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CHRO's: Place Your Bets-What to Expect in HR Come 2020

Bertrand Dussert, VP, HCM Transformation & Thought Leadership, Oracle [NYSE:ORCL]

Bertrand Dussert, VP, HCM Transformation & Thought Leadership, Oracle [NYSE:ORCL]

It is important for business to keep looking towards the future, and investing in business practices that will gear them up for the “Future of Work.” Here are some big bets that are added to every CHRO’s bottom line.

1. Get clear on organizational purpose and brand promise, to keep building trust.

After a tumultuous 2016 on this front, we’re seeing stronger interest from CEOs and CHROs in clearly expressing their company’s brand purpose and values, especially to establish a stronger connection with talent and customers. When evaluating a potential employer, job candidates cite “culture and values” as their most important consideration, according to the latest LinkedIn Recruiting Trends Report.

Given the CHRO’s role as the top HR leader, he or she plays a crucial part in articulating what it means to work for your organization, and why talented people should commit to it over other organizations. And this applies not just to employees, but to all workers who impact your customers’ experience in any way.

According to the latest PwC CEO survey, 93 percent of CEOs agree that articulating the company purpose and building a high level of trust are even more important in our newly digitized world, where handling data the right way can make a big difference. More specifically, 64 percent of CEOs believe that the way their firms manage data will be a differentiator in the future.

On this front, CHROs have a bigger role to play as the stewards for all “people data” in the firm. CHROs will want to take steps to avoid the reputational damage from large-scale employee-data breaches and highly visible breakdowns in expected employee behavior.

“Mission and vision’’ is the third most important consideration. On this front, CHROs have a bigger role to play as the stewards for all “people data” in the firm

Cyber attacks (#1) and data fraud/ theft (#4) are two of the five biggest risks to doing business in North America, according to the 2017 World Economic Forum Global Risk Report. Moving aging, disparate systems to the right cloud vendors will not only reduce costs and increase speed of innovation, but it will also simplify data management and improve security.

So there are elements that focus on data stewardship, some that focus on clarity of purpose and culture, and some that ensure that the organization has transparent incentives correctly aligned to support the desired culture. CHROs should also be thinking about data they have that could be used to check the health of the organization’s culture, to help determine if it’s living up to its commitments and anticipate problem hotspots before they break down customer or employee trust.

2. Continuously improve the “digital relationship” with your talent.

UX aligns the right content to the right devices, screen sizes, and likely priorities an employee faces at various times during the day. It’s the stuff of design thinking and persona journey mapping: Are a recruiter’s alerts delivered to his/ her wearable device in the most helpful and non-intrusive way? Are just the right insights and analytics embedded in process steps to help the employee make better decisions?

In many large organizations, this work is well underway, but it hasn’t reached the full implementation and continuous improvement phases. 2017 is the year companies need to deliver an HR interaction model that is mobile, frictionless across devices/channels, and available to most of your workers.

3. Do important things faster, with data and technology.

In this high-charged business environment, in which markets are changing and companies are being disrupted at an accelerating pace, speed and early signal detection are critical HR capabilities.

HR departments can also augment slower-moving, labor-intensive talent and performance management processes with machine-learning-based career path recommendations. Such technology can suggest people in other internal roles who could provide perspective on those roles. A recommendation engine could facilitate more targeted mentorship and community-powered learning.

This kind of real-time data feedback is often most effective when communicated directly to the employee, sometimes going so far as intentionally omitting the leader from the loop. With managers taking on more and more, it is now getting difficult for supervisors to provide daily feedback. However, data driven coaching offers a continuum of empowering the employee.

The future of employee interactions with HR must be faster, more automated, and via various devices. While a core mobile user interface will still exist, more and more of the employee’s digital experience will be powered by data and will drift toward a “no UI” paradigm (more on that below).

4. Unplug conventional learning and development.

As the pace of business change accelerates and just-in-time knowledge becomes more important than ever, conventional higher education and corporate-sponsored learning and development programs don’t always cut it.

Meanwhile, the vast Baby Boomer generation is starting to retire, taking with it a wealth of job knowledge. Video-based learning programs can capture some of this crucial knowledge before it walks away permanently.

Additionally, job candidates see career advancement, development, and professional growth opportunities as key considerations when evaluating offers, according to multiple surveys. While conventional learning management systems and programs have fallen short of expectations, modern platforms are more promising. Their capabilities include:

• Mobile video as the medium of choice.

• Knowledge developed by a community of experts and colleagues, and curated by a few learning leaders.

• Organizations placing less weight on formal education as a key recruiting criterion.

• A bigger role for Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs.

• A bigger role for the short video micro-learning format to address specific work challenges.

• A bigger role for machine learning to make highly personalized learning recommendations tied to expressed career aspirations or current work streams.

• A bigger role for “no UI” approaches to learning. For example, a voice request or chat like “how do I fix a broken chain on a road bike” responds by suggesting relevant video, audio, text, or other content. Users can still navigate to find content, but search and voice become more powerful entry points.

• Increased use of virtual reality for immersive training and simulations.

• Increased use of augmented reality to help complete tasks in real time.

• Increased use of game dynamics and simulations to encourage learning and provide realistic on-the-job training.

• Increased use of artificial intelligence for instant expert analysis in lieu of developing human expertise.

Fully implementing all of those capabilities will take multiple years, but smart CHROs will start investing now in this digital transformation.