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Digital will fundamentally change HR as we know it

Talent Management the Next Wave*

Digital will fundamentally change HR as we know it

With the virtual workforce here to stay, businesses will be

forced to reconsider old practices used to manage and motivate

employees; whether onsite or offsite... this is where digital

technology will come to the fore.

Digital technology is continuing to evolve at breakneck speed, and it permeates nearly every aspect of our working lives. Digital is changing the way we operate, impacting every area of how we source, assess, develop and manage our talent. Accenture’s 2014 publication, Trends Reshaping the Future of HR: Digital Radically Disrupts HR, attests that digital technologies enable not only greater integration and flexibility than ever before, but also the ability for employees to have a greater share of voice and ability to participate in defining and even creating their own work experiences. Digital is thus poised to ‘radically disrupt HR as usual’ and redefine the future of the human resources function in the next decade.

Today, offsite employees typically have access to all the collaboration tools and technologies that in-house workers do, with none of the office politics or distractions that can often destroy productivity. The market is growing rapidly in this area; companies such as Cisco have invested heavily in developing online collaboration tools that mirror the ease-of-use of consumer tools. Cisco recently released Jabber, which enables workers to collaborate from any location they can get an internet connection, using text messaging, sharing documents, or through voice and videoconferencing, on a wide range of devices.

According to Country Director for Citrix in Australia, Seamus King, there is a significant increase in the number of enquiries from clients wanting to conduct face-to-face engagements, often for training purposes, without staff needing to physically come together. Consequently, the ability to collaborate via technology is going forward in leaps and bounds to more accurately reflect the way people work.

Mobility is driving ease of use and impact

The ultimate success of any technology depends on its uptake. Embracing mobile access is an essential feature of any easy-to-use technology platform. Upwards of 27% of OCG’s website views now come via mobile devices.

In the average workplace, employees want mobile access for time and expense reporting, employee directory, knowledge sharing, and other HR applications. Today’s HR software is not only a system of record; it is a ‘system of engagement’, with employees and managers using these systems for everyday support, including collaboration, learning, goal setting and expertise sharing.

When companies roll these systems out, they potentially create a more efficient way of working for most of their employees. But with 5 million people predicted to be connected by mobile devices by 2018, will employers have even more expectation for people to be productive 24/7? And if so, is that a good thing?

Analytics is driving customised talent management

As mobility applications develop and people spend more of their work and personal time on technology platforms, they are leaving an ever-larger digital trail of information that can be tracked, integrated and analysed.

Companies have an abundance of employee, HR and performance data - demographic information, performance information, educational history, job location and many other factors about employees - but this data is not yet being used scientifically to make people decisions. According to Bersin, ‘this is the single biggest big data opportunity in business. If we can apply science to improving the selection, management and alignment of people, the returns can be tremendous’.

However, for the data to be in a form that can usefully be incorporated into talent management, organisations will have to invest in quality data analytics.

Right now, 67% of employers are using data driven analysis or big data to make talent management decisions. This is more common in large organisations (73%) than small (47%) or medium (58%) organisations. The most common uses are to identify skills gaps (37%) and identify future leaders & measure historic metrics (both 32%).

Most employers believe that big data is here to stay, with 46% agreeing that analysis of big data will evolve HR into a strategic function of the organisation (cf. 9% disagree). Whilst 18% agree the cost of collecting big data makes most projects unfeasible, 26% disagree. However, employers are stopping short of calling big data a disruptive force within HR (13% cf. 23% disagree).

Trans Tasman Perspective

Australian organisations are less likely to agree that big data will evolve HR into a strategic function in their organisation (46%; cf. New Zealand organisation 66%) than their New Zealand counterparts.

Most employers believe that big data is here to stay, with 46% agreeing that analysis of big data will evolve HR into a strategic function of the organisation. So for the more than two thirds of organisations who don’t use data for talent management decisions, what could they be doing differently?

Are employees experiencing technology overwhelm?

In 1936, when New Zealanders won the right to a 5 day, 40 hour work week, employees could leave work and enjoy a social life without any connection to work – there was no email, no Facebook, no Skype and no LinkedIn.

Today, we live in vastly interconnected world, where the lines between our personal and professional lives have been blurred. Our mobile devices now let us bring work with us 24/7. We’re checking our emails after 5pm and we’re doing more business globally regardless of time and location. Have technology and too much access turned us into ‘overwhelmed’ employees?

This overwhelm may be the reason that we are seeing technology providers simplifying tools onto a single platform and focused on providing a simpler user experience. According to Oscar Trimboli, the director of Microsoft Australia’s information worker group, the wide range of devices that workers use today means it is important that the experience of using different tools is harmonised; for example video, voice and desktop being one experience, rather than three.

Pros and cons of technology in talent management

Despite media stereotypes that present Millennials as insatiable for technology, they report suffering the most information and technology overload in the workplace. Millennials are expressing both a desire for more human, face-to-face interaction and frustration with information and technology overload, with 72% of employees preferring to collaborate in person vs. online (23%) or via phone or videoconference (5%).

This is a warning to CEOs and Managers that technology is an enabler - not a replacement – for person-to-person management techniques. Despite the improvements that technology can deliver, managers still need to engage and communicate with their employees, and employees still need to connect with their work and colleagues. No amount of technological advancement will replace these human fundamentals.

With organisations legislatively responsible for providing a safe working environment for their employees, today’s technology driven world opens up a whole range of considerations around cyber bullying, workplace isolation and mental health.

As the digital workplace can be accessed from anywhere, any time it makes working, and therefore over-working, just that much easier - which can undermine and erode any distinction between work and family life.

Gamification: game changer or fad?

A recent development in digital technology is in talent management through gamification.

Just what is gamification? In basic terms, it is the use of gaming to recruit, develop and motivate employees. It is the weaving of game mechanics such as virtual currency, leader boards (boards that display leaders in a competition), badges, or levelling up (progression to the next level in a game) into existing work activities or processes without the development of a full-fledged actual game28.

Gartner Group defines gamification as the concept of employing game mechanics to non-game activities such as recruitment, training and health and wellness. Gartner predicts that by 2014, more than 70% of global 2,000 organisations will have at least one gamified application, which can range from mastering a specific skill or improving one’s health.

Despite Gartner’s comments, our research found that just 19% of employers and 17% of employees are aware of gamification in this context.

* Today’s workforce is more dynamic and more demanding than ever. Data is becoming a valuable currency. Employees are demanding more flexible, dynamic and diverse work arrangements. A multigenerational workforce – four generations working side by side - breakneck technological advances and increasing globalisation are forcing the business world to re-think previously successful people strategies.

This whitepaper explores emerging trends in talent management and examines how we are managing talent in an environment increasingly characterised by change.

For Talent Management – the next wave we surveyed 233 senior managers, leaders and specialists and 287 employees across Australia and New Zealand to gain their insights into talent management.

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