Forget talking about the future of work. Try talking about the now of work.
That’s what Jason Averbook, global leader of digital HR strategy at Mercer and former co-founder and CEO of Leapgen, wants to do.
The reason it’s important to talk about the now of work is that in the past three years the work environment, due to the pandemic and surge in remote work, has changed more than it has in the previous 50 years, Averbook said Thursday at the Virtual HR Technology Conference, where he spoke on “The Year We Realized Change is Always Forever.”
“The question becomes what have we done? Have we changed our mindset, our philosophies, our operating model?” he asked. Averbook, for one, knows about change. Earlier this week, his company Leapgen was acquired by Mercer.
He encouraged the HR industry to embrace change and view it with an ongoing digital transformation mindset.
“Change is not the enemy,” Averbook said. “It’s the strategy; embed this into everything you do.”
Why you need to adopt a digital transformation mindset now
A digital transformation is about changing the way the workforce works using digital tools, rather than the misconception that digital tools equate to a digital transformation, Averbook explained. He stressed digital transformation is about changing the approach to work itself.
When talking to clients, Averbook recalled that executives would often list the digital tools and services they plan to implement when asked about their digital transformation roadmap. What these executives are talking about are technology initiatives, not a digital transformation, Averbook noted.
And companies need to be looking at a digital transformation now, he said.
He pointed to the talent shortage crisis in the U.S., fueled by the lowest levels of unemployment the nation has seen in decades. And he cited the rapid rise in “digital natives” entering the workforce who are seeking not only the right tools to do their jobs but also a work environment that provides a favorable digital experience.
Steps to go from a project-centric approach to a transformational mindset
HR leaders can take a handful of key steps to develop a digital transformation mindset.
For starters, they need to unlearn the old ways of doing things since they have vastly changed since the pandemic and to adopt a mindset that every HR function in the world now must be digital.
“The biggest reason we fail in our initiatives is we can’t unlearn,” said Averbook.
One key step in developing a digital transformation journey is to take the time to get to know your people and design your strategy and technology based on wanting to engage them.
“Understand your people, then select the technology,” he said, also noting, “If you don’t understand your people, how will you create a journey that meets them where they are?”
He also advised taking a “minimal lovable” approach versus a “minimally viable” one. By using technologies that employees want to engage with, you will increase the adoption rate and willingness to try other aspects of the digital transformation journey, he said.
Additionally, avoid taking a one-size fits all approach to rolling out technology, believing the experience will be the same for employees and managers. Employees are apt to question the need for new digital tools. So HR leaders should view their digital experience as a journey rather than a process to be completed.
It’s also imperative to provide the “why” behind the new introduction of new digital tools and services and their value, versus simply explaining what the tools and services are, he noted.