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Averbook: How HR is writing the book on coronavirus

Jason Averbook
Jason Averbook is HRE’s People Side of Digital columnist. Averbook is a leading analyst, thought leader and consultant in the area of HR, the future of work and the impact technology has on that future. He is the co-founder and CEO of Leapgen, a global consultancy 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. He can be emailed at hreletters@lrp.com.

We’re part of the history book and we’re part of writing the next book, all at once. To be at that intersection is a fascinating time, and one that should have all of us thinking about mindset. The concept of mindset may sound soft or abstract, but in the world in which we are now living, it’s the single most important component of driving not only digital success but business success overall.

As a business owner, one of the most fascinating things about the pandemic and its global impact is that there is no book written about this situation. For example, in finance, if we want to find out how to do accounting, we’d read a book. If we wanted to learn about HR policy, we’d look in a book.

Read all of HRE‘s coronavirus coverage here.

But when everything stops, when everything shuts down, when work changes overnight as the world changes overnight–there is no book written for that. So, when we think about mindset, combined with what I just said, the most important thing for us all to remember is that we are writing the book. Right now, we are all writing the book together.

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Writing the New Book: Onboarding

Onboarding must now be thought of as digital-first and virtual.

Will people still go “to” an office in the next normal? Possibly. Will workers still go “to” work, depending on their white collar or blue collar? Possibly.

The one thing we know for sure is that, in our respective organizations, people will continue to work. Therefore, we need to develop processes, capabilities and journeys. More important than ever, journeys are the vehicle to help people get through something,

In the old world, a new hire had humans with whom to interact face to face, eye to eye, to walk them through the culture and compliance aspects of onboarding. In the new world of work, we need to make sure that experience–a moment that really matters–comes to life in a digital format. This is where the concept of journey is so important. You can almost think of it like Process + Human = Journey. Taking it one step further, journey is the equivalent of digital.

Onboarding also needs to become virtual, which means we need to think about how to flow routings in the organization, how to train people on what it means to work in the organization, how to emote values and culture in a virtual way–and how to get things done. All of this needs to be designed to be virtual.

Writing the New Book: Performance

Another process that’s so important: How do I measure performance? Let’s really think about this for a second. This is one of those HR processes of old that requires massive unlearning. Up until now, we have been measuring performance tied to the book that was used when everyone was a union employee, everyone was hourly, when we tied performance to compensation.

We don’t do that anymore.

In the now of work, we need to measure how people are feeling, how they’re doing in their work and understand exactly where they are, what we can do to help and how they’re feeling about their specific work. When we flip our mindset in this way, a rating isn’t as important. A rating is not reality. We need to shift from the world of rating to the world of reality, realizing that our workforce is different than it’s ever been before.

Writing the New Book: Governance

I want to talk about the concept of getting organizations aligned, a new approach to governance. In today’s world, more than ever, mindset needs to be created. Whether it be from the top or with the top, it needs to be created in a way that aligns the HR or people leadership team, where It is coordinated and where it is focused.

The days are over where we can run HR and the people function in a siloed manner. We still have specialists and we will still need specialists. But more important than these specialized siloes is consistency: in workforce experience, journeys and communication, as well as how HR delivers service, gets things done and answers questions. It all needs to be consistent, coherent and, most importantly, coordinated.

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Every single person in the HR function should be working together today to write their book. Write the book that works for you and for your organization, the one that’s going to drive the success of your business.

It’s scary when there’s no book. But, at the same time, we have the most amazing opportunity we’ve ever had before. Let’s not squander it as a community, as an industry and as a family.