Digital Will Give Power to the People


As I wrote in my post Why Digital is radically disrupting HR? One of the main points of digital disruption is how will give power to the people.

As Accenture Digital says in the report Trends Reshaping the Future of HR: Digital Radically Disrupts HR, as the digital technology advances, it’s helping companies embed talent management into the fabric of everyday business and into employees’ work and personal lives. Technology advances are enabling HR to put the “human” back into human resources, and helping give people management back to the people.

skills-use-this-620x385We’re not talking about the traditional notion of self-service here, or the ability for employees to perform mundane administrative HR activities themselves, like updating their address or viewing a paycheck without HR’s intervention. Instead, we’re talking about involving employees and managers in high-impact talent processes—including recruiting, hiring, succession planning, learning and shaping career paths. All this will happen thanks to an emerging class of social and market-based tools that will let employees manage almost every aspect of their professional lives digitally.

Talent management practices and data are becoming more integrated with general business practices and business data to drive strategic decisions about talent. As this development unfolds, line managers will be more likely to engage in critical talent processes like workforce planning—using data to determine gaps between workforce projections and available supply of staff, and modeling different scenarios that could be used to close any gaps. In addition, managers and employees will shoulder more talent management responsibilities.

Mobility applications designed for tablets and smart phones become ever more user-friendly, and as intuitive user interfaces finally permeate talent management software following the success of consumer-oriented technologies, employees will be more inclined to adopt IT-enabled talent processes as well.

Mobile HR and talent management applications have well permeated recruiting, time and attendance, employee relations, and learning areas, mobile applications are being developed and rapidly adopted for nearly every process to make it easier to perform these activities anywhere, anytime, and on any device—including talent analytics, performance management, and leadership development. Technology companies like Oracle or SAP are now designing apps with a “mobile first” approach, promising to make mobility far easier than ever before for nearly every talent and HR practice.

The infusion of all things social into people management, and the infusion of principles derived from gaming as well, will further weave talent management into the very fabric of employees’ everyday work lives. Already, employees can learn together through corporate versions of Facebook or YouTube in addition to centrally mandated training curriculum. Companies can also use technology to draw on an employee’s social networks to target and recruit new hires with the right skills for an open position. Moreover, workers can use social media to advise career counselors how best to counsel them, instead of having HR provide this advice. Sites like Mixtent, GILD, and TrueOffice can also help companies transform everything from recruiting to performance appraisals to learning into a game.

lets get digitalIt’s expected more innovations to keep arising in this space, as start-ups take off and as talent management software companies continue to layer social and gaming functionality onto their existing offerings. Eventually, new social, gaming and mobile capabilities may replace traditional talent management practices, as well as time-honored HR tools such as employee surveys and e-mail communications.

Digital may even shift the locus of information and decision making from a central group like HR or a small group of top leaders to employees themselves. Social media could take HR as a middleman out of the picture, for example, by enabling the following:

  • Managers to analyze Big Data from sources like blogs, social networking sites and other online forums to determine what employees need and want and to find new employees.
  • Benefits choices to be determined by consensus through analysis of corporate social media sites revealing which benefits are important to which employee populations.
  • Employees to negotiate scheduling changes with one another on shift-swapping sites.
  • Talent exchanges where workers and hiring managers can find each other without the help of an intermediary through matching of open opportunities with an analysis of individuals’ skills or past performance and interest profiles.
  • Workers to define their own career paths by seeing each other’s customized career paths (through sites that mine transfer and promotion histories) and network with them.

analogue_digitalIn this future, the administrative burden that HR departments currently carry may lighten up considerably. Not only will technology continue to automate transactional HR processes like benefits administration, but it will continue to enable more strategic practices like many of those described above to be performed by employees. Technology could then free HR professionals so they can focus on other work such as analytics. As a result, the group primarily responsible for HR processes and transactions—whether a shared services organization, a business services group or an outsourcing partner—may shrink to a fraction of what it is today.

Employees may even manage their own data, and HR data and transactions may become the sole responsibility of the business with the support of IT. What’s more, HR may shift its mission and mandate to concentrate on building a culture where people can use talent management tools to enhance their own job performance. New roles and responsibilities for HR professionals may ensue accordingly.

Borja Burguillos

Author: Borja Burguillos

Global People Strategy

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