Averbook: 10 ways HR can reimagine itself for 2021

This year has poured gas on the digital revolution. Dramatic world shifts, the prioritized prevalence of the digital workplace and distributed work, and a need to be physically distant with deeper connections than ever to work and each other dramatically accelerated digitization in our personal and professional lives.

It’s the parallel revolution that makes 2020 so significant: The human revolution overlaid these world shifts, making work suddenly, if not refreshingly, more human than ever. The global health pandemic rooted us in communal health, mental wellness, physical safety, psychological resilience and a local and global sense of both shared trauma and newfound community. The social justice pandemic shined new light on historic wounds, forced awareness and conversation, challenged value systems and inspired change. People have, quite simply, changed forever. The humanization of work must follow.

And we’re not done yet: Employment, global economies, business models, health data, education systems and a pending U.S. political election all remain in wild flux while we valiantly attempt to forge the future. Rather than passively accepting a “to-be-determined new normal,” one that deals itself out to us by chance like a deck of cards as the world morphs and reshapes, what if we thoughtfully and proactively design a better normal for business? What if we stacked the deck in favor of people?

Related: Hear more from Averbook and these other keynote speakers at the HR Tech Conference, Oct. 27-30.

Approached with optimism, the “now of work” presents incredible opportunities for organizations that establish a people-first mindset; instill a culture that encourages experimentation, innovation, inclusion and growth; and set out to design it with purpose. It’s not only possible, it’s up to us, HR, to set an agenda and lead the reset toward building a better normal.

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10 HR Reimaginations for a Better Normal

  1. A new model for HR operations, HR technology and employee experience supports whole employee care, bi-directional workplace communication and trust, and a frictionless workforce experience.
  2. Old talent management habits make way for new talent stewardship strategies.
  3. Talent wars are waged within our own organizations; the business prioritizes reskilling, the development of workforce resilience and intelligent mapping of capabilities and career drivers to the strategic needs of the business.
  4. Organizations develop accurate, timely line of sight to the full, extended workforce. Experience, engagement, inclusion and mobility strategies apply to all, regardless of employment status.
  5. Workforce experience is designed with a people-first and data-driven mindset.
  6. Whole employee care and a truly frictionless workforce experience necessitate a unified digital people vision, the dissolution of HR silos, coordination of people strategies and better people data than ever before.
  7. Static strategies and multiyear roadmaps are replaced with agile, nimble strategies focused on what people and businesses need in the now of work and future-proof investments for an unknown period ahead.
  8. Technology is configured, optimized or selected to address spikes and pitfalls and general changes in workforce behavior.
  9. Renewed strategies are intentionally prioritized and sequenced to drive maximum business impact by leveraging tangible “measures of success.”
  10. HR reimagines budgets and leverages sequencing to set the stage for sustained transformation in 2021.

Whatever crystal ball we relied on prior to 2020 was an illusion at best; we never needed it, we certainly don’t have one now and we’ve learned it was always up to us in the first place: to decide what we want to be, who we want to be as an organization, how we will operate and why it matters to our people and to broader society.

Join our Leapgen webinar Oct. 20 to “Reimagine HR for Business in 2021.”

I’ll also be talking all about “Rewriting the Book of Work” at the upcoming HR Technology Conference & Exposition Oct. 27-30, a reimagined online event that is not to be missed.

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Jason Averbook
Jason Averbook is a Senior Partner and Global Leader-Digital HR Strategy with Mercer. For the last six years, he was Co-founder and CEO of Leapgen, a digital transformation company helping organizations shape their future workplace by broadening executive mindset to rethink how to better design and deliver employee services that meet the expectations of the workforce and the needs of the business. Prior to founding Leapgen, Jason served as the CEO of The Marcus Buckingham Company (TMBC). In 2005, he co-founded Knowledge Infusion LLC and served as its CEO until 2012, when the company was sold to Appirio. He has also held senior leadership roles at PeopleSoft and Ceridian Corporation.