Embrace evolving tech to ​reveal your staff's hidden skills

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HR is being urged to meet the challenge of digital change head on to create a better mindset and culture among staff.

PwC recently released a report detailing how well organisations were implementing digital technology around the globe – and the findings showed that after years of falling behind, New Zealand's workforce is beginning to catch up.

HRM spoke to Greg Doone, digital strategy leader at PwC New Zealand, about how the role of HR is being impacted by digital changes.

“One of the drivers of digital transformation is employee frustration around tools and the lack of human-centred design for internal tools,” Doone said.

“Quite simply, we have been through a mobile device revolution, which is increasing the ease of using workplace systems. Take ‘Bring Your Own Device’ initiatives as a significant change we’ve seen in the last couple of years – they are driven by the fact that it’s so much easier to use personal tools than the ones traditionally provided by company IT departments.”

He added that the gaps are increasing between workplace systems and employee skillsets and demands.

“Traditional processes are being improved by the ability to use a mobile or digital device,” Doone told HRM.

“Simple ‘work hacks’ such as photos of whiteboards through to digital signatures and more advanced uses of geolocation for application like health and safety are changing the way we work.

“The ability to use these devices at work is opening up a huge realm of possibility. Generation Y – and increasingly Generation X – are now demanding to use the power they have in their pocket, and there is a big frustration with the fact that businesses aren’t keeping up.”

What can employers do?

“Speed is a huge element to showing employees that you are moving forward,” Doone advised.

“Showing that your business is agile internally will engage users – internal employees should be treated like customers in this respect.”

He emphasised that improving the products you use is a core component of the digital movement, which cannot be done efficiently without applying agile approaches.

“Testing these new products with users as early as possible will result in a better product – a prototype phase will also help to reduce costs,” Doone said.

“For HR, the customers will be internal users.”

Improving the workforce’s Digital IQ

According to Doone, part of improving Digital IQ is encouraging the behaviours that create a good digital outcome for business.

“This could be supporting a formal change strategy, but is more effectively done through allowing the culture around prototyping and agile development to evolve,” he said.

He explained that part of that encouragement comes from changing some of the traditional reward and risk structures that might exist within the organisation.

“‘Fail fast’ is an oft used term – but this is a very hard thing to bring into a commission-based or hierarchical culture, as people don’t believe they can fail and succeed in a rapid cycle and then be rewarded,” Doone told HRM.

“Success is about changing that mindset and culture.”

He added that the capability area around digital and data are a huge challenge for HR.

“To embrace and evolve that capability is always going to be a critical challenge, but we shouldn’t underestimate what our teams can achieve,” Doone said.

“A workforce’s potential can be realised by taking employees out of their old habits and putting them into a new environment – capability starts by starting.

“Find your organisation’s bright young things, and your older employees who are open to new systems, and allow them time together to develop. It’s amazing how much this can achieve.”

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