The Customer Within: How ‘Employee Experience’ Is HR’s Competitive Differentiator

July 7, 201412:13 pm629 views

Much has been made about a major power shift in the marketplace–away from brands and the products they create and toward improving the experience of social savvy customers whose choices and opinions can have a dramatic impact on the bottom line.

This shift to the power of the individual is also transforming the relationship between workers and employers. Human Resources (HR) executives need to ask themselves whether they are paying enough attention to the customer within. Plus, with the largest network in the world, the referral network, open 24/7 courtesy of social media, it is imperative for organizations to develop proper strategy to retain their top talents.

As part of the HR modernization strategy, building great employee experience requires an organizational, culture transformation and the embrace of technologies that reflect new and changing business practices and deliver that workforce insight for HR leaders to understand their employees better. In view of this, HR leaders today need to move away from a focus on service delivery and cost reduction and toward building great employee experiences.

Over the past 10 years, most large organizations have adopted some forms of globalized and centralized HR service delivery model and governance. These efforts have created scale and consistency in the HR function and improved the overall economics of HR. According to the CedarCrestone 2012 – 2013 HR Systems Survey these initiatives delivered cost and transaction improvements in the order of 15-20 %–and sometimes considerably more when manager and employee self-service tools are first deployed.

But cost-per-transaction discipline is becoming table stakes. Increasingly, the businesses that win are distinguished by agility and pace of innovation, not lower cost per transaction. And, despite delivering transactional efficiency, the truth is employee experiences don’t live up to the organization’s own customer experience standards as many HR leaders are aware. That deficit can undermine the ability to hire, train, and retain top employees—the brain trust that drives business strategy and product innovation.

Fortunately, as HR leaders have presided over gains in HR efficiency, so too they can be champions for employee experience. HR is not one-size-fits-all. It uses personalized, context-relevant communication, tools, processes, and policies. With the advent of the modern consumer mindset—which is customized to the individual—also comes the expectation of customizable employment. Effective leadership must now engage a talent ecosystem of value creation and delivery capability. This ecosystem can include full-time employees, part-timers, alumni networks, contractors, temps, outsourcers, partners, and more.

This has an impact on the entire HR operation and requires HR staff to offer more choices in benefit plans, flexible work locations, mobile enablement of corporate tools, and increased social collaboration. Organizations will outperform others with their ability to connect and motivate their workforce.

Technology makes it easier. Research from RBL Group shows that, for the first time in the 20-year span of its study, HR is expected to serve as a technology proponent instead of just a reluctant user. If HR executives take a progressive view of their role in their organization, they can look to technology to help improve the employee experience in several ways:

  • Powerful technology can analyze massive data sets about employees, and it presents an unprecedented opportunity to ask and answer better questions about the workforce.
  • HR technology is evolving to model and predict talent needs and people outcomes on an aggregated level for the whole organization.
  • Workforce modeling becomes embedded in several other processes across the organization—corporate planning, real estate, recruitment, learning, and development—enabling HR executives to create a strategy for addressing and hopefully solving the challenges of the skills gap.
  • Social technologies can help employees connect with each other, learn more about pressing business needs, voice their ideas about a business issue, and collaborate on projects.
  • Mobile access and improved usability of tools can encourage employees to participate in their own talent management and career development.

HR executives can use these technologies to keep pace with the changing service expectations of the employees they serve. Failing to do so has the same impact on talent management as bad customer service has in the consumer market which will lead your customers (employees) to elect to do business with your competitor.

Article Contributed:

By John Hansen, Vice President, Applications Development & Product Management, JAPAC.

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