27 jan Consumerization Of HR: 10 Trends Companies Will Follow In 2016
Consumerization Of HR: What Is It?
Consumerization of HR refers to creating a social, mobile, and consumer-style experience for employees inside the company. As MIT research finds, the expectation of social and collaborative tools in the workplace is no longer just a Millennial request. We are all digital citizens. The lines are blurring between HR and marketing, real estate, communications, and IT. The new objective is to create one employer brand which provides a seamless experience for current employees, potential employees, and consumers.
Here are ten trends to watch as organizations rethink how to create the type of memorable employee experiences we associate with extraordinary customer experiences. The Consumerization of HR is happening, is your organization ready?
1. The Workplace As An Experience
Forward-looking companies are well aware that top talent is looking for more than a job with benefits. While some companies create experiences central to the “place of work,” such as access to gym facilities, free massages, and gourmet food, Airbnb and Pandora, to name just two, are creating what I call the “workplace as an experience.” The essence of the “workplace as an experience” is where all the elements of work—the physical, the emotional, the intellectual, the virtual, and the aspirational—are carefully orchestrated to inspire employees. The column I wrote on this subject can be found here.
What exactly are Aribnb and Pandora doing to create a workplace as an experience? Two innovations stand out; First, both Mark Levy, CHRO of Airbnb, and Kristen Robinson, CHRO of Pandora are responsible for the typical HR functions of recruiting, talent management and development, HR operations, and total rewards, but they also have an expanded scope which includes internal communications, and in the case of Airbnb, facilities.
Secondly, for Pandora, Robinson has taken the concept of Employee Resource Groups and given control over to Pandora employees. Often ERG’s are separate groups and the company decides which areas to focus on and fund. Some companies I have interviewed have had the same ERG’s for the last 30 plus years and are usually most often organized around only the demographics of gender, age, and cultural background! At Pandora, however, employees just have to find four others to create what is known as a PERG (Pandora Employee Resource Group) and the company funds the ERG up to $1,000 a year. Some of the 250 PERGs funded focus on professional developmental topics such as data analytics and leadership, but many are just for the fun of learning and connecting around shared interest, and have names like Badass Bakers, Meditation, and Soccer Pandas. The goal is to provide Pandora employees the chance to bond together while learning about a topic (either a personal one or a professional one) and in the process form relationships that will benefit collaboration at work.
2. The Blurring Of Marketing And HR
2015 saw a brilliant example of the blurring of talent acquisition and marketing with GE’s “What’s the Matter with Owen?” campaign?
In the amusing ad, Owen was hired as a programmer—but everyone from his classmates to his parents thought GE was still only a manufacturing company. Owen tries to explain why everyone should be impressed with his new job but instead they give him condolences or baffled stares. The campaign was designed to reinforce GE’s position as a digital industrial company and recruit young people to join the company as industrial Internet developers—the YouTube ads include links to GE’s jobs section. The results: after airing the campaign, Tony Denhart, University Relations Leader at GE Corporate, and Andy Goldberg, GE’s Chief Creative Officer, said visits to GE’s online recruitment site increased 66% month over month.
While some companies see the lines blur between HR and marketing, others have gone a step further and combined the two under the direction of one individual. At Lincoln Financial Group, for example, both corporate functions report up to Executive Vice President and CHRO Lisa Buckingham. The expanded scope includes not only managing Lincoln Financial’s brand, enterprise communications, and corporate-social-responsibility activities, but also all of the functions traditionally associated with HR. The rationale is a simple one according to Buckingham: “I believe we need to create one consistent employer brand value proposition, internally and externally.” Are companies ready to actually merge HR and Marketing functions? Time will tell. But to start, companies can begin to merge HR and Marketing on key projects such as talent acquisition campaigns, employee segmentation research, and identifying shared goals related to brand awareness and engagement to see how these two functions can add value to each other.
3. Employees Become Brand Advocates
Companies have discovered their own employees can be advocates for their brand and are finding out this is good for business!
Employee advocacy programs, which encourage employees to share updates about the business on their own social media accounts, have grown by 191% since 2013 and are due to continue to increase in 2016. According to research conducted by Edelman Trust Barometer, 49% of people believe a company’s employees rank higher in perception than the CEO, Founder, or PR department, 50% of employees already share content about the company on their social channels, and importantly, 58% believe that socially engaged employees are more likely to attract new talent to the company.
Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite, says when done properly, employee advocacy programs not only expand a company’s social media reach but also produce impressive results. Content shared by employees gets eight times more engagement than content shared by brand channels and is re-shared 25 times more frequently.
It’s not surprising that companies like ADP, Kronos, and Hitachi are leveraging employees today as a voice an advocate for the company.
4. MOOCs And SPOCs Grow Inside Companies
I was an early advocate of the power of MOOCs– defined as Massive, Open, Online Courses—to transform corporate learning as noted in my Forbes column, “How MOOCs Will Revolutionize Corporate Learning And Development.”
According to data collected by Class Central, the total number of students who signed up for at least one MOOC has crossed 35 million—up from an estimated 17 million last year. With a distinct focus on monetization in 2015, many MOOC providers and partner universities focused on offering more MOOCs in Business and Management areas as well as offering distinct credentials, such as Udacity’s Nanodegrees, Coursera’s Specializations, and edX’s Xseries.
Some CLOs like Kelly Palmer, CLO, Learning & Talent Development Executive at LinkedIn, and Rolando Lange, Global Director of Tenaris University, were inspired by the MOOC design to create SPOCs (small private online courses) as a new way to create memorable learning experiences, rather than offering standard eLearning courses. While LinkedIn created their own custom corporate SPOCs, Tenaris customized the edX platform to offer a series of MOOCs for both internal employees as well attract engineering students to Tenaris. The is no shortage of choice in creating SPOCs or curating the entire MOOC landscape with companies such as edX, Coursera, Udemy, Udacity, NovoEd, and Lynda (LinkedIn), to name just a few of the leading corporate partners.
And this innovation is desperately needed in light of recent research by CEB Top Insights for the World’s Leading Executives, which shows nearly 70% of the money that organizations spend on training is going to waste due to low quality, redundancy or simply out of date content that no longer meets the strategic priorities of the company.
5. Workplace Flexibility Is The New Norm
As Cisco uncovered in its Connected World Technology Report, workers value flexibility over almost anything else. Those surveyed indicated that flexibility was the second most important factor, after salary, they consider when evaluating a job offer. 66% of American Millennials said they felt an organization that adopts a flexible, mobile, and remote work model has a competitive advantage over one that requires employees to be in the office from 9am to 5pm. In an age when finding and retaining top talent is among the strongest predictors of a company’s success, workplace flexibility is now a critical way to find the best talent and provide them with opportunity for greater productivity. A Polycom-commissioned study showed 90 percent of businesses in the U.S. are offering or expanding remote working options and this is changing how we work.
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A survey by ConnectSolutions finds 39% of those work remotely report 77% greater productivity while working off site and 42% of remote workers feel they’re just as connected with colleagues as if they had been working on-premises. Some companies like Sodexo, a global French services corporation that is a leader in delivering sustainable, integrated facilities management and food service operations, also report increased engagement with remote workers. At Sodexo, their USA talent acquisition team mostly works from home. According to Arie Ball, Vice President of Talent Acquisition, recent research shows that remote employees often have high levels of engagement. What is Sodexo doing right? Three things:
Culture of performance not face time, focusing on goals achieved rather than time to complete them;
Regular communication both in person and weekly virtual meetings and virtual water cooler sharing of personal and professional accomplishments;
Focus on personal health with a five minute Stretch Time at start of all virtual meetings and tracking movement on company provided FitBit.
As I noted in a previous Forbes column on workplace flexibility, companies which view workplace flexibility as a strategic imperative rather than an employee perk will benefit by attracting, engaging and retaining the best talent.
6. Hackathons Used To Re-Imagine HR
Hackathons bring together graphic designers, computer programmers and software developers to collaborate for up to a week to create a new product or service. I wrote at length about the concept of the HR Hackathon in a recent column.
At LinkedIn, Pat Wadors, SVP for Global Talent at LinkedIn, used the Hackathon model to identify ways to re-invent HR from outside HR. Wadors identified the issue of employee engagement, and focused on how to improve levels of engagement across the employee lifecycle, from on-boarding and developing interns, to full time employees and alumni. Rather than pull together a group of HR professionals, Wador instead brought together a group of Millennials who worked as interns in Silicon Valley to participate in a LinkedIn HR Hackathon. The winning team created an app to tackle the problem of unsatisfactory internship experiences by allowing interns to give and receive feedback from management, learn about opportunities related to their personal and professional interests, and connect with employees who can help them achieve their long-term goals.
We will see more pilots like this where a CHRO takes a leadership role in tapping Millennials to provide a voice into HR for a host of issues like employee engagement, job retention and career development.
7. Gamification Of HR
In a previous column in Forbes, I wrote that gamification inside the workplace was migrating from a few isolated pilots to a new way to recruit, engage and recognize high performing employees. In fact, Brian Burke, Vice President of Gartner, estimates “employee focused gamification applications now exceed customer focused gamification applications.”
Gallup’s latest research shows why companies are increasing their interest in gamification. The Gallup study finds 31% of employees are engaged at work (51% are disengaged and 17.5% actively disengaged). But what is most interesting is this: Millennials are the least engaged generation, according to Gallup, with only 28.9% engaged as compared to 32.9% for Gen Xers and Boomers. As Millennials continue to become a larger part of the workforce, companies are piloting new ways to source and engage them and gamification is a powerful method.
Gaming concepts have begun working their way into HR processes for both recruiting new candidates as well as learning and development. Companies such as Badgeville, BunchBall and Axonify all provide interesting gamified solutions.
Examples abound. PwC’s gamification of recruitment, Multipoly, is a game modeling a day in the life of a PwC consultant. This game produced a 190% increase in job candidates and 78% of those who completed the game were interested in learning more about a job at PwC. Additionally, Walmart’s gamification of safety training produced a 54% decrease in incidents among eight Walmart distribution centers.. More than points, badges and leaderboards, gamification engages at a core emotional level. Walmart associates who played the safety game not only became competitive about amassing points and badges but started talking about the importance of safety protocols during their work day! And Qualcomm is using gamfication of their technical Q/A process so employees who ask and answer technical questions are recognized and find their way to top of a leaderboard.
For HR leaders the challenge is how to use gamification strategically as part of an overall business strategy impacting employee motivation and engagement levels rather than just a way to dispense points, badges, and a leaderboard.
8. The Gig Economy Workforce Expands
Over the last five years the convergence of mobile technology, changing societal habits, and the desire for workers to live their “entrepreneurial” dream have given rise to the gig economy worker. Fifty-three million Americans, or 34% of the US workforce, are considered contingent, temporary, diversified, or freelance employees today, with that number expected to reach 40% by the year 2020.
This rise of the gig economy worker is forcing organizations, and HR departments in particular, to re-think how they source and develop non-traditional talent. For employers, the gig economy allows them to hire on-demand, lower their employment costs, and have access to a flexible global talent pool.
There are a number of implications of the gig economy Workforce. As a recent survey conducted by Randstad, the Sourceright 2015 Talent Trends Report, reports, 47% of HR leaders are factoring in independent contractors as part of their talent acquisition strategy. As organizations increase their gig economy workforce, they need to re-think how to engage these contingent workers and consider how the employer brand is perceived across the entire employee population from full timers to gig economy workers. Gig economy platform companies are popping up across many industries such as video animation; where Fiverr shines, legal contract drafting, where UpCounsel is gaining speed, and on-site technical work in the retail, hospitality, and telecommunications industries; where Field Nation leads.
As companies increase their dependence on Gig Economy workers, we may see a new C-suite job created: the Chief Gig Economy Officer, a role designed to maintain and grow an organization’s partnerships and reputation within the freelance community. Anyone interested in being groomed for this new role?
9. Workspace As Cultural Differentiator
WorkSpace is increasingly recognized as a lever of competitive advantage. On the one hand, we see employees working virtually but at the same time we see companies investing in new office space. What’s going on? Well, companies are starting to use performance data, from network analytics to sociometric badges, to capture interaction, communication, and location information in the workplace. Using this data, companies are finding what works best in terms of collaborative office design where employees can collide with one another: meaning have chance encounters which will increase their working and collaborating together.
In fact, Jon Fredrik Baksaas, the CEO of the Norwegian telecommunications company credits the design of the company’s Oslo headquarters with helping it shift from a state-run monopoly to a competitive organization. Baksaas thinks the new workspace is not just an office but a communication tool to increase the collisions between workers. And it’s these collisions which lead to improvements in collaboration, innovation, and overall employee engagement.
In addition to creating open space for collisions to happen, companies are also taking a page from WeWork, with its informal and collaborative ethos, and are designing a range of new spaces from open, quiet, huddle rooms, to neighborhoods each providing a distinct space to work. In a survey completed by Gensler on the workspace of the future, the design firm found that employees who can effectively focus in quiet rooms are 57% more able to collaborate, 88% more able to learn and 42% more able to socialize in their workplace.
The space goal for companies is to provide employees choice in selecting a work environment that gives them flexibility to move from one space to another during the day.
10. HR Is A Team Sport
Finally, what is becoming clear from the examples of Airbnb, Pandora, Lincoln Financial Group, LinkedIn, and Telenor is that HR is a team sport. The CHRO is becoming the Chief Employee Experience Officer and in so doing reaching beyond HR to deliver a differentiated in the workplace. The days of operating in a HR silo are over. Increasingly, this will mean partnering with functions such as marketing, internal communications, IT, and real estate to create a seamless and engaging employee experience which mirrors the consumer experience a company is delivering in the marketplace. The essential question for HR leaders is not whether, but rather when and how, to develop more robust partnerships with other C-Suite officers to create memorable and engaging employee experiences.
The employer brand and the employee brand have now become one and the same, forcing HR leaders to rethink their role for the future.
Source: Forbes / Jeanne Meister