Blog Post

Demystifying Transformation: What We Mean When We Talk About Digital Transformation

Cornerstone Editors

In HR, we talk about workplace transformation pretty regularly. But what does it actually mean? In this mini-series, we’ll give you some tips and tricks to help you understand each type of transformation—and how you can foster it across your organization.

In today’s fast-paced business world, efficient and adaptable technology has become a prerequisite for modern organizations. From recruiting to talent development, to the day-to-day of cultivating company culture, technology has simplified HR processes by taking on manual, mundane tasks and giving HR professionals more time to focus on strategic initiatives.

But joining the digital revolution requires more than adopting new digital systems for previously analog tasks. To bring your HR department into the information age, you’ll need to undergo digital transformation.

Digitization Versus Digital Transformation

Digitization, or shifting manual processes to automated ones, can streamline operations and allow employees to use their time for more complex tasks, opening up new possibilities for advances in every field. Digital transformation takes digitization a step further, going beyond the adoption of new technologies to inspire a shift in company culture. To accomplish this shift, HR professionals will have to become skeptics and question which elements of digitization will eliminate empty work hours and which will add unnecessary steps or overcomplicated processes.

Like any company-wide change, digital transformation won’t work without willing adoption from employees and leadership. Digital transformation isn’t a mandate. It’s a cooperative journey. Although you will see reluctance from all levels of your workforce, the easiest way to change any employee’s attitude toward technology is to offer it as a solution to problems instead of another hurdle.

How HR Is Going Digital in 2020

If your organization doesn't yet have a digital transformation plan in place, you’re already behind. Seventy percent of companies already have a digital transformation strategy in place—or are working on one.

Artificial intelligence, blockchain, machine learning and automation will change the landscape of HR technology, lifting it out of the Excel dark ages and into a data-driven world of smarter hiring, payroll, benefits, development, rewards and so much more.

When implemented correctly, technology has the potential to improve every facet of your company. As an HR professional, you’re on the front line of technological business solutions. Algorithms can help the right candidates find job opportunities at your company in the sea of seemingly endless offerings. Programs can take over other tasks, too, like sorting through resumes. But beware techniques that remove the human element from tasks that require a personal touch. This is where some healthy skepticism can be an asset. Sometimes simpler isn’t better. As an HR manager, you can decide what direction makes the most sense for you and your company.

Digital Transformation in Your HR Department

Within your department, digital transformation requires the same strategic steps as implementing any complex change. First, set out concrete, actionable goals for your digital transformation. These goals shouldn’t simply be centered around technology—they should also be tailored to your internal culture. For example, don’t choose to purchase a recruiting technology because you think you should. Instead, evaluate the challenges you’re facing as a department and consider what type of technology would help you solve those challenges. You want your HR employees to value the coming technological changes and be able to use them effectively. Otherwise, your staff may be averse to change or, worse, develop workarounds to circumvent new tech.

To stave off such problems, establish a team devoted to making digital transformation happen, and develop a detailed plan for rolling out new technology within your department. This team, which will ideally be composed of representatives from different teams and departments, will help you strategize while changes are underway, gain feedback from your staff and make adjustments until you meet your goals.

Your transformation team should also help you build the best "tech stack," or series of applications and programs that your department can use to improve work efficiency and the employee experience. You might not get it right the first time, so ask for feedback and know when to make changes.

As you continue in your digital transformation journey, remember to measure your results. Solicit the opinions of your staff and update them on all changes to your strategy. A positive HR department culture, especially in times of transformation, can influence the attitudes of employees in the rest of your company. As you transform, your workforce will follow suit.

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The Modern Workforce Favors Flexibility and Digital Collaboration

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The Modern Workforce Favors Flexibility and Digital Collaboration

This is the third in a series of articles we’re doing around our annual State of Workplace Productivity survey. Read a summary of the full survey here . And for our findings on extreme workloads, click here. The always-on, always-working mindset has caught on, largely due to the rise of technology and the demand for more flexible workplaces. While initially introduced to boost employee satisfaction, flexible policies and technology use actually have a greater impact on productivity, and ultimately business performance. The environment in which people work affects how productive they are. Nearly two in three employees think a flexible and remote work schedule increases productivity, according to a recent survey by Cornerstone OnDemand. The most productive work environment is an enclosed office, followed by partitioned cubicles, open desk layout and working remotely, accordingly. While working in an enclosed office is the most promising for productivity, a good chunk of employees — 19 percent — say working remotely is the most productive environment, likely due to the fact that they can control the distractions around them. Forty-three percent of employees say impromptu visits by colleagues are distracting, according to the survey. Digital Communication Enables Remote Workers Even though some employees prefer work from home policies, only one in five are allowed to work remotely. True, employees can’t communicate with colleagues in-person, but the majority of workplace communication happens digitally anyway. Nearly two in five employees believe emails and instant messages allow them to be more productive than having in-person or phone conversations. The percentage of employees that prefer in-person collaboration compared to digital collaboration is decreasing — 63 percent this year compared to 71 percent last year. But there’s a fine balance for using online communication to boost or destroy productivity. Some employees find emails, social media alerts and instant messages to be distracting, so be sure that employees know what kind of communication their colleagues prefer. The key to high productivity and flexible work schedules is arming employees with the right technology. Almost two out of three employees agree that given the right technology, in-person meeting can be replaced completely. Digital natives are demanding a more flexible workplace, and companies are listening and changing accordingly, but more need to put their employees first and do so faster. To read more findings from The State of Workplace Productivity Report, click here. And take a look at our infographic on how workspace matters:

Preparing Your Workforce for Digital Transformation


Preparing Your Workforce for Digital Transformation

Make talent development a priority in the age of digital disruption Ready or not – digital transformation is here. With technology developing more rapidly than ever, the way we do business is changing and it affects everything from customer acquisition and our product offerings, to our tools and processes, to our workforce and work environments. To succeed in a rapidly changing market, organizations must adapt their talent management practices to reflect new digital innovations and processes. Constellation Research discovered that industry-leading companies' ability to adapt to digital disruption was a key factor in their long-term success. As many organizations begin to radically reimagine how they leverage technology and processes, a need for a new talent development strategy arises. No organization wants to be left behind because they failed to adapt well enough or fast enough to the changing digital landscape. So, how can organizations disrupt their talent development strategies to help succeed in the age of digital transformation? How to futureproof your organization in the age of digital transformation It's a sobering fact: Talent development strategies that worked in the past may no longer work in the near future. Human Resources (HR) and Learning and Development (L&D) teams must become true business partners and create a continuous, hyper-connected development experience for people that aligns to the ever-shifting goals of the business. This eBook offers research-backed strategies that will show you how to create a digitally centered, learning-focused talent development environment that will help your organization keep its competitive edge in the era of digital transformation. You'll gain insights into: Determining your organization’s level of digital transformation preparedness Coaching strategies to prep your workforce for digital transformation How to champion a culture of learning to enable ongoing employee skill development Download our eBook to discover the talent development best practices you – and your people – need in order to futureproof your organization while putting your people in the driver’s seat of their own experience.

5 Tips for Crisis Management in the Digital Age

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5 Tips for Crisis Management in the Digital Age

Crisis management is a tool many leaders keep in their toolkit, but secretly hope they never need to use on a grand scale. While minor situations arise regularly in the course of business, larger scale issues can end careers and destroy entire corporate profiles if handled incorrectly. We need only look to Equifax and their epic data breach, which called for the release of their CEO and launched a Department of Justice investigation, to see the sweeping impact of poorly handled crises. Many of us might say what we "would" do if we were in such a situation, but until it happens, we really have no idea. This is where crisis communications becomes incredibly important, and HR plays a pivotal role. It's been said failure to plan is planning to fail, and never is this old adage more true than ensuring a strategy to handle a large-scale public relations disaster. As we now live in a time now where cloud-based technology is more prevalent, the digital realm is the new marketplace, and crises of this magnitude and type will happen more frequently, leadership must be prepared in advance to manage crisis in the digital age. Establish Personalities in Advance of the Crisis One of the benefits of social media and the 24/7 news cycle is that it provides opportunity to raise the public profile of anyone and everyone. While it's not necessary that all corporate leadership be incredibly active on social media from a personal perspective, it is extremely important that the company be proactive in building trust from the beginning. Get your leadership in front of your customers and communicate frequently across traditional and social media. It creates a personal connection with your company and shows there are people behind the issues. Gather Around the Message Immediately When the world of communication works on a 24/7 cycle, so must your leadership team. Have emergency communication protocols in place and ensure that they're followed. Your team must get on board with a strategic, unified message immediately and follow your crisis communication plan, which should be in place and reviewed every 3-6 months. Communicate with Employees Your best course of action is to communicate immediately and to arm all those involved with everything they need to communicate that not only are you on top of the matter, but that it won't happen again. This not only encompasses conversations with external media, but also includes conversations with your employees to ensure they can pivot with the leadership team and remain connected to your overall vision. Deploy Your Leadership Brand An established leadership brand is one of the greatest corporate assets during times of corporate strife. Your leadership brand usually emanates from your CEO, but it's more about what your leaders are known for in your organization, and it informs how your employees should act at all times. It also means that individuals at all levels instinctively know how to conduct themselves in a crisis because it's ingrained in the corporate culture and everything they do. They put the customer first, they protect the corporate identity and they remain focused on the cause. Practice Humility Finally, one of the greatest assets in our leadership arsenal is also the oldest in the book: be humble. In this fast-paced world, mistakes are bound to happen. Admitting fault and owning up to one's mistakes quickly is something that separates great leaders from those who inevitably fail. Photo: Creative Commons

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