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Making sense of digital: How to shape your HR transformation journey

Digitizing HR is a business differentiator. But what does digital actually mean for HR leaders and functions?

Sonia Mooney

HR digital transformation
Photo by Ashwin Vaswani on Unsplash

Unleash Your Curiosity What does digital HR actually mean?

  • What does ‘digital’ mean for HR leaders and functions?
  • How to take a holistic approach.
  • The six steps to help you shape your transformation journey.

In our post-pandemic, disrupted, digital world, the pace of change is faster than ever before. Our people are our number one asset, and delivering value to our end customers must be our ultimate business goal — because if we don’t deliver, our competitors will.  

Digitizing HR is a business differentiator. But what does digital actually mean for HR leaders and functions? For me, digitizing is a mindset. It’s about creating streamlined, thoughtful, cohesive digital solutions with the human touch and the employee experience at the core.

These six steps will help you shape the next phase in your transformation journey.

1. Working towards ‘One HR’

The legacy of our traditional HR model has left us with teams working in silos. So often we are simply doing what we’ve always done — we have separate centers of expertise, teams, and processes.

This legacy approach can mean we find ourselves with a disconnected HR function lacking the holistic view, with hand-offs between teams, duplication, and waste, both for the teams managing these processes and the employees experiencing them.

Our people fall into the gaps. Why should the products and services we offer be so separate, and look and feel so different across the employee lifecycle?

An integrated approach to HR digitalization is needed. We need to be bold and operate as one to simplify, digitalize, and innovate end to end.

This approach will enable us to design a seamless, digital, inspiring, end to end experience across the entire employee lifecycle. Helping our people to be at their best, maximizing our resources, realizing our potential as a function, and fully enabling our business. 

Takeaway tips for HR leaders

•       Forget about where a process starts and ends. Take a holistic view

•       Focus on the end to end employee experience — as a function this belongs to us all

2. Business value first

Traditionally, HR has been very activity focused, with success defined through compliance and completed activities.

We need to ask ourselves how much value we’ve delivered to our people, business, and customers. We may have invested significant time, resources, and energy but if we’re not seeing or hearing about incredible results, or the impact we’ve made, and our organization is not seeing the return on investment, what was the point?

We need to shift our mindset and measure success by the value we are delivering to our people, business and customers, and through the return on investment, we are providing. And if it’s not adding value, it’s got to go.

A great way to put this into action is to search for the “so what?”. This will enable us to search for the true purpose and assess the value we’re adding. If we can’t find a compelling enough answer, it’s time to re-assess.

Takeaway tips for HR leaders

•       Continually search for the “so what?”

•       If it’s not adding value for our people, business or customers it’s got to go

3. Employee experience above all

Products and services designed solely by HR and IT experts, without an employee lens, drive waste.

These solutions are not intuitive to our people and they’re not easy to navigate. This typically results in poor experiences that impact engagement.

Having ineffective HR products and services impacts productivity, both for employees trying to navigate the processes, and for the HR and IT teams managing them.

If processes are particularly bad, our people lose faith in them and they try to circumnavigate or avoid them altogether, which drives more waste.

This all impacts the employee experience, causes frustration and negatively affects engagement.

Takeaway Tips for HR Leaders

•       Make the shift from what we need to get done, to how it feels for our people 

•       Experience focused HR products and services deliver better business outcomes

4. A networked organization

We need to remember that we are greater than the sum of our parts, and regardless of our business area or function, we’re all part of the same organization with the same business strategy and goals.

Yet so often we find ourselves working independently and in functional silos. Our people and customers don’t know or care which department they are dealing with, or who owns a particular part of the process – nor should they. 

Here, we have an opportunity to take a leading role. Harnessing the power of collaboration within our organizations is a real game changer. This approach helps us work together to solve problems and shape new solutions which could not have been conceived in isolation. 

Bringing together business areas and functions to work as one, to “play on the same team” and co-create solutions enables us to blend amazing varieties of technical expertise and skillsets with diversity of thought and experience delivering powerful, sustainable business results.  

Forget what’s traditionally “yours” and “mine”. Our people, our customers, and their experiences are key. Let’s create interactive, networked organizations, and work together cross-functionally to co-create the exceptional.

Takeaway Tips for HR Leaders

•       We are all part of the same organization with the same business strategy and goals

•       Build cross functional teams to work as one and create the best possible solutions

5. A culture of digital adoption

To unlock the true power of technology we must have strong foundations. Lead with simplicity to remove complexity and streamline our processes, making them easy to navigate.

We need to change our mindset to view everything through an employee-centric lens. Technology then becomes the enabler to augment our solutions, to automate, and personalize the experience. 

We also need to remember that the best digital solutions are those that add value, and therefore get used. The only way to realize this outcome is to bring our people into our world, to be part of the creation process.

We need to design with them, not for them, and to co-create new products and services across the end to end employee journey. Solutions that are compliant yet thoughtful and intuitive result in better business outcomes and high digital adoption.

Small pilots can be an effective way of trialling new solutions and technology to collaborate across teams and functions, determine effectiveness and minimise risk – testing, learning, refining as you go. Successes can be scaled and lessons learnt shared, driving continuous improvement and reinforcing learning.

As humans we all have so many new digital products and services to adapt to, both in our work and home lives. It’s up to us to make sure the solutions we create add real value, and are solutions we would be happy to use ourselves. 

Takeaway Tips for HR Leaders

•       Technology is the enabler to augment, to automate, and to personalize the experience

•       If you’re not happy using a product or service, how can you expect your people to be?

6. Data and insight-driven

Working on assumptions and perception, or going by “how we’ve always done things” isn’t productive. To have real impact, to deliver real business results and become the value adding function we aspire to be, we need to become data and insight driven. 

It’s not enough for us to rely on our People Analytics leaders and teams, or on our data specialists, and to expect this approach to deliver the outcomes we require.

As HR leaders, functions, and practitioners we all need to become data savvy and data driven. We need to talk to our people, our customers and really listen.

Data doesn’t lie, and it helps us connect the dots. Everything we need to know is there in the data, in the feedback and insights – providing we set ourselves up for success, build strong foundations with our data architecture, and use this to shape our path forwards.

Get your data working for you. Set up comprehensive data and feedback sources – both qualitative and quantitative. This will give you a clear picture of your starting position and a benchmark to constantly trackback against.

Use the insights to shape your plan, then continually review and refine your progress as your business, and the world around you evolves.

Takeaway Tips for HR Leaders

•       Data doesn’t lie, and it helps us connect the dots

•       Set up comprehensive data & feedback sources to constantly track back against

Focusing on these six steps will help you create one HR in your organization and shape the next phase of your transformation journey to harness the true power of digital: creating efficiencies, excellent experiences for your people and customers, and delivering better business outcomes.

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