Right-Skills_Right-TimeAs we take a look forward at what’s new and what’s next in recruiting and HR, it’s becoming increasingly clear that companies are putting more of an emphasis behind the business of people than ever before. HR is shifting from being seen as a largely burdensome administrative function into a critical core competency that’s becoming inexorably intertwined with big picture strategy and bottom line impact.

Now, more than ever, it’s essential for employers to take a step back and take stock of what’s working – and more importantly, what’s not – when it comes to building a best-in-class HR function.

The key to a cutting edge people function lies solely in whether or not HR can truly engage, enable and empower its employees. As a global HR leader, it’s imparative to create people focused processes and procedures designed with the end user in mind. In this case, those end users are the top talent that’s ultimately the critical differentiator when it comes to beating the competition today – and tomorrow.

Building The Workforce of Tomorrow: 5 Things Every HR and Recruiting Pro Should Know Today.

Already in 2016, we’ve seen some major talent trends emerge as HR professionals continue to evolve more staid, traditional practices to keep up with the breakneck speed of business.

Whether by intent or accident, organizations are starting to realize that in the new world of work, they can no longer rely on what’s always worked. In my most recent Recruiting Daily post, I took a closer look at the HR trends every talent professional should care about in 2016 (and beyond).

Having already identified the top 3 trends in HR practitioners should actually care about, I felt it apropos to turn my focus on exactly what those same leaders can do to make sure they’re ready to meet those key trends hands on over the months and years to come.

Here are 5 key considerations for building a successful people strategy that’s able to survive – and thrive – in today’s world of work.

5. Age Is Actually More Than A Number.

2016-03-07_08-16-04By now you’re probably well familiar with the shifting demographics of generations at work, but the fact is, this is one perpetual trending topic that’s actually worth believing the hype. Major changes to the composition of the workforce have already forced many employers to make some major changes in the way the HR function functions.

In many geographies, in markets all around the world, we’re already starting to see what’s been called a “silver tsunami” as the first waves of retiring Baby Boomers begin breaking, replaced by a veritable flood of younger workers, commonly referred to as “Gen Y” or “Millennial” workers.

While HR has spent years discussing (and dreading) the implications of this changing of the guard, the fact is, it’s already effectively happened. In fact, by 2020, fully half of the global workforce will be comprised of workers born between 1982-2000.

This is significant because this requires organizations to continually realign and redefine the way that they meet the expectations of candidates and employees alike. It’s important for employers to rethink their value propositions so that your mission, vision and values accurately align with (and positively impact) the changing face of your workforce.

In the proverbial war for talent, the battle lines for attracting and keeping the best and brightest have been clearly drawn. Winning the hearts and minds of the emerging workforce increasingly requires organizations to proactively invest in creating and shaping a culture that best provides this segment of the workforce with what they really want in a job.

Study after study suggests that this includes the license to ideate and innovate instead of stick to the same old script and the ability to operate with some level of autonomy while simultaneously building a career in organizations operate transparently and with a sense of purpose.

If your culture can’t cut it, it might be time to make some serious changes to ensure that you’re able to become the sort of career destination more employees of choice choose more than your competition, no matter what generation they happen to be a part of.

4, Think People, Not Process.

2016-03-07_08-20-09The enterprise of today will increasingly be tasked with delivering a highly personalized, highly individualized employment experience. The employee of the 21st century should be viewed, effectively, as a “workforce of one.” The days where the worker put the needs of the group before their own are long gone, and businesses that can’t successfully shift from meeting the needs of the collective to meeting those of the individual will collectively risk similar obsolescence.

That’s why it’s imparative the premise of unified design in HR must inherently put people first, not policies, programs, platforms or processes. It sounds obvious, but historically, many HR professionals have forgotten that we’re in the business of people. Therefore, it must be our business to deliver as much personalization to those people as possible.

Every organization must address the critical question as to whether or not it makes sense to abandon automation for personalization, a strategic shift that requires companies to give up often significant investments made in often archaic, increasingly obsolete legacy systems, which by design largely aimed to industrialize and standardize service delivery, with limited options to differentiate.

The changing mindset of the changing workforce increasingly means considering changing systems, replacing rigid on-premise platforms with much more flexible SaaS solutions which allow a much greater degree of individual configuration and employee personalization than traditional HR technologies.

With more funding flooding this market than ever before, a significant number of early stage startups are emerging to finally meet some of the most critical capability gaps and fill some of the most gaping functional holes within the HR and recruiting functions. As new players emerge in the talent tech ecosystem, ones dedicated to building new functionalities and ways of working, it’s becoming clear that we’re seeing an unprecedented convergence.

What we’re seeing is the implementation and integration of new software, systems and strategies to deliver data driven insights that cut across disciplines as diverse as technology, marketing, sales, finance & cost management, psychology, sociology, anthropology and supplier or vendor management. It’s a pretty exciting time to be in the business of people, but it can often times seem like a scary one, too.

Companies across industries face the daunting task of balancing the need to modify their processes with the need to deliver real business results and real impact in real time, all the time. This firehose of data that the rapidly evolving landscape of HR Technology has enabled increasingly means it’s up to HR leaders to deliver much more informed, much more diligent decisions about delivering the best level of employee service possible by selecting the technologies and partners that can best fit both your company culture and people processes.

With more options than ever before, if you’re not rethinking your approach to technology, you’re in danger of losing out on the data you need to get the talent you want. And no one wants that.

3. HR Must Always Be On. Anytime, Anywhere. 

Most employers now recognize the need to evolve their policies, processes and programs to align with business models that better resonate with employees and other stakeholders who live their lives (and livelihoods) in a largely digital world, one where interactions mostly happen online instead of in person and where there’s a premium placed on the immediate interaction over the interpersonal exchange. This mindset means that today’s talent technologies must reflect a user-centered design that delivers an immersive, intuitive experience that’s highly personalized and high touch.

These new technologies are changing the way HR works by changing the way the work gets done, allowing employees to access and interact with HR anytime, anywhere. Across the entirety of the employment lifecycle, we are starting to see the changes made by utilizing digital technologies to enhance awareness and shared understanding, alignment and adoption of core organizational values, behaviors or opportunities.

Digitizing the employee experience can also effectively capture, promote a culture and build an army of brand advocates around the shared internal values of proficiency, performance and passion – all while helping every worker work up to their true potential.

From digital onboarding to mobile learning content, from real time social performance and career management feedback to automated 360 assessments to fully integrated relationship management tools, the future of HR technology is happening right now.

2. Balance HR by Better Engaging, Enabling And Empowering People.

Recruitment-HiringIf you’re going to effectively build the kind of company culture you want, you’ve first got to make sure there’s alignment with the beliefs, intentions and actions that reflect your desired organizational culture. Delivering on the value proposition you promised to your people means building policies, processes and programs with the singular foundational principle that the Employee Always Comes First. This “Employee First” mentality is a critical first step in achieving a unified, cohesive company culture that’s actually meaningful to the people immersed in it each and every day.

To truly achieve an “Employee First” approach, organizations will need to shift their practices in the workplace from being led and influenced by executive management and senior leadership to one that’s driven by the employees themselves, a bottoms up approach that can be embraced, and adopted, at the top instead of the other way around.

This will require increased authenticity, flexibility and a willingness of senior leaders to engage in the open communication and dialogue that employees today want and need to succeed. Management must invert the proverbial pyramid so that leaders see their role as enablers, not inhibitors, and realize that their own success will increasingly be defined by the individual employee experience, instead of the collective or group outcome.

Here are a few areas of HR that are already feeling these fundamental changes as 2016 unfolds:

  • Recruiting has evolved to be much more strategic, with talent acquisition being retooled, retrained and refocused to best capture the realities of a candidate driven market where new roles, new skills and new business requirements or responsibilities seem to be constantly emerging. Balancing the demand for talent with the increasingly finite supply is becoming one of the most critical skills for success when it comes to building and optimizing effective workforce operations.
  • Performance management has evolved to reflect both individual and collective contributions, with an equal consideration being given to both personal and group outcomes when measuring or managing employee performance. The ability to provide real time feedback, coaching and communications with individual employees now allows leaders to make performance management a continuous, rather than periodic, process that’s perceived to add value instead of being seen as simply an annual administrative burden.
  • Career management will evolve along along with new technologies and work styles which put a premium on reskilling and retraining for better business alignment, particularly around the new roles and new skills that are constantly being created. This consistent shift in demand and supply will require more jobs to move to where talent is actually available, instead of requiring individuals relocate or move for jobs.
  • Compensation looks set to finally increase after an extended period of wage stagnation; this increase will not only come in the form of increased salaries, but also total rewards packages that are variably linked with individual and collective performance. This rise in “pay for play” performance based outcomes should increasingly start to encroach on more traditional fixed salary models, with short and long term incentives alike better aligning with business needs and bottom line outcomes.
  • Talent management has started to include both internal and external pipelines as part of the standard succession management process as more companies look to minimize the risks associated with turnover, particularly in mission critical positions. With deployment and development decisions being made in real time, all the time, we’re already starting to see such strategies as cross training and work sharing emerge as ways organizations are increasing internal capabilities and ensuring continuity irrespective of individual contributors.

1. Increase Insight Through Integrated Decision Support.

2016-03-07_08-18-12In today’s increasingly complex world of work, the HR professional will somehow have to find clarity amidst this new complexity to make better decisions based on data instead of simply relying on policies and precedents.

As delivering on the value proposition for today’s workforce becomes more challenging, organizations of every size, in all industries, and across all markets must turn to evidence based insight as the primary driver of people strategies.

This will require an investment in the ability of talent organizations to identify and report on key metrics, build out dashboards, model, manage and warehouse data, build business intelligence platforms and create actionable analytics that actually create business value.

That’s no small task.

Building a data driven HR organization requires rethinking roles, functions, people and platforms to maintain maximum organizational health. It also necessitates increasing the ability to forecast how future hires may succeed, optimizing internal mobility and calculating the ROI on new and existing employees alike.

The insights we get can help ensure that our efforts as HR leaders are positively impacting the employee experience and company culture, shifting HR from the prescriptive, reactive function of yesterday into the proactive, predictive partner of tomorrow.

Because, like it or not, the workforce of the future is here today.

download-9About the Author: Prithvi Shergill is currently the Chief Human Resources Officer at HCL Technologies, one of the world’s largest IT and engineering services firms, where he is responsible for overseeing a global workforce of 103,000 employees in 32 countries across HCL Technologies’ multinational businesses.

Prior to his current role, Prithvi served as a Partner in the human capital group at Accenture for eight years, and his career in HR leadership extends over three decades.

Follow him on Twitter @ShergillPrithvi or connect with him on LinkedIn.