What exactly is digital transformation, and where does HR fit into the picture? Digital transformation, whether it relates to Human Resources specifically or an organization as a whole, is really all about an organization’s ability to adapt to change and drive innovation, and it usually involves the integration of technology into the mix. Success with HR digital transformation starts with C-Suite and with HR at the business strategy table. It’s about creating great corporate culture as well as leveraging technology to allow teams to work faster, better, and smarter than ever before. For HR digital transformation to be successful, it needs to encompass all parts of the organization. When it comes to successfully navigating the process of digital transformation for your company, and for your HR team, there are some key elements that are part of a successful transformation. In fact, there are six that I think are pretty important. So let’s take a look and explore the 6 fundamental keys to HR digital transformation.

6 Fundamental Keys to HR Digital Transformation 

A recent report from the IDC—HR Must Deliver on Digital Transformation—didn’t mince words, stating, “it is the responsibility of HR to address and deliver key elements of Digital Transformation.” A responsibility, yes—and a critical one—and also one teeming with opportunity. It’s an exciting time to be in HR, as new technologies allow leaders to do what they know they need to do: that is, create a culture of innovation and an employee base that is passionate, engaged, productive, and happy to be a part of the company. When companies are focused on building trust and strong networks, both internal and external, they foster a culture of collaboration and cooperation—all fundamental keys to HR digital transformation success.

How specifically can HR help drive the mission forward? Start by considering these 6 fundamental keys to HR digital transformation—

Focus on motivating employees and improving performance. There are myriad options for HR teams to use technology to help motivate employees. For example, wellness technology is very popular today, giving HR teams an opportunity to encourage and incentivize employees to make healthy choices that make their lives better both inside and outside of the office. As an example, one of my daughters works for a large insurance firm and, in addition to making wearables like FitBits or Apple Watches available to employees at very reduced prices, employees are also incentivized by reduced prices on health insurance premiums if they hit certain fitness goals. Technology can also be used for employee training and continued education, integrating smart whiteboards, online collaboration platforms, and interactive training modules into on-boarding, training, and even meetings, which, let’s face it, are far more engaging and interesting than the old school videos we’ve used for so many years.

Improve employee retention. Employee turnover is expensive and the competition for top talent is tough. HR teams can leverage technology to help improve retention in a variety of ways; keeping employees motivated and engaged while giving them the chance to be part of a corporate culture with which they fit well is an excellent start. But there’s more. By leveraging SaaS products commonly referred to as “people analytics,” HR teams can survey employee thoughts and behaviors that allow them to ultimately predict an issue before it arises, allowing time for a course correction if warranted and opening the door for the kind of communicative workplace environment top talent will stick around for. Another thing to consider when it comes to employee retention relates to corporate mobility. In order to be interested in staying around, today’s employees are looking for things like continuing education, mentoring, career advancement training, corporate mobility opportunities and chances to live and work in other cities or other parts of the globe, personal well-being and fitness initiatives, and so much more. Including these type of offerings into not only your benefits packages but also your corporate culture as a whole, is how you can create an environment that employees are not only drawn to, but one that they want to continue to be a part of for years to come.

Improve corporate culture and engagement.  As I touched on above, corporate culture is tremendously important—and corporate culture goes well beyond the pretty mission statement featured on your website and perhaps even front and center in your employee handbook. Corporate culture is what it feels like to be a part of your company, and how employees feel about being a part of what you’ve created. Culture is the lifeblood of a company, regardless of industry, and it’s fairly common for the HR team to have the goliath responsibility of creating and cultivating a good one. Technology can help with that, and the HR Tech landscape, much like the MarTech landscape, is getting very crowded with SaaS tools designed to help with that process. I believe success comes with the smart use of HR technology, combined with a strategy that’s a joint effort of senior management and HR pros. This strategic undertaking should be considered integral to business success and be focused on developing, creating, and maintaining policies, programs, benefit offerings, and the like. These things are focused on engaging and motivating the workforce, and creating and maintaining a culture of engaged employees, and one that makes your company a place people want to be a part of, and stay a part of.

Use technology to better match employee skills with tasks. I mentioned IDC’s research earlier, and one of their recommendations for how companies can use strategic HR to lead digital transformation initiatives is a simple yet imperative one: “focus on getting the right skills for the right positions.” It sounds easy enough, yet in 2016, LinkedIn reported finding suitable candidates was the most cited challenge to hiring managers. If that’s the case, and if 46 percent of companies say finding suitable candidates is tough, it’s likely candidates are being matched with tasks for which they’re simply unfit to handle—a dynamic unfair to both the employee and the company. The power of algorithms, databases, and social and collaborative tools can help ease this burden, allowing HR teams to better match candidates to positions and existing employees to tasks they’re both ready to handle and interested in tackling.

Standardize HR processes. The integration of HR technology into the operational mix allows companies to standardize HR processes with automation, thereby boosting efficiency and reducing costs. Whether it’s used for screening resumes, executing on formulaic paperwork, making the on-boarding process less onerous for both new hires and HR pros, fielding questions from employees, or facilitating budget preparation—technology is making the administrative part of HR less burdensome for all. This can save companies and their HR teams time and money, and help create a better, more efficient work environment in the process. Greater efficiency means improved productivity, and productive employees are more likely to be happy employees.

Secure a better inflow of talent. Technology powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) is being used to help find, recruit, and screen potential employees, as well as to decrease turnover. Ideal, a recruiting software firm, reports companies utilizing AI to land top talent have experienced a performance increase of 20 percent, revenue growth of 4 percent per employee, and a stunning 35 percent decrease in turnover. Note, too, that AI can be useful even after the hiring choice is made. Some companies use AI chatbots in their on-boarding—as my colleague Meghan Biro wrote about in Send in the Robots: The Good and Bad of Automating Your Hiring Process—to help acclimate new hires. Some chatbots are able to create experiences that are so “humanlike” that employees don’t even realize they are interacting with a bot, which is what you’re looking for, right?

What’s Next?

There are many technology platforms on the market today that are designed to allow HR pros to shift their focus from some of the the more mundane, administrative, and/or repetitive tasks that have occupied them in the past to creating and maintaining a spectacular corporate culture and it’s an exciting time to be in HR. Modern HR teams are much more than resume reviewers and policy enforces. Their responsibilities extend deep into the culture of a company, its recruiting and retention efforts, and more—all of which have a direct impact on employee and company growth, happiness and job satisfaction, and overall productivity. In other words, today’s HR teams don’t push paper; what they do directly affects the bottom line of the business, and not only should they have a seat at the corporate strategy table, they should be leveraging technology to optimize every part of the HR operational processes.

How does your company approach the process of HR digital transformation? What do you think about what I’ve listed as 6 fundamental keys to HR digital transformation? What might I have overlooked? What tools or technology do you use to help streamline HR operations and/or what are you concentrating on as it relates to creating great corporate culture within the organization? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Additional Resources on This Topic

What is Digital Transformation?
Digital Transformation is workforce transformation: Why HR must assume a leadership role

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