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Averbook: COVID accelerated HR’s digital transformation

Jason Averbook, Mercer
Jason Averbook
Jason is a renowned Senior Partner and the Global Leader of Digital HR Strategy at Mercer | Leapgen, with a career that spans over two decades in the HR and technology sectors. He is a leading figure in Mercer's global Generative AI strategy and services, spearheading innovative solutions in the HR technology landscape. Jason is also an accomplished author, having penned two books that delve into the future of HR and HR technology, further solidifying his position as a thought leader in the field. From 2018 to 2023, Jason co-founded and served as CEO of Leapgen, a company committed to shaping the future workplace. Now, under the expanded partnership of Mercer | Leapgen, Jason continues to challenge executive mindsets, advocating for a shift from executing technology projects to embodying a digital function. This new alliance amplifies his influence, extending his reach to a global market. In addition to his corporate roles, Jason serves as an adjunct professor at universities worldwide, imparting his knowledge and insights on HR technology and digitization. His leadership portfolio also includes senior roles at industry giants such as PeopleSoft and Ceridian Corporation. Jason's expertise lies in transforming HR organizations into strategic partners, having collaborated with industry-leading companies to achieve this. Jason's insights into the future of HR and work have earned him global recognition, and he is frequently quoted by top-tier media outlets such as BusinessWeek, CNBC, Forbes, Fortune, Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. He is consistently ranked among the top three thought leaders in his field.

The survey for the week of June 15 addresses the realities of remote work. Click here to take the survey. Results and responses will be published soon.

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The time for digital transformation and designing for the workforce is now and it is more important than ever!

That’s the takeaway from the latest LeapPulse survey, which measured the acceleration of digital in the workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also asked respondents whether they felt acceleration of digital would continue at the same pace post-COVID.

This pulse of the community survey was conducted during the week of June 8, 2020.

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Finding 1: Over 83% of the respondents said their organization had become more focused on digital during COVID-19. Lots of things were bound to change how work gets done. Coronavirus just forced our hands and accelerated what was already in motion and inevitable. Our response to the pandemic reinforced the need for the workplace to bend to the workforce. Bottom line: The Digital Workplace confirmed it was here to stay in 2020, and we quickly adapted.

Related: Strategies to manage coronavirus in the workplace

Finding 2: More than 80% of respondents also believed their company would continue to accelerate its digital transformation post-COVID. At a fluid and chaotic time when workforces had every excuse to decelerate, they not only adapted but thrived. At the same time, businesses came to understand their business continuity relied on this newly discovered workforce flexibility and agility. In other words, digital seems to show all upside, so businesses will keep their foot on the gas.

Finding 3: The top three work communication tools that prevailed in business during the pandemic were video communication, live chat and collaboration tools, and portals/intranet/experience layers. Even companies that already were accustomed to virtual work at least part of the time learned how to become even more connected by turning on video and making more intentional habits to connect and celebrate people.

Finding 4: The hardest part of working digitally, according to respondents, was focus. The least challenging part was productivity, which proved to be higher than when people went into the office.

Finding 5: A whopping 87% of respondents say the most important thing around ongoing digital transformation in their organizations is making things easier and more streamlined for their workforce; not an effort on integrating services from HR and finance or making HR’s job easier. This shows the need for audience and persona design now to meet the NOW needs of the workforce.

A few key actions to take away from these findings:

Action 1: Workforce experience becomes much more important when we are supporting a distributed workforce; in fact, “making work better by making work about people” might have been the great aha moment we had during the pandemic of 2020. Digital transformation was never about technology; it’s about designing work for people. If you were forced to transition to digital tools and technologies without undergoing a true transformation, now is the time to make sure you have an established digital HR/people strategy, reevaluate what transformation end-state looks like for your organization, and do the work to ensure your short-term transition supports a full and complete transformation.

Action 2: The plans that HR and IT organizations started within H1 of 2020 are obsolete; new, agile plans are required as we enter H2. Digital transformation initiatives that are focused on what really matters to the #Nowofwork for the rest of 2020 and beyond need to take priority. A coordinated effort across HR, IT and the business is a necessity to deliver the seamless, rich experience needed now by many organizations.

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Action 3: Design thinking must be leveraged in 2020 to create journeys and experiences that make it easier for the workforce to find and leverage information and tools, period. We can no longer wait for the future. We can no longer wait for everyone in the workforce to be on the same page. The time is NOW for designing for the workforce, which means if you have not transformed processes and journeys in the last three years; the time is now!

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For the week of June 15, the survey focuses on the realities of remote work. Take it here.