How can human resource departments build and consolidate a digital culture?

Posted by media on September 6, 2016 at 9:00 AM


When a business is undergoing digital transformation the main change that is typically made (and the trigger for all the others) is making the customer its primary focus. Given this new way of doing things, the relevant steering committee will typically establish the company’s new strategic vision as well as the key pillars on which to base its digital transformation. One of them is unquestionably the development of a digital culture within the company, encompassing all employees across all departments.

But the question remains: how a digital culture can be established to maximize a company’s success at digitizing its operations? This is where the human resources department comes in. As a strategic management partner, HR is key to turning a company’s organizational structure around, promoting cultural change within the rank and file of workers, as well as the right kind of outlook that allows the company as a whole to respond effectively to any new challenges it faces.

In this post, we talk about the HR department’s strategic role to drive digital transformation and, by association, the essential aspects of a strong digital culture.

This post is also available in Spanish.

7 HR considerations when building a company’s digital culture

1. Recognize and exploit HR's strategic role

When a business is undergoing digital transformation, the role of a human resources department may not seem as important as it truly is. Although the digitizing process should be led by a general manager or CEO, HR departments should be aware of their importance in establishing the cultural transformation that underlies all digital evolution in business, as well as the department’s potential to act as an internal promoter of cultural change.

2. Start by changing the HR team's own mindset

In order to promote a new way of thinking across an entire business, it is crucial that change begins within the HR department itself. If human resources staff are not all staunch advocates of a company’s new strategic vision, it will be virtually impossible to successfully “convert” other professionals to what is known as the “digital mindset.”

In practical terms, this mentality is simply a consistent way of doing things. It does not mean suddenly becoming a nerd or gadgets-obsessive, nor does it mean having to use social networks to excess. The digital mindset comprises a set of attitudes and behaviors that allow employees to successfully bring projects to fruition in the digital age, making use of the digital resources on offer for their professional self-development as well as personal fulfillment. The goal of the HR team is therefore to adopt this mindset first and foremost within their own team, and then convey it to the rest of the organization.

3. Employee experience matters

In addition to providing optimal customer experience, a company’s new digitized organization can not neglect employee experience when building a digital culture. The employee experience revolves around three key areas:

  1. Technological - meaning the tools available to employees to help them carry out their work in the most efficient way possible;
  2. Physical - meaning the look and feel of the work environment; furniture, decor, light, etc.;
  3. Cultural - meaning the organizational structure; leadership style, compensation and benefits. In short, everything that affects how they feel when working at the company.
All three aspects must be of a high standard to ensure a company’s workspace is an environment where people naturally want to go, not where they should go by obligation. This interest in providing a high quality of life for workers is what is meant by employee experience.

4. Do not neglect the "candidate journey"

You hear a lot about the customer journey, but not quite as much about the candidate journey, which is no any less important since it encompasses all the points of contact that a potential job candidate has with a company during the hiring process. Like the customer journey, it is vitally important that the candidate journey is well-designed to make the company stand out from competitors, precisely due to entreprises’ increasing levels of competitiveness to swipe the best digital talent.

In order to take care of the entire candidate journey, from the first email to the final onboarding process, it is essential to clearly define the company’s branding and philosophy. The digital age has seen a company’s entire culture extend from beyond the office onto the Internet, and so a job candidate is able to form an opinion of a business from literally everything that can be seen on the company website, blogs, social media, press releases, media appearances, etc.

5. Innovate in talent acquisition, retention and development

In line with the previous point, pinpointing the best quality professionals requires a certain amount of innovation regarding strategies for recruiting and retaining talent. This is in addition to providing career development opportunities for professionals who are already part of the company.

To retain quality talent it is essential to implement mechanisms that allow employees to formulate their own needs and demands. There must be systems in place to ensure that all requests are taken into account and not have them fall by the wayside. On the other hand, HR managers must work closely with all departments to identify which skills will be required to meet future needs and, on that premise, develop appropriate programs to hire new professionals and train those already working in the company to re-orient them towards the jobs of the future.

Of course, employees who already have a digital mindset are naturally able to teach themselves new skills, but in many cases, this didactic approach will be nurtured by human resources department.

6. What is not measured cannot be improved

It is essential to measure the results of all programs and actions launched by HR to find out if they are having the desired effect. As a minimum, they must be offering a tangible contribution to the company’s digital transformation.

Although many key performance indicators (KPIs) can measure an infinite number of variables - including turnover, changing job roles, divisions, investment in development programs, how it correlates with results, etc - the KPI to watch here is the Employee Net Promoter Score (ENPS).

Basically, it is the ENPS´ job to ask employees how likely they are to recommend their company as a place to work on a scale of 0 to 10. The aim here is to measure employee loyalty and engagement. Those who answer 9 or 10 are considered the most loyal and enthusiastic employees; those who rate their workplace as either 7 and 8 are not entirely loyal, and those who choose between 0 and 6 do not recommend their business at all. Such poor results would be a reasonable basis on which to start an investigation into why.

ENPS is unquestionably a vital resource for forward-thinking businesses: employees who are enthusiastic about their work and the company are energetic, productive and able to convey that enthusiasm, not only to other employees but also customers, and are always open to bringing new ideas that improve processes, products and services.


7. Keep abreast of future trends

Digital transformation has a concrete starting point, but it often doesn’t have a clear end point. As much as a company may achieve its initial digital goals, it is in their interest to always keep an ear to the ground for future innovations, new technologies as well as new habits and approaches. We live in an era of permanent change precisely because of technology’s influence in our daily lives.

A good HR department must always be alert to new forms of organization, new working methods, new tools that make life easier for employees and new customs derived from the digital transformation of society as a whole. These are shifts that will inevitably affect the future of business, and particularly how headhunters operate.

Those who already follow HR trends affecting companies will surely already know about the freelance economy and that the dream of achieving work-life balance has been surpassed by a desire to achieve a harmonious work-family integration. This change is due to the flexibility that has brought employees to be permanently connected to the Internet, which in turn has allowed work to take place at anytime, anywhere, without the strict necessity of there being a “working day” or fixed workplace.

If you have any suggestions for the creation of a digital culture from an HR point of view, feel free to leave your comments below or on any of our social networks - Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. We look forward to your contribution!

This post is also available in Spanish.

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Topics: Human Resources

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