While the advent of digital technology is gradually improving HR practice, it also presents greater challenges for organisations. 

So, from digital skills to performance management, how can businesses keep up? More to the point, how can they maximise the opportunity technology and data affords?

Econsultancy’s Future of HR in the Digital Age report delves into this topic, drawing on insight and knowledge from people within the industry as well as wider research.

Here are a few key takeaways, highlighting how HR professionals are adapting to digital change.

Being proactive rather than reactive

While HR professionals are increasingly using data to gain a clearer picture of employees across organisations, it appears that this is still being done at quite a basic level – usually for diagnostic purposes such as measuring output. 

In future, it is predicted that data will play a more proactive role in HR practice, ultimately being used in predictive ways to develop greater understanding and impact for the HR function overall.

Following the focus on CX

The below chart shows that customer experience is still seen as the biggest opportunity for businesses – above and beyond other factors such as creating compelling content or data-driven marketing.

In turn, CX is also driving change in the processes, structures and practices across organisations as a whole – including HR. 

Whether it is finding ways to reinforce a collaborative culture or breaking down department barriers, the implications for HR are essentially a greater need to support cross-company collaboration and to facilitate change.

Improving digital literacy 

Despite 71% of respondents in a survey saying that it is very important for business leaders to be technology-literate, just 28% said that they believe that is the case within their current organisation.

This is clearly one area that senior professionals need to work on, however it’s not just about improving technology knowledge in an operational sense.

Rather, senior professionals need to understand the potential, integration and application of technologies, with the separation and clear distinction of these three contexts being key.

Recognising the employee experience

While CX is often cited as the main catalyst for digital transformation, many professionals are beginning to recognise that employee engagement is also a core component.

In other words, true transformation is about more than just technical expertise and channels, or indeed marketing and CX. It is about how organisations respond appropriately to the challenges and opportunities that the digital world creates, or in other words, how they reshape the way in which teams work, collaborate and behave. 

Evolving leadership qualities 

Finally, HR professionals are increasingly focusing on ‘softer skills’, with a change in the perception of leadership qualities seen overall. Rather than traditional leadership qualities such as being inspirational, highly commercial and action-oriented – skills such as adaptability, flexibility, curiosity and the ability to embrace change are growing in importance.

Of course, a mix of both soft and traditional skills remain the ideal, with knowledge and empathetic emotional intelligence truly driving organisational change. For HR professionals, the greatest challenge remains being able to find it.

Related reading:

Econsultancy subscribers can also download the full Future of HR in the Digital Age report.

Nikki Gilliland

Published 6 April, 2017 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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