shutterstock

Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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