The Technological Transformation of Work

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Q&A with Michael Gretczko originally published in HR Technologist | August 30, 2018

In what significant ways have you seen the enterprise workplace and workforce evolve over the last few years?
Things are changing, and the pace of change is increasing faster every day. We’re seeing massive external pressures forcing organizations to change the way they do business. Individuals have more influence and impact as consumers and as employees, and organizations are increasingly moving from the business enterprise to what we call the social enterprise. This rise of the social enterprise means that its more important than ever for organizations to understand what is happening around them in broader society, in their workplace, and with a rapidly changing workforce of employees, gig workers, and other business partners.

A key attribute of this transformation from business to social enterprise means that organizational issues can no longer be understood or solved by a single function. It requires strong collaboration and action from each CXO – a symphonic C-suite – working together with a clear and strong direction to optimize organizational performance.

We also see technology continuing to transform how work gets done, not only in terms of cognitive and social technologies, but also in terms of how organizations and work need to be structured differently to unlock the potential of these new advances. The organization of the future has to be “always on” and constantly adapting to the latest opportunities.

What are the biggest human capital challenges for business leaders today?
In this world of disruption, business leaders must constantly focus on remaining competitive in the face of new competitors, disruptive technologies, and an increasingly interconnected and borderless world. As organizations navigate an increasingly challenging environment, one constant is the importance of an organization’s workforce in contributing to competitive advantage. The workforce is the backbone of any organization, so their engagement and loyalty are paramount to the success of the bottom line. By focusing on challenges that affect your people, business leaders can fuel sustained performance. We believe that there are five distinct and pervasive human capital issues that every organization needs to stay focused on to help not only HR but the business, get the most value out of their people and navigate the world of tomorrow. The five crucial issues are transitioning to the future of work, creating the simply irresistible experience, optimizing the human capital balance sheet, activating the digital organization, and sustaining organizational performance.

However, just focusing on these five issues isn’t enough. The disruptions businesses are facing today mean that working in silos will no longer be effective (if it ever was) and even closer collaboration is critical.

How can HR and business/functional leaders work more constructively together to address these challenges and turn human capital into a sustained competitive advantage?
HR and business leaders have always needed to team together to unlock the value of the workforce. What has changed in today’s environment is that human capital IS the disruption. Our workforce and workplace are transforming, and many of the innovations in the marketplace are fundamentally changing how work is getting done. HR and business leaders need to reimagine work leveraging these disruptions. HR leaders have a responsibility to help business leaders sense and understand external market trends and forces, understand the current workforce composition and the right future composition, and then build a partnership to develop the best, most appropriate employment brand to attract and retain the workforce capabilities needed in the future. All of these steps require HR and the business to be working together so human capital is an integrated part of the business strategy for the future.

Who owns employee engagement in an enterprise? What skillset and mindset changes do business/functional leaders and HR leaders need to develop, to keep the ‘nextgen’ workforce meaningfully engaged?
Today’s workplace trends show that people are working more in teams and that culture is a complex topic that’s a function of your teammates, your manager, your office, and many other components of the workplace. Despite all this, culture still fundamentally gets set at the leadership level. The C-suite should be in sync to deliver a consistent, supported, and valued culture of employee engagement. Employee engagement is not a check the box exercise. It is a custom, unique experience across each organization, which requires a holistic approach for success. A symphonic C-suite is much better equipped to understand their employee needs and expectations than siloed departments.

Onboarding is suddenly a huge talking point. It can improve retention and improve performance outcomes. Who owns onboarding – HR or business/functional heads? What typical missteps do you see enterprise-level employers making with their onboarding strategy today?
Onboarding needs to be an enterprise-owned process. We believe HR needs to drive it, but there should be full accountability and engagement of the business in the process. The business plays an important role in driving connectivity to peers and leaders, setting clear priorities around focus and accountability, and ensuring the new employee gets the support they need to properly onboard. Onboarding should also start from the moment the offer is accepted and continue throughout the first year.

Talent recruitment, especially of experienced hires, is crucial to organizational success in today’s competitive world. But the process can be slow, manual, and time-consuming, and often begins on a new hire’s first day of work. In today’s digital world of constant communication, recruits and new hires need to feel like part of the company from the moment the offer letter is signed. This means outreach, information, touch points, etc. An employee should be able to easily complete their onboarding work like benefits enrollment, laptop selection, and training before their start date, and from the comfort of their home, so that on day one on the job, they can immediately start adding value. The quality of what can seem like administrative processes can often be a strong indication to prospective employees about how digital and effective the organization is, and getting this right from the beginning will set the right tone. The process should be simple, automated, and welcoming so the new hire has an immediate positive experience with the organization.

31 percent of new hires left their jobs within the first six months, according to a BambooHR study. Of those that left, 15 percent attributed it to lack of an effective onboarding process. Don’t let getting stuck in the past make you lose your top talent. A digital onboarding process is the expectation – not the exception.

In what practical ways should the approach differ for onboarding new hires versus current employees switching job roles? Also, how should it differ for senior levels versus junior levels?
We believe that onboarding should have the same attributes regardless of internal or external mobility and regardless of seniority. Onboarding is a critical business process and the fundamentals are the same in creating a world-class, engaging experience for all new talent from recruit to retiree. By making onboarding to a new position easier, the employee will be able to hit the ground running when they start their new role on day one, ultimately saving the company time while improving productivity. We also believe that there are some lessons learned from how executive and internal onboarding typically happen, which can help improve the “new joiner” onboarding. Activities like structured relationship building programs (e.g. “meet the executive team”) for CXOs and warm handoffs of talent from sending and receiving manager have attributes that can be highly impactful to a positive experience for new joiners.

HR technology is an area of huge investments by HR leaders today. What are your top practical tips to HR leaders seeking to invest in HR technology stacks to enable their teams?
The HR technology market is experiencing some of the biggest disruption across the technology market. We see a few attributes of the leading HR platforms as:

  • A compelling and intuitive user experience: Employees bring their consumer technology experiences to the workplace today and fully expect the HR technologies they utilize to be as modern and intuitive, with the ability to adapt to the needs of an increasingly diverse workforce.
  • Actionable insights: Many organizations have struggled with effectively leveraging people analytics because their HR technology platform has not provided turn-key actionable insights that can be leveraged to drive business process optimization.
  • A robust ecosystem: HR technology platforms are rapidly evolving and taking advantage of emerging technologies such as machine learning, chatbots, and natural language processing. The most sustainable HR technology platforms have developed an ecosystem approach that does not constrain organizations to innovation from a single solution provider.

Any process to select technology should consider these outcomes, among others, to ensure that technology will actually enable and accelerate the transformation of the organization’s internal capabilities.

While technologies can surely enable scale and transformation in the HR function – what should an HR leader prioritize when it comes to participating effectively in an enterprise-wide business transformation exercise?
Major technology-enabled transformation programs often fail or succeed based on whether the people in the organization change their behavior to adopt the new ways of working. Any change to an organization has repercussions for the people within that organization, and leaders should work to ensure that their employees are comfortable, informed, trained, and expecting the change. By prioritizing people, a transformation is much more likely to be successful because change does not happen in a vacuum. We believe that enabling the workforce should be a key focus of any technology-enabled change and should be a focus leading up to the start of the transformation, during it, and, most importantly, after “go live,” which is when the real performance improvements can be lost without a sustained focus on the people.

What new technologies will have the most impact on employee experience as we head into the next decade? What trends and developments in the space will you be tracking?
Employee experience is a huge driver of some of the most exciting changes in the workforce technology market. Organizations are increasingly acknowledging how important workforce engagement is, and creating a world-class employee experience is core to this. The technologies we think will be most important are:

  1. Digital workplace: New technologies are transforming how the workforce engages with each other, how teams communicate and manage their work, and how leaders communicate and engage their team members. The technology that supports these processes is evolving quickly from their roots in consumer technology and rapidly changing what employees interact with all day at work.
  2. Cognitive and AI: These technologies are increasingly changing how work gets done by automating tasks and using data to optimize processes. Machines are starting to be able to learn more quickly than humans and to develop capabilities based on patterns. These technologies are changing what skill-sets are required;  we believe that carefully integrating Cognitive and AI to provide a “robotics assist” to employees will actually improve employees’ jobs by focusing them on the uniquely human part of their jobs and removing routine administrative work.
  3. Sensing and insights: Developing knowledge from data has been a focus for as long as technology has been in the workplace, but this is just starting to come into its own around employee experience. Organizations are using the data they have on employees and how they interact with each other, with their leaders, and with enterprise technology, to craft personalized experiences that reflect the employee’s job, unique preferences, and needs. This too takes a page from consumer technology to transform what often felt like a “one to many” standardized experience and making it a people-centered, tailored one.

Why the workforce needs to change for digital transformation: Q&A

Colleagues working together on laptop computer

Q&A with Michael Gretczko originally published by Digital Journal | 28 July 2018

How has the workforce changed in the past five years?
The last five years have been a time of immense disruption in work, the workforce, and the workplace. Work has changed as automation has reshaped the structure of jobs and work is done in smaller more dynamic teams that form, disband, and re-form as well as the advent of crowdsourcing. The workforce has also been disrupted with the rise of remote and contingent workers, and the broader gig economy.

New skills are required to succeed and workers are needing to more dynamically transform and adapt. The workplace is also transformed with more virtual work, and digital tools and collaboration as a key feature. Even the physical space is changing dramatically with office space being transformed to support collaborative work and to provide workspaces where employees live (and want to live).

Additionally, generational changes have transformed the expectations of the workforce as new talent demands different things from their employers around the social enterprise and impact on the broader environment.

What are the key skills that businesses seek from workers these days?
In my opinion, businesses are increasingly looking for a workforce that has three key features: agility, multi-disciplinary skills, and social awareness.

These attributes are important because of how quickly the world is changing and how competition can arise from new angles. Agile workers can constantly re-tool and adapt to new technology and new work requirements, while staying focused on the broader goals of the organization.

Multi-disciplinary workers solve problems in new ways and can find patterns and connections between issues, solutions, and challenges to do the impossible. Lastly, organizations are looking for employees that can operate in a broader ecosystem of customers, the borderless workforce, suppliers, partners, and others. Workers that can understand these relationships and how to connect them for organizational value are increasingly more critical to the future.

How important are these skills for a business to remain competitive?
These skills are absolutely critical. If a business needs to let go of resources and rehire every time the market or business changes because the current workforce can’t be reskilled, then the competition will be too stiff, and the lost time and money during that turnover will be very damaging.

It may also hurt their reputation as employers, making future recruitment harder, and possibly affecting their brand and customer loyalty. Organizations that automate manufacturing plants, for example, and that do not clearly give people opportunities for reskilling and new positions, may see their brand suffer and, to some extent, may also feel pressure from the social and political environment.

Are all businesses successful in developing new skills for their digital transformation projects?
Not yet. The changing nature of work can throw unique challenges and opportunities in the way of today’s organizational leaders. And companies that fail to address these challenges may risk being left with a workforce poorly equipped to drive lasting success.
Successful organizations will need to redesign work for technology and learning.

To take effective advantage of technology, organizations will likely need to redesign work itself, moving beyond process optimization to find ways to enhance machine-human collaboration, drawing out the best of both and expanding across alternative workforces. Organizational leaders should ensure that technological possibilities are connected to both customer and employee needs during work redesign.

Additionally, organizational leaders would have to find ways to balance what is new (and the new potential of it) with the strength of what a company still has, such as their brand and values.

How important is mobility for today’s business?
Technology enables the proximity of work to expand beyond a company’s walls and balance sheets. The alternative worker is one of the fastest-growing segments of the workforce. The National Bureau of Economic Research found that between 2005 and 2015, approximately 94 percent of net new employment in the United States occurred within the alternative work arrangement—including everything from gig to freelance and off-balance sheet workers. And this number is anticipated to keep growing.

By 2020, an Intuit report predicts that nearly 40 percent of all US workers will be engaged in some sort of alternative work arrangement. Having mobile work options is therefore very important so that business is not centered around in-office work. Collaboration tools are making remote working easier than ever, allowing for coworkers to be connected even when physically far away while mobile technologies allow workers to have their “office” with them everywhere and all the time.

How about self-service, is this concept becoming more common?
We’re seeing a changing set of values from companies’ internal customers—perhaps their most important business asset—as well as requests for more innovation, flexibility, and opportunity. Digital HR has become not just a “nice to have,” but a necessity for an organization’s future growth and acceleration. And just like a consumer who has a bad experience and moves onto another brand, your employees may also seek new experiences if their expectations are not being met.

Just as consumers value a customized shopping journey, tailored to their interests and needs, employees are demanding a personalized experience with their company that is catered to the individual, giving a greater sense of purpose and value. With digital HR, things like training, company initiatives, and volunteer work, for example, can be tailored to the employees’ career path.

Cognitive technologies can help create that experience based on their own online behaviors and interactions, and guide managers to take next steps. That’s why Deloitte created ConnectMe—to enable a digital workplace to connect the workforce to what they need, when, and where they need it. ConnectMe makes it easier for employees to access and consume HR services and content, relevant to them—on any device.

How about looking into the near future, what will the future workforce look like?
We are now fully experiencing how cognitive technologies and the open talent economy are reshaping the future workforce and driving many organizations to reconsider how they design jobs, organize work, and plan for future growth. Automation, cognitive computing, and crowds are paradigm-shifting forces that will reshape the workforce now and in the near future.

Organizations are redesigning jobs to take advantage of cognitive systems and robots, and we see an opportunity to rethink work around something we call “essential human skills.” In 2017 and beyond, organizations should experiment with and implement cognitive tools, focus heavily on retraining people to use these tools, and rethink the role of people as more and more work becomes automated.

We think the key feature of the future will be how organizations successfully pair humans with unique humanistic skills alongside transformative technologies that optimize the value those humans can create for the businesses of which they are a part.

Is automation driving the need for different skill sets?
In 2018 and beyond, we expect continuing rapid adoption and maturation of AI, robotics, and automation solutions. Leading organizations are working hard to put humans in the loop—rethinking work architecture, retraining people, and rearranging the organization to leverage technology to transform business. The broader aim is not just to eliminate routine tasks and cut costs, but to create value for customers and meaningful work for people.

Research suggests that while automation can improve scale, speed, and quality, it does not do away with jobs. In fact, it might do just the opposite. As Boston University professor James Bessen has reported in his research, occupations with greater levels of computerization and technology experience higher, not lower, employment growth rates. What’s more, in many cases, the newly created jobs are more service-oriented, interpretive, and social, playing to the essential human skills of creativity, empathy, communication, and complex problem-solving.

Sales professionals, for instance, can leverage AI tools such as Salesforce, Einstein, and others so they can focus on human interaction, and health care workers can use intelligent machines to free up time to communicate with patients. Specific skills may be less important than the ability to learn quickly, adapt to new technology, and a willingness to learn, develop and grow. Agility in skill set is the key here.

Despite the surge of interest in AI and automation, respondents to this year’s Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends survey predict tremendous future demand for human skills, such as complex problem-solving (63 percent), cognitive abilities (55 percent), social skills (52 percent), and process skills (54 percent).

While 65 percent also predict strong demand for technical skills, research shows that the technical skills to create, install, and maintain machines account for only a small fraction of the workforce. Reinforcing this view, a recent World Economic Forum study found that the top 10 skills for the next decade include essential human skills such as critical thinking, creativity, and people management.

Will certain types of jobs disappear in the near future?
It’s not so much that entire jobs will necessarily disappear with the adoption of automation and technology, but rather more often that certain tasks or ways work is done will change and become automated, or that jobs/roles will be redefined. As I mentioned earlier, research suggests that while automation can improve scale, speed, and quality, it does not do away with jobs. HR leaders should focus on defining the difference between essential human skills, such as creative and ethical thinking, and nonessential tasks, which can be managed by machines.

This requires reframing careers, and designing new ways of working and new ways of learning—both in organizations and as individuals. Research by Deloitte in the United Kingdom finds that the future workforce will require a “balance of technical skills and more general purpose skills such as problem solving skills, creativity, social skills, and emotional intelligence.”

For those still studying, what types of skills will be most in demand?
Our research suggests that more than 30 percent of high-paying new jobs will likely be social and “essentially” human in nature. Therefore, we anticipate a movement toward a “STEMpathetic” workforce—one that comingles technical knowledge and cognitive social skills, such as connecting with other people and communicating effectively. Roles in the future will likely continue to require new types of soft skills, even in very technical-centric fields. Individuals and organizations who can master both technical and social skill sets could lead the way in the future of work.

Changing the way we work through digital thinking

Changing the way we work through digital thinking

Authored by John Brownridge, Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Technologies like Robotic Process Automation and chatbots will likely take over tasks that have traditionally been handled by humans, making the traditional workplace a thing of the past. How can companies thrive in this new model?

Continue reading “Changing the way we work through digital thinking”

Creating a consumer-grade experience for employees with digital HR

Creating a consumer-grade experience for employees with digital HR | by Deloitte at The HR Tech Weekly®

Authored by Marc Solow, Managing Director, Deloitte Consulting LLP

This article suggests that HR leaders look to successful consumer-focused organizations for guidance, as many parallels exist between the consumer and employee roles

Continue reading “Creating a consumer-grade experience for employees with digital HR”

Welcome to reality: It’s not what you think | by Deloitte at The HR Tech Weekly®

Welcome to reality: It’s not what you think

Welcome to reality: It’s not what you think | by Deloitte at The HR Tech Weekly®

Authored by Kate Cohen, Manager, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and Michael Gretczko, Principal and National Service Line Leader, Human Capital Platform & Innovation, Deloitte Consulting LLP

This article details how virtual reality can broaden experiences and open minds in the HR organization of the future.

Continue reading “Welcome to reality: It’s not what you think”

The Next Frontier in Shared Services | The HR Tech Weekly®

The Next Frontier in Shared Services

For anyone who’s answered an email or text from a project team member on a weekend (and that’s just about all of us), it comes as no surprise that digitization has profoundly disrupted the way we work. However, this “new normal” of always-on, instantaneous communication among networks of teams is now dovetailing with another force that is equally as disruptive: a changing workforce, led by increasing numbers of Millennials. Together, these forces are impacting the service delivery landscape and calling upon the HR shared services organization to engage with employees via digital tools, often in entirely new ways.

A digital employee experience is no longer optional; it’s a necessary survival skill for those seeking to attract, retain, and facilitate engagement with the next-generation workforce. At a recent Deloitte workshop, we explored what makes Millennials different, (backed by the findings of the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey), along with strategies for meeting their elevated expectations. Among the characteristics put forth at the event, Millennials:

·      Are digitally native, and, by and large, they would rather use their phones for text or email than talk to people.

·      Expect “consumer-grade” experiences.

·      Tend to shun purely financial motivations, as they feel employee satisfaction and treating people well are the most important values in terms of long-term business success.

·      Crave leadership opportunities, with only 28 percent of the respondents in the Deloitte Millennial Survey believing their organizations make full use of their skills.

·      Expect to have mentors bring them up in the firm.

·      May have little, if any, loyalty to companies and may leave quickly if they believe their leadership skills are not being developed or if the company puts financial performance above everything else.

So, what does this mean for HR shared services? Nearly every company today, but especially those in traditional industries such as mining, manufacturing, and energy & resources, must find a way to replace growing numbers of retirees by attracting Millennials and elevating them to leadership roles quickly. This path toward reinvigorating the workforce by engaging Millennials runs directly through HR.

To attract and retain next-generation employees, HR organizations increasingly must deliver consumer-grade services through shared services by adopting digital tools and making the cultural adjustments required to leverage them fully. Many service delivery organizations have started to do this by transforming their contact centers, mainly by moving toward web self-help, email, and mobile channels to address simple inquiries, and reserving voice channels for answering more difficult questions. This makes sense given Millennials’ resistance to talking live, although the electronic component of these interactions has to be customer friendly. The technology has to work, without too much clicking or form-filling, or Millennials might move on—abandoning the interaction, and if the dissatisfaction persists, perhaps abandoning the employer altogether.

The strategic importance of digitizing the contact center was further emphasized in the findings of the 2015 Deloitte Contact Center Survey. Of note, 85 percent of organizations surveyed view the customer experience provided through their contact centers as a competitive differentiator, and half (50 percent) believe the contact center plays a primary role in customer retention.

While many HR shared services organizations are in tune with the engagement challenges next-generation workers pose, Millennials aren’t the only game in town. Baby Boomers and Gen Xers still must be served, and their customer satisfaction ratings are also important. While Millennials may view texting as a genuine form of human engagement, older groups largely do not. They want to talk to someone, and they view personal interactions as a preferred, and largely more effective way to solve problems, particularly complex ones.

Serving the needs of a multigenerational workforce today requires organizations to introduce digital employee experience tools, especially those that promote self-service and collaboration, while preserving existing voice-channel capabilities, at least in some situations. However, maintaining multiple platforms can be expensive and cumbersome, and stranding existing IT investments is rarely an option.

This has left many HR services organizations overwhelmed by the magnitude of technological change that stands before them. That’s why it’s important to take small steps instead of big leaps. For some organizations, implementing a cloud-based platform might be one of those incremental steps. Far from being just another portal, some of these platforms allow subscribers to develop, run, and manage shared services applications without the complexity of building and maintaining infrastructure and underlying technologies. In evaluating such a platform, the technology at a minimum should:

·      Deliver a consumer-grade user experience

·      Streamline processes and automate workflow

·      Simplify transactions by providing personalized content and context

·      Increase effectiveness and decrease cost for shared services operations

·      Make employee interactions and communication with HR simple and intuitive

Regardless of what technologies you choose, an improved digital employee experience is the next frontier in shared services. The overarching objective is to create a digital workplace that capitalizes on a company’s current technology investments by bringing disparate systems together and providing a personalized journey through shared services processes and related content via guided interactions. Why is this so important? Millennials expect nothing less. Your shared services center has to deliver high quality services or the next-generation workforce may gravitate to an organization that can.

For more insights about current HR topics, visit the HR Times Blog.

About the Authors:

Michael Gretczko is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP and the practice leader for Digital HR & Innovation. He focuses on helping clients fundamentally change how they operate, often working with large, complex, global organizations to guide transformation programs that enable HR organizations to reinvent the way they leverage digital to improve the employee experience and business performance.

Marc Solow is a director in Deloitte Consulting LLP and responsible for leading Deloitte’s HR Shared Services market offering in the United States. Marc has led the consulting services in support of several global HR transformation, shared services, and outsourcing projects for large and complex clients in a variety of industries, including insurance, health care, life sciences, consumer and industrial products, and energy.

Copyright © 2017 Deloitte Development LLC. All rights reserved.

Source: The next frontier in shared services | Michael Gretczko | Pulse | LinkedIn

HR Your Way

HR Your Way

How the next-generation digital workplace can power a deeply personalized HR customer experience

Business disruption is rampant—new business models, new technologies, a challenging economic environment, and the overall quickening pace of business are all disruptive to “business as usual.” Workforce demographics and trends—retiring boomers, high-expectation millennials, workforce-on-demand models, team-based work—are another disruption. It is incumbent on HR to find ways to “hack” these disruptions for their customers, leveraging the digital workplace to customize the HR customer experience according to each individual’s unique needs in the face of this almost constant change.

To better understand how the next-generation digital workplace can counter disruptions by powering a deeply personalized HR customer experience, let’s flash forward about 10 years to 2027. This is when we could see the first cohort of Gen Z employees—engage in their organization’s open enrollment process for benefits.

Our Gen Z futuristic scenario envisions three hypothetical levels of digital workplace “chatbots” at increasing levels of sophistication:

  • Workflow Adviser—assists the HR customer through the life or work event workflow using natural language, while automatically gathering data from disparate systems and tapping into available training, research, and operational services support resources.
  • Solution Adviser—“understands” desired outcomes and leverages all available internal and external data to design and propose an optimized solution for the HR customer.
  • Human Adviser—“empathizes” with the human emotions and feelings likely involved in the HR customer’s decision process, and provides support—or referral to an actual human—as required.

Future forward to Gen Z

Jamie, an employee and a new mom, along with her husband, Liam, kick off the enrollment workflow in Jamie’s digital workplace and are greeted by the chatbot who will be assisting them through the workflow.

The chatbot explains that, set at the level of Workflow Adviser, it has the capability to listen, understand natural language, and talk back, and is also able to interpret the context of Jamie and Liam’s questions in order to suggest relevant training, research, or operational services assistance as they work through the open enrollment process.

As a bonus, the chatbot explains, it has recently been upgraded to a beta version of the Solution Adviser level. So if Jamie would like to explore this advanced level of digital workplace engagement, the chatbot will be able to understand desired outcomes and leverage Jamie and Liam’s demographic, health, and financial data, as well as cloud-based benefits solution provider data, to effectively personalize a recommended package of benefits.

Jamie authorizes the chatbot to use its Solution Adviser capabilities for her open enrollment process. After a structured conversation driven by the chatbot, she is rewarded with a customized portfolio of company benefits that are customized for her family’s unique health needs and financial resources. After a discussion with the Solution Adviser chatbot to clarify the details, Jamie verbally accepts the recommended portfolio of benefits and completes the open enrollment process.

Toward a true AI model for HR

So, what’s going on behind the scenes in our futuristic scenario, and how far are we from being able to deliver this hyper-personalized experience? Let’s drill a bit deeper into the chatbot’s capabilities at the Solution Adviser level by considering one element of the benefits package—long-term disability insurance—the chatbot recommended.

At the Solution Adviser level, the chatbot was permitted to leverage Liam’s personal health records, (which included information about a mild attack of unexplained vertigo that sent him to the ER six months prior), as well as financial income and liabilities information (indicating the couple was living paycheck-to-paycheck with very little savings). By leveraging this information, along with the context gathered through a structured conversation with Jamie and Liam, the chatbot was able to conclude with a reasonable degree of probability that covering a portion of Liam’s expected future income in the event of an unexpected disability made sense for the couple.

Impressive to be sure. But this ability to use natural language to understand context in order to make reasoned judgments about desired outcomes isn’t even the end of the line. Interestingly, and perhaps just a bit frighteningly, true AI is reserved for what we call the Human Adviser level. Here, the chatbot actually understands the human situation, demonstrates empathy with HR customer feelings, and even engages in humor opportunistically to build a deeper bond of understanding with those it has been designed to serve. Of course, at this level of sophistication, the chatbot would also discern, given the nature of the HR customer’s questions, when a referral to an actual human on the operational services team may be in order.

Hacking the disruption

While the advanced cognitive and empathetic capabilities we are ascribing to our next-generation Solution Adviser and Human Adviser digital workplace chatbots are in the infant stages today, we are making rapid advances at the Workflow Adviser level of sophistication for Deloitte’s own digital workplace solution.

As we increase digital workplace capabilities, however, we may find that the process of benefits enrollment itself has become disrupted by our technology advances, and a complete rethink of how benefits are packaged, priced, and administered will likely not be far behind. After all, disruption tends to breed more disruption—which, by the way, is why achieving sustainable HR is so imperative.

About the Authors:

Michael Gretczko is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP and the practice leader for Digital HR & Innovation. He focuses on helping clients fundamentally change how they operate, often working with large, complex, global organizations to guide transformation programs that enable HR organizations to reinvent the way they leverage digital to improve the employee experience and business performance.

Daniel John Roddy  is a specialist leader with Deloitte Consulting LLP and a member of the Digital HR & Innovation team. He focuses on leveraging his decades of global HR transformation experience to develop and promote thought leadership that helps create breakthrough opportunities for our clients. 

Copyright © 2017 Deloitte Development LLC. All rights reserved.

Source: HR your way | Michael Gretczko | Pulse | LinkedIn

Simple Working Tools | The HR Tech Weekly®

Simplifying the Workplace and Life

Simplifying the Workplace and Life

Much has been written about “digital HR” and the challenge for HR to reinvent itself for the digital age. Deloitte’s vision of digital HR is of a sustainable HR function that maintains a dynamic tension between operating efficiency and creative disruption. In an age of disruption, HR will need to continue to evolve its operating model, service delivery model, and enabling technology platform—the “digital workplace”—to continuously hack the disruptions and deliver solutions designed around the HR customer experience.

In our model, the digital workplace is the connective tissue that powers digital HR. It is the always-on coaching assistant for the HR customer, continuously sensing what is required to achieve desired outcomes. It serves as a just-in-time support “bot” that delivers contextually aware assistance on any device and in any language, while working behind the scenes to engage other components of the HR service delivery model as required.

Moments that matter

To more fully explore what it means to simplify the workplace and connect HR customers to what matters most, let’s put ourselves in the shoes of Alexandro as he engages with the next-generation digital workplace to accomplish his goals. He’s a 58-year-old Boomer considering early retirement, a critical “moment that matters.”

Our early retirement workflow scenario envisions three hypothetical levels of digital workplace “chatbots” at increasing levels of sophistication:

  • Workflow Adviser—assists the HR customer through the life or work event workflow using natural language, while automatically gathering data from disparate systems and tapping into available training, research, and operational services support resources.
  • Solution Adviser—“understands” desired outcomes and leverages all available internal and external data to design and propose an optimized solution for the HR customer.
  • Human Adviser—“empathizes” with the human emotions and feelings likely involved in the HR customer’s decision process, and provides support—or referral to an actual human—as required.

To retire or not to retire…

Alexandro approached the new digital workplace with some trepidation. He had been considering early retirement for a number of months, ever since he suffered a mild heart attack the year before, but had been intimidated by the many decisions that would have to be made.

As the digital workplace chatbot explained to him that, set at the level of Workflow Adviser, it can listen, understand natural language, and talk back, Alexandro relaxed a bit. While he much preferred dealing with his old pal who had previously been the office HR generalist, he understood that times had changed. As he answered the questions posed by the chatbot, Alexandro was reassured to discover that the training, research findings, and operational services assistance made available through the system were quite extensive and appeared to be tailored exactly for his unique situation.

Alexandro assumed he would be mostly on his own when it came to making the final decision, so he was a pleasantly surprised when the chatbot then offered a more sophisticated Solution Adviser level of support. In this mode, the chatbot was able to articulate back to him his desired retirement outcomes, summarize key health, financial, and retirement location variables, and begin to present alternative scenarios. After a structured conversation driven by the chatbot, he was rewarded with a customized retirement plan almost perfectly optimized for his needs. After a discussion with the Solution Adviser chatbot to clarify the details, Alexandro decided to move forward and verbally authorized the chatbot to complete the retirement process.

The Human Adviser

At several different points in Alexandro’s conversation with the chatbot, the questions touched on how he was feeling about the process, how he intended to keep busy in retirement, and the role his spouse was playing in the decision. Once, when Alexandro had joked about his wife pretty much insisting he make the move, the chatbot had asked if he was interested in speaking to someone in the Retirement Community of Expertise (CoE) about his decision.

Alexandro was impressed that the system had managed to sense some of the ambivalence he was feeling about his life after work, not only managing to project a certain degree of empathy with his situation but also offering him the opportunity to speak with a specialist if that would be a help. It occurred to Alexandro that while this chatbot was obviously not truly able to empathize and commiserate with him the way his old HR generalist buddy had, the retirement information it provided was quite a bit more helpful, and the option of speaking to another human about his feelings was always available.

Work and life simplified

While the advanced cognitive and empathetic capabilities we are ascribing to our next-generation digital workplace chatbot are in the infant stages today, we are making rapid advances at the Workflow Adviser level of sophistication for Deloitte’s own digital workplace solution. We believe that both simplifying the workplace via Workflow Adviser services, and connecting HR customers to the information that matters most to them, will be key to digital workplace success.

As we increase digital workplace capabilities, however, we may find that the process of retirement itself has become digitally disrupted, and a complete rethink of how we leverage aging employees as part of the new contingent workforce will soon follow. After all, disruption tends to breed more disruption—which, by the way, is why achieving sustainable HR is so imperative.

About the Authors:

Michael Gretczko is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP and the practice leader for Digital HR & Innovation. He focuses on helping clients fundamentally change how they operate, often working with large, complex, global organizations to guide transformation programs that enable HR organizations to reinvent the way they leverage digital to improve the employee experience and business performance.

Daniel John Roddy is a Specialist Leader with Deloitte Consulting LLP and a member of the Digital HR & Innovation team. He focuses on leveraging his decades of global HR transformation experience to develop and promote thought leadership that helps create breakthrough opportunities for our clients.

Source: Simplifying the workplace—and life | Michael Gretczko | Pulse | LinkedIn

This article was originally published at – The Human Resources Social Network in November, 2016

Architecting the HR Customer Experience: Design thinking applied to the ConnectMeTM Mobile App

Architecting the HR Customer Experience

What if you could deliver an HR customer experience that is analogous to what big online retailers are doing to create a customized shopping experience, one in which HR customers are able to clearly see their options, access information, and take action more easily? What do you think the impact might be on your employment brand, retention, and engagement ratings? By applying design thinking to reimagine and architect the HR customer experience, companies can deliver an experience that feels more like a world-class retail experience—one in which HR customers perform activities digitally, both at their computer and on the go, in a way that can increase both engagement and satisfaction. This is the story of how a team came together and applied design thinking to reimagine and architect the HR customer experience in a digital world via a next generation employee mobile experience, the ConnectMeTM Mobile App.

In business, the customer is king. Companies go out of their way to try to give customers the best experience possible, whether in a store, on the internet, or through an app. The HR customer experience, however, is often very different. Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2016 report revealed that there are more than 7 billion mobile devices in the world,[1] and more than 40 percent of all Internet traffic is driven by these devices.[2] Yet HR teams are often far behind in deploying mobile-ready solutions. Fewer than 20 percent of companies deploy their HR and employee productivity solutions on mobile apps today.[3]

Employees, particularly Millennials, increasingly expect to interact with their employers via their mobile devices, and they may think it’s strange when there isn’t a mobile app for recording their time, submitting expenses, or accessing HR.

In our story, design thinking is being applied to create a prototype for a new HR app. The app is designed to be a single destination for HR services that connects employees to what matters most to them—from pay stubs to performance management and even a self-service help desk so employees and managers can clearly see their options and take action.

Design thinking framework

Design thinking is a structured process that can help solve problems and deliver business value by focusing on customers’ needs to create offerings that are intuitive and deliver value. At its core, it involves observing customers in their natural settings, deeply understanding their physical, cognitive and emotional needs in order to develop “personas” as a way to design services and products. It relies on creativity and innovation to generate ideas quickly and testing prototypes that generate further ideas, digital tools, and solutions.[4] It is important because “when companies can connect with their customers’ emotions the payoff can be huge.”[5]

Design thinking applied to the ConnectMeTM mobile app

Step 1: Vision. The vision for the ConnectMeTM Mobile App is to improve employee engagement and satisfaction by taking the digital workplace platform one step further, allowing employees to cut the cord and complete HR activities when they aren’t at their desks.

The team’s approach involved defining and designing a prototype over an 8-week timeline that included three “design sprints”—a time-constrained, five-phase process that uses design thinking to reduce the risk when bringing a new product, service, or feature to the market. At the end of the 8 weeks, the team delivered a prototype that defined, demonstrated, and acted as the basis for building out the new mobile solution.

Step 2: Look & listen to defined HR customer personas. With the vision in place, the design team turned to the HR customer personas that had already been defined, representing different HR customers. These included a new graduate (Madisyn), an experienced hire (Jason), a line manager involved in the recruitment of new talent (Susie), and an HR Ops service rep (Pete). The personas include descriptions of each of their behaviors, patterns, attitude, goals, skills, and environment, with the goal of designing the app to meet the needs of these typical users.

Step 3: Understand & synthesize HR customer needs. Voice-of-the-customer interviews and customer stories gave insight into the moments that mattered most for each of the customer personas. New hires Madisyn and Jason shared the events, both positive and negative, that shaped their recent onboarding experience. Susie, a line manager, told the story of how she worked her way up to management and how her success had been the result of recruiting top talent. Susie shared that the first 90 days were critical to the successful transition of new hires into the company. Pete, the HR Ops service rep, spoke to the importance of bringing a human touch to the recruiting experience by engaging recruits with each interaction via ongoing communication regarding their application status and next steps.

Step 4: Generate and prioritize ideas. The team identified HR service domains and ranked problem areas that HR customers face across the domains. The team felt the top three focus areas for the mobile app should be onboarding, leaves of absence, and performance management, as all three had a preponderance of problems to solve and an opportunity to shape the customer experience as part of the broader ConnectMeTM customer-centric design.

Step 5: Prototype, test, refine. During Design Sprint 1, the team reviewed process flows, wireframes (electronic sketches of screen layouts), and a prototype of the solution. The solution delivered an onboarding experience that integrated pre-hire, Day 1, and activities during the first 90 days on the job.

Design Sprint 2 integrated leaves of absence and performance management wireframes to the mobile solution. The team also got an early glimpse into the higher-fidelity onboarding solution. After more testing and more refinements, at the end of the 8 weeks the team delivered a prototype for the mobile solution that could be both vision and model for building the actual app.

This is just one example of how HR can apply design thinking to reimagine and architect the HR customer experience to generate higher engagement and satisfaction. The process can be applied to any number of HR processes, and doesn’t have to involve a digital solution. However, our Bersin by Deloitte colleague, Josh Bersin, recently shared that the $14+ billion marketplace for HR software and platforms is reinventing itself. This shift from cloud to mobile is disruptive—an all-mobile HR platform is not only possible now, it’s the direction in which the market is heading. Design thinking can help align your organization in the same direction to create a more satisfying HR experience for your people.

For a tangible example of design thinking in action, we invite you to experience Deloitte’s ConnectMeTM Mobile App at this year’s HR Technology Conference.

About the Authors:

Michael Gretczko is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP and the practice leader for Digital HR & Innovation. He collaborates with large, complex, global clients to identify and bring to market innovative products and solutions that deliver on their business needs.

Marc Solow is a managing director with Deloitte Consulting LLP and leads Deloitte’s initiative to deliver technology solutions for HR organizations.

Maribeth Sivak is a manager with Deloitte Consulting LLP where she focuses on full life cycle global human resource transformation initiatives. Maribeth is also an active blogger, focused on the intersection of design thinking and the HR customer experience.

As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

This publication contains general information only and Deloitte is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. Deloitte shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person who relies on this publication.

Copyright © 2016 Deloitte Development LLC. All rights reserved.

Further Reading:

[1] Jason Dorrier, “There are 7 billion mobile devices on earth, almost one for each person,” Singularity Hub, Singularity University, February 18, 2014,

[2] Mary Meeker, “Internet trends 2015,” Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, 2015,

[3] Digital HR: Revolution, not evolution. Global Human Capital Trends 2016, Deloitte University Press, February 29, 2016.

[4] Design thinking: Crafting the employee experience, Global Human Capital Trends 2016, Deloitte University Press, Feburary 29, 2016.

[5] Scott Magids, Alan Zorfas and Daniel Leemon, The New Science of Customer Emotions, Harvard Business Review, December 6, 2015,

Source: Architecting the HR Customer Experience: Design thinking applied to the ConnectMeTM Mobile App | Michael Gretczko | Pulse | LinkedIn

From the Digital Workplace to Digital HR to Sustainable HR

The Path to HR Sustainability

The path to HR sustainability

For those of us active in the realm of HR and business, “digital HR” and the “digital workplace” have been hot topics. But as is often the case with new terminology and buzzwords, they can mean different things to different people. We’ve thought a lot about the challenges HR faces and the role of “digital” in addressing them, and it’s more encompassing than many of the definitions we’ve seen. The digital workplace is what powers digital HR, which in turn enables HR to sustain itself in the face of disruption.

Related links:

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Global Human Capital Trends 2016
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Sustainable HR is the goal

First, let’s look at the end goal—sustainable HR—and what that means. Business disruption is rampant—new business models, new technologies, a challenging economic environment, and the overall quickening pace of business are all disruptive to “business as usual.” Workforce demographics and trends—retiring Boomers, high-expectation Millennials, workforce-on-demand models, team-based work—are another disruption. HR sustainability is about HR (1) maintaining its stability and focus despite disruption, (2) being adaptable in the face of disruption, and in turn (3) helping the business be stable and adaptable in its response to disruption.

Digital HR enables HR sustainability

Next, let’s look at how digital HR enables HR sustainability. When we thought about how HR becomes sustainable, we kept arriving at the same four capabilities—what we call the 4Cs. HR should be able to…

  • Create capacity, freeing up time by eliminating mundane repetitive tasks and enabling HR professionals and customers alike to focus on more value-added activities.
  • Grow capability in its own people and in its customers via a rich, curated, just-in-time learning environment.
  • Empower community, tapping into a variety of internal and external networks as sources for information, learning, and collaboration.
  • Boost credibility within the organization by consistently meeting its customers’ needs.

Digital HR, a top 10 Global Human Capital Trend for 2016, enables HR to accomplish the 4Cs by applying digital principles to HR operations. While this could involve a mix of social, mobile, analytics, and cloud (SMAC) technologies, it encompasses more than technology. It’s also about using design thinking to reimagine HR processes and the HR customer experience, trying new approaches, gathering feedback, communicating bilaterally (company to employee, employee to company, employee to employee, company to company), and continually making iterative improvements.

The digital workplace powers digital HR

Finally, we come to the digital workplace—one of the ways organizations can accomplish digital HR. The digital workplace is a solution for engaging employees in all the services they have available to them at work. It’s about automating transactions that are manual today (creating capacity). It’s about targeting information and learning content to employees to help them do their jobs (growing capability), just as social media sites target posts based on member preferences. It’s about bringing the social communication concept to the workplace to connect people (empowering community). And it’s about harvesting data to enable analytics that provide informed insight about how the company is operating and how employees can better perform their jobs.

We have more of our thinking behind the digital buzz (and how we’re addressing it with our own mobile digital workplace, ConnectMe), in our publication, Sustainable HR in an age of disruption. Check it out for additional insights on the digital workplace and how it can propel digital HR on the path to sustainability.

About the Author:


Michael Gretczko is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP and the practice leader for Digital HR & Innovation. He collaborates with large, complex, and global clients to identify and bring to market innovative products and solutions that deliver on their business needs.

Source: The path to HR sustainability – HR Times – The HR Blog