Changing World, Changing Roles: What HR Leaders Can Do to Elevate Employee Experience

Jenn Thomas

Mention Josh Bersin to those in the HR space, and ears perk up. Mention the following topics in the same sentence, and you’ve got a packed audience at a sold-out event where he’s speaking: 
 

  • Reinventing HR to boost resilience and promote constant learning

  • Combatting employee anxiety through transparency and trust

  • Providing an employee experience that allows maximum productivity


Bersin discussed these imperatives at this year’s IAMPHENOM conference. “We’re in a continuous state of transformation. We have to get comfortable with that. Curiosity, creativity, and a growth mindset have to be core to HR because that’s the way business is today,” he advised.
 

A world-renowned industry analyst, Bersin also provides research-based membership programs in HR, talent, and learning. His take on the changing environment of HR is based on shifts in industry and workplace trends over the last several years. 
 

Right now, of course, companies are pivoting to address health, well-being, and staff mobility issues. But Bersin’s insights take on particular relevance, considering they’re rooted in the goals of reinvention.

 

Steps to Nurture Employees & Productivity 

HR “will rule” when it comes to ensuring their companies stay competitive, Bersin says: Engagement, productivity, and learning will be the growth drivers. 
 

Here are 5 steps to achieve a culture that creates a meaningful employee experience by pushing beyond the status quo.
 

1. Consolidate Technology To Make Work Easier

Large organizations may have several different tools in place to manage various HR functions. It might not be feasible to replace ineffective tools and solutions that a company has implemented over the past several years. But employee experience platforms that layer on top of tech stacks integrate with back-end systems and provide a much easier user experience. 
 

Microservices, chatbots, and AI are all features that improve experiences and interaction—the key to technology that people actually want to use. 

 

2. Simplify Processes 

Meaningful work, deeply connected teams, and progress can be sabotaged by inflated processes, unproductive meetings, and excessive managerial actions. While direction and clarity is important, micromanagement is a detriment. 
 

What’s important now is for HR to encourage multifunctional teams that work with agility and feel empowered rather than “managed” by their leaders so they can learn and grow. 

 

3. Enable Constant Learning 

The happiest, most engaged employees describe themselves as “heavy learners” at work, according to joint research Bersin conducted with LinkedIn. Unfortunately, these heavy learners comprise only a small minority of employees. Why?
 

Employees cite lack of time as the biggest obstacle to learning. Learning management systems, which provide searchable, interactive training content that employees can consume on the go, have become a preferred solution—a positive step in the right direction. 
 

But according to Bersin, HR needs to create an environment where learning is “everywhere,” data-driven, and propelled by cultural experiences within the company. Organizations at the forefront of employee learning and development are elevating the experience with “capability academies” to nurture broader skills like leadership, problem-solving, and creative thinking. They also teach company-specific techniques that help drive employee success, innovation, and growth. 

 

4. Evaluate the In-House Career Experience

Reskilling talent within the organization significantly increases growth, productivity, and adaptability. “If you know what skills your employees have, that’s a gold mine of opportunity for you and your company,” Bersin says.
 

Finding in-house opportunities that match employee skill and interest is difficult on current internal career sites. Hierarchies and management structure often get in the way. It may be easier to find a new job outside of the organization than internally, so valuable talent is lost. 
 

In addition to growing in-house skill through capability training, forward-thinking organizations are using talent experience software. These platforms facilitate an in-house talent marketplace with tools that help employees find a pathway for career development within the organization.
 

Consider the “look and feel” of the career experience at your organization. Is a structure in place to help employees find important developmental opportunities and projects in the context of the company’s goals? Especially in today’s economy, internal mobility and the ability to grow from within must thrive. 

 

5. Ensure Trust Is the Foundation of Culture

“As ‘experience’ continues to buzz, don’t forget that culture really is critical,” Bersin says. “This has become more important than ever.” While culture consists of many things, it must be built on a foundation of trust. According to Bersin, studies show that workers place a high level of trust in their employers—and companies with higher levels of trust often significantly outperform peers. 
 

Build on trust, making it the bedrock value of company culture. To assess the strength of culture at your organization, consider these questions:
 

  • Does leadership reinforce the need to learn?

  • Do people feel empowered to point out errors?

  • Are experts rewarded and valued?

  • Do we take the time to reflect?

  • Can we get time with experts and leaders?

  • Do people move around and take risks?

  • Do people share information openly?

  • Do we listen to customers openly?


Looking forward, innovation won’t slow down, trends will fluctuate, and crises will come and go—some perhaps permanently changing the landscape of work. (On a positive note, HR professionals are noticing an escalation in trust and transparency amid COVID-19, according to new information Bersin has gathered.) 
 

By integrating core concepts of creativity and resilience, HR professionals can take a leading role in helping their companies adapt and grow stronger—even in the face of crisis.


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