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Why the HR function must go digital

Anand Shankar, Senior Partner – Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, Aon Hewitt | Oct. 19, 2015
Simply put, digital technologies are radically impacting the manner in which employees and clients connect and communicate with organisations. Not doing so is unthinkable.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Talent is a serious concern for CXOs in Asia Pacific. According to Aon's 2015 Global Risk Management Survey, failure to attract and retain the right talent is among the top three risks faced by organisations in APAC. Like in many parts of businesses, technology is playing a dual role of an enabler and a disruptor in HR. Never before has HR been faced with such a challenge that is also possibly a great opportunity in disguise.

Digitisation is bringing about sweeping changes in the lives of individuals and businesses. The entire approach to social interaction and communication is now driven by the mobile and social platforms. Digital technologies are radically impacting the manner in which employees and clients connect and communicate with organisations.

With over six connected devices per individual by 2020 and people spending more than 2.5 hours on mobile devices daily, there is a radical shift in the way the world works. Today, right from seeking employment to expressing opinions on the employment experience is digital and democratic. For example, today's employees don't shy away from saying in Glassdoor.com that they don't approve of their CEO.

Digital now has a strong impact not just on employee preferences but also the entire lifecycle of an employee in an organisation spanning recruitment, selection, on-boarding, performance management, development and retirement. It is here that barring a few exceptions, the HR function in most organisations still continues to be stuck in the legacy of traditional modes of engagement, completely oblivious to the quality of the employee experience and the delivery of the employment promise.

The real shift of mind-set is two-fold; employees as a customer and the fact that digital is not just about heavy investments in technology.

Employee as a customer
In the consumer products world, a brand is the cluster of beliefs, experiences and impressions that consumers attach to a product or service. Similarly, some companies have come to realise that constructing a strong employee value proposition, and supporting it with a compelling employer brand, is a worthwhile effort. Organisations have to begin by understanding the employee as a customer, develop the offering, deliver the offering successfully, define the brand promise, and then start amplifying it.

This brand promise includes a higher purpose, meaningful work, the opportunity for actualisation of personal aspirations and learning, an appealing organisational culture, a sense of purpose, and a pride-inducing set of workplace values.

It is in this context that the HR function should introspect on why they exist! If the aim is to get to the minds and hearts of their employees, HR needs to treat them as customers. The brand promise to the employees hence needs to be real, relevant and refreshed from time to time.

 

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