5 Key Areas for HR Professionals to Focus on (now and post-Corona)

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The current Corona-crisis has hurled us into what we regarded only a few months ago as ‘the future of work’. Suddenly, things like digital transformation and running a business with a fully distributed workforce have become a reality for many organizations. But if we choose to look at the glass as being half full, this ‘new normal’ could speed up some of the changes we’ve seen over the past few years to make HR more effective and drive better business outcomes. In this article, we take a look at the five things you have to do right for your workforce to be 110% effective during – and beyond – these uncertain times.

Contents
Digital HR transformation
Digital HR strategy
Employee experience
Design thinking in HR
Future of work
Wrapping-up

1. Digital HR transformation

In a nutshell, HR digital transformation is the process of changing operational HR processes to become automated and data-driven. Its goal is two-fold, to transform HR operations on the one hand, and the workforce and the way work is done on the other.

It’s not hard to see how HR digital transformation is even more relevant now than it was before; over the past few weeks, countless organizations have had no other choice than to rapidly change the way their people work, for instance by asking people to work from home as much as possible, cancel in-person client meetings, etc.

Video call and professional messaging software are here to save the day, helping employees to stay in touch, have meetings and work on projects, but also to have virtual coffees and play games to remember the informal, fun part of working together. So, perhaps without realizing, organizations have naturally gone through a mini digital transformation because they didn’t have a choice.

For HR, this new (albeit temporary) normal means they have to adapt fast, rethinking among other things the way they recruit, onboard, and engage people. And since this is something HR professionals are forced to do right now, given the circumstances, why not look at it as the starting point for a lasting HR digital transformation?

Although a lot of organizations already started to digitally transform before COVID-19, we believe that this process will only accelerate once things start to calm down. This is also why it will become even more important for HR professionals to have a certain knowledge of digital transformation; to know how to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by emerging business models, ideas and technology and to gain an understanding of what will make people productive in the future. 

2. Digital HR strategy

To keep the above-mentioned digital transformation in HR on track, a well-defined digital HR strategy is in order. This is why it’s important to know how to think strategically about leveraging technology to drive value for the business.

In other words: how to build a digital HR strategy, how to implement it and how to manage the stakeholders involved.

3. Employee Experience

The employee experience is a topic that has been on the HR agenda for a while now. It’s how employees feel about what they encounter and observe over the course of their employee journey at an organization. You can think of it as the HR equivalent of the customer experience.

According to Jacob Morgan, the employee experience relates to three environments: culture, technology, and physical space with all three acting as enablers for a great employee experience – or not.

With plenty of people finding themselves working from home right now, all of these environments are challenged. The technology often doesn’t function as well as it should (perhaps due to a weaker internet connection), people’s physical space sometimes is shared with kids and spouses, and with everybody working from home, the company culture risks to be forgotten about.

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For HR, again, this means that they’re thinking of ways to preserve their organization’s employee experience while dealing with a (largely) distributed set-up. The same video and messaging software we mentioned earlier can, of course, be used for this.

While providing a fitting employee experience might be challenging right now, if as an HR department you do a good job, this will have a positive effect on your employees and the way they feel about the company – and perhaps even make those who were thinking of leaving before, stay.  

If we look beyond Corona, the employee experience will continue to be a key topic for HR. It’s something that is increasingly important for both job-seekers as well as existing employees.

As such, being able to understand your employee experience by mapping the employee journey becomes a valuable skill for HR professionals. Because once you’re able to do this, you can start focusing on the touch-points and problems that matter and hence improve your employee experience. 

4. Design thinking in HR

This one is in line with the previous areas we mentioned and therefore part of our key areas that will become even more important for HR professionals post-corona. In fact, the employee experience is a key element of design thinking applied to employees.

In today’s competitive environment, you can gain a much-needed advantage by turning your knowledge of your employees into actionable insights on how to better attract, retain, and develop your talent. You can use the design thinking process to do so and create employee-centered HR solutions, tools, and processes. 

Check out the below video to learn more about Design Thinking in HR, a concept we will see much more of in the future, and how it can be applied.

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5. Future of work

Keeping up to speed with the trends that are impacting the world of work has always been important for HR professionals. Technology is rapidly transforming our jobs and to stay relevant, new capabilities, mindsets, and behaviors are required from our workforce.

The current circumstances, however, have shown us, even more, why it’s good to keep up with (certain) trends. Doing so will provide you with opportunities – for instance in times of crisis – if you know how to take advantage of these trends.

A simple example here is that of working with distributed teams and more in particular, the tech tools required for a smooth working distributed workforce. If you’ve followed this ‘working apart together’ trend and the tools companies often use, you probably had less difficulty switching to a remote set-up recently than someone who considered this trend not relevant.

The same thing goes for HR digital transformation and employee experience which are both also topics that have been on HR trends lists for a while.

Wrapping-up

COVID-19 has changed the world already. In many ways, it has jolted us into ‘the future of work’. And while this is not necessarily a bad thing, it does mean that as an HR professional, you should get up to speed with areas such as HR digital transformation, design thinking in HR, future of work trends and employee experience. Not only will this help you overcome the challenges of the current situation, but it will also be of great value for you – and the organization you work for – in a hopefully soon to be Corona-free world.     

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