3 Ways HR Can Lead Digital Transformation
Human resource departments are more important than ever in shaping corporate culture to support digital transformation. HR is essential when it comes to influencing and sustaining the future of work. No longer can leaders in HR departments sit on the sidelines and wait for those in the C-suite to adopt a culture of technological innovation and digital transformation that serves the company and its stakeholders. Each passing day brings a greater sense of urgency when it comes to making necessary change in the corporate digital environment.
With the heightened competition for talent, the challenge is finding skilled individuals who prosper in your company’s culture and want to remain working there. Positioning your organization as an employer of choice depends heavily on human resources departments driving, supporting and implementing digital initiatives in the workplace. The time for HR to lead is now.
Knowing where to begin when seeking to move to a digital workplace can seem intimidating. To help start the process, here are three ways HR can lead the way and support digital transformation and positive change.
1. Acknowledge the Need for Digital Transformation and Speak it to Existence
Step one in solving any problem is admitting there is a problem, then embracing the fact that action is necessary to achieve forward progress or change. Oftentimes HR professionals use processes that are old and outdated because it's easy and comfortable. While these practices might sustain the business, they likely do not advance it. Rapid developments in technology make each day of inaction towards digital transformation even more critical. Not working to further digitization of workplace practices leads to more of a setback for organizations, and particularly their people.
Simply communicating the need for technological change to decision-makers is also part of the first step. Through timely, nuanced and intentional conversation, HR can lead the process of transforming workplaces by informing decision-makers of opportunities to advance the business’s digital revolution. A good place to start is to recognize what is most important to decision-makers and frame the conversation around that.
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2. Involve Employees in Decisions and Over Communicate
When employees walk through the doors of their workplace, they do not expect to go back in time in terms of technology use and information acquisition. Adoption of digital processes is paramount at a time when employees expect a consumer-grade experience both in and outside of work. We live in a world where information is immediately available at our fingertips. When we seek answers, it’s easy to find them. This should be the experience employees have in the workplace, too.
Human resources can lead the way to providing positive experiences by asking employees the right questions. With the information they glean, HR can make strategic recommendations to business leaders. Soliciting this information from current, former and exiting employees can yield the necessary insights to spearhead change where necessary. Another benefit of involving employees in digital change is that doing so shows the organization cares enough to hear their process improvement suggestions. This can lead to increased satisfaction, loyalty and enhance the employee perception of leadership. A recent Salesforce report: The Impact of Equality and Values Driven Business supports this. The report found that “employees who feel their voice is heard at work are nearly five-times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work."
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3. Start Small With Visions of the Future
Human resources professionals have more demands on their time than ever before, and action is often delayed because it can be daunting to think of change as more of a burden than a benefit on top of the struggles of everyday work life. Furthermore, the research on change in the workplace is not entirely optimistic. According to McKinsey, 70% of large-scale workplace change programs fail due to lack of employee engagement, insufficient support from management and lack of collaboration between departments. These challenges can all be mitigated if human resources departments intervene, thus providing another way that HR can lead digital change initiatives.
While all large-scale workplace change programs experience challenges, remember that not all change needs to happen at once. Taking any step to move the workplace toward digital transformation is better than taking no steps at all. Doing something small — or working in phases — instead of staying stagnant will yield some information as to whether the processes in place are successful or need to be changed.
By being at the forefront of both the people and business side of the organization, HR is in a prime position to spearhead digital change in the workplace. Doing so will result in a far more engaged, empowered and informed workforce, thus leading to increased satisfaction, production and profitability. More on this in articles to come.
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About the Author
Julie is a Sr. Partner, HCM Advisory for UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group), and an adjunct professor and co-coordinator of the HRM graduate program at McDaniel College, a school from which she also holds a master’s degree in HRD.