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The Consumerisation of HR

04/11/16 Nick Livingstone Director

The HR technology market has moved away from systems that make HR professional’s job function easier, to tools that help employees to do things like learn, collaborate, set goals and steer their careers. Previously HR departments were concerned exclusively with working in the background for a company, it is conspicuous that the practice of HR is moving toward a focus on connecting with and catering to individuals in a more consistent and digital way.

There are many challenges that have sparked innovation inside HR departments across the UK. In 2016, we have already seen technology and engineering companies bring even more transformation to human resources in what can be identified as the ’consumerisation of HR’. This is much more than simply using social media for recruitment, development, and engagement.

The consumerisation of HR refers to creating a social, mobile and a consumer-style experience for employees within a company. Companies are applying the same philosophy of creating memorable consumer experience to keep their own employees engaged and source new ones. As the UK HR recruitment sector continues to change with an ever increasing demand in HR jobs, the need for a skilled and well educated workforce continues to rise. Organisations are finding it more difficult to find the talented employees thus placing a greater importance on building strong employer brands. Companies are trying to leverage key trends to re-imagine the workplace as an experience rather than a place to come to work each day. Additionally, the factors that comprise building a strong employer brand are multiplying. Issues such as CSR – corporate social responsibility, employee security and civility in the workplace have all become part of the conversation in 2016.

Key Trends for HR Consumerisation Include

  • Creating the Workplace as An Experience
  • Embracing Transformational Self Directed Learning
  • Design Gamification for recruiting and collaboration
  • Leveraging Employees as advocates for the company brand
  • Understanding Workplace Flexibility is Here To Stay
  • The influence of new developments in technology

The ongoing influence of new developments in technology have made a huge impact on the HR sector. Traditionally, HR was viewed as a paper-intensive, non-innovative area, focussed on salary decisions, people hired and fired, employment law legislation and team building. However, we have witnessed the HR sector change as it incorporates technology at a rapid pace. With the growing importance of big data creating opportunities as well as pressure, the use of big data in HR processes continues to be a new skill required of candidates. New technology has changed the traditional HR function to now look at data-driven targeted staffing, supporting virtual workforces and numerous security issues related to employee management. Meanwhile, virtual and augmented reality continues to mature and find its way into the workplace environment.

HR and the Internet of things

As companies continue to adopt cloud computing, HR is actually ahead of the curve, with more time being spent on using cloud solutions to efficiently increase workforce productivity than any other industry. The increase in the use of such tools is accompanied by having more availability of information, which is pushing HR expertise into middle management ranks which is freeing up human resource departments from training middle tier leadership. We are starting to see former HR job functions shifting to line management, while the role of HR continues to shift to business performance and execution, with systems such as cloud computing falling into HR’s remit.

Leveraging Employees as Advocates

A number of HR organisations especially within the US are now promoting advocacy programs within the office. This entails requesting employees to promote the business on their personal social media accounts. The practice enables employees to, again, feel more connected to their company – they are playing the role of active consumer. It also helps to attract new business, as well as prospective candidates.

The digital office and Workplace Flexibility

With most people seeing the digital office as just a potential form of remote working HR organizations are harnessing technology as not just a method to recruit new talent or facilitating in staff being based from home. As Forbes detailed, HR executives are becoming more concerned with creating a "workplace experience" with more digital communication between employers and employees. C-Suite leaders have recognised the need for establishing a more concrete relationship between an employee and the company they work for, in essence, by treating the employee more like a consumer or "customer." Increased communication has taken place in a number of ways – emails, instant messaging apps, company portals with updates and information and even mass online training sessions. A digital office is a more connected office and HR is playing a greater role in establishing a more effective office IT infrastructure.

Nick Livingstone, Director of Redline Group’s comments: ‘HR professionals are undoubtedly in the midst of a challenging period for talent acquisition. Job creation was strong throughout 2014 and 2015, and that growth has encouraged more people to pursue employment opportunities. However, due to the consumerisation in HR, candidate skills frequently do not match the openings that are available. Redline’s HR division has witnessed the demand for candidates to understand and have implemented advanced HR technology and practices. There is a growing need for HR professionals to learn more about these subjects as it will become more common-place and a necessary requirement in the future of HR candidates. The HR technology arena is bursting with many new applications that shift the focus towards a more consumer-like experience and away from tools created to streamline the work of HR administration.

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