Posted by Christopher Cameron on January 06, 2016.
One of the trends we examined in our Global Human Capital Trends 2015 report was the need for HR to get better at keeping pace with changes in the business. With only 5 percent of survey respondents rating their organization’s HR performance as excellent, and 32 percent rating it as underperforming or “getting by,” it seems clear that many HR organizations are struggling to deliver what the business needs (see Reinventing HR: An extreme makeover). This could have been the case with the HR organization in one company we worked with —but it wasn’t. Instead, HR leaders took the opportunity afforded by the business’s dramatic turnaround to reinvent HR in similar bold fashion.
Though well-known in its industry, the company had been struggling in a very competitive marketplace until a new CEO came on board. His vision for transforming the company, and even the market, focused on new innovative services and a mission to eliminate customer pain points. Inspired by the business’s marketplace success, the company’s HR leadership resolved to align HR service with the upward trajectory of the business and to re-energize the HR environment.
HR adopted the business’s guiding principle to remove pain points, this time directed to internal customers—the company’s approximately 45,000 full-time employees. How could HR change its current service model to remake the customer touch points, simplifying and improving the overall experience? What would it take to bring its external customer service promise—smooth systems, simple solutions, and innovative approaches—inside to benefit employees?
Four “mantras” became the project’s guide. We believe they are valid focal points for any company embarking on an HR transformation.
The original business case for the project had several objective elements that were expected to drive a return—primarily based on improved process efficiencies compared to current processes and savings realized by eliminating or reducing costs associated with on-premises systems and the need to support a large scope of customized applications and associated upgrades. Perhaps the truest measure of the project’s success, however, is in how well it met its primary goal—simplify and improve the employee experience. Employee feedback, gathered through comments on the company’s internal social network, indicated a very enthusiastic response to the new systems. A telling example: one VP, after using manager self-service for the first time, pronounced it “ATM easy.”
While this project is a good example of HR following the business’s visionary lead, we also encourage HR to lead transformation in its own right. New technologies and cloud-based systems are redefining the role of HR and improving its overall effectiveness by creating sustainable systems of engagement—improving productivity, collaboration, and data-driven decision making. With results like these, HR can be the leader that inspires other functions to take their own “re-energizing” journey to better support the business.