The pace of change in the workplace continues to accelerate, making HR’s role even more integrated with the most strategic business decisions.
At Argyle Human Capital Leadership Forum in New York last week, I had the pleasure of joining Foot Locker’s Robert Perkins, Randstad’s Michelle Prince, and Verizon’s Martha Delehanty on a panel, moderated by Pauline Ashworth, to discuss how human capital management is changing. We spoke in depth about the evolving employee experience, how digitization is having an effect on measurement of people programs, employee morale and well-being and the changing profile of successful employees.
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The good news for CHROs is the expectations on our department are changing, and that gives us an opportunity to expand our influence in the C-suite, showing how a focus on people’s experience at work greatly impacts the business. Below, are some of the top takeaways from the panel.Our people are our business! Click To Tweet
The Evolution of Culture
With the ability to work from anywhere, the lines between home and work are more blurred than ever. This means work-life integration is becoming very prominent. Particularly in Silicon Valley, the company’s workplace is almost like a home away from home, while for most people in the workforce, home is becoming a second workplace. The resulting impact is a challenge with focus and prioritization, as well as increased levels of anxiety due to the feeling of needing to be reachable at all times. What we’re seeing in HR is a rise in requests for in-house meditation, massage, yoga, relaxation apps, and other calming outlets.The lines between home and work are more blurred than ever Click To Tweet
With the increased flexibility in work hours and location, there is also a greater distinction between different types of workers. People who work hard are now working even harder, staying late hours or taking their laptop home to finish projects. This can lead to quick results, but businesses now struggle with retention due to burnout and lack of true fulfillment.
So what’s the cure? There isn’t a perfect answer for each individual. What’s most key is setting clear expectations at work. This ensures everyone understands what is expected of them and by when. What employees can do is practice discipline around their work hours, and make it a priority to take care of themselves mentally and physically.
The Rise of Digital
The rise of digital means companies need more organizational agility – a way to manage faster exchange of the right information. Organizational agility is driven by good decision making to respond to customer expectations and market demands. Much of the changes and increased speed we’re seeing are driven by connected customers and employees.
Given more agile environments, the profile of what it means to be a successful employee has shifted to the ability to navigate without clear direction, being highly adaptable, and maintain a growth mindset. These key qualities should drive decisions to hire, promote, and who to retain.
Digital also impacts how we communicate with employees and how employees learn. Important information needs to be delivered to employees where they are spending time, whether in email, messaging tools, or social media. Microlearning embedded in systems addresses this trend with providing bite-sized chunks of information in a digestible digital format.
It is important to recognize that digitization cannot replace quality in-person interactions. The skills needed to have valuable and honest conversations are exceedingly important particularly since they are not practiced as regularly, given digital communication.
As we know, when people exchange words, communication happens from the words themselves, the tone with which they’re said, and the body language; the latter two accounting for the majority of the communication. With digital communication on the rise, most exchange of information is now limited only to words. The result is that the receiver will assume tone and body language when they read the words. This opens up much more misunderstandings than typically occur with in-person communication.
So what do we do? It is now essential to ask more clarifying questions to fill in gaps created by remote communication methods, for instance “Can you explain a little more about how this decision was made,” or “What additional information can you share about this situation to help me understand?” It is incumbent on both the listener and speaker side to be much more attentive to one another’s experience, and ensuring they’ve done everything possible to communicate their intention when in a digital environment.
Maximizing Business Impact
This is my favorite trend. A pet peeve of mine is that HR often has a “police” rapport, with the perception being that it is only focused on ensuring employee compliance. The way that HR interacts with employees and managers can significantly shift this perception. For many companies, HR is actually a very strategic partner, involved in changes in business direction from the beginning. After all, nothing happens without people, and HR is the expert on people.How can we make the work environment mirror the environment we aim to create for our customers? Click To Tweet
To ensure we have the right people goals at Reflektive, a question I ask myself regularly is “How can we make sure we have the type of work environment for our employees that mirrors the environment we aim to create for our customers?” Regardless of company, I think this same question can be used to ensure people strategies are in line with what a company aims to achieve.
Another great question to ask yourself is “Do employees feel comfortable talking with their managers openly about their career goals, even if that involves them leaving their current team or even company, to get to where they’d like to be?” If a company fosters that open communication regarding career growth, chances are employees who are looking for additional opportunities will most likely realize that internally, that space can be created for them.
Managers also need to be appropriately trained to ask the right questions to create that space for open communication.
The last way to maximize business impact, is to ask yourself “Are we providing the right environment to grow our current employees to be our future leaders? If the answer is no, not only is this an opportunity to relook at succession planning, it is a greater opportunity to wonder, what about our organization is NOT growing our next level of leaders, and how is that impacting our business? After all, our people are our business!
Learn more about how HR is changing in Reflektive CEO Rajeev Behera’s podcast interview on Inspiring Leaders