The Changing Workforce Landscape

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Innovation: doing the same thing, but better. Disruption: doing new things that make the old ways obsolete.

The digital revolution, the popularity of social media and the market entry of accessible artificial intelligence have dramatically changed the way we live, impacting every market in every industry, forcing companies to adapt – and fast.

In the 1980s, an organization expected one major change per decade, such as an acquisition, an integration, a business model evolution, or the entry of a significant competitor. In the 1990s, the number of major changes increased to two per decade. We witnessed the trend going up to three per decade in the 2000s. In 2019? We now experience one to three major changes each year. And, they are less innovative and more disruptive every day.

Workforce Landscape Transformation

The Effect on HR

The impact on Human Resources (HR) and teammate engagement is tremendous. Major change is forcing HR not only to position itself as a more valuable strategic partner, but also to become extremely tech-savvy. HR is more than personnel, more than the “people” department, and engagement is already a term on its way to being obsolete. HR is now morphing into an experience function, and the digital revolution is clearly the guilty party for this disruptive shift.

Forbes magazine describes engagement as the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.  And of course, unknowingly, Maya Angelou captured best the shift from engagement to experience: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

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So how is the impact of the digital revolution and the shift from engagement to experience reflected in HR? Let’s walk through a few scenarios.

In the U.S., with a 3.7 percent unemployment market, virtually all adults are employed. This employee market is a challenge for the majority of, if not all, companies. Therefore, the only strategies are to retain good employees, lure ones from other organizations and capture the attention of passive job seekers.

When it comes to hiring, use of digital channels is no longer optional. When looking for a job, most people first check out an organization’s Twitter, Facebook, Glassdoor or LinkedIn activity. This is one of the ways job seekers “interview” their potential future employer. This first encounter is a company’s first chance to create an experience with a potential hire and demonstrate the culture of the organization. Employee engagement/experience now starts before your future teammate has even applied!

As an example, Atrium Health in Charlotte, NC, one of the nation’s leading and most innovative healthcare organizations, strives to provide an excellent online experience to any candidate looking to join our team, using social media and a dedicated career site. We share job postings, as well as employer news and innovation, and thought leadership pieces to maximize value to active and passive job seekers. We want our future teammates to know, before applying, how engaged Atrium Health is with all stakeholders: patients, teammates, the community and the healthcare industry. This first impression determines how candidates feel about Atrium Health before they apply, and definitely before their first day of employment.

As much as talent acquisition is important to any organization, talent retention is the true differentiator and indicator of future company successes. Employee engagement is evolving from a (deep breath) single…long…annual...survey with 12 months of action planning into multiple short feedback mechanisms per year at critical points in time of the employee’s work life (pre-employment, first day of employment, 30 days, 90 days, last day of employment, alumni). And the expectation from the employee? Immediate response and quick turnaround on the feedback by the company. Why the rapid response? Because the Internet and social media have created an expectation of instant gratification. Post an opinion and learn right away whether readers like it or give it the thumbs down.

In Summation

In this day and age, there is no such thing as survey fatigue – the rise of the Internet and social media has created a world of ask more and share more. That being said, there is such a thing as “you do nothing with my feedback, and I don’t see any change” fatigue. An employee will be more than happy to respond to a survey, as long as the impact of their feedback is timely and visible. Again, in the end, it all boils down to how people feel about your organization.

The talent market will exponentially become more challenging for companies. Morphing engagement into experience and knowing that retention is one of the keys to success, will be instrumental to producing an outstanding return on the talent investment. But buyer beware, as the reverse is also true. Technology enhancements, artificial intelligence and social media are here to stay. You may disagree with upcoming trends but resisting them can be costly. Embracing disruptive change, while keeping an eye on the horizon, puts you at a competitive advantage and could prevent you from playing catch-up in a world where time is our most precious resource.

NEXT:  Human Resources:  Strategic, Predictive and Cost Effective


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