What New Challenges Face HR with Employees in the Digital Age?


Cindy Olson, Chief Human Capital Transformation Strategist of Choice Strategic Alliance

Most HR leaders recognize the competitive advantage of human capital. So why are the talent practices they use stuck in the 20th century?

HR Challenges in the Digital Age

In Talent Wins: The New Playbook for Putting People First, the authors set out to help organizations elevate their HR strategy to the same level as their financial one. They want to drive home a basic truth of our time: that talent is what creates value and that it has never been more important to a brand’s success.

In researching their work, the authors found CEO’s consistently questioned whether:

  • Their organization’s talent practices were still relevant.
  • New recruitment, utilization, and development of talent could best the competition in delivering greater value to customers.
  • They were using the right talent approach—and the right HR—to drive the necessary changes.

These concerns are actually heartening, because they reflect what may be the biggest challenge of all: learning to change an ingrained HR mindset.

Reimagining HR’s Role

Traditional HR processes and talent management are designed for predictable environments in which work gets similarly done across the board. But as work (thanks to digital breakthroughs) becomes more fluid, leadership must adapt to a constantly changing environment and learn to seize new opportunities as they appear.

Some leaders understand they need to re-imagine and create a talent-driven organization that wins, but they’re stuck in an uncomfortable all-talk, no-action digital transformation limbo. The competition all “does digital,” so they must, too. But what does “doing digital” even mean?

We think the most successful companies are those that understand digital transformation takes place throughout the organization, not just within HR.

What Today’s Talent Wants (and Expects)

It’s simple. The modern worker wants the same experience at work that she or he has at home. It’s frustrating for tech-savvy talent to live a mobile lifestyle yet work in an environment that harkens back to pre-digital days.

Digital technology itself is not enough to effect an HR transformation, let alone one of the entire organization. Yes, HR needs to be more pre-emptive when it comes to shaping an organization’s workforce, but if the workforce is to change, the workplace needs to change, too.

In other words: it’s the culture. From new hires to established talent, a digital mindset that cuts across all organizational levels is what will contribute to a successful transformation.

There’s No Escaping the Future

It’s already here! In a world that’s digitizing at a rapid pace, and with employees who expect virtually everything in their lives to be digital, CHRO’s and CEO’s alike must start to lead the change and translate strategic HR objectives into skills that are constantly transformed to keep up with business challenges and market trends.

From reinventing corporate learning to innovations within HR itself, organizations need to begin approaching business problems, including talent management, with a fresh POV that focuses on a new digital driven vision and imaginative solutions to, as yet, unimagined challenges.

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