Critical function | From cost centre to ROI driver - how HR is getting its groove back

From cost centre to ROI driver - how HR is getting its groove back

By Sally Sourbron, VP Global Talent EMEA, ServiceNow

A year on from the pandemic and I believe HR is finally being recognised as the essential business function it is: a critical tie between company and employee, driving ROI, and offering employees the best possible work experience.

But as we move towards a phased return to work, it's important to reflect on what will keep HR at the top of its game.

1. Consumerise the employee experience

We live in an age where experience is the key differentiator, and for employers, that there’s no point investing into hiring great people if you can't create an environment that is good enough to keep them. In a labour market beset by skills gaps, employees have choice, so will leave for a better deal.
The answer is to consumerise the employee experience.

HR will still need to carry out the functions it's always done, through the employee lifecycle. But must deliver in a way that maximises experience, keeping simple things simple and special moments special.

An example is the new onboarding process at ServiceNow.

Starting a new job is stressful, but the admin shouldn't be. Our employees now use one single online portal, delivered via mobile, to sign forms, choose Tech, complete learning journeys, get logins, and much more. Thanks to our technology, this is all accomplished before Day 1 so it's easier for employees to focus on the job they're hired to do.

This has paid off, especially with the arrival of the pandemic. We digitised this process online overnight, giving us invaluable resources to focus elsewhere. The result? 25% of employees in EMEA have been hired virtually, and 95% would recommend the experience.

2. Continue to prioritise wellbeing

We all know: happy, engaged employees do better jobs. But long-term remote working, and improvised home office set-ups has made wellbeing a challenge – and currently employees are finding it far harder to create a decent work-life balance.

The answer should be a clear social contract. HR teams need to work with managers to balance expectations with necessary support: managers should agree with employees what they need to do, how they need to do it, and the outcomes to drive. But they must provide employees with the tools, support, and space they need to achieve them.

Exactly what the ‘contract' is will differ by employee - but it's important to set our own boundaries, and respect those of others. This new way of working requires us to pivot to work life integration and a social contract with your manager is a great start.

3. Pre-empt backsliding - enablement and reskilling opportunities

In the past year, we've seen ten years' progress in ways of working in the space of one.

However, it's important to realise that all these changes have taken place in the context of lockdowns. Employees may have grown used to these but working remotely on a regular basis in a world full of distractions is a different challenge altogether.

We must look at work in a methodical, rational way. Good has come out of last year, and we need to maintain that. But there are downsides and bad habits. We need to make a proper assessment of our business processes, and course-correct where necessary to support sustainable working in this new era.

The right technology will play a key role, offering data and analytics that give a picture of business operations, boost productivity, and assist decision-making. Resulting in new enablement and reskilling to support this change management benefitting both our businesses and employees.

Future-ready HR needs an approach to match

2020 was like no other. But amidst the change and disruption, there's opportunity for business to seize upon – and with the right approach, and the right technology, HR can continue to improve employee experience and drive ROI long into the future.

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