With crisis has come opportunity—and in today’s marketplace, that means ‘Hybrid HR.’
By Trey Campbell
In today’s world, there is no “business as usual,” and HR is certainly no exception. The workplace is being upended by the global financial crisis, advancements in technology, and a generational shift in workplace attitudes. And just as employees are changing their own attitudes toward the role of work in their lives, the businesses they run must also adapt their HR strategies. This demands the introduction of new workplace values and ideas about worker productivity, which will create an agile and flexible new approach to HR. As evidenced by the following seven key market drivers, there now exists a need for HR with the capability to serve anyone—anywhere and anytime—via multiple devices. Not just on-premise, not just on-demand, and not business process outsourcing, but a blend of all three. The time is right for Hybrid HR.
KEY DRIVER #1 Fading Boundaries of Time and Place
It’s no secret that with the Internet, the world gets a little smaller every day. HR managers are expected to react in real-time and use different tools to engage with employees across locations and time zones worldwide. The rapidly expanding online world has enabled us to relentlessly pursue our thirst for real-time information and communication. The digital world has become synonymous with immediacy: real-time news, real-time purchasing, real-time publishing, real-time search, real-time reviews, and real-time conversation.
This sense of immediacy also has a vast impact on mobility. In order to work for a company, you no longer have to reside close to headquarters or an office location; you do not even have to live in the same country. The first completely virtual companies have been established: They no longer have physical offices and rely heavily on communication and Internet technology to communicate and enable collaboration among employees. As boundaries of time and space fade, so should the limitations we place on our employees and the workplace. The workplace can be where, and when, you need it to be.
KEY DRIVER #2 Engagement with Employees
Outside the office, your employees communicate and share online. As long as they can do all of those activities in real-time, they consider it to be great service. Why should HR be any different? Is your department offering easy-to-use self-service options yet? Many HR organizations have delayed the introduction of self-service applications out of fear that employees will not be happy doing things themselves and even consider it a lack of service, but it is the opposite that holds true. The moment has come to embrace the advancements of the external world and create a real-time, integrated HR offering.
When moving to Hybrid HR, one thing is clear: You must have a reliable and solid foundation to build from. HR must make sure that the administrative transactional processes are run as efficiently and smoothly as possible while maintaining high levels of service. Self-service must be integrated and personalized, bringing HR services closer to the people who matter most—managers and employees.
KEY DRIVER #3 Flexible Workforce
As an HR professional, you will manage a diverse population, ranging from recent graduates to tenured employees, and everyone in between, working all over the world. The unprecedented differences in everything from work ethic and communication styles to behavior and work-life expectations, however, can be troublesome. To address this, you need to actively devise new strategies to accommodate these diversities, like wellness programs, education, and even ergonomics. Finally, as the lines between professional and personal communications become increasingly blurred, our HR leaders will also need to incorporate enterprise social networking into their overall unified communication and collaboration strategy and policies.
KEY DRIVER #4 Hybrid Talent Management
Managing talent in the workplace is not an easy task during an economic downturn. In these times, most companies focus more on survival strategies and cost efficiencies than on expansion and growth. As a consequence, HR priorities focus on redundancies, social plans, and exit strategies—while salary increases are delayed and training budgets are slashed. Talent management might seem like a far-fetched option in dire times, but nevertheless it remains, and will remain, one of the most important focal points for the HR professional in order to preserve talent for the future growth of the organization.
The goal of organizational development is to get the right employee, with the right skills, at the right time and place. Conversely, personal development focuses on employees developing themselves based on their own ambition and interests. In the past, organizations set up expertise centers on subjects such as performance management, recruitment, or leadership development. Today’s opportunity is to consider a more hybrid approach, combining all of these talent-related subjects into an integrated talent management strategy. As part of Hybrid HR, the focus of talent management lies on integrating the organizational and personnel life cycle: recruit and staff, manage performance, plan succession, learn and develop, reward and recognize in order to create maximum value for both business and employee. The new HR professional must therefore not only possess a good understanding of the talent management processes, but combine this with an in-depth understanding of the strategy and changing business model of the enterprise. Only by combining all aspects of the business and translating them into an effective talent management strategy will the HR professional be able to attract, develop, and retain the right people at the right time.
KEY DRIVER #5 Multiple Generations
For the first time in history, four generations of employees will participate in the workplace at the same time. And although the integration of these generations can happen smoothly, for many companies this poses significant challenges. There is, however, one common denominator between these widely varied groups: They are all looking for flexibility at work.
For example, baby boomers still want to play an active role in their employment, but will want to do so on their own terms, so flexibility is the key demand. They want to work part time, as coaches and consultants for example, to stay active, connected, and engaged. The social dimensions of work as much as financial considerations motivate them.
Meanwhile, Generation Y has a more liberal attitude toward the workplace and generally believes that flexibility is a right, not a luxury. Gen Y has adopted a Web 2.0 mentality: Employees perform best when working in teams and flat organizations. They define success not in terms of seniority or title, but in who can supply the right knowledge, resulting in employees developing a greater voice and, in doing so, flattening hierarchies.
New job profiles must be designed to allow employees to move laterally into a new role— changes that may come with a pay cut. These jobs focus on results—however they happen best, whether in a three-day week, at night, from the office, or at a local coffee house.
KEY DRIVER #6 Geographical Distances
As businesses become more flexible and the economy begins to grow once again, the workplace will change, becoming increasingly decentralized and geographically dispersed. People who work together in teams might seldom, if ever, interact face to face, as they are scattered all over the globe. The tools that are collectively known as Enterprise 2.0—blogs, wikis, and social networks—support the more flexible, faster nature of business. They allow for collaboration, via adoption of social networking tools, and help capture and preserve knowledge from workers, which is important in a business environment with loose, flexible labor contracts. As the lines between professional and personal communications become increasingly blurred, our HR leaders will also need to incorporate enterprise social networking platforms into their overall unified communication and collaboration strategy and policies.
KEY DRIVER #7 Think Global, Act Local
The optimistic belief that globalization will lead to unlimited growth has come to an end. Legislation, plus cultural and religious differences, determines, and influences how we live our lives in different parts of the world in a phenomenon termed Glocalization. It refers to the creation or distribution of products and services intended for a global or regional market, but customized to suit local laws, flavors, or cultures.
Glocalization is critically relevant to HR. Enterprises that operate worldwide are looking to standardize their core HR systems globally. But even though they design global standards and procedures at the corporate level, HR policies must remain region- or country-specific as a result of legislation. Many organizations struggle to find a global service delivery model that serves their needs when it comes to HR and benefits programs. Instead of adopting a variety of best-of-breed programs, they require an integrated global solution that delivers seamless HR services, while imposing global corporate standards integrated to adhere to local demands and responsibilities.
Trey Campbell is president of North America at NorthgateArinso.