Adapting And Thriving In The Future Of Work
If there’s one word—aside from “unprecedented”—that could be used to describe the new normal for organizations, it’s adaptability. As discussed in previous sections, the systems of record many HR organizations have in place today were customized or configured in a way that limits agility. The pandemic uncovered the need for new solutions that enable change and continuous improvement. Technology can sustain and strengthen an organization’s culture and innovation by delivering new ways to establish connections and enable collaboration among team members.
IS YOUR HR SYSTEM ADAPTABLE?
Organizations have adapted in ways we might have thought impossible before 2020. However, leaders have also learned that in many cases, the systems they had in place were obstacles instead of enablers of change.
This has been a hard lesson to learn as many HR teams have been stretched to their absolute limit working around system limitations that have prevented them from being agile. For example, an organization who moved from onsite to remote work were totally unprepared to onboard new hires because they required a wet signature for their new hire paperwork. (A “wet signature” is when a pen or seal is used to sign a person’s name on a physical paper document). Today, electronic signatures and records can carry the same weight and legal effect as traditional handwritten signatures and paper documents in most cases. In the example, the organization had no system in place to do the paperwork electronically with e-signatures. Many organizations that suddenly had to go remote struggled to adapt. The good news is that other organizations all over the world did overcome and adapt. However, they are now thinking differently about requirements for new solutions.
REQUIREMENTS FOR NEW SOLUTIONS
Organizations are thinking beyond the typical features and functions for new solutions. They are adding more weight to:
- Flexibility and the ability to change process as business needs change.
- Meeting the workforce where they are, in the channels (for example, email, texts, conversation UI, mobile applications, Slack, or Microsoft Teams) where they are working, knowing that their physical work location may be fluid.
- The ability to craft (configure) compelling experiences for employees, managers, and teams, especially for key journeys (like the onboarding example mentioned above) where an organization wants to be great, not just okay.
- Compliance tracking, which has become even more challenging during the pandemic.
- Data and analytics, as the questions that senior leaders are asking are changing based on evolving workplace dynamics (move from onsite to remote to hybrid workplaces) and tools (Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams).
- Vendors as partners so that when organizations face unanticipated challenges in the future they will be confident they can find and implement the right solutions at the right pace. The technology is often called Software as a Service (SaaS), but organizations need to be thinking much more about the second “S,” Service,” as they make their decisions.
ONLINE COLLABORATION TOOLS PROVIDE NEW CONNECTION OPPORTUNITIES
One of the biggest changes in the past year is the growth in the use of collaboration and communications tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Slack. The move to remote work caused many organizations to quickly deploy these tools to the workforce. The good news is that these deployments were largely successful (although “Zoom Fatigue” is a real issue). As these tools evolve to deliver greater capabilities to the workforce, employers will be able to continue to provide hybrid work options to their teams.
These collaboration tools also allow organizations to deliver innovations to the workforce in a way that they have not been able to do before. Different capabilities can be deployed to different teams (and in many cases, the teams themselves can determine what capabilities they want to take advantage of). This can enable methods like A/B testing where one team tries a capability, and the outcomes can be compared to teams that did not have the capability. In the past, it was difficult for HR and Payroll organizations to do this kind of segmentation and testing.
These collaboration tools can also enable the HR system of record vendors that have oriented their solutions around teams to be able to provide an even more compelling experience with their solutions. Leveraging these combined capabilities will be a boon for team leaders, especially those managing remote teams for the first time. Being able to communicate and collaborate with their teams in real-time while being able to manage their team’s goals, performance, development, time off, and more in a seamless way will improve manager experience. This is all good, but to be successful in the emerging hybrid world, managers need to do more than just communicate and collaborate with their teams. They need to build connections with the individuals on their teams.
Building connection requires listening, empathy, and a willingness to take action. Technology can help by providing opportunities to listen and by suggesting responses or providing nudges to act based on what is said or heard. We call this “hands and heads” work. Machines can do the head part very well. However, a human is still needed to act with empathy and take into account the full person. Humans are critical for the “heart” portion of this work. It is ultimately these human-to-human interactions that define the culture in an organization. It is imperative to get those right.
Thinking back to the whole person approach of managing teams and individuals, while technology can help us meet our employees’ physical and intellectual needs, it cannot respond to the emotional, social, and spiritual needs. To engage the whole person in our work environments, we need highly skilled and connected managers who make the effort daily to connect individually with their employees, whether they are in the office or working from home. Companies that hire and promote the right kind of managers, provide them effective leadership training, and use digital experience to assist with whole person management will be the ones that thrive in the future of work.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Jim Holincheck has more than 25 years of experience in the HCM technology industry and is the Vice President of Advisory Services at Leapgen. Before joining Leapgen, Jim gained experience as a vendor (Workday – Services Strategy and Product Management), an industry analyst (Gartner and Forrester/Giga), and a consultant (Accenture). He has spent his entire career working with customers to strategize, select, implement, support, and optimize their usage of enterprise applications. Helping customers successfully get the most out of their enterprise software investments is something he is very passionate about.
Jason Averbook is a global keynote speaker, industry analyst, thought leader and consultant in the area of human resources and workforce experience. He is the Co-founder and CEO of Leapgen, a digital transformation shaping the future of work. Author of The Ultimate Guide to a Digital Workforce Experience ~ Leap for a Purpose, Jason seeks to broaden executive mindset to rethink how to better design and deliver employee services that exceed the expectations of the workforce and the needs of the business.
Leapgen is a global digital transformation company shaping the NOW of work. Highly respected as a visionary partner to organizations looking to design and deliver a digital workforce experience that will produce valued outcomes to the business, Leapgen helps enterprise leaders rethink how to better design and deliver workforce services and architect HR technology solutions that meet the expectations of workers and the needs of the business.