Ready or not, the next wave of innovation is emerging in full force as digital technologies revolutionize nearly everything about the way we live and work. Unfortunately, most executives feel their organizations are woefully unprepared to lead their people effectively through a digital transformation that’s already well underway. A recent KPMG report, The Future of HR 2019, finds that, among HR leaders, only 37% are “very confident” in their department’s ability to “transform the workforce and itself.”
The challenges may seem formidable, running the gamut from HR not being perceived as a driver of organizational value to not having a clear digital transformation plan in place. But rather than viewing this as a barrier, HR can choose to see it as a tremendous opportunity to lead the charge. An optimal starting place is the transformation of talent acquisition.
Why the initial TA focus?
Two reasons come to mind immediately. The first is that attracting and retaining the right talent in our rapidly-shifting business environment is critical to all organizations. Plus, it’s one of the top concerns of CEOs, which means your digital transformation efforts will have high visibility among the C-suite.
Second, focusing your efforts on an area of the organization that you are extremely familiar with—as opposed to trying to put your arms around leading digital transformation for all functional areas—allows you to work within a known context of workflows, procedures, practices and outcomes. You’ll be far better positioned to identify the areas where digital transformation can make the biggest impact, as well as the associated skills and competencies required of your team members.
What to consider?
There’s no single way to approach this, especially since much of the digital transformation landscape is uncharted territory. However, an assessment of skills, infrastructure, training and performance offers a good framework for exploration and planning.
• Skills: What current and new skills are needed for the TA team to be successful in the new digital environment? Which skills will become less important? We know that, in general, the use of AI-driven technologies, automation and big data in the workplace means that the jobs of the future will require humans to be effective strategists, decision-makers and advisors while simultaneously reducing the time spent on task-based work like processing information because machines do that faster and with greater accuracy. One method of determining what digital transformation will look like for TA is to revisit your candidate journey and update it to reflect how the journey needs to evolve to keep pace with labor market demands and job seeker expectations. Then, since TA owns this journey, analyze exactly where in the candidate’s journey AI and automation will play a role and where TA will continue to drive the experience, noting the human skills and abilities required for success.
• Infrastructure: Now that you have your vision for how the work will be divided between humans and machines, you can determine which technologies are best-suited to support that vision. For example, many TA teams are handing over low-value, repetitive and time-consuming tasks like candidate sourcing and assessment to technology in favor of spending more time nurturing relationships—a capability that, as a former recruiter, I personally know machines can’t replace. Thus, the goal should always be to identify the solutions that will augment the team’s abilities.
• Training: The adoption of new HR tools and technology never happens on its own, so think about the training that will be required and how that training needs to be structured to ensure that TA possesses both the tech skills and the strategic mindset required to excel in the future. Consider how the existing culture might need to shift to support change and address cultural change through training as well.
• Performance: What are the expectations in this new environment and how will success be measured, both individually and as a TA team? These measures should be linked to aspects associated with the benefits of digital transformation, such as increased efficiency, cost-savings and improved results for the business.
Finally, go into this process with the intention of leveraging your experience as a roadmap for other organizational areas. Along the way, capture details about lessons learned, the strategies that were most effective and as much data as possible so that you have the relevant and meaningful information needed to help lead others in your organization as they navigate their digital transformation.