Skills for HR In The NOW Of Work
The Now of Work demands critical skills from HR and people leaders in order to deliver holistic, purpose-driven workforce experience that will keep people happy and produce outcomes for the business. Developing and finessing critical skills like the following examples will help you along your transformational journey into the Now of Work.
SKILLS FOR HR IN THE NOW OF WORK:
What a strange business skill to require for HR, people, and culture leaders. Or is it? Every people leader understands they’re not just guiding the experience of the workforce, they’re guiding transformation for the enterprise. HR leaders in the Now of Work understand work has changed forever, people have changed indelibly, and organizations must follow suit if they are to compete and thrive.
Digital transformation demands that our experience of work feel more like our human experience of everyday life: personalized, consumerized, modern, beautiful, easy and fluid. Leading transformation programs requires us to unlearn everything we know about how we supported the workforce before; a growth mindset is useful in reimagining, redesigning, and even rebelling against the urge to do what we’ve always done. This is our time to change work for good, and that means resisting convention, inspiring new ways of thinking, and leading the kind of workforce revolution where humans win.
When you create a digital vision for workforce experience, and we hope you are, you need insight, buy-in, alignment, and a shared approach to bring that vision to life. Whatever strategy and framework is required to execute on that vision likely involves a business case for the programs, policies, resources, budget, technology, or other investments required to deploy and sustain it. This is easier said than done — driving alignment, buy-in, and investment means convincing people change is needed. It requires disrupting the status quo to get to a new outcome. To convince and disrupt, you have to tell people the story. What you’re suggesting will be personal and emotional — the perfect storytelling scenario.
There is something about the art of storytelling. It’s more than the beginning, the middle, and the end of a sequence of events that makes a story. A good storyteller illustrates both context and conflict, provides a hero and a villain, and takes you on the hero’s journey to the story ending. When you leverage storytelling for business, the story ending is the outcome or result you hope to achieve. In that way, storytelling is an incredibly powerful tool for business case justification, culture change, journey design, employee and customer experience, and values alignment.
3. DESIGN THINKING
Most HR and business leaders understand and readily agree that employee experience begets customer experience, that designing impactful, frictionless journeys allows employees to produce the right results faster. Workforce experience design methodology is an employee-centric approach that focuses on the experience of the employee. It considers everything about them; their unique persona and perspective, their needs and wants, their barriers and paths to success. Design thinking creates personalized journeys that meet the employee where they are; these journeys feel good, easy and natural. They are frictionless, connected and intuitive. If you’re doing it right, design thinking for workforce experience keeps people in the flow of work so they are happy and productive, with a sense of purpose and connection.
Design thinking should be applied in every part of your talent strategy. It can be leveraged to deploy tools and processes, change enablement and communications, program delivery, engagement and culture initiatives, inclusion strategies and more. Creating a people-first workforce experience cannot be a reality without putting people at the center of your strategies, and this is the foundational concept of design thinking.
We talk about it all the time – the true meaning of transformation. The origin of ‘transformation’ is ‘trans’, or a complete movement of something from one place to another. So, embarking on a transformation journey means you’ll end up in a different place than where you started.
When you embark on a digital transformation journey for HR operations, service delivery, and workforce experience, it means work literally shouldn’t look the same when you’re done. It also means you’ll never be done. Transformation is ongoing, cyclical, an infinity loop with space to iterate and innovate over time. Transformation work builds on itself, it measures what works and what doesn’t, and it self-corrects and adjusts course based on outcomes realized.
There’s another word for transformation, and that’s CHANGE. Sustained digital transformation is designed with change in mind. Change is a muscle that can be built, flexed, and strengthened. Overcoming our natural resistance to change is a bit like the rebellion described above, but it helps to realize maybe humans are, after all, built for change themselves.
Listen to more about how the World of Work changed more from 2020 to 2022 than it did from 1970 to 2020. Change doesn’t feel all that optional, does it? We just need to understand how to leverage change as the strategy, not the enemy.
Empathy in the workplace is a new mandate in the Now of Work. People simply won’t put up with workforce experience that doesn’t feel personalized and relevant; talent programs and tools that don’t support holistic wellbeing and create ways for people to thrive at work; or a workplace culture that doesn’t put its money where its mouth is when it comes to inclusion, belonging, equity, and social good.
This means we need to see people – all people, all parts of them, including hidden talent we’re not used to looking for – for everything they bring to the table. Seek to understand their needs, their barriers, what they want and how they wish to develop, the kind of contributions they can make and the skills that requires, what will make them happy. But listening without judgment isn’t enough; once we understand our workforce, we need to turn active listening into actual action. This is the payoff of empathy in the workplace; showing the workforce we have their backs makes them loyal, more engaged, and more connected to organizational purpose.
In order to scale empathy, Jason Averbook in a recent digital event, we must digitize. Empathy at scale needs vision, strategy, a framework for deployment, tools to scale and support, and the right measures of success.
6. KIND CANDOR
It’s one thing to be frank – that’s candor, I guess. But it’s quite another to use kind candor, or the quality of being open and honest while demonstrating kindness. Why is this important to the HR and people function?
Because it’s the only function in your organization with the word HUMAN in it. Human Resources’ only job must be to protect, support, uphold, and empower human beings in the workplace. For far too long, we have made the function about compliance, employee relations, payroll, training and development, and other checkboxes meant to avoid risk and operationalize humans.
But we’re human, and we’ve been reminded what that means while surviving global health, social, and economic upheavals together. Humans deserve dignity of experience, fair treatment and equal opportunity, beauty and love, and to be happy. Candor is required to see something, and to say something when the business isn’t delivering on that employee value proposition, but kindness will make people want to be part of the change.
Are you ready to take the next step on your transformation journey? Embracing and honing skills like these will ensure program goals stick and outcomes are realized, both for people and for the business. Leapgen can help. Contact us for more about workforce experience; digital transformation, change, design, and deployment approaches to support transformation; and technology strategies to bring digital people strategies to life.
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 iis 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.
Jason Averbook is a leading analyst, thought leader and consultant in the area of human resources, the future of work and the impact technology have on that future. He is the Co-founder and CEO of Leapgen, a digital transformation company helping organizations shape their future workplace by broadening executive mindset to rethink how to better design and deliver employee services that meet the expectations of the workforce and the needs of the business.
Prior to founding Leapgen, Jason Averbook served as the CEO of The Marcus Buckingham Company (TMBC). In 2005, he co-founded Knowledge Infusion LLC and served as its CEO until 2012, when the company was sold to Appirio. Earlier in his career, he served as the Chief Business Innovation Officer at Appirio Inc., where he led the HCM business. He has also held senior leadership roles at PeopleSoft and Ceridian Corporation. Jason has more than 20 years of experience in the HR and technology industries and has collaborated with industry-leading companies in transforming their HR organizations into strategic partners.
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.