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Independence is our strength – covering the issues that directly impact on those with the duty of directing human resources
August 2019 – Issue 178
HR has always been about delivering right skills at the right time and adapting to change, through timely adoption, training and reskilling. But now, as we transition to an augmented workforce – a quasi-human/machine interaction – HR is at the threshold of unprecedented operational change. So how must people input be reassessed and recalibrated, in order to harmonise with the increasing and more sophisticated influence of digital technology? Can human capability attain new heights of value and innovation, as digital deals with the drudge and repetitious? Or are there potential negative ramifications ahead for the human/AI alliance? Should we accept the pace and direction of digital change without question, or must we urgently assume a more assertive, strategic role? And what future challenges and opportunities does the progress of digital integration present to the workplace and the wider society? What is irrefutable is that digital technology will continue to drive and accelerate change and attempts to protect the status quo are futile and potentially damaging. HR must be an architect of the people/machine operational framework and that will require the capacity and innovation to constantly predict, plan and adapt, so that the progress of digital disruption remains a human endeavour.
In the past, how an organisation operated – its ethics, culture and values – hardly mattered to customers, providing the product lived up to expectations. Similarly, employees never contemplated whether their employer was operating ethically, providing they were paid the right amount and on time. Unquestionably, that perception and mindset has changed 100 percent – take the current furore, particularly from the younger generations, over the devastating impact on the environment. Never before has employer brand been so critical to customer choice – as well as integral to competing for and retaining talent and skills – the two are inextricably linked, or should be. To be “authentic” and “transparent” are mandatory requisites, but how should businesses “reveal all” in these days of unrestrained social media, wildfire media coverage and the rising and changing expectations of what constitutes ethical operations? What are the essential elements now when defining the Employee Value Proposition (EVP)? Businesses can no longer make claims that they cannot – or do not intend – to live up to, the damage is incalculable. So, in an era of mandatory reporting on ethical operations – such as gender pay reporting – forcing a rising trend for stark honesty, where leaders admit failure, corporates hold their hands up and take ownership of mistakes and banks no longer target-drive sales forces? Is honesty really the best policy and a sustainable strategy? The corporate rug has been rolled up and ethically repurposed elsewhere, organisations operate in a virtual goldfish bowl and Carslberg has admitted that it’s probably not the best lager in the world. So, we really need your ideas, opinions and insight for potential articles on this subject.
Learning & development
L&D, centrally-prescribed, draconian and classroom-based, is a museum relic. In its place, is digital delivery, on demand to a diverse and remote workforce, but it is not entirely a success story. Basic applications – for example in; recruitment, onboarding and compliance training, framed in a “next-next-next” format – are broadly successful. But that which was most coveted – a new mindset of self-responsibility, a culture of positive learning and knowledge sharing – is widely underperforming, which is drawing the C-Suite’s attention to ROI. Indeed, in a survey carried out by Avado amongst L&D managers in 2018, 55 percent stated their concerns that senior leaders were only ‘paying lip service’ to digital training. So, what are the key reasons that decision-makers are not convinced, causing digital L&D to fall short of expectation? Could it be that time pressed and performance-focused environments leave no time for anything that isn’t mandatory or business related? Is it because L&D data is not translating into analytics that can effectively demonstrate ROI? Are the modules not benchmarked for efficacy and engagement, are calibrated incorrectly, or all-too often, not relevant or just plain boring? If so, what is the evidence that gamification and VR can pep it up and provide a more engaging and compelling experience? Moreover, what can be done that will now convince leaders to invest more deeply in digital? This is surely the most critical point for L&D, because a positive learning culture must start at the top.
The changing organisational framework
Businesses used to be steeped in tradition and time-honoured policies and procedures. Change happened, but it could be planned for and people could be developed in preparation. But now, change is the constant, it is multifaceted, dynamic and mercurial, and so if the organisational framework has to be constantly modified to accommodate change, the continuous disruption is difficult to live with and is the cause of much derision. The question that needs answering is; why do businesses view organisational change as something separate from everything else they do? If an organisation is not set up to be always change-capable, flexible and requiring the minimum of re-calibration, the chopping and changing is a constant distraction. Companies don’t fail because of changes in the market, they fail because leaders and decision-makers lack the prescience to be prepared, or fail to accept that today, change can happen so quickly, it can totally put their business in jeopardy. Should Blockbuster now be where Netflix is? Strong business frameworks, capable of withstanding shock, used to be admired. Now any rigidity stands as the most dangerous legacy – such is the power of the storm, it will take anything with it. As with all the subjects in this issue, we welcome your synopsis for potential articles.
As for all the topics we are covering in this issue, your expertise and insight will be gratefully received in the form of briefs outlining your proposed articles.