Historically HR has focused very much on standardisation and “One-Size-Fits-All”. Making the shift to an approach where the individual needs, wishes and capabilities of candidates and employees are the starting point is difficult. Traditionally, many HR-practices take the needs of the organisation as the starting point. An example is recruitment: we have an organisation structure, with a hierarchy, and well-defined jobs. Next step: how do we find the candidates that can fill the vacancy? Another example: most onboarding processes are designed top-down: what do we want new employees to know when they enter the organisation? The reverse question is hardly ever asked: what can we learn from the new employees who enter the organisation?
Also Learning & Development has a hard time to make the shift to an individualised approach. We still see many programs targeted at groups (e.g. high potentials, senior managers), with a large classroom component. Office design is an area where the standard approach has backfired. Most of the new office designs now take the different needs of users into account. If you are work better near other people and if you regularly need advice from colleagues, you can work in open space. When you need to concentrate on a complicated report, you can sit alone in a quiet room. For a call with a client, you can find one of the small phone booths.
In 2019 personalisation will get a lot of attention, and employees and organisations will benefit.
2. The Trust issue
Do people trust the organisations they work in? Do employees trust technology? Are people confident the organisations will use technology for their benefit? A recent global survey of Ernst & Young (“Trust in the Workplace“) showed that less than half of the respondents have “a great deal of trust” in their current employers, boss or team/colleagues.
The results of the annual Edelman Trust Barometer are a bit more promising: globally 72% of the employees trusted their employers “to do what is right” (see table below for the differences between countries). Trust in government and the media is a lot lower. Cognitive dissonance might be an element in the explanation of the higher trust in employers than in the government and the press. If you do not trust your employer, why do you still work there??
The trust issue needs to be on the 2019 HR agenda, because many of the HR initiatives are designed under the assumption that employees trust the organisation and that employees trust technology. Unfortunately, the trust level might be lower than we expect.
3. Development as a service
What can we learn from football? In football some of the top players hire organisations, as Your Tactical Analyst, to help them with their development.
The provider gathers data about the player (per match), analyses the data and sits with the player to discuss the outcomes and the lessons. The provider is there for the player, paid by the player. The club of the player is not involved. This seems to work well, although some clubs do not like it. The interests of the player (the employee) and the club (the employer) are not totally aligned. The club wants to become champion this year. The player wants to develop into one of the most valuable strikers in the world. The interests of the service provider (Your Tactical Analyst and others) are totally aligned with those of the player. “We are here to help you to become better”.
In business life we have not seen it a lot (a bit in the executive coaching area), but we expect, and hope, it will come. We see a great perspective for data-driven “Development as a service”.
4. Erosion of the Employee Experience
Recently I published “Trends in Employee Journey Maps“. It is interesting to study these maps. Most of these maps are roads.
They look like two-way roads, but in fact you can only go one way. There are no exists, only at the far end of the road. Somewhere there is a big round-about. Only one small exit, and the road designer (the organisation) hopes that you will never find it. The “Employee Experience” is a bit of a hype, and the corporate HR designers have incorporated the employee experience in their designs and interventions. But, as we can see in the majority of the employee journey maps, they have not changed their approach. The approach is top-down, and organisation focused. “If you want an employee experience, we will give you one you will never forget”. They design employee experiences to please the boss, with no real focus on the employee.
The initial starting point of the employee experience concept is very good: how can we give employees an experience that fits with their needs, expectations and capabilities? Unfortunately, it is eroding into a consultancy led framework, trying to fool employees into a journey on a one-way road with no exists, as the brief was “We want to attract and retain our talent” (The Dutch use “Binden en Boeien”, which Google translates into “Tie and Cuff”).
Read: The Erosion of the Employee Experience.
5. No more Paternalism
Often HR takes a very paternalistic and normative approach. “Our leaders and managers should be good coaches”. “We expect our employees to take responsibility for their own development”. “You cannot opt out of life-long learning”. Coaching is a good example. It starts with the global leadership model. These models (often a circle) always contain an element like “Developing People” and/or “Coaching. As an example, below the model of Leadership USA.
As the reality is that many managers are not good coaches, the next step is training (mandatory). Also, HR designs a process, that forces managers to have coaching sessions with their direct reports at least twice per year. The process is incorporated in the HR System, and when a manager starts her computer in the morning, the chatbot starts talking: “Good morning Tina, it is time for your bi-annual coaching session with (terrible) Tom, I have already scheduled it. Can you please complete the following preparation form?”. This approach is cracking, as it does not work. Neither Task Oriented Tina nor Terrible Tom are happy with the process. Why force people to do things they do not like, and they are not very good at? it is time to consider other approaches.