We’re in the midst of what I like to call the “People Ops Revolution.” HR practices used to be primarily employer-centric, from my perspective, and they focused largely on compliance and administration. But throughout my time working in the human resources space, I’ve had a front-row seat experiencing a shift toward a more strategic people operations function. We are now entering “HR 2.0,” a more employee-centric approach to HR that is focused on employee engagement, experience and development. I believe this strategic method is not only the right thing to do for people, but it also serves to drive the best outcomes companies vis-a-vis performance.
What’s causing this transformation?
I’ve observed that the workforce is changing, but the way employers handle the HR function hasn’t changed much along with it. Online job boards and networking sites have made it easier and more fluid than ever for candidates to move into new job opportunities. More recently, I’ve seen employer branding and other recruitment marketing techniques that have made it even easier for candidates to see what it might be like to work at another company (one that perhaps is more focused on culture, employee experience and career pathing). With 7 million job openings, but only around 6.5 million unemployed workers, people teams and C-suites likely know they have to do more to attract and convert talent. I’ve found that many are utilizing proactive candidate sourcing techniques to put opportunities in front of people who aren’t necessarily looking — but are receptive to a change.
Your employees have many opportunities to leave your company, even if they’re not actively trying to change jobs. But in my experience, turnover is expensive, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to backfill vacated positions. I believe a more strategic people operations function allows companies to retain the talent they’ve worked so hard to recruit and develop in order to meet future talent needs.
How Organizations Can Become More Strategic
Nine in 10 (registration required) HR professionals know they could be more strategic in their roles, but only around half know how to begin. I see three great places to start:
1. Make more data-driven decisions. Every company is different and will need to focus on different aspects of their HR program to start. Begin with an audit, and utilize your data to find out what those areas are for your company. For example, employee engagement or exit survey data might show that employees are dissatisfied with their opportunities for advancement. In that case, a focus on career pathing and employee development should make a significant impact at your company. If you have a high 90-day turnover rate, you may want to begin by fixing, or implementing, your employee onboarding program. Integrate data from your various systems so you can uncover less obvious conclusions, such as how the frequency of employee feedback affects employee engagement and retention.
2. Leverage innovative technology tools. HR leaders should look at the technology tools they’re currently using and research others that might help in streamlining processes in order to prioritize the employee. For instance, my company provides software that helps automate HR processes, and I’ve found that AI can take your data a step further and provide smart recommendations. It can help with identifying employees at risk of turnover, suggest career paths for employees based on their skills and identify high-potential employees for leadership roles. It can also automate many of your mundane administrative tasks, such as ensuring paperwork is completed and provisioning account access. Carefully analyzing the HR tech solutions available and implementing ones to help you be more efficient can assist in your employee engagement and understanding.
3. Build more employee-centric programs. Take what you’ve learned from your data (and the time you’ve saved from AI) to create a more employee-centric HR function. For example, building an employee onboarding program improves new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%. I believe that is because onboarding programs create a solid employee experience and kick-start engagement from the beginning. Employee development continues that engagement and contributes to retention. Ninety-four percent of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers. I’ve found it’s so important to nurture the entire employee life cycle, from hire to retire, in order to elevate your employee experience and increase employee lifetime value.
I’ve seen firsthand how employers are facing many challenges with the new world of work. But when people operations teams are more strategic, they can focus their time on what truly matters — their people — and everything else is able to fall into place. That’s not to say there won’t be some effort involved. The most strategic teams understand the importance of things like a strong employee onboarding process, talent development and employee feedback to build a positive employee experience. I believe data and emerging technologies can help you get there so you can improve your employee lifetime value, while also building a more efficient people operations function.