Digitalisation of HR : moving toward a consumer-style experience ?

Digitalisation of HR - moving toward a consumer-style experience ?
Digitalisation of HR – are you moving towards a consumer experience ?

Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

In our region, there is a huge push towards implementing the digitalisation of HR, and some organisations are super advanced. For instance I recently attended a truly breathtaking demo of a performance management system apparently implemented across many Smart Government entities in Dubai.

But let’s be honest, despite all the hype towards digitalization, the HR systems that I see used at my clients are often old…very old… Like for example this client’s “fill this Excel performance appraisal template and send HR a paper copy (!) signed by your manager” which I had to deal with, well, in 2019 !

The gap between our expectations and the experience of using current enterprise systems

Millennials are expected to represent 75% of the workforce by 2025. In Dubai, in 2016 already, around 51% of the workforce was between ages 20 and 34, as per Dubai Statistics Centre numbers. The Millennial generation grew up with the internet and cell phones, and technology could be considered part of their DNA.

Millenials have definite expectations about how digital systems should behave, and see a significant gap between their experience of digital systems on the consumer side, and the reality of what digital systems in the enterprise can deliver

Chris Pope, VP of Digital Strategy, Service Now – cited in

Indeed, existing software solutions in organisations are often “behind” in terms of user interface and responding to internal customer expectations, and do not fit with the way that people want to interact with their screens nowadays.

Today’s workforce is used to getting results fast from its personal suite of shiny new hardware and apps : social media, wearables tracking their health, getting instant coupons when entering a retail space…

Also think online shopping (Amazon and its recommendations), customer service and instant accessibility on any screen (Netflix), relying on recommendations, user reviews and ratings  (AirBnB or TripAdvisor)…

You may say “Well, but this digitalisation has not affected HR yet”. Really ?

Think about it :

LinkedIn has more information on people than most HR systems do (languages spoken, skills, education and training/certifications, recommendations on the person’s professional achievements, and even career aspirations).

Linkedin has also completely changed the way recruitment is done nowadays, and digital has almost finished to kill traditional classifieds in newspapers, and even job boards.

Despite all their flaws, YouTube and short videos are becoming a by-default learning system. Who hasn’t looked for answers on a work-related question on YouTube, watched a TED video, taken a course on a MooC or a learning platform like Udemy or Coursera ?

So how can these consumer trends translate in digital HR ?

Imagine if your organisation could transform the employee experience through digital HR, for example by implementing some of these solutions :

Integrating social and performance

Some organisations use social integration and performance management results to reduce hiring time and improve hiring quality

For example in the US, Macy’s track which of their seasonal workers are the most positive about their brand and re-invite the top performers year on year, thereby reducing the number of interviews required and the shorten the time-to-hire.

To give you an idea of the scale, Macy’s recruit tens of thousands of temps for the holiday season and Amazon and Target routinely hire over 100,000 temps each during that season. Efficiency is a must-have !

Adapt the user review culture

For example in L&D, give employees the ability to comment, vote up or down, add and share videos in the learning system, adapting and complementing the content of the training with what they find really useful.

Use internal influencers

Identify who is influential in the organisation through the use of internal networks such as Yammer, or even get employee consent and use social media influence.

Using social can help you identify who can become a mentor, who could develop internal courses for better knowledge sharing, or even as a complement to performance reviews.

It seems some of the large service firms, the likes of PwC, Accenture etc, are starting to use that.

Chatbots for internal customer service / employee relations

Automation and the use of chatbots correspond to the way that Millennials like to interact for the provision of services via screen rather than in-person or on the phone.

They also save time and can answer queries 24/7. For example, HR chatbots can help employees locate documents or forms, highlight the relevant policy, or notify employees of upcoming holidays or events.

Make career development more social

Implement nice visual job descriptions that include a video, testimonials of some employees on that job, links to internal colleagues, an individualised competency gap analysis (based on the employee’s current competencies) with recommendations of skills to develop if the employee is interested in this job for a career move.

Provide customised recommendations to your employees

Using big data, AI and machine learning, some providers for large employers are now providing a customised experience for each employee, giving them their own unique, customised health-related recommendations.

Employers thus support an increase in the health and wellbeing of employees and see quantifiable value (meaning better control in healthcare cost) at the same time.

Use gamification for nudging employee behaviour

In the US, more and more companies are offering incentives to their employees for reaching wellness goals.

Digitalised HR solutions offer fun, visual ways for employees to track their progress and make use of these incentives.

Gamification can also help organisations focus on improving engagement.

Use blockchain to create trust in transactions with employees

With the increasing pace of change, constant learning and up-skilling will become more and more necessary.

Employees will want to stand out and prove that they do possess the skills they claim to have, in order to secure jobs or to support their career growth.

Blockchain and technology will help, for example with digital credentials organisations like Credly or Smart Credentials, a solution designed by PwC for the safekeeping of credentials.

For HR and employers, this will create a layer of trust and will introduce more efficiency in the recruitment and talent management processes.

And there is a lot more, from using “augmented writing” to reduce (gender) bias in job descriptions like McDonald’s does with Textio, to using algorithms to predict candidate future performance or finding the best sourcing channels for each specific job opening.

Some of these approaches are still a bit far-fetched compared to current HR practices in the region, but it’s great to know what’s possible. Because once you see what’s possible, you start thinking differently and you can begin your own journey to a more modern HR, even if you don’t buy a new HR system.

So, think about it. Is it time for your HR systems to get a good revamp, move to the 21st century, offer employees and managers a great and intuitive interface, and bring you access to really useful reporting and analytics capabilities ?

This post is based in part on a previous article : The digitalisation of HR – are your systems in the 21st century yet ?

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  1. another excellent resource by Sandrine

  2. Muhammad Usman says

    The problem I see with current HR leadership is their comfort level or the lack of vision when it comes to modernizing HR. Organizations are going through digital transformations but HR is still stuck with legacy system and processes. What we need is a mindset change and prioritize our budgets and efforts. Employee Experience is the new reality so the sooner we realize this the sooner we will start the change process. This is a consumer driven world we live in and the power & control is with the customers. Just like Netflix and streaming applications have changed the TV viewership by giving the control to the user so we should realign with this paradigm shift. I also think that HR vendors have been guilty of not coming up with the well rounded solutions and the ones available are quite expensive. But things are changing now. I do believe that HR needs to upskill itself with new technology such as RPA to become self reliant.

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