employee experience, HR, digital transformation

HR's role in digital transformation goes "way beyond" just digitising the HR function, leaders surveyed note. Instead, it involves upskilling employees and managing a changing culture, among other roles.

As organisations place greater focus on digital strategies in the new age of work, the role of HR leaders is no doubt changing. And with this change, comes the opportunity for HR to redefine what the digital HR agenda means today.

On that note, the vast majority of chief experience officers and HR leaders surveyed in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Singapore (96%) said they see the role of HR moving away from being just a service provider, to focus more on being employee experience designers, change agents, and talent developers, according to PwC’s Digital HR Transformation Survey 2022.

Interestingly, while close to six in 10 (57%) of the leaders surveyed said upskilling employees and managing a changing culture and mindset are increasingly important for HR to help employees deal with digital disruptions, just one in four said they have a clearly-defined digital HR transformation strategy across the organisation. This affirms another finding in the survey - that HR's role in digital transformation goes "way beyond" just digitising the HR function. 

With these in mind, the survey revealed four key components making up the digital HR transformation agenda of today:

#1 "Refresh the role of HR in making your digital transformation 'stick' with a digital culture"

According to earlier research by PwC, nearly half (49%) of the HR leaders surveyed said their leadership teams expect the HR function to be responsible for the required culture and mindset change. However, having leadership ownership as one of the key success factors of a culture change is the extent to which senior leaders take ownership, it noted. In the process of embedding a digital culture, business leaders must ensure digitisation across all aspects and functions of the organisation while roping in the HR function to support and push the agenda.

As HR tools play a big part in reshaping how employees think, feel and interact with technology, the research notes it is crucial that these tools and experiences are aligned with the overarching digital culture.

#2 "Invest in talent sharing and learning platforms to bridge the digital skills gap" 

More than one-third of the HR leaders polled indicated that a lack of digital skills and a fear of not being able to acquire them as one of the main obstacles of digital transformation. Senior leaders in the organisation, as well as HR leaders, recognise the role of the HR function to help bridge the skills gap, it was highlighted. In fact, 70% of the respondents see upskilling the workforce and closing the digital skills gap as HR's contribution to digital transformation, a view echoed by senior management and leadership (as shared above).

One way HR can achieve this is to provide a platform that enables upskilling. According to 85% of those surveyed, learning platforms have formed one of the key digital tools that aid in business continuity, particularly during the pandemic.

Overall, ensuring upskilling and workplace up-gradation would help embed a digital mindset and culture, therefore creating a more agile and future-ready workplace.

#3 "Create digital platforms to foster connectivity, communication and collaboration within the organisation" 

In today's world of work where remote working is now a norm, leaders constantly have to find ways to keep collaborations going as teams work across various locations — be it virtually or physically.

In line with that, almost half the HR leaders (49%) surveyed indicated that digitalisation of the workplace and adding new people management practices such as social collaboration (46%) are becoming part of the digital HR transformation agenda.

A large majority (88%) also agreed that COVID-19 has accelerated the need for internal communication tools, which have a positive impact on the organisation as a whole — boosting productivity, improving employee morale, and attracting the next generation of talent, while building a truly strategic workplace.

The research pointed out: With the smart use of technology, HR can create connections between employees, driving communication and collaboration, and positively impacting employee experiences in the whole organisation.

#4 "Put people at the heart of technology to create a 'human' digital experience"

People experience at work is becoming vital to an organisation’s ability to thrive, and the employees' experience with technology now plays a big part in shaping day-to-day interactions. By designing technology landscapes with the end-users in mind, leaders would be able to create solutions that consider their needs and experience, all while of course taking into account the employees' views.

As a result, close to eight in 10 (75%) surveyed are investing more in digital tools to manage employee engagement and sentiments throughout the transformation.

"As investments in technology grow, organisations should pivot the focus of the digital HR transformation from technology to people. Embedding a digital culture, developing leaders with a digital mindset, and enabling new behaviours and ways of working are the key foundational elements of the revamped digital HR transformation agenda."

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