In a Day 2 IMPACT session that tackled the thorny topic of how humans and technology can work together, Pete DeBellis, vice president, total rewards research leader, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, started the discussion by talking about the humanistic workplace. He defined it as one in which workers are appreciated as human beings to be respected, valued, and developed—not resources to be managed and deployed. The humanistic workplace is characterized by respect for the dignity of individuals, a nuanced understanding of the various stakeholders of a modern organization, and acceptance of the organization’s role as a social enterprise.
DeBellis connected the importance of the humanistic workplace to the key findings of the 2019 Global Human Capital Trends report, which call for organizations to bring meaning back to the workplace and a human identity back to the worker. His comments set the stage for HR leaders from three organizations to share their stories about how technology can be part of the solution, not the problem, when it comes to reinventing with a human focus. Their stories were followed by a Q&A led by DeBellis and Melissa Yim, senior manager and leader of the strategic communications consulting practice for Deloitte Consulting LLP.
Andrea Procaccino, VP, Talent Development & Diversity, and Chief Learning Officer, New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Healthcare System
Under Procaccino’s leadership, New York-Presbyterian Hospital has created a recognition program that lets patients or their families acknowledge and praise their caregivers. The idea grew out of feedback from hospital employees about how much patients’ appreciation means to them. Procaccino and her team thought it would be incredibly motivating and inspiring for their dedicated staff of caregivers to receive this kind of feedback on a more widespread basis. So, she and her team worked with strategic employee recognition and rewards vendor OC Tanner to design a platform and process to provide patients with an easy-to-use tool for recognizing their caregivers’ efforts.
As part of their existing hospital admissions process, patients had already been provided with a tablet they could use to access social media, watch programming, and keep in touch with friends and family. Now they can use that same tablet to express their appreciation for a specific caregiver or a whole team of them. Patients can choose from a host of animated e-cards and add their own message; the recognition is then emailed directly to the caregiver or team. Thousands of these shout-outs have been sent to caregivers, who are beyond delighted to receive them. According to Procaccino, this kind of feedback is why the hospital’s caregivers do what they do, so for them to receive it on a more frequent basis though their daily communication channels is very meaningful and motivating.
Procaccino’s key takeaway from this effort is to think differently about recognition. Don’t just focus on how recognition efforts can work inside your organization. Look outside your walls to consider what will matter the most to your employees and engage them in new and creative ways to help connect them to the meaning and purpose of their work.
Jessie Wusthoff, Director of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging, Clover Health
Wusthoff described Clover Health as partly a Medicare Advantage company and partly a technology company. It’s also rapidly expanding—big enough now that people no longer know everyone in their office. Given Clover Health’s expanding size and geographic footprint, along with the company’s complex variety of roles, it was becoming increasingly easy for workers to feel siloed or left out. Wusthoff felt the company needed to better understand how its people were feeling in regard to inclusion.
While the organization understands how to assess diversity—looking at representation across their population, as well as equity, which can be measured through pay parity, promotion rates, and policies—there aren’t broadly accepted metrics for measuring inclusion. Faced with inclusion concerns and this lack of data and metrics, Clover Health designed an inclusion survey that is similar to an employee engagement survey, but with several added demographic questions on race / ethnicity (beyond EEOC categories), sexual orientation, disability status, caregiver status, transgender status, and native language. The survey also has a unique focus: it’s less about the score, and more about the variation in scoring between demographics. Finally, it was built on a platform that delivered powerful analytics to help Wusthoff and her team evaluate the results.
The key to success, as Wusthoff saw it, was to get every employee to complete the survey. Marginalized people or groups often feel unable to speak up. Power dynamics are real, and it’s hard for many people to overcome them. Wusthoff wanted to make sure that everyone’s voice was heard, and the survey was essential to achieving that goal. Her team accomplished 100 percent survey completion by keeping it open longer than traditional surveys, providing open 24-hour access, and allowing people to take the survey while at work. The resulting data is helping Wusthoff and the Clover Health organization understand the gaps between perception and fact and tailor more effective programs moving forward.
Wusthoff’s key takeaway from living through the survey process is the importance of taking an organization’s leaders with you on the journey, addressing any concerns as they rise and guiding them through the process.
Larita Howard, Arizona Service Area Manager of HR, Dignity Health
Dignity Health Arizona supports six hospitals and nearly 11,000 employees. And like many healthcare organizations, it was concerned about the wellbeing of its employees. The organization wanted to build a wellbeing program that not only focused on employees’ physical health but also allowed them to bring their whole selves to work. Dignity Health wanted to make sure employees knew the company genuinely cared about them and their families, so they in turn could authentically be themselves, serve patients, and reach their potential with the organization. Another goal was to gather and use this important data to create better programs for employees.
In 2017 Howard’s team launched a new online wellness platform called Personal Best. To expand the program’s accessibility, it featured an app in in addition to desktop access. Personal Best covers many aspects of employees’ emotional and physical lives—including nutrition, physical activity, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, and stress and depression management—and empowers them to take control of their own wellbeing. Employees across all hospital locations were offered the opportunity to become a wellness champion in areas they are most passionate about.
Leaders across the organization played a key role in the launch, education, and ongoing engagement with Personal Best. Howard’s team developed a toolkit to help leaders understand and use the program so they could serve as role models for team members. They made the connection between wellbeing, Dignity Health’s brand, and its business strategy, demonstrating that employees need to feel their best in order to provide the best care. Leveraging front-line managers who have the most experience and interaction with employees was critical in the rollout and adoption of Personal Best.
The program is just one component of Dignity’s employee engagement ecosystem. Howard noted the need to compare the data with that of other metrics, like engagement and turnover, to identify and address areas for improvement. Still, Howard was happy to present a slate of impressive statistics for employee engagement with Personal Best. Ninety-eight percent of eligible employees took the wellbeing assessment that was introduced with the program’s launch, and an unheard-of 96 percent took the biometric assessment. Communications encouraged employees to know their health numbers, so they could know their potential risks. Some employees sought out medical care immediately after taking their biometric assessment, and later thanked the company for helping them uncover pressing issues with their health.
Howard’s key takeaway was that engagement in wellbeing is not an issue for a single department; every component of an organization has an impact. She also cautioned to keep an eye on leaders, because “they can’t pour from an empty cup.” Burnt-out leaders often result in burnt-out teams, so find ways to fill their cup back up and increase their engagement.
Is it a coincidence that we have three healthcare organizations on this panel? Is there something about caregiving that presents challenges and increases the chance of burnout?
Healthcare involves a lot of intrinsically motivated people doing emotionally exhaustive work, Wusthoff pointed out, so those people are more likely to be more empathetic. Healthcare organizations need to be highly attentive and proactive about this to prevent burnout and help caregivers maintain their emotional resilience.
Do you think there is a connection between supporting a more humanistic workplace and safety in your industry?
Yes, according to Procaccino. New York-Presbyterian Hospital uses data from its engagement survey showing that a more engaged workforce produces better safety outcomes for patients and caregivers. Getting the heart and mind firing together is critical in healthcare. Procaccino said she always uses this kind of quality data—and connects it to outcomes—when addressing executives’ concerns.
What is the role of the leader in all of this? And how does it differ from the role of champion in how you rolled out and communicated these initiatives?
Leaders set the tone, as Howard explained, so if they are not engaged in their own wellbeing and the program, then their team probably isn’t going to be either. Her group at Dignity Health built a toolkit to help them get onboard, guide them through the process, and continue to check in and keep the program top of mind with employees to increase their engagement.
Communications can provide a critical bridge between humans and technology. How did you use communications to both market these specific initiatives and support the overall worker experience?
Clover Health’s Wusthoff talked of sharing her own personal story about having a disability to let people know that the survey was a safe space for them to do the same. Dignity Health’s Howard said she called on leaders to connect more authentically with employees—and then provided them with a toolkit and ongoing guidance to ensure they were equipped to start the conversation and keep it going.
What did not work well in your situation? Are there any pitfalls that others might be able to avoid, based on your experience?
All three panelists cited some variation of needing better communications. Procaccino said that when initial patient usage of the recognition program was low, her team realized they needed to spend more time training caregivers on how to have the conversation with patients that this program existed. And they needed to meet patients where they were by creating different communication materials for different patient audiences. Howard said she wished she had communicated earlier with other areas of the business to understand what the siloes were and how to bridge potentially overlapping initiatives. And Wusthoff felt she should have involved the HR organization in her plans earlier so they could block out a communication schedule in advance.
Stay tuned for more Insights from IMPACT 2019 all week, and follow the conference conversations on our Twitter handle: @Bersin.
More than half of all workers may be thinking about leaving their jobs … and easily can if they have the right capabilities and skills.1 This alarming statistic opened the Day 2 IMPACT session on building a humanistic workforce experience (WX), laying the groundwork for a discussion of how organizations can put humans back at the center of the workplace.
Christina Rasieleski, lead advisor, workforce experience and rewards, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, painted a sobering picture of the crisis facing workers and organizations. The pace of work, life, and technology is making employees feel more overwhelmed than ever before—and they’re not taking sufficient time off to regenerate. Since 2000, US workers have lost an entire week of vacation—not because they don’t have it, but because they feel guilty about taking time off.2 Workers are feeling more like resources and less like humans.
This has serious implications for companies as the talent war rages on. In a highly competitive labor market, employees are tempted to pursue new opportunities, contributing to higher attrition rates. Hiring and training new workers is expensive and time-consuming, but many organizations struggle with the internal mobility processes that would help retain and redeploy current workers into open positions.
How can organizations address these challenges? Matthew Deruntz, senior analyst, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, shared new data from Bersin’s forthcoming High-Impact Workforce Experience study. It illuminates the gaps and barriers facing organizations as they work toward building a productive, engaging, and meaningful work experience.
Who are organizations involving as part of WX? The definition of the worker has changed, and many organizations are not addressing their needs.
29 percent do not take the worker into consideration when designing how work gets done.
35 percent are aware of the needs of nontraditional workers but have yet to address them.
Do they understand what WX is? Organizations that cannot define WX cannot create a meaningful experience.
61 percent lack a connection between daily processes / procedures and overall worker experience.
53 percent lack a clear definition of workforce experience.
How are they capturing it? Organizations are missing the opportunity to not only measure WX but also link it to the customer experience.
25 percent are not measuring worker experience.
57 percent do not link customer experience with workforce experience.
What is a great workplace experience, and how can you design it?
WX includes all of the connections between individuals and their colleagues, leaders, and employer, encompassing personal, physical, digital, and organizational elements. These four considerations can help guide the WX design that is right for an organization and its workforce.
People are not pets.
Intrinsic motivation is the best predictor of high-quality achievement.
Referring to a recent New York Times3 article. Rasieleski explained that individuals’ motivation comes from more than just a collection of activities and trinkets. Free food and ping pong tables don’t drive long-term success and productivity; they could actually lead to a lack of engagement. But WX is not just engagement, either. Those organizations that can define workforce experience holistically and connect it to daily activities are able to have a bigger impact on their workforce. While workers overall rate their current employee experience a negative-5 on the Net Promoter Score, that same score for high-performing organizations is positive-42. On the flip side, the score for low-performing organizations is negative-39. What score would your employees give your organization?
Can I get a connection?
WX is all about connections—between workers and their work, their teams, and even the enabling technology.
Bersin’s High-Impact Workforce Experience study shows that 93 percent of high-performing WX organizations take the worker into consideration when designing how work gets done. Organizations can accomplish through a few activities.
Direct input. Collecting worker input is not just conducting a survey. It’s connecting workers to the problems, involving them in the iterative process, and enabling them to work in teams and with managers to build agile solutions.
Solutions that simplify. Organizations have to reduce the red tape and burdensome processes that are barriers to productivity and meaningful work. Learning and performance management are key to creating an agile WX that makes resources available at the click of a button and are incorporated into the flow of work and life.
Collaborative technologies. High-performing organizations are 4.5 times more likely to use collaborative and participatory platforms. The tools of the work environment should enhance the work and processes themselves, bringing people together and connecting with the human side of work.
What does it spark?
Cherish the needs of the organization and the worker.
Workers are human and have human needs. One of those primary needs is meaning and purpose to help employees connect their day-to-day work with the goals and values of the company. Others include worker-centric design across all stages of work and moments that matter; and flexibility and predictability in the design of environments to offer workers greater control over the choices they need to make to get work done.
Everyone has a carry-on.
Perspectives of culture are influenced by a number of different factors—all of them unique.
All employees bring their own “baggage” to the workplace, and this shapes how workers interpret the culture of the organization and how they engage with it. Accountable and trustworthy leaders foster authenticity in the workforce experience. Our study revealed that high-performing organizations are 5.7 times more likely to hold leaders accountable for their workers’ experience and 7.1 times more likely to create compelling day-to-day moments around transparency in leadership communication. It’s time for organizations to rethink what leadership means and how it is developed.
Even with these guiding considerations, getting WX right is no small challenge. Bersin recently launched the Workforce Experience (WX) Framework to help organizations:
Adopt a worker-centric approach to the workplace, HR, and management practices that impact people on the job, based in agile iteration, design thinking, an outside-in perspective, and treating the workforce like customers
Embrace the WX and combine it with HR and workplace technology to drive transformation, performance, and compelling experiences in the organization now and into the future
Actively cultivate an organizational culture of trust, inclusion, and accountability to help organizations and their workers thrive in an environment of disruptive and rapid change
Regardless of the framework an organization uses to design a humanistic workforce experience, the process must start with and stay centered on the worker. Organizations need to listen to their workers, be empathetic, and build a deep understanding of their work and what they need from the organization to enable success.
Stay tuned for more Insights from IMPACT 2019 all week, and follow the conference conversations on our Twitter handle: @Bersin.
1 Are you overlooking your greatest source of talent? Deloitte Insights / Robin Erickson, Denise Moulton, and Bill Cleary, 2018.
2 The State of American Vacation 2018, Project: Time Off, 2018, https://www.projecttimeoff.com/state-american-vacation-2018.
Day 2 of IMPACT 2019 kicked off with a call to action for HR leaders: Lead the charge for corporate citizenship as both an antidote to the often unsettling realities of the modern workplace and a vehicle for restoring trust.
The challenges facing organizations and their workforces—work in the age of machines, the war for skills, and the employee experience gap—are daunting, noted Josh Bersin, Deloitte advisor. But this is not a time for despair. Organizations have an opportunity and even a mandate to address these transformational changes with a renewed focus on trust and citizenship.
The new economy: Work in the age of machines
The robots have arrived, and they’re moving fast. But rather than replacing human workers, the rise of robots is creating demand for new skills that are more human-centric. And the challenge to find these skills is growing accordingly. Attracting and retaining talent is now a top internal issue for CEOs.1
Despite the influx of technology, productivity is slowing.2 One of the main reasons for this is a labor shortage driven in part by shrinking populations and lower birth rates across all major economies. Growth will increasingly depend on the quality of labor, too—engagement, productivity, and learning will be the growth drivers for the future.
Retaining and retraining tenured workers can help organizations meet their labor and skills needs, as can figuring out how to manage the alternative workforce—which isn’t actually alternative anymore. More than 34 percent of the workforce is alternative / gig, and 42 percent of people under the age of 34 are freelancers.3
The new war for skills: Impacting every worker
Employees are feeling the pressure of the transforming economy, often with rising anxiety about not having the skills they need to get a job that pays well.4 This may be one of the reasons that learning in the flow of life is the number-one trend in Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends report. Continuous, lifelong development is now part of the core value proposition of work.
Employers increasingly understand and feel this anxiety over skills. And it’s soft skills, not hard skills, that are in greatest demand. Wages are rising fastest for jobs that require both social and math skills5 —and the fact that many workers do not have both skills sets is contributing to the growth in income inequality. Over the last 30 years in the US, growth in the incomes of the bottom 50 percent has been zero, whereas incomes in top 1 percent have grown 300 percent.6 And the distance between wage classes continues to grow. In the last 50 years, the earnings gap between high school and college degrees has grown from 22 percent to a 61 percent difference.7 The new world of hybrid, technology-driven, multi-functional roles risks leaving a lot of people behind.
Bridging the gap: Can we fix the employee experience?
Even employees who have jobs that pay well are not immune from anxiety. Employees today suffer from a severe time famine, as work becomes more complex and the technology that is intended to simplify work instead drains more time. It’s such an acute problem that people report they would rather make less money in order to have more time.8 Simplifying the many time-consuming processes that are required on a regular basis could save millions of hours, help restore time to workers, and increase productivity.
Employee wellbeing is also suffering—particularly the opportunity to take time off and regenerate. Since 2000, US workers lost an entire week of vacation, with the average number of vacation days dropping from 20.3 to 16.9 And there is apparently little upside: while 39 percent of workers “want to be seen as a work martyr” to their boss, these overworkers are typically less likely to receive a promotion or raise than their peers.10
And while the market for corporate wellbeing products and services is exploding—offering everything from incentive programs to financial management skills—HR leaders need to figure out how to create a wellbeing experience from the current smorgasbord of offerings that people don’t know what to do with.
Finally, the arrival of the networked model is changing how things work, enabling organizations to move from a traditional hierarchical approach to a system of shared values and culture, transparent goals and projects, the free flow of information and feedback, and rewards for skills and abilities—not position. And let’s not forget being agile, the new and seemingly pervasive trend. Agile organization models can be highly effective when treated as a mindset, rather than a bunch of tasks. But cultural change and investment are required to make these models work. According to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends report, only 7 percent of respondents feel very ready to execute the shift to team-centric and network-based organization models, and only 6 percent rated themselves very effective at managing cross-functional teams. HR needs to be part of the effort to make agile, team-based models more common and more effective.
The importance of trust and citizenship
Against this backdrop of challenges, trust and citizenship are the new “secrets to success.” Despite a reported declining trust in government, most people still trust their employers. This is a sacrosanct opportunity for organizations, and a new approach to citizenship is key to making the most of it. For organizations to lead in the era of the social enterprise, they must move from individual thinking to collectivist thinking, and from a scarcity mindset to a growth mindset. Research shows the need for social cohesion, relationships, and trust.11 Citizenship can help fulfill it both within and outside our organizations.
But where and how should you begin or advance your corporate citizenship aspirations? Bersin offered HR leaders five fundamental lessons to consider.
Lesson 1: Develop people everywhere.
Organizations can and must reskill—not replace—their workers. It’s good for employees, their families, and society as a whole. It can be less expensive and highly effective at placing the right people in the right jobs—a monumental challenge for most organizations.12
Lesson 2: Unleash teams and careers.
Individuals can thrive when their career path lines up with organizations’ needs, society’s needs, and their needs and desires. Organizations can help unleash their employees by identifying their target business outcomes, desired competencies (knowledge, behavior, skills), and open positions and opportunities. And it includes allowing their people to define, explain, and express what they want to do. Organizations must embrace this process and the resulting radical change it poses to the status quo—an environment in which workers have more control over their own destiny, growth comes from experience, and development is for all. Why is unleashing teams and careers so important? —launched at IMPACT 2019—reveals that 57 percent of survey respondents believe it’s easier to find a job outside the company than it is inside. That’s an alarming statistic. We need to fix it.
Lesson 3: Co-create the employee experience.
Organizations need to leave behind the old way of designing and executing experiences from the top down and instead create experiences that are designed at the source. What does that mean? They should design the experience in conjunction with employees, prototype quickly, work in multifunctional teams, and focus on joy. This also means organizations have to go beyond surveys to really get to know what employees are doing on the job day in and day out in order to understand what they do and what hinders them from doing it better and enjoying it more.
Lesson 4: Adopt a citizenship philosophy in leadership.
Leadership teams—and that includes HR leaders—have to decide what kind of organization they want to be. Are you an “up or out” or an “everyone can succeed” company? Identifying your current type of organization is the first step in enabling a path forward toward the trusted enterprise—one in which citizenship, trust, growth, and learning can thrive and productivity, wellness, and responsibility are top of mind. HR leaders need to lead the way in adopting a leadership model that will not only set the tone for individuals, teams, and the organization as a whole, but can also as leadership shifts toward a true citizenship philosophy.
Lesson 5: Reward with respect and trust.
It is imperative that organizations find a way to pay people fairly. Workers are an asset, not an expense, and organizations have to start treating them this way. Research by Zeynep Ton, which analyzed two years of data from 500 stores, showed that an increase of $1 in payroll can increase sales by $4 to $28 and can enable profits exceeding expense by 40 percent.13 If you advance pay, rewards, and the like, you are investing your most important assets. There to help you benchmark and identify compensation gaps. This is sitting in your organization’s lap to fix.
At a time when HR leaders are being asked to take on so much—performance management, HR tech, new operating models, and more—placing citizenship at the top of that list is an imperative. In today’s environment—when high-trust companies outperform their sector by an average of 5 percent14 —it’s clear that trust pays off. Build it by being a good corporate citizen.
Stay tuned for more Insights from IMPACT 2019 all week, and follow the conference conversations on our Twitter handle: @Bersin.
12 For instance, one large financial institution found it was six times less expensive to reskill its software developers internally than hire externally. It also revealed that 96 percent of all transitions have “good-fit” options and 65 percent of transitions will likely increase wages. It’s a win-win strategy for organizations and their workers.
13 The Good Jobs Strategy: How the Smartest Companies Invest in Employees to Lower Costs and Boost Profits, Zeynep Ton / New Harvest, January 2014.
Over the last 20 years, organizations have redesigned, reworked, and revamped performance management time and time again. They’ve tried different rating models, feedback tools, manager coaching, recognition programs, continuous performance management, and more. But in 2019, the debate about what works best still rages.
The state of performance management and how to reinvent it for the age of the social enterprise was the topic of a session led on Day 2 of IMPACT by Kathi Enderes, PhD, vice president, talent and workforce research leader at Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and Dr. P.V. Ramana Murthy, EVP and global head of HR for the Indian Hotels Company.
Bersin’s 2018 High-Impact Performance Management study, which surveyed 1,000 organizations globally, revealed just how much people dislike the performance management process: it received an abysmal Net Promoter Score of -60.1
As long as organizations think they are getting the results they need, the problems with performance management will likely be easy to dismiss. But even the best performance management approaches typically don’t contribute to innovation, change, agility, or risk-taking. And these are all capabilities needed in the new world of work—a world that is all about empowering employees to do their best work, not about performance ratings. It’s about teaming and collective thinking, not hierarchies and individual achievements.
This is why process-focused approaches can stifle performance by focusing on compliance and competition at the expense of the human experience and meaning in work. They don’t give people the feedback they need to do their best work. And because they are not based on a collective mindset, these approaches don’t motivate people to work together.
To truly reinvent performance management, we need to leave the old ways behind—we should think big and think human about the path forward. We need to question what performance management is all about. Is it to evaluate people so organizations know whom to reward, recognize, and promote? Or is it to help people grow, develop, and find meaning in their work lives?
If the answer is the latter, then organizations have to put humans at the center to enable performance. When they do that, everything changes. People work together, not against each other. They can focus on doing their best work. Critical to maintaining a human focus in performance management is:
A commitment to helping people find meaning in the work they do
A collective culture that prioritizes the good of the team and the organization over individual goals
Team feedback that is bottom-up to help employees learn more from these insights
Supportive leaders that coach, inspire, and help employees learn from their mistakes
Technology that puts puts performance indicators in the flow of work, not in a separate system
As the EVP and global head of HR for the Indian Hotels Company, Dr. P.V. Ramana Murthy knows firsthand what it’s like to reinvent performance management with a human focus. When he took on his role in 2014, attrition was high and compensation was below market, yet performance ratings were higher than he expected. After analyzing the situation, he realized managers were giving high performance ratings to trigger a form of sympathy pay for the compensation gap.
But instead of just fixing one part of the larger performance management problem, Murthy seized the opportunity to reinvent. He worked with Deloitte to envision and create an ideal performance management system—one that promotes collaboration, improves productivity, increases guests’ delight, and improves business performance. Together they reasoned that if creating a quality guest experience is a collaborative effort by all employees, then performance management ought to work the same way. Employees should have the same experience and it should set the tone for the entire culture.
Key to the reinvention effort was a new pay-for-performance system that created team-based appraisals, with each hotel acting as a team. A companywide scorecard was established to measure the collective performance of each team across financial performance, process / guest satisfaction, and leadership behavior. The system tied bonuses to each team’s scorecard rating, so it incented them to work collaboratively. Additionally, as part of this new system, the organizations matched base compensation to market rates, thereby removing the competition among employees for ratings and raises. And perhaps just as critical as the new system itself, Murthy’s teams communicated and managed the changes effectively, bringing executive sponsors on board and meeting with all their employees at all their properties to explain the changes.
The results of the Indian Hotels Company’s reinvention effort are impressive. The new system is driving consistent improvement across all benchmark metrics: team performance, employee engagement, retention, guest satisfaction, and business performance.
And as Enderes reinforced in her closing remarks, when an organization with a highly effective performance management system can improve financial performance by 92 times earnings per share, all companies should take notice—and hopefully action.
Stay tuned for more Insights from IMPACT 2019 all week, and follow the conference conversations on our Twitter handle: @Bersin.
1 – Seven Top Findings for Enabling Performance in the Flow of Work, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Kathi Enderes, PhD, and Matthew Deruntz, 2018.
Tracy Keogh, chief HR officer for HP Inc., closed Day 2 of the 2019 IMPACT conference with a compelling story about the development of an HR strategy for the company—including the elimination of titles, the creation of a growth mindset, and a holistic approach to using tools.
In 2015 Hewlett-Packard split into HP Enterprise and HP Inc. in order to make both entities more agile and innovative. Keogh and her colleagues had to allocate 270,000 employees among the two new organizations within four months—no small task in a global organization. In China, for instance, each employee needed to sign a new offer letter and have it notarized, so the company sponsored “signing parties” to do it en masse. In the US, offer letters could be sent and returned via email. Unfortunately, as she joked, most employees thought the offer letters were spam and deleted them.
With the launch of HP Inc., Keogh became the CHRO of a company that retained Hewlett-Packard’s 80-year history with a mandate to operate like a $50 billion startup. She realized immediately that none of the HR processes that had worked for Hewlett-Packard were right for HP Inc. Her first agenda item, therefore, was the creation of an overall HR strategy that was driven by the business strategy.
As Keogh noted, any HR strategy takes into account several elements:
Company mission and vision
Business strategy and objectives
Company culture and values
Degree of strategic impact required from HR
Speed of change of industry
Resources available to HR
HR talent skills and capabilities
HR strategies of competitors
Personal experience / preference of the head of HR
The HR strategy, in turn, drives the people strategy, which includes critical functional areas:
Recognition and rewards
Learning and development
Culture and engagement
Taken together, these pieces create an organization’s HR brand.
In devising the HR strategy for HP Inc., Keogh said, “We wanted to be employee-centric, which doesn’t sound revolutionary, but for us at that time, it really was.” She worked to ensure that the strategy was clearly aligned with the business; simple to understand, implement, and measure for evaluation; cascadable across the organization; and adaptable and responsive.
With the HR strategy in place, Keogh engaged the entire HR organization to create people strategies across five workstreams:
Talent and learning
Rewards and recognition
HR labs (including analytics and future of work)
She asked each to evaluate the current situation, outline an approach, and offer recommendations and next steps. One controversial recommendation was the elimination of titles. “We found titles were really getting in the way of people’s growth and development,” she said. “We had people who were saying they wanted to be an EVP or an SVP. I call that eyes on the scoreboard, not on the ball.” She shifted the organization to content-based titles that describe what people do. “There were some tears,” she recalls. “People get emotional about titles.” When employees expressed concern that customers would not call them back if they didn’t have a sufficiently elevated title, she did concede that people could use VP titles externally as appropriate—but they no longer held sway in the organization.
Another change was the elimination of ratings from the performance management process. To ease the change, she put in place very rigorous feedback and development mechanisms, as well as a slider tool to help leaders determine how to allocate resources in the absence of ratings.
Essentially, Keogh said, she and her team reinvented all people processes across the company. And the numbers speak for themselves: In FY18 HP Inc. had $58.5 billion in revenue and approximately 55,000 employees, and ranked 58th on the Fortune 100 and 24th on Fortune’s list of best workplaces in technology. Four years after its launch, HP Inc. still has the heart and energy of a startup with the brain and muscle of a Fortune 100 company. And Keogh continues to lead an HR strategy that takes its people where the business needs to go.
Stay tuned for more Insights from IMPACT 2019 all week, and follow the conference conversations on our Twitter handle: @Bersin.
It’s time to get out of your comfort zone, shed the traditional structures of the past, and reinvent your HR operating model. This was the message—delivered loud and clear—at Tuesday’s IMPACT 2019 session focused on helping HR leaders understand how to transform HR operating models to better fit their organization and its goals.
Led by Denise Moulton, vice president, HR and talent research leader, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and Jeff Mike, vice president, HR research and Ideation Team leader, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, the session also featured the HR transformation experiences of Tod Day, global HR transformation manager, shared services, at Bechtel Corporation.
For too long, Moulton said, HR organizations have been relying on traditional operating models that can no longer support business in the age of the social enterprise. These outdated models are reinforcing silos, stifling innovation, and perpetuating an HR-centric approach to operations and service delivery that is not reflective of where the business is today or where it’s going.
Deloitte’s High-Impact HR study confirmed that hierarchical structures—the “sticks and boxes” approach—no longer make sense1. The research revealed that the highest-performing HR teams are pioneering, personalized, and agile—both in shaping the future for their organizations and in developing the solutions, capabilities, and talent to drive business value. Specifically, high-performing organizations are 3.5 times more likely to focus relentlessly on user experience when designing HR offerings. They use technology to rethink—not just automate—work activities. They are blowing up the boxes by breaking down silos, fostering teams, and integrating closely with the business. And they are regenerating their operating models to become fit-for-purpose and continuously develop capabilities to meet the needs of the business.
HR leaders can learn from these pioneering behaviors as they address the big questions and challenges ahead, including:
How can HR become more agile and adaptable to speed the delivery of services and expertise?
How can new technologies, such as cognitive and machine learning, support an agile and productive HR function?
What are the emerging capabilities HR needs to develop, apply, and flex to stay ahead of changes in the enterprise and the workforce?
How can HR structure and govern itself to take advantage of the new technologies, insights, and expertise being brought to the function?
How can HR create consistency of experiences across the business?
There is an unprecedented opportunity, asserted Mike, for HR to lead the transformation to an operating model that supports the future of work, the workforce, and the organization. Multiple capabilities are key to this effort: understanding jobs at the task level, deconstructing and reconstructing roles, simplifying HR activities in the flow of work, focusing on the customer experience, teaming to break down silos, and keeping the unique needs of your organization always in view.
Tod Day could attest to the need for all these capabilities as he shared the HR transformation journey he is leading at Bechtel, a privately held engineering, procurement, construction, and project management company that operates around the world.
Transforming shared services was the catalyst to transform the entire HR model as part of the function’s 2020 vision to be world-class at recruiting and deploying people to win and execute projects. After almost a year of benchmarking, Deloitte worked with Day to design and execute an impactful operating model—starting with the critical work activity assessment. Together, they surveyed every employee in the shared services group to understand, inventory, and categorize everything each employee did and the time it took them to do it. The exhaustive exercise provided a detailed data set, which was critical to all stages of the model development and deployment.
Bechtel’s new shared services model now features:
An executive leadership team that translates business strategy into the HR mission
Communities of expertise focused on rapid innovation
Business-unit HR that serve as advisors
People operations (the largest group), which is dedicated to service delivery
The new model is underpinned by a global, scalable technology platform, as well as process and policy enablers.
The benefits? The new shared services organization provides business-aligned services on a global scale that are easier to navigate and less expensive to manage.
The hardest part? Getting people in the business units to give up some control over resources so HR could add more value to the business.
Day’s closing takeaways were not only instructive, but inspiring to the HR leaders in attendance, many of whom are themselves currently planning or leading similar transformations.
HR transformation is a strategic business imperative and differentiator, not an HR initiative.
Have a clear vision for where you are going and design for the long term.
You need solid business sponsors—not just the CHRO, but the CFO and CIO.
Bottom-up data is key—people can’t argue with the facts.
The HR strategic business partnership has arrived.
Coming soon! Stay tuned for Bersin’s High-Impact HR Operating Model research, with additional data and stories to help organizations create HR operating models for the new world of work.
1 Seven High-Impact Findings to Redefine HR, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Jeff Mike, EdD, 2017.
Our 12th annual IMPACT conference—the largest ever, with nearly 680 attendees—kicked off on Monday in Phoenix with the unveiling of Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends report.
Leading the social enterprise: Reinvent with a human focus comes at an inflection point in the disruptive course of global economic, social, and technological change. And it offers a bold call to action: Organizations must put humans at the center of their business strategies and bring meaning back to the workplace.
As US Human Capital Leader Erica Volini explained, the factors behind the rise of the social enterprise—the growing power of the individual, a decline in trust in government, and the influx of technology—are not going away. And neither is the social enterprise. Fifty-three percent of our nearly 10,000 survey respondents across 119 countries believe the social enterprise will be more important in three years than it is today.
Leading the social enterprise is going to take more than mission statements and social impact programs. Organizations must go beyond purpose because, although it can guide, inspire, and serve as a framework for the social enterprise, purpose is about the organization. It doesn’t address the day-to-day realities of modern workers who are asking themselves what their individual roles will be in the future of work. That question can only be answered by focusing on meaning.
But how can organizations bring meaning back to work and the worker when:
Fifty-one percent of organizations surveyed believe their workers are not satisfied with their job design
Only 18 percent believe they have a transparent and open model
Fifty-six percent of respondents feel it is easier to find a new job at an outside organization than within their current organization
Eighty percent say they are predicting growth in AI and cognitive technologies over the next few years, but only 26 percent are ready to address technology in the workplace
Only 30 percent are effectively developing leaders to meet today’s evolving challenges
By coming together in a symphonic way to seize the opportunity this moment presents, social enterprise leaders can leverage the power of technology to reinvent timeless human capital challenges—jobs, learning, rewards, experience, and leadership. The 2019 Global Human Capital Trends directly speak to the “what” of this human-focused reinvention challenge across:
The future of the workforce—the mainstreaming of the alternative workforce; the rise of technology-enabled superjobs; and the 21st-century leadership imperative
The future of the organization—the evolution of the employee experience into the human experience; organizational performance as a team sport; and the closing of the rewards gap
The future of HR—talent access over talent acquisition; continuous learning in the flow of life; the elevation of internal mobility; and the HR cloud as a launch pad, not a destination
After we unveiled the 2019 trends, the report authors and human capital leaders joined the conversation to explore the findings in greater depth, addressing questions including:
What’s the difference between purpose and meaning?
As Brad Denny, US Human Capital Power & Utilities leader and principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP, explained it, meaning is all about driving the concepts of belonging and self-esteem into the fundamental nature of the organization. It’s reinventing traditional programs like rewards, learning, and mobility so that each employee feels they are learning and growing and being rewarded in ways that are truly personalized to them. Whereas purpose is organizational, meaning is personal.
Is the call to reinvention a global phenomenon?
According to Heather Stockton, Deloitte’s Global Human Capital leader, you have to look at what’s happening around the world—a loss of trust in government, technology-driven change, and productivity declines—to see that Trends and their drivers are global in both their nature and impact. It’s no longer good enough to focus solely on shareholder returns—organizations should marry this with purpose and meaning to address the challenges they face.
Is the “robot apocalypse” really coming or will we see new superjobs emerge?
Robots are not taking away human jobs—the scare tactics are not coming to fruition—said Josh Bersin, Deloitte advisor and Trends author. In fact, the more automation that takes place, the more human-like jobs become. Social, communication, and complex thinking skills—the soft skills—are becoming more and more valuable. And because of this, new superjobs are emerging. We don’t necessarily recognize the job descriptions or have them as job catalogs right now, but these are jobs in which people will use the data and information coming out of these machines to do new things. And it’s starting to happen across every industry. The big issue is, how can you get there from here as a worker and an organization?
Why is learning the top trend this year?
As David Mallon, chief analyst for Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, sees it, we all have a sense of our ideal self and a desire to pursue that. And we want our organization to help us get there. So, it’s not surprising that, from an individual perspective, people are crying out for their organizations’ support in pursuing new opportunities through learning. Organizations are now waking up to the fact that the entire apparatus for how we grow skills is just not doing what it’s supposed to do. The concept of learning in the flow of life was already happening. Every day, every week, workers have moments that are career-defining. Organizations and individuals now need to harness this by identifying and capturing the moments that have a material effect on workers’ ability to grow.
Fifty-seven percent of survey respondents believe it’s easier to find a job outside their company than inside it. Why can’t we make more progress on internal mobility?
Part of the problem is the way managers are trained and rewarded, as both Brad Denny and Josh Bersin pointed out. Leaders need to move away from holding on to their best talent and managing their career paths and move toward empowering them to architect their own path. Many organizations also don’t have the processes in place to support mobility. Only 6 percent of survey respondents said they believe their company is excellent at moving people from role to role. All the panelists agreed that this has to change—especially in an incredibly competitive job market where outside talent is hard to find and expensive to train.
The panel discussion ended with the question of the hour: Where does reinvention start?
Throughout the discussion, it may have sounded like the panelists were asking the audience to change everything. And though that’s not what they meant, they did agree that leaders have to commit to reinvention in key areas. As Heather Stockton said, “We have to stop tinkering around with various initiatives and pick something that matters to our business and recode it.” As IMPACT unfolds over the next two days, attendees will have plenty of opportunities to go deeper on where and how to get start on their own reinvention.
DOL Proposes to update overtime rule salary test: Continuing a journey that started in the Obama Administration, the Department of Labor (DOL) has issued a new proposed rule to update the salary threshold for determining if an employee can be classified as “exempt” from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) overtime rules. Under current rules, an employee otherwise meeting the requirements for exempt status must nonetheless be categorized as non-exempt if his or her annual salary is less than $23,660 – the threshold that has been in effect since 2004. During the Obama Administration the DOL proposed increasing the salary threshold to $47,476 per year, but a Federal court struck down the proposed change just before it took effect. The new proposed rule would increase the threshold to $35,308 per year. Although not as dramatic an increase as the previous proposal, employers may want to begin assessing how many of its employees might need to be re-classified if/when the new proposed threshold takes effect. The DOL is currently accepting comments on the proposed rule.
IRS Will Not update 401(a)(9) Regulations to specifically prohibit Retiree Lump-Sum Windows: The IRS has issued Notice 2019-18 to provide that it no longer intends to amend the IRC § 401(a)(9) regulations to specifically prohibit pension plans from being amended to offer lump sum windows to retirees currently receiving an annuity. In 2015 the IRS effectively shut down this practice by announcing its intention to amend the 401(a)(9) regulations to preclude these retiree lump sum windows effective retroactive to July 9, 2015 (subject to certain limited exceptions), the date Notice 2015-49 was issued. According to Notice 2019-18, the IRS no longer intends amend the regulation and, until further guidance is issued, it will not assert that a plan amendment to offer a retiree lump-sum window violates IRC § 401(a)(9) – although it will continue to evaluate these plans for compliance with other plan-qualification requirements. Furthermore, in the case of plans eligible to apply for and receive determination letters, the IRS will no longer include a caveat expressing no opinion on the tax consequences of a retiree lump-sum window. However, the Notice advises IRS and Treasury will continue to study the issue of retiree lump sum windows, and will not issue any private letter rulings relating to retiree lump-sum windows.
PBGC Mediation Program: In October 2017, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (“PBGC”) launched a pilot program offering mediation in certain termination liability collection and early warning program cases. In January of 2019, that program became permanent and was also extended to fiduciary breach cases. Goals of the mediation program include : 1) early resolution of disputes, 2) improved relations with stakeholders, 3) reduced costs of negotiations and proceedings, and 4) making alternate dispute resolutions an integral part of the agency’s dispute resolution process. Mediation is voluntary but certain cases are ineligible (limited ability of plan sponsor to pay, pending litigation, limited time with sponsor refusal to sign a tolling agreement). The PBGC and plan sponsors share the cost of mediation sessions which are handle by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service who has been engaged by PBGC to service as intermediaries.
Changes to Voluntary Correction Program (“VCP) submissions: Revenue Procedure 2018-52 effective January 1, 2019 provides for some significant changes in the submission process for VCP filings. For the period January 1, 2019 through March 31, 2019, filers have the option of an electronic or paper submission of their VCP filing. However, beginning April 1, 2019, all VCP submissions must be entirely electronic using Pay.gov and any paper submission will be returned. Electronic filing requires establishment of a Pay.gov account, application of instructions per the January 2019 revisions of Form 8950, assembly of required attachments and documents converted to pdf and contained in a single file not exceeding 15 mb, uploading and submission of filing/documents using Pay.gov, and payment using one of the available electronic payment methods. A receipt and confirmation of the submission is provided. Documents that can’t be included in the pdf are faxed to the IRS with inclusion of the Pay.gov tracking ID number, applicants EIN and other identifying information. Plan sponsors are able to delegate a legal representative to sign and submit filings on their behalf by completing and including penalty of perjury statements as well as Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative (Form 2848) forms.
US Government of Accountability Office (GAO) publishes study: On February 6, 2019, the GAO published The Nation’s Retirement System: A Comprehensive Re-evaluation Needed to Better Promote Future Retirement Security. The study discusses the fiscal risks associated with the US retirement system including federal programs, employer sponsored plans, and individual savings. The study states that since 2010, Social Security has been paying out more in benefits than it receives and by 2034, Social Security will only be able to pay 77% of scheduled benefits. The financial struggles of Social Security are primarily due to increased life expectancies and decreased fertility rates. In 2016, only two-thirds of private sector employees had access to an employer sponsored plan, with a large majority of the plans being a 401(k) defined contribution (DC) plan. Under a DC plan, participants must have a certain level of financial knowledge to maintain their retirement income. For example, they need to understand how to invest their funds, spend down the amount at retirement, and avoid unnecessary tax implications. Over the last 50 years or so, the personal savings rate has decreased from a high of 14.2% in 1975 to 6.8% in 2018, with a few dips in between. The study discusses that a comprehensive evaluation of the retirement system, including Social Security, employer sponsored plans, and individual savings, is necessary to find effective solutions to manage the risks faced by Americans, so they can have secure retirement income. You can read the full study here: https://www.gao.gov/assets/700/696766.pdf
Withdrawal Liability Method for Multiemployer Plans: On February 6, 2019, the PBGC published a proposed rule that provides simplified methods for a plan sponsor to disregard reductions and suspensions of nonforfeitable benefits and certain contribution increases while calculating an employer’s withdrawal liability. Comments on the proposed rule must be submitted by April 8, 2019.
Robert Davis is a managing director in Deloitte Consulting LLP and leads the Washington Rewards Policy Center of Excellence, dedicated to informing practitioners and clients about legislative and regulatory developments relating to employer-sponsored rewards programs.
Leadership is one of society’s and industry’s favorite topics, and—across the globe—we’ve been spending billions in our pursuits to improve leadership for decades—$50 billion a year by some estimates.1 Just check out the leadership section in any online or physical bookstore and you’ll find thousands of titles on the topic—each one promoting a new, different and better approach, framework, or model for leading. By Deloitte’s research, 84 percent of global organizations offer formal learning programs for leadership development, meaning nearly every organization invests in these activities.2 From competency structures and behavioral formulas to mindfulness and neuropsychological models, leadership frameworks are overly abundant. They also shift with the times, ride trends and quickly come in and out of fashion. If there’s one thing that’s certain about leadership, it’s that there’s no consensus on what it means and how to be great at it. Despite the volume of thinking about leadership, what has this thinking about leadership actually produced? In many cases, the answer to that question is, “We just don’t know.”
It’s Time to Ask the Hard Questions
So, if we’ve built such a prolific and large body of knowledge on the topic, studied it so thoroughly, and come to such profound conclusions:
Why is the gap growing between the rise of exponential technologies and actual leadership capability?
Why is artificial intelligence (AI) exponentially outpacing human capability?
If we’ve invested so smartly and precisely in developing the next generation of agile, high-potential leaders and introduced them into the market:
Why are 82 percent of employees ranking their leaders as “fundamentally uninspiring?3
Why is the overall Return on Invested Capital (ROIC) across companies and industries going down, meaning leaders are producing less while investing more?
Why are “change management” and “digital transformation”—or any transformation for that matter—still even topics of discussion?
Also, if our leadership development efforts had been so successful and have improved (rather than just changed) over time:
Why is the war for talent alive, well, and maybe even more acute than ever?
Where is the surplus of transformational talent that we’ve been building and grooming over the last 20 years?
In Deloitte’s 2018 Millennial survey, only 44 percent of all Millennials surveyed agreed that business leaders are “making a positive impact on the world.”4 Moreover, according to University of Michigan Professor Mark Perry, only 13.4 percent of the Fortune 500 in 1955 were still there in 2011. More than 87 percent had gone bankrupt, merged, been restructured, or had fallen off the list completely.5 If our leadership development research and efforts were so successful, wouldn’t we see a reversal of the inherent Sigmoid curve factors that act upon all organizations and that are accelerating this phenomenon of “creative destruction”?
The Sigmoid Curve Model
The idea behind the Sigmoid curve model is that all things occur in cycles of growth and decline. One way to a continuous and sustained upward trajectory in progress is to make the jump to a new growth cycle before the one you are in plateaus and begins its guaranteed and inevitable decline. If our leadership models are as innovative as we’d like to think, shouldn’t we be avoiding the perils of the inevitable curve of decline?6 If we are, why are companies falling off the Fortune 500 list at a faster pace than ever before?7
The Answer: It’s Time for Change
The challenge in answering these hard questions might provide the first honest indicator that, when it comes to leadership development, things need to change and there is no compelling reason to hang on any longer to what we’ve done in the past. The approaches we’ve been using to develop leaders could even be generating a negative return on investment.
Harvard’s 2018 Leadership Development survey found that 75 percent of L&D executives surveyed felt that leadership program effectiveness was clearly not improving.8 At best, the results of all of this spending are unknown. According to Harvard Professor Barbara Kellerman, “… notwithstanding the enormous sums of money and time that have been poured into trying to teach people how to lead, over its roughly 40-year history the leadership industry has not in any major, meaningful, measurable way improved the human condition.”9 We’re throwing money against a poorly defined problem, and then not seeing the expected results. In other domain areas (finance, IT, supply chain, etc.), this conglomeration of vague and constantly moving targets and intangible outcomes would be generally unacceptable.
Why is Leadership Development Change Needed?
While it may not be a popular perspective, it’s our assertion at Deloitte that leadership development efforts tend to fall behind because the very organizations that have been tasked with building the platform for leadership to thrive and evolve are often distracted by a complex web of generally accepted practices, which we refer to as “orthodoxies.”
Most large organizations have a leadership and talent organization and/or a Center of Excellence as part of the human resources or similar department. These departments have been working, albeit with the best of intentions, to accelerate leadership in their organizations. Their efforts have resulted in programs, tools, and processes to build stronger talent pipelines, reinforce bench strength, and prepare for the future. Each year, as annual budgets are renewed, leadership practitioners in these departments spend significant portions of their budgets to invest in the care of their development system, carefully purchasing and selecting new tools, intellectual property, content, and programs—giving their development system updates whenever provided the opportunity or asked to do so, but rarely altering its core.
What has resulted from these years of cosmetic updates is a complex patchwork of programs, systems, models, trainings, e-learnings, reports, frameworks, nano-learnings, competencies, dashboards, tools, scales, apps, simulations, assessments, metrics, summits, development plans, speakers, workshops, and job aids that become, in and of themselves, the objective and deliverable of the leadership organization. The goal then shifts from driving exponential change and developing future-ready leaders to the updating and maintenance of the development system itself. The bureaucracy and preservation of the development platform ultimately becomes the final deliverable of the leadership organization. This symbiotic relationship with the leadership industry promotes newness and change as the objective rather than actual impact and outcomes. And with technology and change on a nearly exponential upward trajectory, this incremental approach is yielding an expanding leadership deficit.
A Leadership Development Shift
So the challenge is clear: To make a more permanent pivot toward sustained value creation, the leadership organization needs to make dramatic changes—the biggest being a shift away from content and newness and a hard turn toward deep contextual relevance and business impact. To make a shift from a content-based to a context-dependent approach, we need to first tune in to the distractions and hard-coded orthodoxies that have quietly taken our focus away from the most important problem-solving mission of the leadership organization. These distractions have pulled us away from the central mission of doing what leaders do—solve the organization’s biggest and most challenging problems—and focusing us instead toward a task-based development paradigm, framed up by theoretical models and concepts that all say the same thing.
In the next blog installment, which will be part two of this three-part Problem-based Leadership Development series, we’ll discuss the 10 orthodoxies that distract us from executing effective leadership development and how to begin to address them. The big shift in leadership development will be to flip the 10 orthodoxies through a combination of innovative, real-world and agile-development strategies—all of them centrally focused on solving actual and relevant business problems. The mission of leadership development must become the same mission as the rest of the organization: to solve problems, create value, change culture, drive results, and build purpose.
Noah Rabinowitz is a managing director in the Human Capital practice of Deloitte Consulting LLP and a leader in Deloitte leadership.
A unified engagement platform (UEP) is an essential Future of HR “enabler,” integrating the array of technologies so critical to creating a Simply IrresistibleTM workforce experience. While not necessarily deployed on a single software, the UEP brings together mobile, desktop, IoT, and digital/augmented/virtual reality technologies, presenting them in a way that makes it easy for workers to engage with information, actions, and each other for increased productivity and a consumer-grade experience.
HR has been an early and avid adopter of cloud, so when we think of HR technology, cloud-based, Core Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions are often what come to mind first. With continued investment by large and start-up technology players around the world, it’s fortunate that the technology opportunities for HR only begin with cloud-based HCM systems.
There’s an entire business ecosystem out there made up of HR solution providers that are rapidly innovating and evolving—and now enabling—enterprises to better access, curate, and engage the workforce. New solutions for everything from talent acquisition to people analytics to team management to rewards and well-being are emerging seemingly every week. Yet, no one solution can offer everything an organization might need to create the most engaging and productive experience for its unique workforce.
This is where a unified engagement platform comes in. UEPs enable enterprises to look beyond individual solution providers and bring together various solutions from multiple providers into one holistic and consistent experience for workers that you define. This emphasis is very important. The UEP is worker- and enterprise-centric. It starts with an experience designed for your specific workforce, then it folds in other solutions, capabilities, and technologies to support and enrich that experience.
What do we mean by “platform”? Platforms are fundamental to the way digital enterprises work. In fact, many of the world’s top companies and even newer, disruptive ones are themselves platform businesses.
Platform models have three core functions: pull, facilitate, and match.1
Pull means attracting users to the platform (say, to connect with friends or stream a movie) and enabling interactions. In the HR context, a platform attracts workers because it’s easy to use and provides a compelling experience that helps them be productive on the job.
Facilitate means making interactions easy and encouraging the exchange of information, data, ideas, and actions—think of your online retail experience. It’s this exchange and interaction that creates value. In a work environment, a UEP might bring consumer-grade tools and experiences to workplace interactions and include constructive rules to govern those interactions, such as online collaboration tools with role-based permissions, or the way you publicly recognize a teammate’s contribution.
Match means applying information to bring people/services/products together in mutually rewarding ways. So, your online purchase might include suggestions for other products you may want to buy. Your platform for workforce engagement might suggest potential project teammates with specific skills, recommend jobs or assignments matching your particular skill set, or show you learning opportunities to develop your skills.
Underlying the unified engagement platform are three enabling layers—a cognitive layer (RPA, chatbots, machine learning), a platforms and applications layer (including both cloud-based HCM and vendor-managed systems), and an enterprise data layer. Data is captured from the applications and a wide variety of other internal and external sources. The UEP provides a place to access this information so that it can be used to develop deeper insights into the workforce while personalizing the user experience. For example, the experience of someone in an infrastructure role may be different from that of someone in production, sales, research. The combination of these layers brings the power to go beyond workforce segments to personalize each individual user’s experience.
Bigger than HR
Though UEPs can certainly make the workforce experience of interacting with HR and doing HR-related tasks much simpler and more engaging, they are much more than that. They are a means to enable the enterprise, workforce, and work-related requirements for the Future of HR, which are broader than they have ever been. In this future, HR can step beyond the recently emerged role of “workforce experience facilitator” into leading the charge toward workforce productivity. A UEP helps people get things done—working more easily, more collaboratively, and ultimately more productively, which empowers the entire enterprise to drive faster innovation, better customer experience, and greater profitability.
Platforms are a hallmark of digital business. Five of the world’s top 10 companies by market cap2 are platform companies. Their purpose is to bring buyers and sellers and communities together for value-creating transactions, driven by data.3 Enterprises have their own opportunity, through a unified engagement platform, to enable value-creating interactions and use data to gain a full picture of the hows, whos, whats, and wheres of the work they do—all to help make work more efficient, people more productive, and the enterprise more successful. The Future of HR is to lead this opportunity.
Please join us in the Future of HR discussion, including our series of recent posts that explores each of the Future of HR components: mind-set, focus, lens, and enablers.
Arthur Mazor is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP, Deloitte’s Human Capital practice digital leader, and the global practice leader for HR Strategy & Employee Experience. Art collaborates with complex, global clients to drive business value through transforming human capital strategies, programs, and services.
Jeff Mike , EdD, is vice president and head of research ideation at Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP. He brings over 15 years of experience leading HR functions to generate actionable knowledge through research and collaboration.
Michael Stephan is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP and the US and Global HR Transformation Leader. He develops and integrates HR service delivery models across the operations and technology spectrum, with a targeted focus on optimizing the delivery of HR services around the world.
1 Sangeet Paul Choudary, Marshall Van Alstyne, and Geoffrey Parker, Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy—and How to Make Them Work for You, W. W. Norton & Company, 2016, cited in Jeff Mike and Madhura Chakrabarti,PhD, Becoming digital: Ecosystems, platforms, and HR, Bersin by Deloitte, 2017.
2 Elvis Picardo, “Eight of the world’s top companies are American,” Investopedia, updated February 3, 2019, https://www.investopedia.com/articles/active-trading/111115/why-all-worlds-top-10-companies-are-american.asp.
3 Sangeet Paul Choudary, Marshall Van Alstyne, and Geoffrey Parker, Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy—and How to Make Them Work for You, W. W. Norton & Company, 2016, cited in Jeff Mike and Madhura Chakrabarti,PhD, Becoming digital: Ecosystems, platforms, and HR, Bersin by Deloitte, 2017.