Creating a culture of flexibility: The role of HR

Enabling a flexible workforce can result in real business benefits – from hiring and retention of team members to reducing environmental impact and facilities costs. But to do it right requires more than just a flexible work program, it requires a culture of flexibility that is integral to the business. And that means many different functions within the enterprise, working in concert.

In other blogs on this topic, we explore the roles of IT and Facilities in fostering that culture. Here, we’ll look at the responsibilities of human resources (HR).

Our culture of flexibility is supported by two main initiatives: First ourConnected Workplace program enables eligible team members to work remotely, at variable hours or in other flexible capacities that fulfill the needs of both their jobs and their lifestyles. Second is Conexus, our Employee Resource Group that enables mobile and remote team members to network more effectively and share best working practices.

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HR Meets Technology: The Ten Facets Of Culture

HR is experiencing a watershed moment. It’s not like the massive shift from virtual punchcards and e-forms to Cloud-based applications and analytics. It’s not the sudden appearance of millennials texting in the staff cafeteria, or the first Internet conference call. It’s the shift to a new paradigm: HR and Technology is essential to the success of an organization. This is culture.

Simply put, HR has become an integral, critical component in the functioning of business, from strategy to operations, customer experience to culture. It’s no longer a tangent, or a bunch of middle managers working in a bubble of regulations and number-crunching somewhere on the seventh floor. Not that we ever saw ourselves that way.

At least that’s the model. It’s not always the reality. But I’m being asked what’s next a lot these days, because, for a range of reasons, there is a tangible, different, nexthappening in this field. When the pundits and thought leaders are all being posed “what do you see as the future of” questions, I know from experience that the future is probably already happening. It’s a different culture and ecosystem, and we’re already living in it.

Here are my 10 facets of HR meets technology and why culture remains a top priority:

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How HR Can Communicate Important-But-Boring Stuff to New Hires

In today’s fast-paced business environment it’s critical to get new employees up to speed and productive as quickly as possible. Especially for large or growing companies where multiple new employees join every week, there is significant ROI for anything that shortens the onboarding process.

Then why do most companies’ new hire orientation programs fail to achieve this goal? Because often this necessary information is presented in a lengthy text-heavy, slide deck that is as boring as your car’s user manual. Slide 1: Vision, Mission, Values.

HR is saddled with the responsibility of communicating dense, boring information: performance review guidelines, compensation levels, employee handbook, etc. They write newsletters, design intranets, produce videos and create loads of presentations. While tedious, much of this information is critical to the employee at some point. And yet, when employees set out to find a particular piece of information they have to slog through a morass of slides to find what they need.

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HR must think smarter about smartphones

Americans have smartphones, so does the rest of the world. Millennials think their phone is more important to their daily life than their deodorant, toothbrush and coffee. And there’s support for these apps across the vendor community. So where is HR? Where is HR in thinking about the introduction of mobile applications into the HR department and with their workforce?

This was the question posed by Katherine Jones, VP HCM technology research at Bersin by Deloitte, in a recent webinar: Hungry yet? The Appetite for Smartphones in HR.

The answer to the smartphone question is that HR is doing very little with the technology, and worse still, has few plans to do anything much in the near future. Out of 128 HR executives surveyed by Bersin earlier this year, only 19% of respondents already used smartphones for HR and 23% planned to do so over the next 12 months. That left the biggest chunk of respondents, 58%, who said they had no plans to use this technology in the future.

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To Do Good in the World, Get a Better HR Department

Human resources is often thought of as an endless source of bureaucratic hassles, but finding the right people is the beginning of getting any company on a path of positive impact.

HR-bashing has been one of the professional world’s most popular pastimes since well before the viral 2005 Fast Company article, “Why We Hate HR,” which summed it all up: The department is seen by many as “a dark bureaucratic force that blindly enforces nonsensical rules, resists creativity, and impedes constructive change.”

But for companies that are trying to change—whether to become better corporate citizens or simply more successful—a smart and flexible HR department is crucial. No matter how lofty the goals of a visionary founder or chief executive, it’s difficult for those goals to be achieved without the right people and the right support in place. As Patty McCord, a former chief talent officer at Netflix, told me:

You wouldn’t think of going to another country or doing a new initiative or changing the direction of the company without having a CFO in the room to be able to model what it is going to cost. You also shouldn’t be able to think about any of those things without having the person in the room that says, “Do we have the right people to pull that off?”

“Pulling that off” starts with what McCord calls “the muscle of every company”: recruiting. The wave of Baby Boomer retirements is already causing angst across industries: The Society for Human Resource Management reports that by next year one-third of the U.S. labor force will be over 50 years old, up from 27 percent in 2007. Michelin North America, the tire manufacturing company, toldNPR that more than 40 percent of its workforce is approaching retirement age.

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Top 5 trends transforming human resources in Middle East

Tougher business competition, the growing use of new technologies and the arrival of a new generation of workers will result in big changes to the Middle East Human Resources sector in the coming years.

According to biz-group, a UAE-based business consultancy, here are the top five trends that will transform the regional market.

1# Learning and development: the need for a huge makeover

The gap between workforce skills and business expectations continues to widen. It has become urgent to address the skill shortages of the local workforce in a way that effectively contributes to the bottom line of business, and meets the expectations of a new profile of overwhelmed, impatient, distracted and digital-savvy learners.

With the growing use of the Internet, smartphones and social networks, technology will play a key role in remodelling the learning and development experience, by providing new formats of training programs including bite-sized, just-in-time and customized courses, videos and tutorials.

Among the most promising disruptive learning experiences is serious gaming, which facilitates the transmission of complex messages without boring the audience, while enhancing motivation and engagement.

2# Up-skilling HR is not an option anymore

There is an urgent need to reskill and redefine HR as an enabler and builder of talent, and a critical business function.


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Why the future of hiring is more human than ever (despite the rise of technology)

Hiring is changing — finally. For the last two decades, recruiters have been forced to rely on slow, ineffective technology to source, track and interact with prospective hires.

While other roles like sales evolved from using static, standalone contact systems to more sophisticated, holistic systems like customer relationship management, talent acquisition remained limited to software filled with old data that required manual updating and was difficult to use. With these systems, 80 percent of a recruiter’s time was typically spent performing low-level mindless tasks.

Thankfully, that’s all about to change. We’re now seeing the rise of the machines — a new wave of HR solutions that takes the technology breakthroughs of popular consumer services like Facebook or Netflix and applies them to recruiting.


That means this software uses automation, data science and predictive analytics to alleviate the menial work that historically claimed so much of a recruiter’s time. This new breed of “smart” hiring software is fueling an emerging category called hiring success management (HSM).

As HSM becomes more prevalent and computers take over much of the routine side of recruiting, some industry watchers have expressed concern that recruiters’ roles would become obsolete. In fact, the opposite is true.


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Future Of Work: Using Gamification For Human Resources

2015 will be the year gamification inside the workplace migrates from a few isolated pilots to a new way to engage and recognize high performing employees. Gamification takes the essence of games — attributes such as fun, play, transparency, design, competition and yes, addiction— and applies these to a range of real-world processes inside a company from recruiting to learning & development. Gaming concepts have begun working their way into key HR processes in two ways: as a serious game such as the example below from PwC in recruiting new job candidates to cloud based gamification engines offered by Badgeville, BunchBall and Axonify. Both forms of gamification are moving into the enterprise as companies look for new ways to attract, engage, incentivize and retain employees.

Gallup’s latest research shows why companies are increasing their interest in gamification. The Gallup study finds 31% of employees are engaged at work (51% are disengaged and 17.5% actively disengaged). But what is most interesting is how this data compares when you apply a generational segmentation. It turns out Millennials are the least engaged generation, according to Gallup, with only 28.9% engaged as compared to 32.9% for Gen X & Boomers. What’s going on here? Gallup findings segmented by generation point to low engagement among Millennials who say they do not have the opportunity to show their best work or have a vehicle to contribute their ideas and suggestions. Using gamification to address this can impact not only engagement levels but also help a company become a magnet for best of breed talent. After all, Millennials will reportedly make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025!


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