Technology is a critical enabler in how organisations perform, and many organisations are actively looking to a process of digital transformation to help streamline operations, improve efficiencies, enable their workforces and boost competitive advantage.
However, a number of organisations still have some way to go when it comes to digital transformation and utilising technology to boost workforce productivity and maximise business opportunities, according to the head of HR for Microsoft Australia.
While it does vary by industry size and type, businesses in general struggle to keep up with the pace of digital transformation, and this has a significant number of implications, said Ingrid Jenkins, HR director, Microsoft Australia.
“I think there’s still a gap in terms of how organisations maximise the use of technology,” she said.
“This is not just about enabling them to be more productive, but how they use technology to evolve the opportunities within their business.”
Jenkins acknowledges that the pace at which technology has and continues to evolve means a number of organisations are still coming to terms with the opportunities technology presents.
“There’s still a gap in terms of how organisations maximise the use of technology”
2 key HR considerations
There are two key considerations for HR in digital transformation, according to Jenkins: the first being within the HR function itself, and the second being how HR partners with an organisation to build a workforce and culture where the benefits of digital transformation can be realised.
“HR needs to look at its own processes and procedures and examine whether there are opportunities to take a more technological savvy approach in connecting with its workforce,” said Jenkins.
Within Microsoft, for example, there is a particular focus on enhancing on-boarding through technology as part of the employee experience.
“This is one of the key employee experiences we’re investing right now, and there’s a recognition that we can do more in terms of digitally connecting with new hires, both before they start as well as in their first three to six months,” said Jenkins.
Being a technology company, Microsoft is a proactive advocate of digital transformation and the effective utilisation of technology within the company.
“We’ve said for many years that work is a thing you do, not a place you go, so we operate on the basis of flexibility and enabling our people to work, any time, any place,” she said.
“Through our technology, such as Skype, we have the ability to readily connect with people over video calls.
“At any given time we probably have 30 per cent of our workforce who aren’t physically in an office”
“In addition, programs such as Yammer and Teams enable people to form communities and connect digitally when they’re not able to connect in person.
“We use technology to collaborate. We live and breathe this every day – at any given time we probably have 30 per cent of our workforce who aren’t physically in an office so the technology enables our team members to have more choice and options on how they want to work and connect with each other,” she said.
From a business strategy perspective, HR can also play a key role in influencing business leaders within their organisations, as well as customers and partners, on how effective use of technology is a critical element of customer and employee engagement going forward
“It’s recognising the changing nature of the (agile) workforce and how we get things done. We are increasingly looking at supporting greater flexibility and more virtual connections, rather than the traditional face-to-face, interactions” said Jenkins.
“This is both within organisations as well as with customers and partners.”
Empowering firstline workers
Jenkins also gave the example of firstline workers, who may be more disconnected from their broader organisation and might only be connected to their workplace through the likes of a mobile phone.
“They don’t necessarily have the technology infrastructure such as dedicated laptops and computers.
“Organisations need to make sure its systems support mobile interfaces and understand the opportunity this has on the business as well as the employee experience – enabling workers to be connected to the organisation, no matter what role they have or where they are.”
“Technology is a great way to facilitate those virtual connections and conversations”
“Given the nature of what they do, firstline workers may be working in more isolated surroundings or they might be on the move,” she said.
“It is important that they can be connected to the broader organisation, given the value they can bring through their direct connections with customers or the first hand experiences with how a product or service is being used.
“Their experience and insights can be quite unique. This may not be fully realised or optimised if firstline workers aren’t able to efficiently communicate and share these learnings.
“Technology is a great way to facilitate those virtual connections and conversations.”
Technology can also play a key role in enabling collaboration between firstline workers and helping them connect with each other.
“If individuals are working in more isolated roles, such as those on the road for example, then technology can help connect these employees with others in similar types of roles to build networks of peer support as well as learn from each others’ experiences,” she said.
“Digital transformation continues to be a key priority for many organisations and HR has a great opportunity to influence what this means for their own function as well as the broader organisation.
“The virtual connection of firstline workers is a great example of how technology can create new opportunities for the employee experience as well as impact business strategy though improving customer experiences, evolving product design as well as driving other potential business benefits.”
We would like to invite you to attend our upcoming Employee Engagement Roundtable event in May. Join peers and customers for an exclusive lunchtime roundtable hosted by Ingrid Jenkins, HR lead, and Pip Arthur, CMO and Head of Corporate Comms, Microsoft Australia, where we’ll explore what employee engagement really means for your organisation. Learn more and register here.
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