By Melanie Douglas, Managing Director – HR Transformation and Workforce Experience

Recently, I was working with a large company, with hundreds of thousands of employees, that seemed stuck in the HR Dark Ages: few electronic records, almost everything was on paper. The employees said to me over and over, “I can’t believe I can order a pizza on my phone, but I can’t change my address without having to find a person to talk to.”

Your people want this transformation. In fact, 62 percent of your workers believe that artificial intelligence and automation will have a positive impact on their work and these are experiences that they are looking for.

From my perspective, we in HR have been so mired and bogged down in day-to-day administrative and transactional work that our capacity to transform HR into a truly intelligent function has been limited.

But that’s starting to change.

How intelligent HR can transform your workforce and your company

It’s pretty cool what intelligent HR can do—help your workforce become more connected and free up your people to do higher-value work. I’m already seeing this in my client work.

  1. Intelligent HR can change your hiring practices to grow your business

Intelligent platforms coupled with intelligent functions—like automation and analytics—can change the way you identify, select and onboard your people. Now, some companies are wary of this idea. I think it reminds them of when HR started rolling out self-service years ago and they got burned. But what we didn’t do then—a critical principle of intelligent enterprises—is standardize our processes. Everything was customized to death.

Now, the workforce is dominated by Millennials and soon, Gen Z. They have different expectations than anyone else before then, but we also have new cool tools. And that's led to a revolution around digital transformation. For example, from a bottom-line perspective, the cost of turnover is extremely high. By selecting better talent through predictive analytics, you reduce that cost. You also drive up revenue by bringing on the right talent and enabling current employees to spend their time doing rewarding and interesting work. For example, automated assessments can replace call screening; candidates can be empowered to schedule their own interviews and track their progress throughout the hiring process.

  1. Intelligent platforms change the way you connect with your people

Companies are taking models like Uber and applying their principles to their workforce. In HR, this works in two ways: It streamlines the hiring process and lets you see how your people are adding value in real-time.

When you order an Uber, you can track the car online and follow its progress. Now, think about candidates applying for a job or a promotion. They could schedule their own interviews and have visibility on exactly where they are, all the way through the process.

I worked with a large company recently which has always followed a strictly “old school” business model. They still used paper, they still had the big parking lot where everyone could see who was still at their desks or not. This is how they have always measured their employees’ worth—and how they still measure it today! But this is not what your people want. And when they can vote with their feet—and they do—it’s not where they will choose to work in the future.

  1. Intelligent HR lets you build a boundary-less workforce

People are used to being connected in their daily lives through their phones and even door bells. It’s the kind of connectivity they expect at work too. Some businesses in the hospitality industry, for example, are taking advantage of these new capabilities. Intelligent platforms allow housekeepers to use one device to ask for time off, request supplies for rooms they’re cleaning, or let people know which rooms they have completed.

The connected workforce also means that you can recruit the best people, wherever they may be. Think about that legacy company I mentioned earlier. Preserving the core values for companies like this is a real challenge. People don’t want to relocate to a different state or to be tied to a desk from 9 to 5. And as a result, companies like these are in peril. But intelligent platforms let them become global employers without losing the things or compromising the values that make their legacy so important. Everybody wins.

How to get started

CHROs should have a seat at the table where organizational change is happening. As the stakeholder for your people, they will drive the internal transformation within your company. To lead this change, they’ll need to do a solid assessment of your industry and where you sit within it. They’ll need to get a solid handle on what your customers are saying about you—and what your people are saying about you, too. And once they know all that and have shared it with you, you all need to get busy.

Melanie Douglas

Managing Director – HR Transformation and Workforce experience

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