A growing task for Human Resources departments is to get the company workforce to grasp the implications of digital transformation. And this challenge comes at a time when the tools HR professionals use are also evolving.
Taking on board change does not happen overnight. It would therefore seem advisable for Human Resources departments to try out a number of different initiatives in order to give themselves the maximum amount of opportunities to involve the whole company in the transformation process. This is what HR departments at many companies are now doing, as they strive to reinvent themselves and the tools they use to put across to all employees the real implications of the company’s transformation and to encourage people to acquire new skills.
Use of social media nowadays seems to be a must, with 53% of HR Directors in France surveyed by online ‘job board’ Regionjobs in 2015 stating that they use social networks as a recruitment tool – a figure that has been on the rise since 2010 – but many HR professionals are keen to go still further, with initiatives such as the HRackathon that took place on 27-28 March at French computer programming school École 42 in Paris.
Innovation in the recruitment process
Some very useful initiatives emerged from the two-day hackathon. Attracting talented young people with the new skills – such as computer programming – that today’s companies need, can prove quite a challenge. With this in mind, one team designed a fun way of bringing geeks into the banking sector by creating a version of online dating app Tinder to recruit developers. This app presents developers with various different technologies and invites them to indicate, by swiping the pages to the left or the right on their smartphone, whether or not they are able to work with them. Based on the technologies the developer has in his toolkit, the app suggests jobs to suit his/her profile. Another interesting suggestion to emerge from the event was the idea of involving all staff in the company recruitment process by organising regular encounters with potential candidates.
Taking staff involvement a step further, many companies today are basing recruitment on co-optation, an approach which has made some headway at Google and other major companies. Enabling staff to recommend a person from their network for a job can save the HR department a lot of time. Several of the teams at the HRackathon event were thinking along these lines. The common thread running through all the ideas put forward was to put candidates and existing company staff in touch with each other. Some suggested setting up a website to foster real-time discussion, others suggested holding regular get-togethers with potential recruits in the form of ‘coffee corners’, lunches or brainstorming workshops.
Initiatives of this kind could well benefit everyone. Existing employees are often well-placed to identify interesting candidates who might be interested in joining the firm, and meanwhile candidates will be able to expand their networks, and also obtain a clearer view of the company culture and get a better idea of what really goes on at the firm.
Training also impacted by change
Today there is a basic need to involve all the company’s employees, from operational staff to top management, in company change – which is a sizeable challenge. It means helping staff to make sense of changes which they may at first find scary. Many large companies, such as French insurance specialist AXA, are now turning to experience-sharing, in the form of conferences and ‘reverse mentoring’ sessions via Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Short videos, featuring young employees expounding on a particular digital concept or a potential new use of the web, followed by a quiz, are designed to help older colleagues to get to grips with these topics. Companies these days are also becoming adept at running large-scale brainstorming sessions, bringing staff from different businesses and departments together to discuss topics which closely affect them all.
French multinational banking and financial services company Société Générale has set up the PEPS! initiative, a sort of internal hackathon which gives staff an opportunity to think about how their working conditions could be improved, and inviting them to put forward concrete proposals. This process has for example helped to identify the need for flexible working hours as a real factor for employee well-being.
Food products corporation Danone holds an annual ‘co-creation’ meeting where 150 young people under thirty, of all nationalities and educational backgrounds, get together with members of the Executive Board for two or three days’ discussion on strategic issues. ‟It’s clear that corporate culture is the cornerstone of successful change management. HR heads are not necessarily the catalysts but rather the agents of change, who support staff during the process,” points out Christine Gas, Corporate HR & Internal Communications Director at Danone.