• Thomas Oschlisniok, Partner |
  • Julie Currie, Expert |

Deliver a people-centric HR transformation approach by starting with the why, putting people first, building the end-state process and using technology as an enabler.

We recently talked to a client about the common misconceptions around HR Transformation. Many seem to consider transformation to be predominantly digital – the likes of implementing a new HR information system or changing performance management tools. In reality, though, HR transformation comes in many shapes and forms, and when considering that transformation is primarily for people this brings with it a myriad of complexity and considerations. No matter how big or small the transformation is, there are a few key building blocks to be covered:

1. Start with “the why”

Begin by understanding – why do we need to change?

The basis for HR transformation rests on understanding the case for change. Why are we initiating transformation, what has happened that requires us to transform – what is our reason for change? Some reasons may include: improving employee retention, reducing costs or aligning to changed business strategy or conditions.

Next comes the vision for the future:

  • What will good look like?
  • What vision do we want to achieve?

To help answer these questions and to build the necessary pathway for transformation it is important to align on design principles that will guide the decision-making through the transformation. This will be your guiding light and reference when needing to cross-check questions in the design of your process, technology and people. By agreeing on and clearly stating these principles at the onset they can be referred back to when questions or debates arise and can also be used as a test for deviations along the way.

Lastly, and arguably the most important step in fully articulating the why is obtaining the buy-in from relevant stakeholders upfront. Clearly articulating the case for change and ensuring it is adopted within the business will pave the way for success in your transformation journey.  

2. Put people first

A process can be efficiently designed, and state-of-the-art technology can be deployed, but through the transformation it will be the people who bring it to life. 

Putting your people at the forefront of the transformation means clearly understanding their needs and involving them throughout the design and implementation. Ask your employees what they would like to see from HR – from business leaders to graduates beginning their careers. Short focus groups or quick punchy surveys could provide insights into the current strengths and transformational opportunities within your HR service. Allow people the opportunity to provide their feedback and express their needs and to be part of the solution by joining small co-design teams for working through and testing new ideas and projects.  

3. Build the end-state process

When designing processes there is a balance to be achieved between avoiding unnecessary complexity for the business, creating a great employee experience and meeting the obligatory compliance requirements. Building an end-state process means beginning first with the view of what needs to be achieved within the process i.e. what the result(s) should be and how we will measure success. With the end in mind comes the design on how to build the process step by step - standardizing and harmonizing the design means that a uniform experience can be delivered to employees in all parts of the organization. 

Beginning with the end-state in mind and following through on a standardized design will lead to alignment on of what is delivered within the HR team, how and by whom. It also lays the foundation for implementing technology to support the way HR works and delivers services to the business. 

4. Use technology as an enabler

One cannot deny that a large part of transformation relates to technology. In an ever-changing digital world, it is vital for HR to provide a platform for their employees at work that matches those they use in their daily lives. 

When choosing technologies to deploy, think of your employees as customers who are looking for technology to make their work lives easier and enable them to collaborate in an increasingly digital working environment.  

Key is for technology to work for you and not the other way around – it should reduce workload, enable decision-making, meet compliance requirements and deliver an experience that is both easy to use and enlightening for managers and employees alike. When testing new solutions, give all role players the chance to experience the tool to check that it meets expectations and fits seamlessly into service delivery.

In summary, by beginning with the case for change and obtaining buy-in early and often throughout the transformation, building standard processes to serve the business and implementing technology to support your people and your vision, the fundamental building blocks for transformation success will be in place.  

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