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Winning the war on talent: improving employee experiences to drive business value

By Stanislava Stoyanova, HR Transformation Leader at ServiceNow

July 17 2018 - Digital experiences outside of work have made life simpler, easier and more convenient. As a result, today's top talent want the same at work and they are prepared to move job if their digital needs aren't being met. This is a seismic shift for organisations, one that is forcing them to adopt new ways of working and embrace digital innovation.

This intensifying battle for talent means the Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO) is fast becoming a key driver of these changes and taking the lead on accelerating transformation efforts. Great benefits and cool office perks are no longer enough, employees want simple digital experiences that make work, work better for them.

This means CHROs must invest in reviewing how employees perform and feel about their jobs - in terms of organisational environment, processes, and physical environment. This information can then be used to introduce new technology-enabled experiences for deeper engagement, higher productivity and better business results.

Redefining employee experience

This need to embrace technology and digital experience is a new requirement for CHROs. It is something that has largely sat with the IT department rather than HR previously. However, a recent survey by ServiceNow provides insights from more than 500 CHROs in 12 countries across 20 industries on how HR professionals are stepping up to the challenge of implementing new technology and delivering better employee experiences.

From this research it is clear that today there are still big hurdles for CHROs to overcome. 44% of the CHROs survey admitted they are "ineffective" at applying technologies to personalise interaction and predict employee needs. Moreover, almost a third said that they are not given enough budget to offer competitive compensation to talent, are overburdened by core HR tasks, and that it is difficult to reskill existing employees.

That is not to say that CHROs are not committed and enthusiastic about taking on these challenges. Indeed, the research revealed a clear vision for the future amongst CHROs. More than half of CHROs surveyed (56%) said the ability to create a digital, consumerised employee experience will define their roles in three years, compared with only 6% who say their role will continue to be defined by traditional human resources activities. As such, 29% of CHROs are focusing on digitising the employee experience and 22% are increasing investment in digital technology.

These shifts in emphasis in the CHRO's role will fundamentally change the way people work and offer staff the same fluidity that they have in their home life at work and with tailored experiences - offering employees a personalised and predictive workplace with consumer-like digital interactions.

For example, this could enable HR departments to establish workflows to push notifications to employees for paperwork updates, recommendations for services based on recent behaviour, and instant answers to questions through chatbots that receive data from multiple departments.

Delivering on the promise of digitisation

The majority (68%) of CHROs recognise that technology is key to improve employee experience to help overcome barriers to collaboration and ensure accuracy and timeliness in the completion of tasks. Encouragingly though, CHROs seem to understand that this can't be done in a piecemeal fashion, with most expecting to deploy a system-wide platform, over multiple applications. 18% of CHROs are already investing in a cross-functional platform and 48% expect to achieve this in the next three years.

A single enterprise platform means interactions and services can all integrate effortlessly from one place across teams and systems. For HR departments this includes benefitting from establishing workflows with auto progression for a much larger percentage of tasks and "softer" responsibilities such as career planning and continuing education, alongside retention, benefits management, recruitment, and payroll.

Driving business value

Creating these simpler and faster ways for people to get things done makes the world of work, work better for people. It also leads to wider business benefits, with 70% CHROs surveyed believing that introducing improved digital services in the workplace will foster a sense of community and improve corporate culture. And two thirds of CHROs saying an improved employee experience will enhance productivity - directly driving quantifiable business value.

The other benefit to CHROs is that digitisation of tasks can help to overcome budget, time, training and staff retention challenges, which simultaneously empowers HR departments to take a more integral role within the business. In fact, 74% of CHROs believe their role will be even more strategic in the next three years.

By humanising the workplace, facilitating cross-function partnership and collaboration, and providing insights that improve talent strategy and decision-making, HR becomes a strategic driver of digital transformation.

Enhanced collaboration, improved workflows, and easier day-to-day work experiences for all employees cannot be underestimated. There is a clear connection between better use of technology, better employee experiences, and better business results - all crucial to winning the battle for talent.



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