Deliver the 4 Pillars of the Workplace Experience with HCM
Every business’ greatest asset is its people. The process of managing this incredible asset — or HCM (human capital management) – has to be approached with the same care and the same gravity as any other invaluable resource. And certainly, the events of 2020 have given us more than enough evidence that HCM is critical for workplace success — when it directly addresses the workplace experience (WX).
Consider the myriad challenges created by the pandemic, with its pivot to remote, intensifying economic pressures on so many industries, and increasing pressures on employees to cope with day-to-day work and life. For so many organizations, the shift was a pressure test that revealed any gaps in their HCM capabilities. To be better positioned for 2021 and beyond, it’s time to fill in those gaps.
Here’s how to leverage HCM to truly address the needs of your employees — as well as your managers — and boost the workplace experience for increase trust, engagement, morale and results, whether your workforce is remote, blended, or in-house:
1. Payroll and Finance Management
An integrated platform: Assess your payroll and finance management software and make sure it’s integrated into a platform of HR solutions. There are a number of reasons for doing this: your employees will have a far easier time navigating the nuts and bolts of administration around their own jobs, and there is nothing more disheartening, frustrating and disengaging about not being able to easily access your own paychecks or make smart financial decisions.
Self-service: Self-service as well as automation reduce the friction around wait times and holdups and provide a sense of autonomy and, not surprisingly, trust. On a very basic level, an employer who seems (even if they don’t mean to be) reticent to hand over some administrative control to their own employees is going to be seen as an employer that doesn’t trust their workforce. It’s also not surprising that trust is a two-way street, and eroding employee trust can contribute to presenteeism, disengagement, and turnover.
Clarity for managers: On the employer side, your managers need a process that provides visibility and clarity to support better decision-making. Streamlining payroll and financial functions also eliminates some of the risk for errors created by redundancy. Self-service and automation options for employees allow managers to free up more time for other matters. If needed, however, make sure there’s a human in the loop.
A conversation: Remote working, which happened suddenly, was certainly a stress test when it came to performance and engagement. We’ve learned that you can never have too much feedback, but it has to be multidirectional to feel authentic, transparent, and meaningful — feedback should be seen as a conversation, not a unilateral critique. Start on Day One and make it a regular part of the work culture as well as the workflow. It should be frequent as opposed to rare, regular as opposed to sporadic.
Variety and range: Different forms of feedback will have different results, — and a best practice is to include a whole range of formats and channels. Often short and sweet opportunities to just weigh in on a topic — and then see the results overall — can enhance that sense of belonging and community. It also conveys the fact that the organization values people’s time as well as their input. When there’s room for longer responses, though, that gives employees a chance to truly reflect and possibly get to a deeper concern, which can be invaluable for everyone.
Calibrated to goals: When you the feedback channels, make sure that the conversation is grounded in clear objectives. Your employees should be able to understand the goals and expectations around what they do in the context of their role and their team, as well as their own goals. They should be able to understand the direct impact of their work and its larger meaning for the organization as a whole. Often, this is going to be transmitted via managers, so provide managers with the tools they need: flexible means to gain visibility, but easily being able to collect, aggregate and analyze feedback and data around engagement as well as performance.
Return to core values: Recent research by Unit4 on employee engagement found that nearly 70% of all organizations questioned identified engagement as a top priority for 2020. Having an engaged workforce should be a core value. But certainly, many companies had to triage our workplace systems to cope with crises over the past year. At times, that meant pulling back from employee engagement initiatives to deal with technology, security, access, and communication. In some cases, it meant using performance as the metric of success.
The myth of high performance on its own: Yet performance can peak and then cause burnout, a phenomenon we’ve seen all too much of in the past year. And it doesn’t matter if your video platform is running smoothly if no one is participating in that 11th meeting of the day. It doesn’t matter if your teams pushed themselves hard to make a deliverable if they’re exhausted, stressed, and feeling resentful. Their well-being is tied to engagement, not performance: great performance is a symptom of engagement and not the other way around.
Frequent check-ins and surveys: Keep engagement top of mind by conducting plenty of outreach to gauge employee sentiment and motivation. Send out regular pulse questionnaires and keep an open, safe and secure conduit between employee and managers so issues can be dealt with early and often. Establish a routine of check-ins — I’ve seen remote managers have tremendous success when they increase frequency and allow employees to pick their check-in times.
Gather data: Track engagement trends across your whole workforce, and as gaps come to light, work to fix them. And the more data you collect, the more accurate you can be in spotting shifts and issues. This is critical for every team, whether remote, blended or in-house, and is going to become a key differentiator for front-running employers.
4. Learning and Development
Optimizing your people power: Human capital management isn’t just allotting people power where needed. For employers, that’s a key priority and should be. But forward-thinking HCM also provides the means for people to become better and more effective at what they do and who they are as professionals. Learning and development is a means to maximize the power of the people you’ve got.
Building trust: Again, it’s not about scattered functions and tools, but a holistic, integrated platform. You want to enable people to truly step into a role and embrace it — stretch up to its requirements and draw on newfound skills and expertise. Further, employees increase their confidence and trust in their employer when they know that a problem will be met by a solution. If the problem is needing to develop, the solution is learning opportunities. Even better, if the problem is needing someone to take over a role due to a continuity issue, the employee gets to be the solution. In terms of morale, that’s an undeniable shot in the arm.
Multiple formats: Scope out your learning components so they cover present practicalities as well as longer-term objectives. Provide the means to gain the knowledge and skills needed to do a particular job well. Wrap in micro-learning, customized course sequences and of course, a user-friendly way to achieve certifications. But go beyond that as well, expanding to aspirational and growth, and with subjects that may not be directly related to work functions but are related to career goals.
Data-driven: All of this should be under one umbrella, offering the data managers need to make those decisions and better assess their employees’ growth and new capabilities. Employees and employers should both be able to track progress and see achievements. Connect learning management with feedback, and with recognition and rewards. Make it part of the work culture: as in, We’re not just here to work. We’re here to grow — and lean on the data to illustrate, track, and strategize.
Covering the Basics
What do employees want and need, in general? It’s not a magic question, as we’ve seen over the past year or so. They want to be able to earn. They want to know their work matters. The need to be able to believe in their employer, their managers and themselves. And they need the chance and the means to grow in the job as well as in their career.
Leveraging best practices in terms of HCM is a powerful and effective way to ensure those essential wants and needs are met. Focusing on the workplace experience is also a highly empathetic strategy that pays off in business results. You’ll find it has a tremendous impact, as well, on the other functions of HCM — including talent acquisition and people planning. The bottom line is having a workplace culture that’s thriving and engaged. Enabled by a robust and responsive HCM program, it becomes the place everyone wants to work.