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February 14, 2017
As the battle for talent escalates, it’s time for HR leaders to “engage”
By: Arvind Mathur

Out with the old, in with the new. 

We apply this dictum to our calendars every 12 months. We should do the same to a few time-worn principles of human resources.

This means we think and practice HR in terms of talent “engagement,” not talent "management.” The latter word is too passive and staid for my taste… it just kind of sits there, while the rest of our digital world zips by.

To engage, you must first connect, and that’s core to what we call “Connected HR.”

Connected HR is where we are going, and there are a few accelerating forces driving us there. One is the growing “consumerization” of the workforce (which I discussed in my previous article), where employees seek a social, on-demand, consumer-style “experience” within their companies.

Another factor is the intensifying battle for talent. In the United States, for example, unemployment recently touched a nine-year low, while job openings hit a record high. Simply put, it’s hard to find good people. In our increasingly mobile and liquid world, job searching takes little more than a quick visit to LinkedIn. More than ever, employers must provide differentiated experiences that their competitors can’t match to attract new employees and to keep their best and brightest from flying the coop.

Creating “Sticky” Engagement

With Connected HR, we tap into workers’ digital pulse, creating a culture of engagement and an experience that completely remakes the relationship between employee and employer.

So, just how do we get to Connected HR? Think of it as a road trip, with an important caveat: By implementing the latest cloud-based HR and Talent software solutions, you’ve merely loaded up your car. You’re still at the starting point. Getting out of the driveway and on your journey takes much more, and can be much more.

Consider the expanding ecosystem of apps (through SAP and others) and connected devices that can be customized to the specific needs of employees to improve health and safety—say, a smartwatch that monitors the vital signs and patterns of workers in potentially risky situations, such as mining or construction.

Consider using augmented reality as part of the learning experience for employees, where employers can connect people across continents and oceans, allowing an expert in a remote location in Africa or Australia to give a live demonstration or training to an audience in Chicago, Singapore and Stockholm without travel and delay (Microsoft’s HoloLens is a particularly fascinating application of this).

Building Bridges

Bridging the personal and professional divide with apps like Accenture’s My Well-Being, a digital personal assistant app that provides scheduling reminders, parking suggestions and other services can provide a differentiated experience to your employees.

Some might take such day-to-day matters for granted. But for HR leaders intent on building, sustaining, and retaining a high-performing workforce, part of the job is recognizing any and all opportunities to engage and energize. This means we need to bridge the personal and professional lives—while also respecting privacy boundaries.

Connected HR revolves around the latest and greatest technology, yes, but its foundation is fundamentally human—putting people first, piquing their interest and making them feel wanted and special.

Ideally, if they love their work and the people they’re working with, they are engaged, and, they will stay around and help you attract additional talent. Your HR has to become Connected HR and the employee experience has to become “sticky.”

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