What’s stopping your HR transformation?


HR Grapevine speaks to HR leaders in order to assess whether overcoming blockers to transformation delivers return on investment…

Words by Jade Burke|Design by Matt Bonnar

These days everything in business can seem like it’s going digital. As such, the route to business success is a little different. According to three-quarters of respondents to a recent edition of Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends report, a digital HR function is considered ‘important’ or ‘very important’ to an organisation’s success on this new landscape. However, to become a ‘digital’ or ‘mature’ HR function, undergoing a transformation is often required, which can be a little tricky. Despite the end result offering potential efficiencies, cost savings and continued business relevance.

For HR, there’s another benefit to transformation: survival. Simon Gibson, Head of L&D & People Excellence EMEA at RS Components, an electrical components distributor, adds that HR professionals need to concentrate their efforts on transformation if they are not to become ‘obsolete’. “Times are changing and continue to do so at such a rate that we risk our services becoming obsolete. If you are working across our profession and not putting a large amount of your energy and focus on transformation, then I feel you are wasting that resource,” he explains.

Transformation should be viewed as an investment rather than a cost

Colin Larter, SilkRoad Technology

Yet, transformations can be costly, in terms of both time and money. Whether it’s migrating to new servers, updating current systems or introducing new methods of working, each of these changes comes with a price. This shouldn’t preclude your HR function from considering even some small transformations, though.

Below, HR Grapevine has explored some of the most common blockers to transformation, speaking to experts to explain how to get through these difficult moments. Read on to find out more.

 

‘Change is scary’

Humans are creatures of habit and enjoy the familiarity of predictable working days. However, today’s volatile market means business models have had to change and HR has taken a leading role in this. Contra to HR’s new prominence, it appears many departments are struggling to make the argument for transformation with a recent Sage report finding that 53% of HR leaders are struggling to make the business case for change. To counteract business leaders fear of change, Simon Morris, Group HR Director at international health and beauty manufacturer DDD Group Ltd, argues that transformation should be argued as having benefits that greatly outweigh the cost.

“As long as you’re making changes with careful consideration and thought, then absolutely, there’s no reason why the costs of that change should be a barrier because quite often the pay back will be super quick.”

 
 

‘It costs too much’

In the State of the Digital Workplace Report, one of the biggest inhibitors to moving towards a digital workplace was found to be budget constraint. Yet, Colin Larter, EMEA Regional Director at software firm SilkRoad Technology believes that businesses need to change their outlook on transformation. “Transformation should be viewed as an investment rather than a cost,” he explains.

Larter outlines that if HR has a clear end goal when it comes to adopting new technologies, the long-term cost will be seen as worthwhile. “Advisory services and technology will be an initial cost in the beginning, but the key is a clear end goal and having the right people in the right place to successfully implement transformation. By taking these steps to ensure success from the start, organisations can find a clearer path to success and ROI, rather than having to re-start a project multiple times from the beginning or experience failure,” he adds.

 
 

‘It will disrupt the employee experience’

Implementing change will, of course, disrupt the day-to-day, but short-term disruption could improve employee experience in the long-term. “Companies are going through a digital transformation, and a big part of digital transformation is how you transform your workforce—the biggest asset most companies have,” wrote Shankar Iyer, Senior Vice President and General Manager of VMware End-User Computing, in a recent blogpost.

Whether it is HR management software or online training options, investing in tools can significantly increase an employee’s productivity and engagement at work – even if there is reticence to change in the first instance. According to Chloe Palmer, HR and Operations Director at Secret Escapes, a British travel firm, it is the employee experience where transformation is, perhaps, most necessary.

She adds: “You’re not going to shop somewhere where the brand is rubbish, or the experience is rubbish and there are so many HR systems where the brand is rubbish or the service is too. I think technology can bring HR up to the level that an employee expects of a business, so I think yes absolutely technology is worth it if it used in the right way.”


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