Digital HR is to malke HR useful at HRTech World

A lot is being said about digital RH but the concept is still poorly defined. It’s a catch-all word for all the issues businesses would like technology to solve without having to deal with the human side and, in the worst case, a techno-centric vision that can be summed up in one sentence : “I moved my HRIS to the loud”.

That’s what bothered me a little bit during the Paris Edition of HRTech World last autumn. New HR practices need, of course, new tools and environments but I did not see the vision beyond “first let’s move to the cloud”.

The Sprint Edition of HRTech World that happened in London last march was totally different, more focused on HR Strategies. I tried to find what most sessions had in common in order to make sense of Digital HR and came to the conclusion that Digital HR was nothing more that making HR useful.

HR Effectiveness mainly serves HR

Were HR ineffective until now ? In fact that’s a matter I often dealt with on this blog (and not only about HR) and that hits the bull’s eye every time I mention it in a conference : as many internal functions, services and processes, HR are optimized for their own effectiveness, at their on service, loosing sight of the internal customer, of the employee. In the end the result is very well optimized processes that don’t serve their customer.

Even if it was not said this way, customer orientation is the root of a digital HR approach (as stated in my interview with Anne Boucher). What’s peculiar to a customer centric approach is to solve the client’s problems instead of asking him to solve yours (hence the importance to know if processes must be designed for those they serve or those who run them). So thinking HR in terms of usefulness is key.

HR Processes must serve employees

Who says useful HR says useful management and Simon Sinek’s keynot on leadership perfectly set the tone. What’s a leader ? That’s someone who builds a safe zone for his staff so they can work serenely, dare, innovate without fearing being stabbed in their back. A good leader is the one who is ready to get shot for his staff. Creating such a zone makes leaders useful to their staff and to the company.

It’s totally the opposite of what we often we in many organizations where management is mistaken with leadership and where the goal is to climb high enough so others will get shot instead.

HR Usefulness is also at the heart of Josh Bersin‘s speech and his 7 tips for a digital world of work. Having simple and easy to use HR tools, doing real time rating to help people improve, providing continuous and on demand learning services… it may sound like a really tough work for businesses but it serves the only worthy goal : being useful to employees to do their work and develop.

Before being a technological shock, Digital HR is a new approach based on usefulness. It implies customer orientation and simplification. Once again, simplification seems to be central to digital transformation.

A design thinking approach to HR

The digital revolution of HR will start from the way the function is thought and its services and processes designed. There’s nothing new here but something obvious everyone must be aware of : HR won’t escape from the consumerization wave that’s hitting all internal functions. If design thinking is more and more popular within large businesses that’s for a reason and HR would better get ready before the wave arrives.

There are a lot of reflexions on the future of HR in a consumerized and uberized workplace, and I suggest we start with the right question : who are HR supposed to serve ? The answer I got at HRTech World through the inspiring keynotes and several case studies is quite clear and it seems we’ve reached a tipping point regarding to what I heard in Paris. We’re moving from an HR Centric HR Culture to an employee centric one. And that’s a good deal.

That said, you can already save the date for the next HRTech World Congress Paris that will take place on October 25-26 in Paris.

Photo Credit : Useful by TungCheung 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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