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Employment Today, HR Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Employment Today, HR Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Employment Today Magazine

Performing at the pit stop

A recent study reveals HR leaders want to better understand how the changing technology landscape is helping organisations in the war for talent. Mark Souter explains why it’s important to know your weakest link at the pit stop.

Elite performance relies on a number of factors—both from an individual and teaming perspective.

In the case of Formula One, for example, success is not just down to how the driver performs on the race track. Even the best driver needs a quick turnaround in the pit stop, with the mechanic and support teams integral to success. Each driver needs their people, processes and equipment to be perfectly tuned, aligned and operating to maximum efficiency to be in and out in seconds.

The same formula can be applied in business. Functions such as information technology and human resources can drive business efficiency, or service delivery excellence, when team, processes and technology are all aligned.

In the case of HR applying automation, a best practice process and increased visibility can deliver benefits that extend beyond traditional areas of HR influence.

Creating a seamless employee experience requires cross-departmental collaboration and a focus on the “moments that matter”, bridging and orchestrating multiple transactions that cross the workplace.

Historically, HR’s primary role has been to deliver services to employees and lure top talent to an organisation. However, the role of digital technologies in enabling better employee experiences and overcoming the restrictions of limited budgets, excessive workloads and the difficulties of retraining and retaining workers has transformed the potential for HR departments.

Many modern HR teams are now deeply involved in developing organisational strategy, digitising the employee experience and enhancing overall business performance.

A recent study surveying 135 chief human resources officers (CHROs) in the Asia Pacific region—including 45 from Australia and New Zealand—about their changing roles, priorities and strategies revealed leaders want to better understand how the changing technology landscape is transforming the employee experience and helping organisations win the war for talent

Nearly one quarter (24 percent) of organisations in Asia Pacific had been digitising parts of the employee experience three years ago, playing a key role in organisations in this region now being among the leaders in delivering a better employee experience.

Within the region, however, organisations in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) generally lagged behind their counterparts in Singapore and Japan when it came to HR departments embracing technology and a more strategic approach.

Respondents at organisations in ANZ had some of the lowest levels of agreement that their role had become more strategic over the past three years at 69 percent, compared to 71 percent of respondents in Singapore and 84 percent of those in Japan.

Only 58 percent of respondents in ANZ agreed that they had the information they needed to win the war for talent, compared to 64 percent in Singapore and 89 percent in Japan, while only 56 percent said they had the information they needed to improve the employee experience, compared to 64 percent in Singapore and 84 percent in Japan.

In addition, only 60 percent of respondents in ANZ saw using new platforms to streamline cross-functional engagement as a key focus, well behind their counterparts in Singapore (73 percent) and Japan (80 percent).

Less than half (47 percent) of respondents in ANZ indicated that they were using technology to create a positive employee experience, well behind the nearly two-thirds of organisations in Japan (64 percent) and Singapore (64 percent).

Only half (51 percent) of respondents in ANZ said they were successful or highly successful at retaining talent. This is perhaps not surprising when top talent can work anywhere, and can choose companies that embrace advanced technology to make work simpler, faster, and better.

Visionary HR leaders are creating a new employee experience as they realise that great benefits and cool office perks are no longer enough—employees also want great digital experiences that make their work work better for them.

So how can organisations in ANZ adapt their HR function to enhance service delivery and realise the full benefits of digital transformation?

Step 1—Audit your HR experience.

The first step is to identify the obstacles or inefficiencies that may be stopping HR team members and decision-makers dedicating as much time as possible to strategy and transformation. If an HR practitioner has their day-to-day activity primarily driven by an email inbox, with tactical “issue/ response” type enquiries, they probably aren’t fully operating at the strategic level they aspire to, or that businesses require of them.

Decision makers should account for the impact of these routine activities on engagement and morale as well as productivity and performance. Furthermore, organisations should look at employee satisfaction when dealing with HR and identify obstacles to high performance or rankings.

Step 2—Analyse, simplify, and automate.

The next step should be to review opportunities to deploy service management processes to streamline and automate HR tasks. Replacing email, phone and face-to-face contacts with a portal can help to control HR service request management and prioritisation.

Self-service capabilities can enable employees to locate answers to their queries without adding to the load on HR decision-makers. Automating on- and off-boarding, as well as other employee change workflows, can reduce workloads and minimise errors.

From an employee perspective, the key is to deliver a fast, personalised HR services experience that mirrors their experiences with consumer technology and platforms. It’s also important to ensure that the HR team who are providing the HR services have a great experience too, by offering them simple and easy ways to understand the history of their internal customers’ other interactions with HR.

Step 3—Review, improve and integrate.

Businesses need to capture data about HR that can be used to drive constant improvement in service delivery to employees. What are the most frequent queries? What are the common stumbling blocks or pain points for employees? What departments can create shared services to streamline processes?

Businesses can achieve even greater benefits by aligning service delivery changes to digital transformation initiatives.

At the same time, integrating and coordinating HR management with other business tasks, based on the data and need, can let HR teams route tasks to departments like IT or facilities while retaining end-to-end control over the entire process.


Auckland Council (11,000 employees) is one example of an organisation that has moved from an HR culture absent of a holistic process view, that lacked ownership and accountability, to a tiered HR shared service model using the steps above.

Following a 12-week implementation of the ServiceNow platform to deliver HR services, Auckland Council saw transformational results, including:

  • • 
    A 94 percent service level agreement (SLA) achievement;
  • • 
    55 percent of cases are now closed at the first attempt, up from 22 percent;
  • • 
    76 percent of cases are now self-service transactions; and
  • • 
    Employee satisfaction rates increased from 36 percent to 94 percent.

This included several initiatives to streamline the HR function and more closely align with other departments, such as creating a single portal to access information, make requests, and track progress; merging fragmented systems into one place; sharing live alerts and notifications to track progress; and the ability to “self-serve” for simple requests.

Across Australia and New Zealand, there is a real opportunity for more HR leaders to position themselves as not only a strategic part of the business, but also as an excellent service provider.

The great “employee experience” that HR decision-makers and their executive team are looking to achieve is built on a foundation of great service: the right answers and support, from the right contact, using the communication channels that employees use day-to-day outside of the workplace like SMS, chat, IM, telephone calls and not just email.

Those that get it right will not just see efficiencies on the cost of delivering HR service, but also significant increases in productivity across the business and improved employee satisfaction. Those that get it wrong will find it increasingly hard to keep teams performing to their full potential, while also losing out on productivity gains.

MARK SOUTER is HR product sales lead at ServiceNow ANZ.

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