CHRO study highlights the changing role of aspiring HR leaders in the digital era

Stanislava Stoyanova Profile picture for user Stanislava Stoyanova July 18, 2018
A recent CHRO study shows the changing role of aspiring HR leaders as businesses transform for the digital era. ServiceNow's Stanislava Stoyanova explains

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Digital technology is transforming the world we live in, and also the world of work. This drives changes in human behaviors in personal lives and also creates new expectations that people have as employees.

The bar is set high for companies to respond to these expectations to foster and sustain high performance. This creates great opportunities for HR to strategically lead the design of impeccable employee experience, redefine the way work gets done and enable corporate performance and growth.

Findings from the CHRO study

The changing nature of the strategic role of HR and trends about HR’s increasing impact and influence have been explored in the recent study commissioned by ServiceNow, The New CHRO Agenda: Employee Experience Drives Business Value.

The study captures the views of 500 Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs) in 12 countries across 20 industries. It provides valuable insights about their priorities and strategies for transforming the employee experience and winning the war for talent.

The study clearly outlines the trend that HR is fast becoming a driver of change and accelerator of digital transformation.

More than half (56%) of the surveyed CHROs said that the ability to create a digital, consumerized employee experience will best define their role in the next three years, and 7% expect to see improved employee experience from digital transformation within the same timeframe.

Around half (48%) of CHROs also expect to use platform models that integrate data from multiple sources, giving visibility across the enterprise and helping to overcome the barriers to cross-functional collaboration.

The study provides evidence of the CHRO role growing from tactical to strategic, with responsibilities over business outcomes, employee productivity and corporate brand.

In Europe, the surveyed CHROs are 315 from seven countries – France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. While the trend that the HR function is increasingly becoming more strategic remains true in Europe, HR is digitizing at a slower pace in comparison to the rest of the world.

For example, 55% of CHROs still use single-purpose HR applications to simplify processes, which compares to 47% in Asia Pacific and only 22% in the US. Also, companies in Europe are slower at adopting cloud technology. Yet, the CHROs in the region have embraced the potential of digital HR transformation and are confident in their organizations’ future outlooks.

The importance of designing a great employee experience

Employee experience is an all-encompassing term. It is the overall experience of corporate culture, ways of working, processes, technological and physical environment that determines how employees perform and feel about their job, and also shapes their sense of belonging and engagement.

In the digital era, the technological environment is becoming increasingly important and is strongly influenced by innovation. This area is constantly developing, for example the on-going evolution of artificial intelligence and machine learning continues to drive more opportunities to provide frictionless, personalized best-in-class HR services to employees.

In this regard, utilizing chatbot technology in HR is a great example, and an experience that employees would typically have outside of work as consumers. This applies strongly for the younger, digitally-native generations who naturally expect seamless experiences at the workplace too.

In order to attract and retain talent in the organisation and reduce regretted attrition, HR needs to understand the requirements of the workforce that actively uses modern technology in their daily lives, and to have the ability to respond accordingly.

Employee self-service portals should be easy to access and intuitive to navigate across, and HR processes need to be managed swiftly through intelligent workflows that enable a seamless user experience across the enterprise.

Therefore, when HR is defining processes and building intelligent workflows to digitize them, it is important to apply design thinking, to consider the end user experience and empathise to it.

The employee journey is a part of the life journey of each person and a positive experience and flawless HR support really make a difference to performance and engagement.

The evolving role of HR

The digitization of the employee experience is increasingly being recognized as a key enabler to business productivity and high corporate performance. Therefore, the strategic role of HR as driver of digital transformation will continue to evolve.

As indicated in the results of the CHRO study, a growing number of CHROs believe their role will continue to become more strategic as they accelerate digital transformation. They recognize the significance of technology and collaboration, and the value of creating a consumerized employee experience.

These behaviors are raising the profile and the credibility of the HR function overall, allowing HR professionals to expand their skillset and capabilities. And with that, great opportunities for aspiring HR individuals arise.

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