How To Make 2022 The Year Of The Human: Ten Human Approaches
Why are millions of workers leaving their jobs in what we’ve coined The Great Resignation? The simplest answer is this: In a post-pandemic world of work, people will no longer live just for the weekends. They want to live every single day.
Changes to how work gets done require significant response from HR and business leaders. Leapgen offers TEN HUMAN APPROACHES to make 2022 a transformative year when it comes to people, how we work, our purpose and fulfillment, and the business outcomes produced. These TEN HUMAN APPROACHES are intended to be a starting point; a conversation piece to inform business cases, resource and budget requests, and strategy conversations you’re having about The Great Resignation Reckoning.
The big cliff note upfront: 2022 will be a year of human-centered recovery strategies. When it comes to humanizing work, the job of HR is to better understand the power of data for experience design, select and optimize the right technology as fuel for intentional workforce experience, and take a whole person approach to sustain and nurture both automation and human performance in the future workplace.
LET’S BREAK DOWN TEN HUMAN APPROACHES FOR THE NOW OF WORK IN 2022.
1. A talent agenda and strategy is mandatory for business performance.
We are a heavily siloed and disconnected HR and People function. Remaining constructed in this way prevents us from designing holistic workforce journeys meant to engage, fulfill, and retain the fully empowered human. A heavily siloed People function prevents meaningful workforce development and career pathing, it keeps our talent attraction and acquisition strategies short-sighted, and it limits continuous improvement when it comes to workforce journeys. Breaking talent silos makes real culture and DEI work possible, allows us to better market opportunity, and creates an environment where the automation of work supports the humanization of work.
Those are all the reasons an organization should connect talent strategy to business strategy.
The biggest reason is because people deserve it. An intentional strategy for their empowerment, growth, and fulfillment. Don’t hire people without planning to have their backs.
2. Workforce Experience is more important than ever, and it means more than you think it means.
Let’s agree to have a fresh conversation around workforce experience; it’s nothing more and nothing less than human experience at work. For years now, we’ve touted Employee Experience as the Holy Grail of Human Capital Management, wondering how we could create efficiency of workforce services, talent management, and employee satisfaction. Unfortunately and too often, we put front-end experience layers over back-office HR systems and called that “experience.” We worsened the problem by measuring user adoption of technology and tools. Then wondered why we didn’t see intended experience improvements or productivity outputs.
A fundamental shift in our understanding of workforce experience — measuring how work gets done; how work makes people feel; and designing with humans smack at the center of data, technology, and business strategies — will get us to a place of measuring and delivering workforce experience design for human performance. And we mustn’t forget this experience is owed to and well-deserved by every part of your worker population: candidate, full- and part-time employee, gig worker, continent labor, all. Obsess over it as you would customer experience.
3. Leverage data to drive meaningful outcomes for people first, business second.
I feel like this is the best news I can deliver: you have data absolutely everywhere, and it’s the most powerful ingredient for driving business acceleration. You cannot personalize content, knowledge, relevant journeys, and overall workforce experience without data. Personalization of workforce experience — of any experience — makes people want more of it, not less. Data is both input and output of well-designed workforce experience.
This is how you get to business outcomes. Driving an addictive experience goes beyond meeting needs, and it will absolutely result in employee loyalty, customer satisfaction, and workforce effectiveness gains.
4. Automate to Humanate. (Think bionic.)
“Having a digital strategy will soon seem as ridiculous as having an electric strategy.” When progress brought electricity, we welcomed and used it for good. In the same way, progress is driving automation, ushering a new era where humans are freed from mundane, monotonous, inefficient, time-consuming and labor intensive work. I could hand wash my dishes, but I don’t. My time is better spent, and my dishwasher is frankly better at it. I could perform long division, but my calculator is faster and pivot table formulas are easier.
Automation is not dehumanizing; the opposite. Humans can be intelligently assisted with tools, data computing, automation, artificial intelligence, workflows, and informed recommendations to support and affirm human decision making. Automating and assisting the robotic allows humans to be more human: creative, emotional, curious, collaborative, empathetic, and nurturing.
Ask every recruiter you know if they wish they could provide better candidate experience and more conscientious bedside manner. If they wish they could make better recommendations, be more thoughtful. Every one of them would tell you streamlining and automating 90% of the attraction, selection, and hiring process would vastly improve and humanize the candidate, recruiter, and hiring manager experience.
A smart combination of high-touch human and high-touch digital experience is our path to automation. Think bionic.
5. There are new defining rules for the Now of Work.
We’re no longer surmising about the Future of Work, wondering what will drive people, how we’ll work, in what environments and collaboration networks we’ll be most effective, the role of automation and technology, and the data needed to fuel it all. The Future of Work is here; it’s digital and distributed; it’s human-centered and holistic or should be; and it requires a whole person approach, design thinking for human experience design, and change enablement if it is to be transformation-driving for business.
The skills this requires from an HR, People and Culture perspective include listening and empathy, kind candor, a healthy appetite for rebellion and change, resilience and agility, storytelling and strategy, and intentional innovation. The Now of Work demands visionaries who know change isn’t the enemy; rather, they embrace change as the strategy. These visionaries are the very business leaders who will create competitive edge and sustainability for their organizations.
6. Building and supporting a skills culture will help you future-ready your workforce.
When the labor market churns and attrites and constricts like the talent cycle we’re in, employers struggle to know how to close their workforce gaps. The instinct is to rush to fill the top of the people funnel with more bodies, but acquiring external talent is expensive and time-consuming. It’s also wasteful, even disrespectful, considering the human skills you’ve already acquired who are sitting inside your organization largely uncategorized, underutilized, and aching to be developed and deployed for greater business value. So perhaps the most interesting, innovative, and sustainable approach to closing workforce gaps and, ultimately, deploying people value for business value is to finally solve for skills.
Three areas of focus when it comes to skills include capturing skills, planning with skills, and acting on skills. I talk more about this with Jason Averbook, Mike Brennan, and Jim Holincheck in our latest skills blog.
7. Shaping, attracting, and fueling the new workforce requires Total Talent Transformation.
We’ve gotten a bit unorganized in how we empower and activate talent. Their employee journey is disjointed and disconnected, too often leaving opportunities for development, learning, and skilling on the table because we don’t view the WHOLE employee and their HOLISTIC journey.
We act like we don’t know talent after we bring them into the business, despite spending weeks targeting, attracting, assessing, interviewing, and matching candidates based on their essential skills, capabilities and interests, personalities and work styles. We fail to collect, keep, and leverage that data to design and inform their ongoing employee journey, to skill and develop them or match them with future opportunities and projects, to optimize and empower the way they most effectively produce value. The right hand literally doesn’t talk to the left hand when it comes to Talent.
And that’s for the directly, fully employed talent we bring into the business. We really and fully fall on our faces when it comes to part-time or gig workers, distributed and deskless, contractors or freelancers, and any non-traditionally employed.
De-silo the people function and integrate talent strategies to support connected, seamless, personalized, well-informed talent journeys. Intentionally design experiences to both collect and produce insights and data about what people can and want to do; how they’re most effective; what would engage, motivate, and inspire them. Design a people strategy against your business strategy so you can future-fit your workforce to produce outcomes that matter.
8. Organizing HR and IT for Transformation Success requires BEING Digital vs. Doing Digital.
Digital transformation is complex, with many stakeholders, dependencies, and symbiotic business outcomes. And while digital transformation is not the same as a technology strategy, there are massive technology implications. So if the aim of HR Transformation is to improve efficiency and effectiveness of the function, ensure people-related initiatives align with business goals, accelerate automation and digitization (automate to humanate), and build an emerging model of HR to support more flexible and responsive models of work, cross-functional strategy and collaboration with IT is required.
There are natural intersection points between HR and IT when it comes to digital transformation. Modernizing and elevating workforce experience, for example, requires a digital mindset fueled by design thinking to evaluate employee journeys, identify friction points, and make necessary refinements. Most organizations adjusting to new realities of the Now of Work are realizing they must replace hierarchies with collaborative networks, they must support the business with a flexible and responsive workforce, and they want to support the organization’s ability to drive change. HR cannot accomplish these objectives alone; IT must be considered in organizational design as well as strategy and execution of workforce programs and initiatives.
Join Leapgen’s next webinar to better understand organizational design and cross-functional collaboration between HR & IT.
9. The conversation around performance and wellbeing cannot begin until we resolve equitable pay. And not just provide equitable pay, but FIX PAY in all the ways it needs to be fixed.
Pressures for pay equity will continue to increase drastically. Google continues to use physical location as a pay driver, decreasing pay if an employee relocates to a lower cost location. More progressive employers are doing away with geography as a pay driver and focusing instead on skills, experience, output and productivity. This is a positive move in support of equitable pay based on level of contribution, not historically suppressed earnings or other tricky factors. Then there’s Google doc activism, where employees of Google took matters into their own hands and self-published their own salaries to reveal the company was paying men more than women at most job levels.
Pay transparency laws continue to gain momentum on the premise that salary secrecy disproportionately harms women and workers of color, who are less likely than equally qualified than equally qualified white men to negotiate base salary or a raise – or more likely to ask for less. This kind of pay inequality is shown to cost Black and Latina women up to $1 million in earnings losses over a 40-year career.
Then there’s daily pay, negotiating Total Rewards and not just base pay alone, making cost of living adjustments if geography isn’t to be a factor in the new world of boundaryless talent. Adjusting pay levers is a big topic, and this is the year pay transformation becomes real.
10. How we support benefits for holistic wellbeing needs to change.
Sure, we want medical, dental, vision, life insurance coverages, and voluntary benefits. We want to know that when there is an emergency or when we are physically sick that we can easily access care. Now, as much if not more than ever, we need our employers to see that mental health and wellbeing IS health. We are experiencing grief, compassion fatigue, substance abuse and addiction, and anxiety in profound ways. We need for these struggles to be seen, felt, and treated now. Our mental health contributes to when and how we show up to work. It contributes to our relationships, productivity, and physiological responses to the world around us. Only 50% of those working in HR and benefits say that workplace benefits are effectively addressing workforce mental health needs.
While we are the topic, let’s not limit holistic wellbeing to health benefits. “According to the 2022 TIAA Financial Wellness Survey conducted last fall with more than 3,000 U.S. adults, just 22 percent of Americans rate their financial wellness as high.” This means that 88% of Americans are uncomfortable with their current finances for emergency savings, retirement, debt management, budgeting, health care costs, and investing. Read that again. A majority of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. New-ish technology such as DailyPay offers employees the opportunity for on-demand pay. This is a strategy encouraging you to know your people, know us.
It’s time for benefits to meet us where we are – time for employer benefits to support us for the whole beings that we are.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Jess Von Bank is an 18-year industry veteran and impassioned evangelist of the modern candidate and employee experience. As both a former recruiting practitioner and an expert in bringing TA Tech and HCM vendor solutions to market, Jess looks to broaden executive mindset to better design and deliver a workforce experience that exceeds the expectations of talent and the needs of the business.
Jess offers specialized expertise in talent acquisition, recruitment marketing, employer branding, DEI&B, brand-building, and storytelling. She is the Head of Marketing for Leapgen, a digital transformation company shaping the Now of Work. She also runs the Now of Work, Leapgen’s global community for HR, Talent, and workforce experience professionals.
Jess is an active community emcee, ambassador for women’s and girls’ organizations, and President of Diverse Daisies, a nonprofit for girls’ enrichment and empowerment. She lives in Minneapolis, where she races for free swag and raises her 3 daughters.
Jess Daily is passionate about empowering organizations to foster cultures of community, belongingness, and inclusion through digital transformation.
Jess has 7+ years of experience as a project manager and consultant in partnering with benefits brokers and mid to enterprise clients on a variety of HR technology initiatives.
Jess lives in Sewanee, Tennessee where she and her family hike, kayak, and relish in outdoor adventures. She recently became a foster parent and is an advocate for workplace, family, and child wellbeing. Jess is pursuing her Master’s Degree in Liberal Arts at Middle Tennessee State University and earned the Project Management Professional (PMP) designation in 2020. She supports SheJumps, a nonprofit organization that encourages women and girls to participate in outdoor activities.
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.