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Author's profile photo Warren Miller

Reimagine HR Like a Rock Star: Let David Bowie Be Your Guide


David Bowie was a man of many talents.

He was a world-renowned musician. He was a gifted songwriter and producer. He even demonstrated impressive acting chops.

David Bowie was equally celebrated for his unique ability to embrace change. Over the course of his nearly 50-year career, he adopted various alter egos, evolving his musical sound with each transformation.

Time and time again, evolution proved invaluable to David Bowie’s musical career. In fact, his ability to adapt should serve as an example to anyone striving for success, whether you’re in music or HR.

Pressure: Pushing down on me, pressing down on you

Business, the nature of work, and the workforce itself are all in constant states of flux. Industry lines are blurring, new competitors are arriving on the scene daily, and innovative technologies are disrupting the status quo.

HR organizations are, in the words of David Bowie and Queen, “under pressure” to adapt to the barrage of changes taking place. If they can’t evolve, they risk falling behind the competition.

The IBM Institute for Business Value recently surveyed more than 5,000 business leaders, including 601 chief human resources officers (CHROs), to find out what they’re doing to “prosper in the ‘age of disruption.’”

The findings, compiled in a report titled “Redefining Talent: Insights from the Global C-Suite Study – The CHRO Perspective,” reveal that most forward-looking organizations are preparing to succeed in today’s ever-evolving landscape by:

  • Treating current and prospective staff like customers
  • Enhancing the employee experience
  • Building a flexible skills base
  • Drawing on analytics to predict future workforce trends
  • Creating a social dialogue with employees to manage change more effectively

But how, exactly, are they achieving this?

The stars look very different today

Innovation has created a whole new world. Technology has revolutionized how employees work and companies conduct business.

Cloud computing and mobile solutions have enabled a remote workforce, thus reshaping the employee-employer relationship, transforming how certain work-related activities are performed, and spurring major cultural change.

Meanwhile, the Internet of Things (IoT) is generating massive amounts of data. This is both creating work, as the data must be managed, and eliminating work, as some jobs could potentially be replaced with IoT-enabled devices.

Finally, cognitive computing allows employees to harness data and increase employee productivity.

Turn and face the strange ch-ch-changes

The key to succeeding in the face of these technological advancements is to “turn and face the strange ch-ch-changes.” In other words, HR professionals need to embrace the use of these innovations and capitalize on the emerging technologies. Doing so can provide tremendous value:

  • Cloud computing: With cloud computing tools, companies can foster employee collaboration and facilitate the sharing of important documents.
  • Mobile solutions: By providing mobile solutions to staff, businesses can enable around-the-clock, on-the-go information access.
  • IoT: Employers can use smart IoT devices to “customize environmental factors such as ambient temperature, lighting, and noise – all of which can have a major impact on employee output.” Companies can also use IoT tools to alert staff about potential safety hazards or other workplace issues.
  • Cognitive computing: Analyzing data using cognitive computing can help CHROs to detect trends in employee efficiency, engagement, and retention; enhance existing workplace operations; and increase the efficiency of current recruitment processes.

New and “strange” technologies will always impose challenges. But the HR organizations that can leverage the latest innovations to deliver better employee experiences, improve HR operations, and boost employee productivity will have a decisive advantage over the competition.

We can be heroes – forever and ever

The age of technological disruption has arrived, and there’s no going back. The best that CHROs can do is roll with the punches and leverage the latest innovations to cope with the upheavals. This will require companies to attract and retain professionals with the right skillsets.

To achieve this, CHROs in the IBM survey suggest that organizations:

  • Redesign your talent acquisition model: Develop processes to target the talent you need to differentiate your business. To do this, you need creative marketing techniques and analytical tools that can help you attract, acquire, and onboard employees with unique skills.
  • Reimagine the employee experience: Treat the employee experience as you would the customer experience. Harness the power of analytics to gain valuable insight on your staff. Constantly modify your existing employee engagement techniques to deliver increasingly superior experiences.
  • Rethink HR services for the cognitive age: Explore how technology can enable you to improve HR and your overall operational efficiency. Cloud-based software, mobile solutions, and social communities can help.

Do all this, and you can be an HR hero – forever and ever.

Take a deeper dive into this topic. Download the full IBM Institute for Business Value report, “Redefining Talent: Insights from the Global C-Suite Study – The CHRO Perspective.”

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