Embarking on Your HR Digital Journey – 5 Key Strategies

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Jaclyn Lee

Over the last few months, I have had many HR colleagues, organizations, as well as individuals approaching me to discuss on how one should embark on their HR Digital journey. Caught in a world of rapid digitization and onslaught of technological advancements, many HR professionals, including myself, struggle with how to transform our departments and organizations.

The first step to change is to really understand what is going on in the world in terms of digitalization. What are the disruptions that are affecting the workplace and the trends that we see happening in our industry and in the world? How can we as HR leaders help to lead our organizations through this transformation, manage the disruption, and most important of all, prepare and enable our workforce for the onslaught of digitalization?

Here are my thoughts on the 5 key strategies to begin this journey!

HR department testing new technology

1) Conducting a Stock-Take

The first step to digital transformation is to understand the disruptions around you and do a stock take. Key questions we can ask ourselves are, "Do we know what are the key technological disruptions happening in our industry and in our country? In Singapore, the smart nation strategy outlines 5 key areas of digital transformation in the area of:

  • Smart transportation systems
  • Health and enabled aging
  • Business Productivity through technology and big data
  • Building a digital government by making public services more seamless with technology and automation
  • Building a smart city in our townships and dwellings

This means, we will need more workers in the area of computer science, engineering, data analysis, cyber security, digital marketing and so forth. Is your workforce equipped with these skills? Understanding the digital needs of the business will enable us to perform a stock take of where you are now and what you need in terms of human capital competencies to help your organization move forward.


2) Develop a Road Map for Your HR Skills 

Next step is to review your team’s current digital capabilities. Do you have the right skill sets within HR to help with this transformational journey? The key skills that will be needed in digital HR include:

  • Ability to manage data and statistical analysis, as these are going to be the key capabilities needed to manage descriptive and predictive analytics. People analytical skills will be essential for strategic HR business partnering and decision making.
  • Ability to understand how to use technology to train our workforce. This will include understanding how to use AI, Machine Learning, and other interactive tools to bring about major transformation and up-skilling. DBS bank is an excellent example of how they have used technology to build an innovative workplace.
  • Ability to use new social media tools to manage the needs of the Millennial workforce and the gig economy that is coming on stream. How do we use such tools to communicate with our employees and to enable a less formal and more flexible approach to managing their performance and morale?
  • Technological capabilities to perform system configuration, write software, develop apps and scripts to support the digital efforts. This may mean that you will have to hire non-traditional HR folks such as Programmers and technologists into your HR divisions.

3) Develop a Technology Strategy within HR

Thirdly, do you have the technological infrastructure within your division to help you with this transformational journey? Work with your CTO to develop a HR Technological Roadmap. This may mean doing a stock take of your current HR Systems to assess their ability to automate and deliver key HR services, crunch analytical data, as well as provide displays and dashboards for decision making. Other considerations would be the ability of the systems to link with other key business systems to develop business insights that are linked to your people strategy.

4) Develop a Change Management Strategy

After conducting a stock take, reviewing your HR capabilities, and systems, the next step in this journey will involve the development of a change management strategy. How do we work with our key stakeholders and business units to map out the transformation journey? How do we work with our leaders to decide, design and deliver the digital organization? Key skills will include understanding what is happening in the marketplace, developing the right mind-set to develop solutions, championing and getting buy-in for digital transformation, possessing the financial acumen to quantify value and return on investment, and having the ability to lead multi-disciplinary teams for cross functional collaboration.

5) Develop a Digital Talent Lifecycle

The last step and yet the most important in this process, is to map out a talent plan that is linked to the digital strategy of your organization. This will be the lifecycle from acquisition to development and retention. Digital talents are in short supply; It is thus crucial for organizations to promote and brand themselves to potential employees through different recruitment channels if you want to secure such talents. Next, in the development phase, HR will need to provide employees with a tailored learning framework to transit them to digital. This should be done through innovative channels to allow employees to take ownership of their own learning.


Finally, in retention, there is a need to invest in employee engagement initiatives and making the workplace appealing through flexi-hours, work from home schemes, and all kinds of interactive platforms for engagement.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn. For more insights from Dr. Lee, please visit her website at jaclynlee.sg