Shift Happens: Employee Experience & the Third Age of Human Capital Management

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By Greg Pryor, SVP, People and Performance Evangelist, Workday

The competition for qualified, talented employees is tighter than ever. Prospective employees no longer care only about salary or office locations. They want to be part of a great culture with best-in-class employee experience, and digital technologies impact that experience.

Almost 3-in-4 employee and HR decision-makers recently surveyed by Vanson Bourne and our friends at VMware agree, “The flexibility of tools (e.g. technology, apps, devices, etc.) I might need to use for work, would influence my decision to apply or accept a company’s position.” And that percentage remains high across every generation in today’s workforce.

As one of the founders of Connected Commons, a research group that focuses on organizational agility, innovation, talent optimization, and leadership, I’m not surprised by employees’ expectations. My colleague and fellow Connected Commons founder, Professor Rob Cross, and I view collaboration-enhancing tools as essential to what we’re calling the “third age of human capital management.”

We’re in a once-in-a-generation, maybe once-in-a-lifetime transition period of being able to truly help businesses and employees be more successful. Creating new experiences and offering new processes and technologies are critical to the transformation.

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Progression of Human Capital Management (Image source: Workday/Greg Pryor)

5 Factors

At Workday, my team and I focus on what we call the “five factors.” Today’s most effective organizations put people at the center of their programs and practices — zeroing in on enabling employee success. They turn to digital technologies as a way to accelerate the effective delivery of the five fundamental factors, which are the following:

  1. Contributions: Help enable people’s contributions as individuals, as well as enabling the organization’s contributions.
  2. Capabilities: Build, grow and deepen employee skills, knowledge, experiences and energy to deliver talent contributions and boost career goals.
  3. Careers: Focus on enabling performance by moving from measuring success by promotion to measuring progress (similar to “The Progress Principle” of using small wins to achieve bigger goals).
  4. Connections: Help employees understand their value and how to use networks to further success.
  5. Compensation: Ensure that people are effectively and equitably compensated and recognized for their contribution.

We believe every organization should be thinking in terms of how it can enable employee success, not manage it.

Greg Pryor, SVP, People and Performance Evangelist, Workday

How Digital Technology Boosts Employee Experience

The use of technology dramatically improves an organization’s ability to be agile and keep pace with the fundamental shifts in industries, the nature of work, and the needs of new generations. Forward-looking companies use technology to:

  • Meet people where they are by curating content in context.
  • Automate the work that can be done without human involvement in order to elevate more strategic work that requires people’s attention.
  • Rationalize huge amounts of data to provide the insights or predictions employees and leadership teams need.

Tips for Successful Onboarding

There are several ways businesses can help people join and accelerate their transitions. Among them are understanding a category of employees that in his research Rob Cross terms “fast-movers.” Another is personalizing onboarding experiences.

“Fast-movers” build social capital as they initiate and engage. They don’t merely push ideas. They ask questions about priorities that help them get pulled into networks faster. Their ability to belong ultimately makes them productive faster. New research also shows that they regularly refine their connections to avoid collaborative overload — intentionally pruning their networks about every 12–18 months.

Leading organizations also prioritize personalized onboarding experiences. At Workday, that customization includes automated notifications that communicate best practices and introduce a new employee to other leaders and peers. It also includes curated learning modules and a dashboard of success metrics. People managers can compare their onboarding and management skills with others. And, when needed, these leaders receive nudges and recommendations to improve.

We’re also pioneering a process at Workday that helps new workmates connect more informally. It’s an algorithm-based solution that matches existing employees with new workmates seeking to network internally.

Companies have to automate what they can, so they can elevate the important connections — what only humans can do. We see doing that as essential to success.

Greg Pryor, SVP, People and Performance Evangelist, Workday

Prioritizing Employee Experience

The need to improve employee experience rises when competition for talent is so tight. In this competitive market, onboarding is the first impression. And personalization is key to boosting individual productivity and connections for the benefit of the entire business. A best-in-class employee experience powered by user-friendly digital technologies proves to define the third age of human capital management.

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