Faced with an unprecedented public health crisis, human resources (HR) is at the forefront of managing structural changes within organizations and faces several challenges: remote work, extended leave, furlough, unemployment, frequent government orders, and economic slowdown. In addition, HR must also anticipate very different budgets and planning for 2021 and beyond.
This current crisis is not only changing how we work, but also creating new demand for tools to organize our work.
I recently sat down with Etan Bernstein, managing partner of the People Advisory Business at AKT Global, to discuss this topic. Bernstein is a thought leader on this topic and has worked with many multinational organizations, re-engineering their HR and people processes and systems, reshaping their HR functions, and supporting customers with their change management requirements.
Q: How can HR organizations leverage a “new normal” employee experience?
A: In comparison to numbers pre-pandemic, we see that nearly half of employees work remotely at least some of the time during this pandemic and will continue to work remotely post-pandemic period.
This means that HR has some imperative actions to take, from identifying critical skills and competencies to adapting current and future leadership, among so much more. Crux to this is employee experience – creating new employee journeys for the remote world, providing flexible work options, and rethinking experiences for a remote or mixed workforce.
But this isn’t a new situation for HR.
COVID-19 is new for everyone, so how is HR different?
I’m not saying that the impact of the pandemic isn’t new for HR, but the need to deliver a more employee-centric experience has new urgency. We have seen leading organizations embracing this and have been encouraging our customers to adopt. In the digital age, making things easy, fun, cool, and simple is essential in the workplace, especially since it is made up of a large and growing portion of millennials and the younger iGeneration.
Just go to Amazon, Netflix, Apple, or any other online retailer and see how easy it is – easy to find what you are looking for and easy to complete a transaction. These digital giants have gone as far as pushing content based on your personal profile and buying patterns, giving you suggestions for related goods, waiving shipping costs, and providing options for preferred delivery. Their online experiences and customer service centers are also typically hassle-free. And even now during the pandemic, we hear that these leaders are thriving, with Amazon’s third-quarter earnings soaring with a 37% increase in profits.
Their customer service representatives are measured on customer satisfaction, rather than the speed of call completion and the size of the sale. This is known as the “low effort customer experience.”
Simply put, the low effort experience means creating and delivering an easy customer service that is catered to the needs of the customer, rather than focusing on the most cost-efficient way to deal with him or her.
These low effort experiences your employees have gotten used to outside the workplace redefine their expectations. Your people expect simple, intuitive, easy, and online interactions with HR.
So, what defines “effective” in HR service delivery today is not the same as before. And the digital age propels HR organizations to seek out relevant low effort customer experiences and rewrite what “good” now looks like for both employees and managers.
How do organizations achieve this low effort employee experience?
HR needs to transform in order to deliver on this vision by empowering all employees to manage their HR and work at any time and from any device. At AKT, we believe making the employee experience simple, instant, and intelligent is imperative. Organizations should design HR processes from an employee’s perspective – just like their regular work – rather than submitting to the fragmented process ownership between corporate functions and internal and external service providers. And we instill both low effort thinking and digital mentality, coupled with measurement tools, into the HR organization.
This becomes the case pre-, during, and post-pandemic. By taking a holistic view of the employee experience, supported by cross-organizational partnerships and enabled tools to deliver on those many moments that matter, organizations can improve the employee experience and drive employee performance while paving the way for a more digital workplace.