Putting ‘human’ back into Human Resources

As jobs are getting increasingly digitalised and automated, employers must also change the way they see employee engagement and experience.
By: | January 15, 2020

By Jacinta Quah

Jacinta is the founder and CEO of JQ Coaching & Consulting. She has more than 20 years experience in the tech space, particularly, having previously worked at Microsoft.

While all the talk has been about how digitalisation is transforming jobs, employee experience and engagement is equally as fast changing and important in the workforce today.

And with Millennials and Gen Zers forming the majority of the workforce, engaging employees is a totally different ball game than before. Gone are the days where office redesign, incentive programs and free lunches are enough to drive their performance, productivity and engagement. See it this way – employees are now the consumers. Just like how we strive to provide the best consumer experience, the same can be said for employees in today’s modern workplace.

Today, employees, just like consumers, are seeking a sense of purpose in their day-to-day jobs and a personal alignment with the company’s values, way of working, opportunities for growth and acquisition of all the skills required to fulfill the position.

A move to consumerised employee experience helps employers to create a more enjoyable and effective work environment, attract the best talent and put the ‘human’ back into human resources.

Organizations leaders must address these three keys to create the employee experience that enable their people to do their best work that will lead to strong business results in this disruptive time with unprecedented change.

1) Engaging with the ‘whole person’

There is a need to move towards more human and holistic HR which seeks to engage with the whole person – to understand who they are, what they want out of life and how this job fits into all of that – designing HR processes and practices that support and enable people to organise their work and manage their career in ways that complement, rather than conflict with the other aspects of their life.

IBM’s Employee Experience Index identifies the core facets of employee experience as belongingness, purpose, achievement, happiness and vigour. A healthy company culture looks at creating a ‘way of life’ within the workplace that integrates components of physical, mental and emotional well-being and is reflected in the manner in which every day work operates.

2) Bite-sized and personalized learning

Another shift in employee experience is in employee training and reskilling. If you are still doing day-long training sessions that are both time and energy zapping, you are probably not doing it in the most effective way. It’s all about bite-sized learning or microlearning for today’s workforce. There is a shift from day long training sessions and online corporate universities to bite-sized ‘snackable’ resources based on the philosophy of design thinking and learning experiences.

A study conducted by the Journal of Applied Psychology revealed that microlearning makes learning 17% more effective. Unlike the traditional approach, bite-sized learning suits the modern learner’s information-rich lifestyle and syncs with their ‘tell me quickly’ mindset.

Personalization and adaptive learning are major trend that contributes to a learning experience that are beyond the focus of traditional models. “One-size-fits-all” approach falls short of individual expectations and the required business outcomes. Employees want to optimise their time looking only for what they need, when they need it, tailored for their specific needs.

As a result, organizations must transition to on-demand “continuous” learning to support employees at the time of need with greater use of AI and machine learning, chatbot-based coaching tools and content curation applications.

3) Developing employees’ soft skills

There’s no escaping the impact digitalization and AI will have on jobs. In fact, as many as half of current work activities have the potential to be automated by 2055, according to McKinsey Global Institute Research. Additionally, over half of the job activities that currently exist today are projected to no longer be needed in 2055.

Therefore, it’s important for employers to bring more of a human factor into employees’ skills to mitigate the coming disruptions and facilitate a smoother transition into the “AI era”.

Skills to focus on developing should centre around things that AI and robots won’t be able to do well, specifically “soft skills.” These are defined as “personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.” Organizations must now reskill and upskill employees at a faster rate, deploying learning experiences that quickly close technical and soft skills gaps and prepare everyone for the future.