Buck Bond Group

Unlock the value of the new workforce.

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I doubt there’s an employer operating anywhere in the world today that thinks its workforce looks anything like it did a decade ago. Monumental shifts in demographics have created workplaces that often have Millennials working alongside the oldest of the Baby Boomers, and some even have a few “Gen Z’ers” in the mix.

In a recent blog post (“Live on Location”), we looked at what it takes to engage remote workers – perhaps the fastest growing workplace “demographic.” In June, we hosted a webcast on the changing dynamics of the global workforce, and the challenges of devising an HR strategy that addresses the new demographics of younger, more mobile and tech-savvy employees.

All of this is to point out that the workplace is changing, and everything that HR does to deliver talent – from recruiting and onboarding, to compensation and incentives, to talent retention and benefits programs – needs to keep pace. As the 2015 Global Human Capital Trends report (Deloitte University Press) shows, only 22% of business leaders are confident that HR is adapting to the changing needs of their workforce.

So how can HR change its role from providing employee services to developing people strategies that align the needs of its customers, i.e., the workforce, to the needs of the organization for optimum success?

Trends that are Reshaping HR

I’ve already mentioned the shift in demographics to younger employees and the rise of what the Deloitte report calls the “workforce on demand.” What else is shaping the way HR can deliver value, and how should HR respond?

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Power Shift

It’s not just the younger workforce that’s affected by technological and cultural change. Today, being a consumer, regardless of age, is driven by speed, mobility and social engagement. More and more, employees expect their needs at work (especially from HR) to mirror how they experience their personal lives – 24/7 access from any device, personalized attention, communication that speaks directly to them and their specific needs, when and where they need it, and always-on, instant responses to their questions, feedback and requests. They also increasingly expect to help shape the organization’s investment in their efforts to achieve their own goals. HR needs to listen more than ever before.

Listening to employee feedback can help an organization meet its people’s needs and link those needs with the organization’s business philosophy and strategy. It starts with understanding what employees want, need and think about career development, wellness and savings programs. Listening to how employees would spend available dollars for benefits or training often leads to surprising results. They understand there is a finite amount that can be spent, and including them in the conversation leads to greater buy-in. Similarly, the organization needs to help employees understand its business goals by sharing its business strategy and rewards philosophy and demonstrating how its human capital programs (career, health and wealth programs) support them.

From Process to Intelligence

What would be possible with the right organizational insights? Data analytics is transforming every aspect of business in the new millennium. One of an organization’s most valuable assets is its wealth of information – often stored in multiple formats across many platforms and data warehouses. The challenge for HR, compensation and benefits managers is to uncover existing data that could yield more insightful decisions and drive business strategy. After all, we use data analytics to run our core business. Why not our HR programs?

Workforce intelligence is the application of analytics so that HR managers can better understand their organization’s changing workforce and plan strategically for changing demographics, skills gaps, competitive pressures and economic flux that pose a risk to organizational strategies.

Financial Performance

HR is now expected to enable greater top-line growth while effectively managing to the organization’s bottom line. Too often, talent management programs are implemented on an ad hoc basis, without a thoughtful strategy in place to align programs with corporate objectives.

Talent management, compensation and benefits programs need to work together. Without a program to help with financial wellness, a benefits program that shifts additional costs to employees isn’t going to help them focus on the job. Performance will almost always suffer, and the employee can’t properly perform and develop into a competitive asset for the business. An integrated talent strategy – one that is designed to address the career, health and wealth needs of employees – will give the organization a competitive advantage by having employees who are engaged in meeting the company’s business goals.

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Defining Value in a New Way

In the new world of work, employees are more than simply workers. In a sense, they’re customers, and need to see the value in working for your organization. This is the opportunity for HR to step up to the strategy table by defining an employee value proposition that captures the features, attributes, advantages and opportunities available when someone joins and stays with your organization. That includes:

  • Developing compelling, comprehensive and tailored engagement strategies that include creative and technical writing, campaign planning, media analysis, creative design, branding and overall execution
  • Drawing on all available information to attract, retain and engage key staff, give you better business intelligence and deliver and manage your HR technology more effectively
  • Securely aggregating and presenting personal data such as biometrics, claims, savings and equity with demographics and behavioral economic theory to better support your “customers,” drive desired, measurable behaviors of your employees (and, increasingly, of their dependents) – and deliver positive business results
  • Reaching all your HR consumers, including job candidates, family members and retirees, to extend your organization’s value proposition to all key audiences and support effective utilization of your programs

Getting the best results from your HR programs takes more than just launch-and-let-it-run. When the organization’s business goals and strategies incorporate and support the career, health and wealth needs of employees, your culture is strengthened and HR can at last deliver improved business results.