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Work: Disrupted... What Should HR Do?

The Seven Practices of High-Impact HR.
Published on Published onOctober 6, 2017

Josh Bersin

The world of work has been disrupted in ways I've never seen. We're working many more
hours (we've lost an entire week of vacation time since 2000), employees feel overwhelmed
(40% of US workers believe their work is "highly stressful"), and more and more people are
taking on gig-work and alternative work arrangements continue. And everywhere we go we
find software, robots, and AI changing jobs, forcing us all to reinvent ourselves. (Read the
article "Catch the Wave, 21st Century Careers" for more on this.)

What is HR's new role in all this change and how can HR add the most value? Our latest
research, "High-Impact HR", helps explain what HR should be doing about all this.

What Is Happening to HR?

First let me be clear: HR departments are scrambling to keep up. In many ways HR is a "no-
win" profession: when things go well management takes the credit, and when things go poorly,
HR is often blamed.

Consider all the things Human Resources is expected to do: find and hire talented people
quickly, onboard and train employees to rapidly become productive, develop managers to
become good coaches, drive programs to improve diversity and fairness, make sure pay is fair
and competitive, arrange great benefits and perks, and build a work environment that is
rewarding, enjoyable, and inspiring. And all the while HR has to maintain good records, make
sure global payroll works flawlessly, and comply with legal and compliance regulations in
provinces, counties, and countries around the world.

Sensitivity: LNT Construction Internal Use

getting people to do appraisals. making sure compliance training is done. training new managers to be effective. HR cannot ignore them and we must make sure they're done correctly every single time. As you look at the maturity model below you'll see a clear trend: the more time you spend on non-transactional work. HR Teams Still Spend Too Much Time on Transactional Work Whether we like it or not. As I talk with HR teams around the world. and people get very upset if they aren't done well. alumni management. and terminations. lack of diversity. Level 4 companies spend only 29% of their overall time on transactional work." and 19% on "workplace and work. onboarding. understanding turnover and productivity. and diagnosing complex issues like theft. HR teams spend a lot of time on transactional work." The Hard Things are the "transactional" issues at work: getting people screened and hired. collaboration. and employee communications. These processes. including things like benefits administration. and while they are the areas where HR can be the most creative and consultative." HR teams are trying hard to fix this: respondents told us they plan to reduce the transactional work (moving from 41% to 30% over the next 3 years) in an effort to focus on people. the more impact HR will have. harassment. safety issues. and correctly handling employee grievances. and the workplace. building a leadership and executive pipeline. These "soft issues" are becoming more important every day. building a career portal. assessing culture and engagement. are very complicated and transactional. Our new research shows that 41% of HR professionals' time is spent on "transactional activities. running the payroll. while the "hard stuff" gets done first. culture. This is not an easy job. it occurrs to me that fundamentally HR professionals have two essential jobs: the "hard things" and the "soft things. innovation. posting job descriptions. and employment brand." 40% on "talent and people. The Soft Things are the "people centric" challenges at work: making sure performance management is done in a positive way. they often have to be squeezed into available time and budget. while level 1 companies are spending 58%! So if you Sensitivity: LNT Construction Internal Use .

Today The Soft Things Matter More Most of my research shows that today the Soft Things matter more than ever. Research by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that almost 90% of US stock market value is now driven by intellectual property." Added to this simple fact is the real issue that employee productivity has become a problem. and the original computer drove more output per hour of work). These are all "people-driven" issues. is actually the least productive revolution we have seen (the invention of the steam engine. implying that regardless of the business you are in. you're not automating HR sufficiently. This industrial revolution (the "digital era" we live in today). services. So the pressure is on: how do we help people get more done at work? Sensitivity: LNT Construction Internal Use . find yourself spending most of your day running reports and dealing with payroll. "people are your product. electricity. and brand.

A large technology company. and productivity. We found seven key practices that differentiate these high performing companies. tools. coaching. Yes they are still doing the "hard things" well. culture. The Seven Key Findings 1. and correlating lots of data about how companies run HR against profitability.000 organizations. we figured out what leading companies do. but more and more of their time has spent automating and simplifying these "must do" activities so they can focus on design. and focusing your entire business." and it represents a manifesto for the HR department. improve skills. for example. They are focusing on simplification. and built a series of specific HR-driven tools to help them set goals. developed 12 "personas" for the major roles in the company. and values. culture. revenue growth. But it doesn't only apply to HR. Design employee experiences. We Did the Research: What Effective HR Looks LIke After nearly two years surveying more than 1. studying nearly 100 talent and HR practices. Sensitivity: LNT Construction Internal Use . High-Impact HR gives us insights into being a better manager. interactions. This is a transformation we call "High-Impact HR. running IT and other business functions effectively. Truly effective HR organizations are taking on a whole new identity. and other financial metrics. by segmenting and understanding the work lives of your people. Working directly with IT. the company studied the working day. design. leadership. collaborate. and systems these people experience at work.

A large software company went through a multi-year transformation to move its business from licensed to cloud-based delivery models. They are now using Organizational Network Analysis to further refine and improve this work-improvement solution. coaching. collaborative. The leader of this transformation initiative then took a role to "lead the redesign of HR" . check-ins. 2. and embedded in this new structure. two years later. The HR department took some of their off-the-shelf tools and built an AI-based "intelligent expert finder" that lets these employees find the experts they need. Understand and support agile and team-centric organizational models. and feel more engaged.so he reorganized the global HR function to be more integrated. 4.000 "teams" in the company that were not represented in the organization chart. build new service centers. independent of the corporate hierarchy. In doing this the company had to change roles. Now. Use HR technology to help improve people's productivity and performance at work. reward systems. This process enabled the company to take its existing HCM system and compliment it with strategic new tools designed for these employees. At a large re-insurance company the CHRO took it upon herself to work with executive leadership to redefine the company's organization structure. performance management. The result was a dramatic improvement in business performance and innovation. One of our clients studied the performance of their sales and consulting teams and found a need to simplify the process of finding experts who understood particular products in detail. they then added new reward systems and story-telling to help engage and inspire these experts. As the program became successful. don't wait for others to ask for help. the company has developed a new team-oriented toolset for goal management. 3. One of our clients redefined its "talent management team" as a team focused on "global team effectiveness. Sensitivity: LNT Construction Internal Use . Lead the company's digital transformation.and is continuing to study how to optimize the network. and of course change the way the company develops and sells software. and development . and incentives to create more innovation and growth." This team did a study to find what people were working on and found 20.

give your people lots of opportunities for developmental assignments. communications or culture. Today. external education. To address this problem high-impact HR teams operate as agile consulting groups. A large retailer. it's even more important to operate as an agile organization. and continuously develop your HR professionals. and accountability. Work with leadership to shape a culture of trust. bringing together all the disciplines into action when a client problem is surfaced. 7. and lots of experiments. professionalize. A/B testing. and a hard look at Sensitivity: LNT Construction Internal Use . making sure they are current and cross-trained. and encourages people to avoid using computers at meetings (to promote a face to face culture). training. If you have a turnover or performance problem in sales. while these domain specializations continue to be important. I remember writing research in the early 2000s about the emergence of "integrated talent management" and the need to build centers of expertise in recruiting. and other parts of HR. inter-disciplinary relationships. inclusion. leadership development. analytics. created one of the most engaged and customer-centric workplaces in its industry by focusing entirely on its employee and customer-centered culture. which competes heavily with small niche grocers as well as global conglomerates. compensation. This requires cross-training. The company prides itself on transparency. 5. almost all problems are multi-discipline. learning. purpose. offers regular job rotation. the solution could involve recruiting. and visits to peer companies. This focus on culture has helped make this company one of the leaders in its industry and a continuous winner of "best place to work" awards. rewards. don't let HR be a place to "throw people" who can't perform in other parts of the business. Some of the most successful HR organizations today don't follow the rules: they "reinvent" what they're doing through good ideas from peers. Regenerate. While the structure of your HR organization is important. provides career and college degree programs for people from the early days of their career. Design the HR function to operate as a network of teams. breaking down silos - and work directly with customer facing profit centers of the business. for example. research. 6. and job rotations within HR.

" Companies at level 1 companies are just trying to keep the lights on in HR: they are focused on the "Hard Things. Where Do You Stand? These seven findings are inspiring to think about . After analyzing data from more than 1. High-Impact HR teams continuously develop themselves.but how do we get there from here? What specifically can HR departments do to address this "disrupted work" world we operate in today? And how far are you from "high-impact?" Let me show you our new maturity model.000 organizations." and are quickly reacting to the needs of management. they have internal HR universities. we correlated and grouped the practices into four categories. data. and they thrive on hiring people who want to learn and evolve in their role. almost half the companies we surveyed are still operating in what we call an "unintentional" or "survival mode. Many of these companies are fragmented (they have small HR groups distributed into different business units). and found the aggregate looks like this: As you can see from this data. many are underfunded (they might Sensitivity: LNT Construction Internal Use .

These companies may be using behavioral economics or advanced analytics to learn how to "nudge" employees into more productive behavior. and updates to the organizational model to drive innovation and performance. not just compliance and operational HR excellence. change. and used this experiment to decide what to roll out globally. and one with qualitative ratings).they hire leaders in the domain specialties (head of recruiting. These companies tend to be companies that have marched up the ladder from Level 1 to Level 2 over many years. organizational design. compensation and benefits. and the need to build management muscle. In Today's Disrupted World of Work: HR Matters More Than Ever Progressing up these four levels takes senior leadership commitment.) and they buy and build tools to scale without personal interaction at every point. they are partnering with IT to deliver innovative new learning solutions. and they are starting to get reliable HR data. Level 2 companies are more organized and professionalized -. aligned with business leaders and bringing the HR team together into a cohesive unit. etc. focused on driving business results. report to the CFO and are focused more on reducing cost than on improving organizational performance). and they are building and buying technology in sprints or agile projects. a cloud-based HCM system. one with numeric ratings. At level 3 companies the organization has the time and perspective to "catch its breath" and can focus on culture. productivity. they are pioneering new ideas. learning. They may have an employee self-service portal. companies are becoming experimental. and continuous effort. for example (one with no ratings. and much more. At level 4. Sensitivity: LNT Construction Internal Use . or they are simply growing too fast to evolve HR to a strategic function. and their CHRO or VP of HR is tightly linked to senior business leaders. One of our clients tried three different performance management programs. Another developed its new career model through a "hackathon" and crowdsourced ideas to help build a better career experience for employees. The CHRO must lead the charge. investment.

a leading research and advisory firm focused on corporate leadership. The research has lots of detail. High- Impact HR professionals should lead a crusade to make the work experience productive. This effort will pay off: our research shows that Level 3 and Level 4 companies are typically more profitable. Business leaders will be thrilled. but let me conclude with a simple message. engaging. I know that HR professionals are up to this challenge. creativity. and the intersection between work and life. --- About the Author: Josh Bersin is the founder and Principal of Bersin by Deloitte. talent. These practices clearly drive results. and rewarding. Today's "disrupted world of work" demands leadership. they grow faster. and I hope this research gives you inspiration and ideas to "rethink the disrupted world of work" in your own organization. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2017 Deloitte Development LLC. and passion from HR. and they have higher levels of employee engagement. Deloitte Consulting LLP. learning. The days of HR teams wishing for a "seat at the table" are over: you've been given the opportunity to lead. Josh is a Sensitivity: LNT Construction Internal Use .

and the Wall Street Journal. You can contact Josh on twitter at @josh_bersin and follow him athttp://www. and has appeared on Bloomberg.linkedin. published author on Forbes.com/in/bersin . Josh's personal blog is at www. Sensitivity: LNT Construction Internal Use . NPR. and speaks at industry conferences and to corporate HR departments around the world.joshbersin. a LinkedIn Influencer.com .