Building Sustainable Business through Digitization of HR functions
Digitization of HR is now a necessity and organizations are compelled to make tech investments. Whether one is at the beginning of that journey or partway through, the challenge of whether technology alone is sufficient and to what extent is the human side of HR still relevant, considering the skills shortages and dynamically evolving workforce Digitization is changing the workforce at a rapid pace. Workforce 4.0 now is not only about adopting new job roles but also about understanding how work is changing in the context of more digital technology penetrating into the workplace. The traditional constructs of productivity no longer apply to companies and individuals.
Factory floors have seen an enhancement in speed and quality of production because of increased automation. Moreover, business operations have improved in industrial plants as well. The logistics industry is also a traditionally manual-labor focused sector that is now equipped with technology that enables people to track their packages in real-time thus improving the efficacy of their work.
“The lines between physical and digital worlds are blurring and the whole concept of work has changed. It is precisely why the HR professionals operating in these sectors also need to start developing new skills.”
Business models are changing worldwide after embracing digitalization. Moreover, with the Internet, the connectivity and with the world just a click away, the business model is undergoing a change environmentally too. Digital transformation or innovation in the business model has created an enhanced social and environmental outcome, which has proven to be beneficial for an organization and its work culture. Ford goes beyond selling cars and work towards innovating cities (Urban cities) with alternative transport solutions and subscription models.
Mervyn King, former governor of the Bank of England, talks about sustainability being the primary, moral, and financial imperative of the 21st century. He says, “It is one of the most important sources of both opportunities and risks for businesses. Nature, society, and business are interconnected in complex ways that should be understood by decision-makers.” For organizations to be sustainable, they should pay attention to the three essential dimensions; social equity, ecological and economic performances. Similar to this, there are several other ways digitalization has helped build a sustainable society.
Sustainability has proven to be a great asset in building corporate image and conscience, which further helps the organization at large. Further, the organizations realized that sustainability plays a massive role in reducing operational costs. The HR department of an organization can use data and analytics to gather behaviour pattern of the employees to put them with a team they work best with and most productive in. Further, with the help of Data and Analytics, an organization can record the social work done by employees and suggest other initiatives. All of these benefits of embracing data and analytics in the organization can result in the growth of employees and organizations. Further, it enhances the work culture with feedback systems, which all adds to developing a sustainable environment.
An aging workforce is a major trend that is shaping the workforce across various countries. A combination of four different generations spanning from the baby boomers, Gen X, millennials and now the GenZs in the workplace is making the workplace an even more dynamic environment than it has ever been.
A multigenerational workforce brings with it its own set of challenges and opportunities. For countries like Japan, an aging workforce is a major challenge. In industries such as manufacturing where about 35 percent of the existing workforce is about to retire in the next few years, the companies are facing the challenge of a widening knowledge gap.
Bridging the digital divide is now the HR professional’s responsibility when it comes to a workplace where digital natives and baby boomers interact at an equal level in an organization. The HR professional then takes on the role of a facilitator so that there is knowledge transfer from the older generation to the younger employees and there is a transfer of technical and digital know-how from millennials to the baby boomers
According to a Gallup survey, 68 to 87 percent of employees across organizations in 142 countries are either “disengaged or actively disengaged.” Employee engagement has gotten that much more difficult with multiple devices and channels competing for employees’ attention.
People are expecting different things from their workplaces in the 21st century as compared to a few decades ago. As employees themselves are using consumer technology in their daily lives, their expectations when it comes to digitization in the workplace also changes.
Most millennials and digital natives are looking for a digital work environment wherein there is more flexibility, a chance to build their own talent, and a clear path towards growth.
Digitization of work is the application of advanced technologies in order to improve productivity, drive innovation and use technology as a way to keep employees engaged. Using technology in the right way is crucial in order to enhance productivity in an organization.
Choosing the right HR tech software to boost collaboration among employees can go a long way in not only enhancing productivity but also contribute to employee engagement. If employees can feel that they are being productive and that the work they do matters, they are more likely to be highly engaged.
Previously companies lacked awareness in terms of their assets and products that were made and sold. This created unwanted wastage, especially in the manufacturing and consumption cycle. However, companies are now equipped with digital technologies that provide them with data around demand, usage, and life-cycle of goods. They are today building a circular economy that focuses on reusing material and leveraging renewable resources while manufacturing products. If you take Philips as an example, they are capturing data on the product life cycle with a view of reducing waste. Analysis of the market showed that their consumers could reuse certain parts that enable the extended life of existing equipment like X-ray machines. Such a setup led Philips to develop a continuous relationship with its customers, along with making the customer happy about the extended life of products and also saving the environment.
Global trends today comprise of environmental, social, political, and technological shifts that demand a shift in current business model foundations. We are in an earnest need for adopting radically diverse approaches to value creation. These business model innovations include the shared resource model that permits consumers to access a product, rather than own it, and use it only as needed. This enables companies and consumers to use resources productively that would otherwise sit idle. For example, Haier, a Chinese appliance company invites inventors from outside to recommend innovations that can be co-produced.
Technologies like 3D printing, nanotechnology, Internet of Things (IoT) have proven to not only help the company grow, but it also creates a sustainable environment in organizations. For example, the purchase of real estate has changed massively over time with 3D printing and videos that the firms use to display the vision and how the finished product would look like. In totality, digitalization has not only helped organizations achieve a competitive edge but also a sustainable edge. By helping businesses become sustainable, digitalization has become not just a tool for today but also for the future. Digital technologies can help individuals, organizations, and nations deliver a more sustainable planet in light of sustainable development goals by embracing tech like e-health services, robotics, or emission reduction solutions. As the workforce becomes digitized, so does the HR function. The focus shifts from cost-cutting to ensuring efficiency in the administration. Identifying the global and internal talent within the organization and ensuring that they are effectively employed is the responsibility of a revamped HR function.
Conducting strategic structural transformation is the prerogative of the modern HR professional as opposed to the traditional HR function which included recruiting, onboarding, evaluating, and firing employees.
Moreover, it is crucial for the HR function to take a peek into the future of labor markets and how they can shape the profession and the company workforce accordingly. The possibility of gaining accurate insights into the quality and potential of talent is seemingly limitless with the advent of data analytics.