Creating employee experience - 10 HR trends for 2017 (II)

BY: Graphic Business

This is the continuation of last week’s article on how Human Resource (HR) leaders should apply a consumer and a digital lens to the HR function, thereby creating an employee experience that mirrors their best customer experience.

Plan for a blended workforce

The workforce of the future won’t be all full time employees. Rather, it will be blended, or composed of full time employees as well as consultants, contractors, freelancers, part time employees, and other contingent workers, collectively known as Gig Economy Workers. Multiple studies, conducted by Intuit, The Freelancers Union, and, most recently, Katz Krueger, professors respectively from Harvard and Princeton, predict the percentage of the workforce who are Gig Economy Workers range from 15.8 per cent to 34 per cent.

This percentage of workers who are contingent is growing, but not just due to online platforms like Uber, Field Nation, or Work Market. It is offline alternative work options that are actually growing the fastest. Recent estimates by Indeed document that job searches showing the most growth are for specialised and technical roles such as data scientists, digital marketers, network engineers and talent acquisition leads. Glassdoor Economist Dr Andrew Chamberlain confirms that the job growth he sees is also in specialised and technical roles requiring creative judgment, flexibility and long-term relationship building. Chamberlain believes these specialised jobs may be the least likely to function well on a gig economy platform.

This does not mean that the blended workforce (comprised of full time workers and Gig Economy Workers) is disappearing. They are and will be a permanent part of the changing composition of the workforce. But the composition of gig workers will morph over time. Forward-looking HR leaders should take action now to plan for a blended workforce and address issues such as; how do you on-board and integrate gig workers or what types of training can gig workers have access to?

Develop career mobility options

In 2015, millennials (aged 18-34) surpassed generation X as the largest generational cohort in the labor force and in 2016, millennials became the largest living generation, numbering 75.4 million, overtaking 74.9 million baby boomers (aged 51-69).

These digital natives want digital experiences both in their personal and professional lives. The Future Workplace Forecast has uncovered an innovative way for companies to provide digital career development: career mobility platforms allowing employees to test drive new roles and broaden their skills while they keep their current jobs at the company. The Future Workplace Forecast was conducted among 2,147 global heads of HR and Hiring Managers and shows how companies are creating new ways for employees to try out new roles.HR leaders believe this can lead to increases employee engagement (49%), improved employee productivity (39%), and improved employee teamwork (39%). As the war for talent heats up, with the US unemployment rate falling to 4.6 in November 2016, the lowest jobless rate since August 2007, retaining employees will be crucial and career mobility platforms are one way to potentially increase employee engagement while stemming job hopping.

Invest in employee wellness

Companies are making deliberate attempts to create a holistic view of wellness from financial wellness to health and well-being. SunTrust Bank  offers a unique financial wellness benefit to help employees increase their financial confidence. A recent survey conducted by SunTrust Bank found that 70 per cent of working adults felt a moderate or high level of financial stress in their lives. The solution: an online financial fitness program to help their employees save $2,000 for an emergency and take one paid day off for to improve their financial health through setting up a will doing a family budget or going through the online Financial Fitness program offered free to all SunTrust employees.

Companies are also integrating the latest technologies into wellness programs. Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin Pulse, says wellness programs are leveraging Internet of Things (IoT) and embedding artificial intelligence into well-being solutions. AI tools such as Amazon’s Alexa and beacons which use bluetooth enable users to know how they are meeting their health and fitness goals without using a mobile phone or a web browser. Well-being in the workplace is becoming an expectation for how we will work and live our lives.

Focus on team development, not just individual development

While HR departments have traditionally focused on individual employees—recruiting them, developing them and assessing their performance—we are seeing the advent of a new capability, one of developing team intelligence or the practice of understanding what makes great teams deliver exceptional results.

Ashley Goodall, Senior Vice-President of Leadership and Team Intelligence at Cisco, says “One of the big misses in HR has been our nearly exclusive focus on individual development and performance. At Cisco, we noted great accomplishments are delivered through teams, not just through individuals working alone.

This led to our insight that an individual employee’s experience is really their team experience and this is different for everyone.” So the goal is to put the lens of team dynamics on the entire HR process. Already, we are seeing innovations in this area, as noted by Eric Mosley CEO of Globoforce. Mosley predicts more companies will provide only 98 per cent of an employee’s total compensation. The rest will be crowd-sourced by the team in the form of a series of micro-bonuses. Look for more crowd-based pay as a vehicle to reward top performers.

Prepare for new roles in HR

What will the “new normal” look like for the HR function? McKinsey coined the phrase the “new normal,” referring to the fundamental changes in the business landscape following the 2008 recession.

For HR, I see the “new normal,” as the convergence of consumer marketing with digitisation of HR creating a more personalised employee experience powered by artificial intelligence. This means a growing number of HR roles will become more specialised and technical. Consider Dave Putterman, a computer software engineer who brings his skills in technology, and an agile approach to software development, to the talent acquisition department of GE Digital, where his title is Agile Recruiting Scrum Master & Technology Leader.

I also see more specialised consumer marketing type roles such as Mark Levy, Global Head of Employee Experience at Airbnb or Stephen Hamm, Chief StoryTeller at IBM.Finally, we will see more HR organisations beyond Airbnb to have an entire department focused on Employee Experience. It is this convergence of technology and consumer marketing which holds the most promise for how HR will transform itself.