Workplace Transformation: The role of HR & IT


How we work is fundamentally changing, and is challenging organisations to transform their workplaces. Amid the forces of digital disruption, the primacy of human capital as the foundation of innovation has not changed. To stay competitive in an ever-changing environment, companies need to empower their people to work more effectively and transform their workplace through the utilisation of digital tools. This transformation can only happen if HR and IT work together.

The Digitisation of Work

Most people can’t imagine a day without some form of social media or digital interaction. As a result, the constant need for digital interaction has infiltrated into the workplace, whether employers like it or not. Staff are beginning to rely on these digital experiences in the workplace, and are demanding workplace transformation to allow for a seamless and connected experience in line with their outside lives.

Interestingly, the older generations are just as likely to make these demands as the younger generations. At the centre of the current digital maelstrom that businesses face, now more than ever, HR leaders are relied upon to meet workforce demands. As a result, HR digital transformation is an integral part of an overall business strategy and HR, and IT must work together to form cohesion around governance. 80 per cent of executives in the Human Resources space industry considers workforce planning technology as essential to their future success. Therefore, organisations that embrace technology and data are better placed to navigate the challenges of disruption.

Digitisation and Culture

With such development comes the temptation of an ‘always-on’ approach for maximum output. However, the challenge lies in utilising technology to improve quality of work and reduce the quantity of tedious tasks. Digitisation is not just about the adoption of tools, it is about leveraging tools for efficiency and productivity, allowing the simplification of work processes, to shift focus back on scaling the business.

In this digital age, where access to products and services are available anywhere, at any time, there is little differentiation for businesses to remain top of mind. Therefore, a business’s most significant distinction is its people. As a result, HR has an important role to play alongside IT in building a successful digital workplace, but more importantly, to create an environment in which its people are at the forefront of such innovation.

HR and IT divisions don’t have an excellent track record of working together effectively. IT has a reputation for enhancing project complexity, with a long-term view on budgetary requirements. On the contrary, the IT function would raise issues over HR’s propensity to unnecessarily involve themselves with shadow IT systems, creating somewhat of an HR, IT standoff. On a rare occasion, the two departments collaborate on projects, a general sense of misalignment and opposing goals can prevail, and insights and data remain siloed within individual business functions.

Creating Alignment

A significant part of any transformation initiative begins with a partnership and a shared vision. Successful businesses have removed the traditional top-down structure with organisational silos and enforced business collaboration. In order to unite IT and HR together, they must be aligned with the overall objectives of the organisation. To achieve this, establish clear business goals and be specific about the workplace experience. For example, if the goal is to simplify operations and drive an increase in revenue, the employee experience should be able to enable this goal.

Once IT and HR are aligned, a strategic roadmap must be devised. This will allow your organisation the ability to define workflow processes, that are efficient in achieving the goals set out. It will also provide employees with a clear understanding of what their roles are in the orchestration of this transformation initiative. That means that the HR professional of tomorrow needs to be comfortable with data-driven analytics and processes.

Naturally, as functions begin to work in close collaboration, their roles will adapt to complement each other. Therefore, we see HR’s value-add shift away from human administration towards human empowerment. The empowerment gained is important in engaging staff with the digital workplace, and encourages them to leverage digital tools to simplify their work life. Therefore the HR function has a pivotal role to play in providing this expertise as they closely manage employees. HR are also influential in maintaining the employee value proposition and embedding it within the digital workplace, building a digital ecosystem that enables people to work better, not longer, with digital wellbeing at the centre is therefore crucial. HR digital transformation encompasses self-service HR tools, which empowers managers and employees to streamline processes. HR needs to value employees as “customers” in the digital world. This methodology frees up HR resources enabling the focus on holistic transformation. Digital transformation is a combined effort between HR and IT and solutions need to correspond to the wider IT strategy and plan. HR is integral to strategically steer the organisation through disruptive change.

According to IDC, five key trends and actions support HR digital transformation:

  1. Empowering HR across the business;
  2. Impactful HR business making;
  3. Managing a flexible workforce;
  4. Continuous employee engagement; and
  5. Social and collaborative learning.

Building the Digital Workplace

The digital workplace is an exciting future for organisations all over the world, as digital tools have the potential to completely revolutionise how work is conducted. That said: implementing technology is one thing; being able to utilise it efficiently is something else entirely. Technology transformation projects cannot be left in the hands of IT alone. Successful digital transformation requires organisational wide buy-in, with specific collaboration between C-Suite management, Human Resources and IT, to effectively unlock the full potential of technology in the workplace. Moreover, a collaborative workforce which combines human and digital labour creates an opportunity to architect a connected organisation – connecting people through shared values and experiences.

If you would like to learn more about how IT and HR can collaborate to transform the workplace, feel free to contact us.

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