Cagatay Guney: 5 key areas to focus on for successful HR transformation in 2017

January is over. That means the workload for 2016 is almost over, too.  Soon HR departments will be done closing for the previous year and will be moving on to 2017. Sure enough, prospective planning has already started to fill our calendars and tighten our schedules. So, let’s embrace 2017 with all its heavy load and hope we can transform faster than the competition in this difficult year ahead.

Here is my take on the five key areas to focus on for facilitating transformation and making the best of 2017.

Map Your Talents’ first 90-day Journey

It is all about the early experience. Understanding how talent goes through her career journey and her contribution path throughout that first 90 days of employment is key to sustainable motivation and employee engagement. Some journeys end up with great enthusiasm, discretionary effort and engagement, and some end with disappointment and early disengagement.

Here is a heart-breaking statistic; six in 10 millennials say they’re open to different job opportunities, and only 50 per cent plan to be with their company after their first year.

I find the best way to gain insight into a process is to go through it myself. Surveys and focus groups can help but experiencing all of the steps of recruitment and onboarding as a real candidate is a great way to fact check and find out what are you doing great, and not so great. Apply to a position yourself, go through the application, interview, tests, and the offer as well as the whole onboarding as a new employee first hand. Even the orientation training would provide a wealth of information.

Digitize your Talent Acquisition

Mapping the journey is one thing but developing a fun, mobile and data driven digital process to actually offer a great journey is another. Start by piloting a position and dip your ankles in the data and experience rich world of digital HR. It is not that difficult but it makes a world of difference with the young talent. According to LinkedIn, 64 per cent of the candidates are looking for a job on their mobile phones. Be there, be digital ready. It is less manual work and more efficient anyway.

Launch an Analytics Project

With a well-defined business goal, eager and motivated team and leadership support, you can set up a high impact, high value HR analytics project. It does not have to be groundbreaking, it does not have to include Artificial Intelligence or millions and billions of lines of big data. Data analytics is about solving business problems with a data driven approach and HR has a lot to offer. We have applicant, onboarding, performance, career, and training data. Finding relations, interactions and even predictive models in that data is not a task too complex for a dedicated HR team with a clear scope. Spend time on defining the business problem and the scope, then the data will follow. It is really not rocket science. It is just hypothesis testing for business insight and decision-making.

Focus on Customer Facing Teams

If you have limited time to improve things, start with the teams on the field. Almost all studies show that customer facing employees are the most value-added assets in ensuring quality and sales performance. Spending time in the field will expose you to some of the unique challenges of the teams and let you come up with innovative solutions to the issues and problems that get in their way. Work on team roles, job design and inter-team coordination issues to improve their daily jobs and you will be surprised by the impact on the bottom line and the organization as a whole.

Reassess Your Learning Strategy

In this day and age of constant time pressure, minimal span of attention and bombardment of huge amounts of unstructured information, learning has to be short, quick and to the point. Two new technologies stand out. First are peer-to-peer collaboration tools. There are great new applications out there to share learning among colleagues instantly. The second is video learning. Forrester Research estimates one minute of online video equates to approximately 1.8 million written words. In addition, 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text. Plus, we love watching stuff, right?

About Cagatay Guney

Cagatay is a Human Resources and Organization Development professional with more than 20 years of experience both as a manager in and as an external consultant to several Fortune 500 companies in USA, Canada and Turkey.   He specializes in organizational structure, strategic planning, talent management and workforce planning. He is the consultant and technical specialist for HR domain.   Prior to the Peoplise; company he owned was consulting enterprise HR teams. As a professional; he worked for Deloitte Turkey as Director of HR, for Toyota Turkey as Director of HR
 and Ford Motor Company as North American, Regional Workforce Readiness Manager. Cagatay holds a MSc Degree from the Master or Organization Development program at Bowling Green State University. He holds a BSc degree in Political Science and Public Administration from the Middle East Technical University. He served as a member of the State of Illinois Workforce Investment Board and Employment Committee of The Turkish Industry and Business Association (TUSIAD). He is also the author of two fictional novels.    
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