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Talent Management

Via HR Technologist : The On-Demand Economy Part 2/2: Winning the War for Talent

In part one of the series, we talked about the new talent supply chain and engaging the on-demand workforce. In this final installment, we look at the steps that organizations could take to win the war for talent today.

At a time when talent shortage has never been more acute, organizations will eventually end up facing the on-demand vs. full-time employee dilemma. In the war for talent today, you are not only up against other employers, you are also competing against self-employment . From tech-savvy millennials to Baby Boomers, the demand for flexible work is only increasing. The same on-demand workforce that gives you more choice about where to find talent also gives your prospective employees a choice in how to manage their career.

We all know the pros and cons of having a full-time workforce – your employees learn the business over time and, they become a part of the team and contribute to building the environment and culture of an organization. As they grow into their roles, full-time employees continue to excel as more work and responsibilities are assigned to them. If you’re truly invested in building an organization, a core team of full-time employees is indispensable. However, one of the biggest pain-points of hiring full-time employees is cost. For a standard 40-hour workweek, you may end up paying over 50%-60% more, when hiring a full-time employee.

According to Jeff Antonelli, a director of the Human Capital practice with Berkeley Research Group,

An organization knows it needs to hire contract workers instead of full-time employees, when they have either a specific job to fill but may not have the funding to hire a fulltime employee, or they do not need someone who is inhouse all the time. Another time an organization may need to hire a contract employee is when the company has a specialty job it needs to be done, but that job finishes in a couple weeks, month or a year. Using this logic, the firm can hire someone who is a contract worker but also has a specialty in their field. Also, in the end, it will be completed by a person with the specific qualification necessary to fill it. In other words, no one will have to be trained. Many organizations today are using a flexible workforce model that can be shifted with the demands of its business. This allows companies to keep costs down as well as target its needs by skill level.

Here are a few reasons why you might want to rely on the on-demand workforce:

  • Expanding your available talent pool
  • Local talent can’t fill the role
  • Need specialists for specific projects
  • Costs (startups & small businesses)

That said, on-demand workers are not definitively better for business than full-time employees, it behooves an organization to have a healthy mix of both full-time employees and on-demand workers. As guardians of their organization’s talent strategies, HR needs to redefine its core mission and activities – and create new roles and organizational structures to maximize their on-demand workers’ strategic value . They need to create new strategies that reflect new realities of the modern workforce. In particular, organizations could benefit by taking the following steps:

  • Redefine HR’s customers: Employees have traditionally been HR’s only “customers”, but today, the on-demand workforce is also a critical member of an organization. In order to better serve all these customers, HR teams need to broaden their perspective on talent management and have a permanent strategy in place for the on-demand workforce. The end goal is to align the needs and expectations of each type of talent with strategic business goals.
  • Integrate processes and systems: Instead of using vastly different processes and systems to hire and manage talent, organizations need to develop a unified strategy and set of processes and software that extend to all talent segments, including the on-demand workforce.
  • Create new organizational structures: Every function from logistics to finance to legal must take responsibility for the on-demand workforce. HR should play the central role by collaborating with other functions that rely on the on-demand workforce or create specialized roles that integrate a diverse range of skills typically found across multiple functions.
  • Use data-driven decision making to make the right talent bets: Having a strong analytics capability can help HR teams perform fact-based analysis while making staffing decisions across their talent pools.
  • Apply talent management practices to the on-demand workforce: HR teams need to rethink their existing talent management practices to include the on-demand workforce in order to best maximize their potential.
  • Segment the on-demand workforce: Like other full-time employees, the on-demand workforce is a diverse lot. What would motivate a worker in an Asian outsourced contact center will likely differ markedly from what motivates a data scientist based out of Western Europe. Organizations need to tailor their people practices to meet the needs of a highly diverse employee base.

The bottom line

Traditionally, work was organized in hierarchies based on jobs and roles. The work of tomorrow will be characterized by dynamically configured teams of workers who may not be an organization’s full-time employees. Instead of a single organization with a recognizable workforce of full-time employees enduring hierarchy, organizations will increasingly comprise of a hybrid workforce – part on-demand, and part full-time. As the global talent supply chain continues to span regional, global and organizational boundaries, HR teams need to embrace new talent practices to stay on top of their game . Bridging current talent gaps in organizations by bringing together globally dispersed workforces to achieve business goals will require no less than a management revolution. And this is just the beginning. Organizations that can capitalize on the power of the new hybrid workforce will position themselves as the new market leaders.

Via HR Technologist : The On-Demand Economy Part 1/2: The New Talent Supply Chain

To remain competitive in the future, organizations will need to push talent management beyond the confines of the enterprise to include the new hybrid workforce. In this two-article series, we explore how companies can gain critical advantages such as agility and access to valuable talent by maximizing the potential of both an on-demand workforce and full-time employees

It’s the end of work as we know it. Organizations are already hinging their competitive success on a highly unlikely suspect: white-collar workers who aren’t employees at all. An increasing number of people who lend companies their knowledge and skills in an ever-expanding network of freelancers, consultants, outsourcing partners, vendors and other type of non-conventional talent. Many of these individuals are “jobless” in the traditional sense, but certainly not workless. Others hold jobs with one organization but work for other organizations as well, weaving a complex and intricate web of cross-organizational relationships that are driving the new talent “supply chain”.

What’s fueling the rise of the on-demand workforce?

This set of highly mobile and dynamic workers help organizations supplement their existing set of core employees to meet the challenges of a complex and turbulent business environment. Moreover, factors like increased access to technology and the millennial impact on corporate culture are also contributing to this shift.

According to Jeff Antonelli, a director of the Human Capital practice with Berkeley Research Group, “The growth of the augmented workforce is motivated by many considerations advancing on today’s businesses, compelling many organizations to take a second look at their frame of mind and approaches toward their hiring and structure. Technology has created simplicity for both employer and their employee/independent contractors to propose and take jobs/tasks/projects without boundaries that have been historically restricted by the employee’s location.

It’s much smoother today to locate the correct talent because the pool of workers is truly a global one.

Also, such workers have the propensity to be very driven and, also superior performers in their field who deliver with a quickness and verve. What is achieved in the efficiency and talent areas do come at a cost to the firm in loyalty, however.”

Speaking about business incentives to hire on-demand workers, Jeff says, “The on-demand worker is not likely as tied to the organization, and therefore, more befitting to transient behaviors. Contract workers have no fear of changing employment, however, losing a contract worker costs significantly less than a regular full-time employee (RFTE) who engages in similar behavior. Even with the lessened loyalty, the on-demand worker is thought to cost an organization 20-30% less than a RFTE when considerations for things like health insurance, workers comp, paid time off, 401k and other benefits are factored into the equation – balancing the on-demand and the RFTE can dramatically ameliorate the bottom line while not lowering the volume of the workload output. The on-demand worker is just as easy to ramp down during periods of low work periods, but it is much less noticeable to the media/stakeholder concerns as happens with layoffs or corporate restructuring. Therefore, in the end this type of relationship may end up benefitting both parties. The on-demand worker is much more durable and equipped for the changes that come with this type of behavior.”

Global FMCG giant, Procter & Gamble has forged over 1,000 agreements with innovation partners through its Connect and Develop program.

The company is also tapping into a large pool of outside talent through new crowdsourcing models by challenging them to solve key R&D problems and come up with innovative product ideas. P&G’s external talent has played a key role in developing hundreds of successful products, such as Swiffer Duster, Olay Regenerist, and the Crest SpinBrush.

Kristine Dery, Research Scientist at MIT Sloan School of Management, attributes the rise of the on-demand workforce to three primary reasons, she says, “There are 3 reasons why companies move to a hybrid (combination of full-time employees FTE and freelancers) workforce:

  1. They are building a more flexible workforce to meet the demands of unpredictable workflow
  2. In the world of digital it is getting increasingly difficult to predict what skills will be required so they want to be able to gain flexibility in skills
  3. The digital talent they are seeking doesn’t always want to work on a traditional FTE basis, so they need to be more flexible in the types of working relationships they have to tap the talent required”

Researchers project that the on-demand workforce will continue to increase as a part of a long-term trend. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment services will continue being one of the biggest drivers of the economy, in the long run, adding over 637,000 jobs in the next decade – almost twice the growth rate for the overall economy during the same period.

With the rise in popularity of online freelancing platforms that have enabled organizations to tap “talent in the cloud” – like Elance, TopCoder, and oDesk and have contributed to more than 1 million jobs over the past decade in the industry. And this trend is not limited to startups and SMEs, outsourcing contracts with Fortune 100 companies have doubled in the past decade. Organizations are no longer just outsourcing administrative processes, they’re leveraging the on-demand workforce to gain staff who can handle higher-level, knowledge-based process.

And likewise, the skills offered by on-demand workers is changing. With increasing focus on specialization in the workplace and heavy reliance on project work across knowledge-based organizations, highly qualified specialists and professionals are serving as contingent workforce in positions previously limited to full-time employees.

Addressing the role of online platforms in fueling the rise of the on-demand workforce, Kristen says,

Online platforms are critical to the curated hybrid model. Companies like Deloitte with their Open Talent Network are investing in platforms that enable a broader workforce to engage in projects as they are required.

“These platforms not only facilitate deployment of skills but enable a relationship between the talent and the organization. Regular conversations take place to share knowledge and experiences, freelancers are involved in company training and updates, onboarding is maintained to enable people to engage and disengage quickly, and communities are built beyond the traditional FTE walls. Companies at the extreme (i.e. all freelancers) like Topcoder use their platform extensively not just to sort solutions to coding challenges but to build capabilities, develop networks, and create community. The decision around FTE/freelancer balance needs to be a choice that companies make, rather than one that is forced upon them. To have the ability to choose depends on the extent to which you invest in a great environment where both types of workers can flourish and perform to their best”

With the workforce dynamic being in the state of flux, it is in today, there is a need – now more than ever – for organizations to engage and motivate on-demand workers.

The rules of engagement

While the basic principles of leadership apply to on-demand workers, as they would in a traditional office setting, on-demand workers often have different goals.

Even though this freelancer economy sounds like a win-win, there is a catch: while contingent workers enjoy the increased flexibility and empowerment of being their own boss, they relinquish security and structure in their lives.

The flexibility they sign up for also becomes their Achilles heel – they become more likely to be individualistic in their approach to work and less likely to be interested in protecting the brand of the organization they work for – a great risk for any business, as any reduction in predictability is bound to be.

As the freelancer economy gathers force, how can organizations manage workers better? Experts are of the view that collaboration and technology are key to engaging on-demand workers. “According to many research groups, connecting the crucial gap of associations with others and development is what is takes to effectively secure the on-demand worker (ODW). Finding ways for ODW to interact with coworkers and help build those relationships through collaboration is a way to increase worker engagement. The ODW also needs intentional and well thought out guidance and feedback on their performance and development much the way the RTFE does, but in many cases, perhaps more often and more intentional. Opportunities for casual (yet still desired) feedback are much less for the ODW than the RFTE. Collaboration technologies have become critical in engaging on-demand employees with full-time employees, the businesses culture and shifting needs” says Jeff.

In a similar vein, Kristine sees employee experience being the cornerstone of engagement in the gig economy, she opines,

Organizations need to build a digital workplace that delivers a great employee experience across all team members regardless of the term of their employment.

“Top performing companies deliver twice the customer satisfaction (based on industry-averaged NPS), double the innovation (based on new products and services to market in the last 2 years), and are 26% more profitable. Companies in the top 25% of our study based on employee experience averaged 53% FTE, whereas those in the bottom quartile averaged 39% FTE. We suspect that those companies that had developed great places to work for digital talent were able to curate their workforce needs in ways that delivered value (i.e. they were choosing their FTE/freelancer mix). However, those with lower levels of employee experience were finding it much harder to attract the FTE’s and were being required to engage freelancers to meet their needs. We are doing more research to gain insights into this in 2018.”

It’s been well established that employees have a higher level of well-being and perform better when they feel that their organization truly cares about them and values their contribution. Therefore, HR teams need to ensure that they have a structured onboarding and performance management strategy in place to continuously engage and motivate their on-demand workforce.

Just like their permanent counterparts, on-demand employees want to know they’re contributing effectively to the organization and are likely to be more productive and engaged if they do. So, don’t forget to offer and seek regular feedback and celebrate their success.

Via HR Dive : Don’t blame it on the pipeline: How to make diverse recruiting part of your company’s DNA

While many companies recognize the benefits of a diverse workforce, actually creating one is a different story. Federal nondiscrimination laws for the private sector have been on the books for more than half a century, but despite leaders making pacts and plans, progress is slow; recent research indicates that only 12% of organizations are truly inclusive.

And while companies frequently look to improve diversity in various areas, the first focus is often recruiting. It’s certainly not enough on its own, but it’s an important first step. Employers seeking to attract, nurture and keep qualified employees are re-thinking their previous recruiting methods and implementing new initiatives to make diversity inherent in the recruiting process.

Diversity recruiting trends

Check job descriptions for bias. When job descriptions are worded in a way that discourages candidates from certain demographics from applying, diversity will take a hit. Descriptions using aggressive terms like “rock star” and “guru” can signal a bro culture, some say — one that may be unwelcoming to women and minorities. Likewise, a listing seeking a “digital native” may discourage a qualified but older candidate.

Fixing this is important, but it requires some effort. In the last year, EY, formerly Ernst & Young, reviewed all of its job descriptions for bias — thousands of them, says Larry Nash, the company’s U.S. director of recruiting. “It’s important for us to have a diverse workforce and to tap into talent into all different areas,” he told HR Dive. “We went through a review to make sure we weren’t using words that might have masculine terms.”

Biased job descriptions limit a company’s access to qualified candidates, Jenn Prevoznik, global lead of intern and early talent hiring at SAP, told HR Dive. “We want as many people of all backgrounds as possible [to apply],” she said, adding that SAP uses text mining and machine learning to weed out loaded words in job descriptions.

Look to new sources. Companies are recognizing that qualified candidates may not come through the traditional recruiting pipeline. Veterans and older candidates may not be found on a university campus, but through different organizations, says Nash.

“Never blame diversity on the pipeline problem,” Prevoznik agrees. Employers may need to look at candidates’ potential, versus their experience, she says. “If they have a math background [instead of a computer science one], how can we upskill them?”

Employers should also look at job descriptions to ensure that the requirements are genuinely necessary for the job, Kathy Goss, senior manager, head of inclusion recruiting at LinkedIn. “We have those conversations — what is truly needed and can we look at other pools?”

Seek a diverse slate. In-group bias is human nature: We tend to like people who are similar to us. But when it comes to recruiting, that bias can limit efforts to seek candidates who are different and who can bring new perspectives to the organization.

When EY brings in executives, they create a very diverse candidate slate that crosses ethnicity, gender and other backgrounds, Nash said, adding that it may take longer to fill a position when you are seeking candidates that may not be as widely available.

But don’t think that requiring a diverse slate means ‘lowering the bar,’ cautions Goss. “I’m not saying that we’re changing the standards. We don’t want to hire someone just because they’re diverse.” There’s plenty of talent available, Goss says. “The vast majority of the time, the way we’re thinking about that job is too narrowly defined.”

Next steps

Employers are expanding diversity efforts beyond gender and ethnicity, says Goss. Intersectionality is becoming more recognized as companies realize they cannot confine employees into buckets, she said. There’s also a need to help managers build the skills needed to manage different cultures.

Companies also should recognize that diversity isn’t a “recruiting” issue, Prevoznik says. And finding diverse talent isn’t the end game. When employees of all demographics and backgrounds are respected members of the organization, that sentiment shows up when recruiting, she says. Every interaction throughout an employee’s lifecycle should be viewed to ensure it is inclusive, she said.

“There are pockets where there is amazing work being done, and companies are thinking about this in the right way, putting the resources and strategies in place, and moving the needle in the right way,” Goss said. But not everyone is fully on board; some provide sponsorship for diversity events, but little else. “Some companies are just trying to not get sued,” she said.

But even if progress may be slow, there is reason for optimism, Prevoznik says. “This is not a trend, it’s not a hot item of the day,” she says. “The biggest trend is it’s not a trend.”

Via Hunt Scalon : 5 Employment Trends That Demand New Ways of Managing

Finding and retaining the right talent continues to be essential for businesses to stay competitive. Here, MRINetwork outlines five trends to watch for as 2018 unfolds.

Many of the workplace trends that were prevalent in 2017, such as maximizing talent analytics and improving the candidate experience, will continue to resonate this year. But other trends are emerging that demand new ways of managing and planning for the future.

Successful businesses, according to a new report, must adapt to new market demands, the changing workforce and ever-evolving technology to stay competitive. Companies that don’t adapt will fail. Understanding the trends that are driving change, creating talent challenges and offering potential solutions provide the best way pathway to adaptability and success.

To stay competitive in today’s business environment, C-level executives agree that finding and retaining the right talent is essential. But how to do that effectively remains the challenge, according to a recent report by MRINetwork, the search subsidiary of CDI Corp.

“New emerging trends as well as trends that have been identified over the past several years indicate that more organizations are making talent management a top priority for 2018,” said Nancy Halverson, general manager of franchise operations for MRINetwork.

The firm recently identified significant trends that are already having an impact, or that are poised to become increasingly relevant.

1. Gig Economy

As the job landscape changes, more companies are creating blended workforces that incorporate contract or part-time employees into the traditional nine-to-five arrangement, said MRINetwork. According to a report by the McKinsey Global Institute, about 20 percent of the working-age population is engaged in some form of independent work, most by choice. Online and human cloud platforms have also expanded the potential of the gig economy, with gig workers expected to grow from about 4 million today to 7.7 million by 2020, according to a recent study by Intuit and Emergent Research.

“While technology is evolving the gig economy, traditional recruiting firms will continue to provide value, especially for companies in candidate-driven industries that need more access to highly-skilled contingent talent,” said Brett Felmey, director of contract staffing sales for MRINetwork. “Partnering with firms that have relationships with top candidates, and expertise as a single source solution provider can provide employers with the competitive edge required to recruit the top performers in their markets, whether on a permanent or contract basis.”

2. Predictive Analytics

As more technology becomes available, companies are using predictive analytics to determine how candidates will perform, said the firm. Google, for example, has been using analytics to gain insights into the impact of every interview and source of hire since 2015, according to Deloitte’s ‘2015 Human Capital Trends Report.’

Many in the human resources arena predict that the rising use of predictive analytics will be the biggest recruiting trend to drive productivity and profitability in 2018. By collecting early performance data on new hires and matching it against assessments, a feedback loop is created that automatically updates and continually refines the profile of a successful employee.

3. Blind Hiring

Bias in the workforce became a big issue last year, according to MRINetwork. To minimize any controversy, companies are being encouraged to make hiring a blind process. In standard screening and interviewing, unconscious bias easily becomes part of the equation by including data that gives away key parts of a candidate’s background, be it gender, age, race, even alma mater. By stripping away any information that may reveal demographic data, the first wave of screening can be done based purely on abilities and achievements.

“This allows for a more diverse workforce built on merit,” said Ms. Halverson. “But the problem is trying to achieve this with the proliferation of social media. Using a third-party recruiter is usually necessary to ensure a truly blind process.”

4. Gamification

Gamification, a technique for turning engagement into a competitive game, is beginning to be used as a candidate screener, according to the MRINetwork report. Tools such as ConnectCubed claim that games add to the attractiveness of the application process while delivering actionable insights into candidates’ fit for the role.

Although not yet in widespread use for recruitment, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, many companies are finding that virtual games, which integrate points, badges, competition and role-playing, can be used to effectively attract and assess candidates, particularly Millennials raised on Wii and Xbox. The results can be used by recruiters to identify the most promising candidates in their pipeline as under-the-hood algorithms track critical analytics while candidates play the games.

“For candidates, gamification can take the chore out of the application process and add a bit of competitive fun while providing a measurable demonstration of their strengths to potential employers,” said Reagan Johnson, director of technology operations for MRINetwork. “Hiring managers gain access to valuable, actionable data to predict candidate fit and future performance. The service a recruiter brings to organizations is to make sense of the data, using their experience and practiced intuition to make meaningful evaluations. This saves hiring managers significant amounts of time and helps them identify better candidates.”

5. Preparing Employees for Future Change

Evolving technology is responsible for both the disappearance of many jobs across a wide range of industries and the creation of other jobs where skilled labor is needed. For example, when robots or automation techniques are introduced, companies still need technical talent to program, maintain and repair these robots.

“In 2018, companies must think ahead to how they will do business in the future and determine the best ways to leverage their resources (e.g., people, systems, tools) to meet the future needs of their operations,” said Marquis Parker, vice president of business services for MRINetwork. “A key part of this will be to identify people who are willing to embrace different aspects of jobs, including management, problem solving, troubleshooting, and other areas that require a human element, and determining how they can be deployed to align with a company’s growth strategies.”

“Depending on the industry, this could represent a significant transformation in overall human capital strategy and what different employees are tasked to do, so planning ahead will save the company money as it transitions to cheaper computer-driven labor while maximizing the human potential already on the payroll,” said Mr. Parker.

Sherry Engel, vice president of learning and talent development for MRINetwork, said individualization may be the most important trend in HR today. “Employees expect to have the type of experience in the workplace that they have as consumers,” she said. “Learners do not want a complicated, long, one-size-fits-all answer to their skill development. They want a YouTube or a Google approach, where they can get quick, simple, targeted skill development right at the moment they need it. Like Googling a video on how to tie a tie.”

The priorities and challenges inherent in these trends are clear, and readiness to respond to them is essential, according to the MRINetwork report. The ongoing tight labor market means that companies will continue to be challenged with finding and retaining the right employees.

“Given the importance that business leaders place on the talent management agenda,” Ms. Halverson said. “It’s a good time to reflect on what can be done and to take action, focusing on what should be done differently, and what might be improved to move the needle in this critical area.”

Via Human Resources : Log in to the new era of talent management

We’ve all been there, implementing new systems to keep up with the times and demands of the incoming digital natives. Jerene Ang speaks to HR leaders from Essence and Otis Elevator Company to examine how you can best put a solution in place and get returns from it.

The younger generations such as the Millennials and Gen Z are known for being digital natives. By 2020, 50% of the workforce will be Millennials, while Gen Z, who were born just after 1995, will also be entering the workforce.

Being digital natives, these employees are going to have high expectations of the technology at work. In fact, according to the 2016 Future Workforce Study by Dell and Intel, 82% of Millennials believed that workplace technology would influence them when deciding to accept a new job.

With the workforce having such high expectations in terms of technology, it is necessary that HR is able to speak the same language and leverage on the right technologies to engage, and effectively manage the life cycle of these employees – from recruitment to performance management to learning and career development.

Hence, in this feature, we speak to HR leaders from Essence and Otis Elevator Company to find out some of the best practices of successfully leveraging on technology to manage their workforces.

Essence: Actionable data at the heart of decisions

As a digital-first media agency with a proud history of using technology, data and transparent media buying to advance the digital advertising industry, it is no surprise that Essence also significantly leverages on technology to manage aspects of its workforce.

When it comes to talent management, some top issues for Essence include scaling the organisational culture as it expands; and scaling its learning and development interventions and making them available, accessible and of the highest standard. Apart from that, the media agency aims to curate meaningful career paths across its teams to continue attracting and retaining top talent.

As many HR leaders can attest to, keeping employees satisfied and engaged is one of the best ways to retain them. Veli Aghdiran, regional learning and culture director for APAC at Essence, shares that while the firm has been taking a very survey-based approach to measuring employee satisfaction for more than five years, the outputs of its in-house efforts often left them with more questions than insights.

“When the insights aren’t clear, confirmation bias starts to become a more significant risk factor,” Aghdiran says.

Even though there’s no way of entirely mitigating against that, technology systems are better able to provide insights on what has a causal effect on employee satisfaction scores.

“This makes it much easier to prioritise and focus on action. When we do that, our employees see that the leadership proactively addresses the issues that come out of surveys, and they’ll probably take more time and care in responding when they’re next asked,” he says.

Turning data into actionable insights

As such, Essence has partnered with Glint to turn its six-monthly employee satisfaction surveys into insights that leave the leadership teams clear on actions and next steps. The media agency has also invested in HappyOrNot terminals across its offices to have a minute-by-minute pulse of how Essentials are answering the question “How are you feeling right now?” all over the world.

“From an employee engagement perspective, we’re constantly iterating how we use technology to not just collect data, but to efficiently turn it into actionable insights.”

Owned by the learning and culture team, throughout the process of the implementation the team has been very focused on articulating the “why” behind these investments, both to leadership stakeholders and to Essentials.

“Data is truly at the heart of everything we do for our clients as an agency. As a result, our people are very engaged with our efforts to collect and generate insights on employee satisfaction, and we’re relentlessly transparent and people-focused in our approach.

“As we transition from small company to not-so- small company, our senior leadership is very aligned behind the need to rigorously get a sense of what’s going for our people so that we can take meaningful and impactful action.”

Though senior leadership buy-in came fairly easily for Essence, the implementation wasn’t without bumps.

“Whenever you partner with a new supplier, there’s always a need to invest time and energy in the implementation. The two main areas of focus were stakeholder communication and data import and hygiene.”

When it came to the employees’ response, he notes it was mostly one of curiosity as well as positivity.

On the benefits of the programme, he reveals: “From a people perspective, the biggest impact so far is that we’ve been able to drive incredibly productive conversations with our leadership.

“Our investments have also enabled us to ensure accountability sits with those empowered to effect change in the organisation.”

Aghdiran adds that while the people functions play an important facilitative role, Essence relies on the engagement and leadership of senior management to drive the change that it wants to drive for its people.

“When it comes to business impact, these investments have coincided with a significant period of change and transformation at Essence, making the insights gathered even more valuable.

“Ultimately, our intention is to maintain high retention rates as we grow and scale. These investments in technology enable us to take timely, focused and impactful action, so that we can address problems quickly and effectively, and also turn up the volume on things that make our people happy.”

Otis Elevator Company: Taking technology usage to the next level

Amid a constantly changing industry, evolution is critical for organisations to stay competitive – even if the organisation is already one of the world’s largest manufacturer and service providers of elevators, escalators and moving walkways.

As Otis Elevator Company continues to expand with a more globalised and diversified workforce, Sandra Lee, HR director, Otis Southeast Asia, reveals: “Attracting, cultivating and retaining top talent is one of our top priorities, as we’re always looking to enhance our infrastructure and processes.”

As a company, it has continually reinvented itself. Today, it is changing the game again. “We’re approaching the transformation of our service business by putting the focus on people, including our mechanics, to improve their experiences in an increasingly urbanised world,” she says.

“Our approach isn’t just about utilising predictive maintenance, IoT, or new mechanic tools – more than that, we want to develop a connected, globalised digital ecosystem that will keep our users informed, while improving uptime.”

The company is doing so through introducing digital solutions such as a spare parts app to allow mechanics to search for parts even while on-site with their customers; an inspection app that replaces expensive and heavy equipment; a safety app which offers an extra layer of protection for mechanics; and more than a dozen mobile apps to put the control in its mechanics’ hands as well as to further open the lines of communication with customers.

At the same time, Otis’ HR programmes will also undergo digitalisation, allowing for a more flexible, forward-looking and mobile workforce – this includes the use of a new performance management system sans ratings to allow it to focus on dynamic goals and work towards milestones that are in line with business strategies; as well as a new employee survey tool powered by Glint.

Lee further reveals that Singapore has been selected as one of the countries to pilot the launch of Workday – its new HR system – to help the HR team achieve better business outcomes.

A bottom-up transformation

“When it comes to digital, we always start with our people and our customers. We lead from the bottom up – more specifically, we lead our transformation from our field employees.”

In line with that, Otis has established a “champions network” – an internal network made up of a group of Otis service engineers and leaders to front the service transformation effort and provide a stream of continuous feedback around the new tools and apps. These champions will then go on to support global teams to develop and deploy these new technologies.

Lee explains: “This process directly involves the HR team to ensure that all parties are aligned for the successful implementation of the transformation.”

During implementation, the HR team was responsible for mapping out manpower demands, reviewing incentive planning and establishing new policies and procedures, among other things.

“Our new digital programmes are fuelled by 67,000 employees – and accelerated with the strength of United Technologies Corp (UTC).”

Acclimatising to new technology

However, with the implementation of new technology comes its challenges. For Otis, this came in the form of encouraging line managers to adopt a new way of working with the HR team.

“In order to successfully execute the programme, line managers had to be able to examine the data behind our employees’ engagement drivers, and interpret them to plan the next actions.”

To help the organisation get acclimatised to the changes, training and support was provided to help managers and employees adapt to the new technology.

“We rolled out an employee communications programme that clearly explained the initiatives, along with its benefits to the business. We encouraged employees to initiate more discussions around their career development with their line managers, and put an increased focus on coaching and training to ease them into the transition,” she says.

Returns on every level

On the measurement of success, Lee says: “We measure our success by observing how significantly equipment uptime has improved, along with how satisfied our workforce is with the additional autonomy they’re given to carry out their work.”

Among others, the digital tools have benefited employees by minimising, and possibly removing, the non value-added activities Otis’ mechanics are doing today, providing mechanics around the world access to the same resources, as well as giving them more autonomy, hence, keeping them engaged and invested in the organisation.

For the managers, traditionally paper-heavy admin processes such as overtime submissions and reimbursements have become more organised and convenient, enabling them to increase productivity during approvals of the claims.

For the HR team, the service transformation programme has revolutionised the dynamics of the HR team, as well as the way it functions.

“The shared service support across the rest of UTC’s businesses has helped us streamline our processes to uncover different perspectives, which puts a focus on transformational HR work and business partnering. This has also paved the way for our team to utilise data analytics to drive more efficient business outcomes.”

As for the business, the programme has enabled Otis’ field employees to shorten the lead time previously needed to repair lifts, while improving equipment uptime, hence, increasing customer satisfaction.

“In fact, we’ve noticed an increase in customer satisfaction, leading to higher customer retention.”

Tips to get started

After looking at these inspiring best practices, here are some tips for you to take control of implementing and using technology to manage your workforce.

“Why” is just as important as “how”
Be clear about the reason for implementing the new technology. Ensuring the “why” is aligned with your organisational purpose will help stakeholders to buy into it.

It’s not just the implementation, but also what happens after
As a HR professional, you need to be much more focused on being able to draw insights from the data and use it in the day to day business partnering in an objective way.

Quality over quantity
When using a system to gain insights into your workforce, the quality of the data is just as important as the quantity of the data you have. Remember the phrase – “bad data in, bad results out”.

Technology is fast, but implementing a system is not as fast
Don’t be discouraged if the system is not working as well as you want it to at first. Remember that employees need time to get used to the new working processes. Be prepared to sink in resources, behaviour change, and investment in training and upscaling before you reap the rewards of faster and better decision-making.