How to Reimagine the Workforce Experience

Jack Welch, the famous former CEO of General Electric, once said, “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, then the end is near.” If you’ve ever heard one of my keynote presentations or are one of my clients, you probably have heard me talk about how employees today have better technology in their smartphones than what their employers are providing them.

After my years of traveling all over the world, I am certain that employees’ expectations for workplace technology have completely changed–forever. With the coveted responsibility of “owning the employee relationship,” we in HR also have a mandate to deliver and drive a much better workforce experience than we have in the past. This starts with developing a digital (not just technology) HR strategy.

Within the pages (both print and digital) of HRE, there are many great features designed to give you a deeper look at HR technology and what solutions might fit into your plans over the next several years. Let’s be honest: Without the amazing innovative technology that the solution providers are developing at a record-breaking pace, you and I would not be in this game. So starting this month, I will share with you my perspective on what is necessary to equip yourself with before embarking on any HR-technology initiative.

As an extension of my HR Technology Conference presentation, I’ll be diving into the key ingredients of a proven formula–mindset, people, processes and technology. I will explore how HR leaders can create a vision and strategy, gain commitment to change, empathize with the people who need to understand the vision, define the business outcomes, grasp how to leverage technology and determine what technology needs to be in place. The honor of having a monthly column in HRE is humbling to say the least and one that I take great pride and responsibility in, as together we continue to drive our industry forward.

While employees have high expectations for their work experience, HR leaders should not expect that a “one-click” tech solution will solve this challenge. In order to reimagine the HR function, we need to think different and change the status quo. What I’ve come to realize is that organizations either have a growth mindset–which is about innovation, constant change and driving forward–or a fixed mindset that maintains the status quo. Usually, employees have a growth mindset and organizations as a whole, by and large, have a fixed mindset. This creates a huge clash between the individuals looking to drive change and the organization pushing back. This is exactly the point of impact I hope to deal with in this space.

What can we do to break that “mindset chasm” that exists? We have to think digital first and answer a few questions: What do we want to be great at versus what’s OK to be just OK at (OK, call it performing if you are not okay with okay)? How do we discontinue developing processes that are only the exception (less than 1 percent) versus re-imagining processes for the majority (99 percent) of the workforce who will benefit from better experiences at work? And most importantly, how do we design our processes with the mind-set of the workforce facing in instead of HR pushing out onto the workforce?

It’s vital for HR leaders to understand that digital and technology are two completely different things: Digital is how we are trying to reimagine business results; technology is simply how that task gets done.

HR needs to leverage the power of digital thinking to break down its silos and bring forth what I call a frictionless workforce experience. There are four things that organizations and HR functions in particular need to focus on for a frictionless workforce experience: right product, right people, right moment and right channel.

As we think about this in the context of technology, what is most important is that we realize and remember that an experience is not a user interface–it’s a combination of transactions and interactions. And this is where trust lies: Trust doesn’t come by having great transactions, but rather with the interactions we have with our workforce in moments that matter.

We must act inside organizations similarly to the way the world works outside the walls of the organization if we expect to drive an engaged workforce. Nothing will change unless we change. People are ready. Processes can be ready. Technology is ready. Is your mind-set ready?

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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