HR transformation: new roles and responsibilities

Digital transformation is changing our working methods, our lifestyles and the management methods that have until now been well established in organizations. HR is adopting a new strategic mission to assist this transformation in order people and organizations evolve. Thus, HR function is changing its trades and needs to develop new roles involving to new skills.

Within this context of profound transformation, sometimes-even disruption, HR will have to innovate and offer value to organizations undergoing change. If it does not, then HR, in its actual scope, will be increasingly automated, some even use the term “uberized”. Indeed, the development of artificial intelligence, the integration of RPA (Robotic Automation Process) or bots in HR applications will provide greater efficiency for HR, since many administrative and repetitive tasks can be handled by a new generation of HR solutions. Enhanced with the power of robots, HR can focus on its missions using cognitive skills and develop a more personalized knowledge of its employees.

To get a better understanding of the new concepts that must be developed for HR, here are the 5 major changes related to digital transformation that will have a major impact on the new skills that need to be developed or acquired.

Trend 1: Focusing on the individual

Digital technology has increased the focus on the individual and we are all now used to receiving personalized information that matches our tastes and desires. Such communication habits allow us to participate in a more open, transparent and community-based world. Personal preferences are openly displayed: what I like, my friends, my favorites; etc., but the sense of self is controlled through selfies, videos and filters.

These new digital applications know us better than our employers. In order to meet these personal desires, HR will have the task of assisting employees based on their personal tastes. This personal treatment will be essential for encouraging the commitment of each employee within the organization.

This will be accomplished by:

  • Getting to know your employees, not only through their college degrees and job expertise, but also based on their tastes, activities and other skills. The person as a whole must be considered.
  • Restructuring work environments, new places, co-working spaces, working from home, to meet individual aspirations and as well as an increasingly personalized work schedule.
  • Developing well-being in the workplace and socially-responsible actions allowing each person to find fulfillment in their work as well as meaning.

To respond to this trend, HR has developed new positions such as Chief Happiness OfficerCorporate Social Responsibility Manager, Interior designer for redesigning work areas.

Trend 2: The employee as the internal customer

In less than 10 years, digital transformation has created new consumer habits for customers. Digital applications are capable of making personalized, and often quite astute, recommendations based on our consumer habits. The consumer now no longer makes any effort to search out new services, as algorithms become increasingly more powerful in making personalized suggestions. It is clear that we are gradually getting used to this type of relationship and though we may at times have cause for concern, it is so comfortable and easy!

This is a new challenge that HR has to face: how to deal with employees and managers that are now its own customers. It will have to develop skills in customer relationship management (going from CRM to ERM) for employees, think in terms of consumerism and position itself as a service provider for these new internal customers.

In addition the concept of “Employees First, Customers Second”*, which suggests a correlation between the level of internal services provided to employees and the level of services offered to external customers, is now highly recognized and shared. It has thus become strategical for HR to offer a range of innovative e-services tailored to specific needs.

To respond to this trend, the following new skills and positions have emerged within HR:

  • HR marketing, specialized to be able to profile employees, send out targeted emails and newsletters, offer personalized paths, work on employer brand, etc.
  • Employee experience manager, in charge of developing HR services for internal customers (employees and managers) by offering e-services that are simple, intuitive and tailored to the situation.
  • Journey-manager, for an optimal employee experience, in order to change the current methods implemented around application bricks and processes (such as payroll, HR, training, etc.). The employee’s ‘journey’ is optimized and the company will handle each step in that journey, much the same way it would with a customer.

Trend 3: Towards an agile workforce 

Digital transformation and its impact on collaboration, new working methods, the desires of generations X, Y and Z are all factors that profoundly change the workforce in organizations.

The employees are no longer the only ones contributing to the company’s business. Other resources are associated with different types of contracts: freelance, subcontractor… – these are all part of the extended workforce.

Several questions can be asked of HR, which up to now has focused on employees managed and paid by the company: What Human Resources must now be monitored by HR? Do we need to implement a special HR policy for this extended workforce?

Should HR, which is designed to ensure that skills match open positions, evolve to include new resources?

To respond to this trend, new jobs have appeared:

  • Talent Acquisition Manager, in charge of being the contact for those who may  occasionally work for the company
  • Chief Freelance Officer, in charge of managing a network of freelancers and occasionally using their services.

Trend 4: Exponential growth of digital data

Digital transformation is developing electronic data at an exponential rate and this will increase through the use of rich media such as video.

HR information systems have never had as much historic, detailed and precise data as they do now. HR has access to an unprecedented wealth of information. This data is the new ‘black gold’! Provided that you are capable of analyzing key data, extract knowledge from this data and even anticipate trends….

New roles focusing on such data have appeared that combine HR expertise with expertise in statistics and analytics. The HR Data Scientist is a new job that has emerged. Tomorrow, we may see an HR Chief IoT Officer for connected devices.

These new jobs deal with managing data acquisition systems and determining the usefulness and quality of this data. This is ‘data cleaning’. This data is then analyzed and intelligence produced.

Trend 5: The development of communities

Digital transformation has encouraged the rise of communities that create virtual links between people, enabling them to share interests, information and services. In the corporate world, people create groups as decided by the company (based on a department, a job, a work location, an expertise, etc.). In addition to these groups, communities  are sometimes created by employees wishing to interact with one another (newly hired employees, trainees, sports enthusiasts, etc.).

Companies are now building on the concept by offering to set up corporate social networks, which are not always entirely successful. HR faces a new challenge and new company-based roles and responsibilities will be appearing. HR has everything it needs to help connect employees and promote interaction by offering communities tailored to each person.

HR Community managers are among these new roles and responsibilities.

To handle all the changes inferred by digital transformation, HR departments will have to undergo profound reshaping. Some current jobs will delegated via the intelligence of new generations of HR solutions. In addition, new jobs will be created for better personalized service for the employee. Other jobs will emerge to meet the new strategical challenges.

These are all opportunities for HR!