Digital HR

The shift from “HR services” to “employee experience” – how HR is changing its narrative

Last Thursday Chiara from #TeamLACE attended "Now at Work" London, one of the global roadshows that ServiceNow organises every year to showcase new functionalities, share business cases and product roadmap. Following what was an engaging event, Chiara gave some insights into some of the discussions that took place, she’s given us some insight into some of the key takeaways from the day.

The "Now Platform" is ServiceNow’s answer to the growing demand for a frictionless user experience to be combined with smarter, AI boosted, ways of delivering services. The concept is to provide one simple user interface, a connecting layer that offers simplicity at the top and keeps complexity underneath (for both users and admins) with dedicated "Workflows" capabilities for Employee, IT and Customers.

Some of the new capabilities showcased in the main keynotes caught my attention, not only because of the benefit that are bringing to users and administrators, but also for the potential impact on the broader HR industry. So I thought I would share with you, because that’s the kind of caring and sharing organisation we are at LACE Partners! So, let’s begin with…

Automation, automation, automation

At LACE Partners we talk about automation and AI all of the time (which you’d expect of a HR consultancy who has one of our focuses on tech!) and so it was intriguing hearing that the Now Platform comes with a "studio" for system admins to build new automated workflows; it looks very user-friendly (just ‘drag & drop’ - no coding involved) and with great integration possibilities. This is definitely something to keep an eye on, as most HR technologies are now offering ways to build automated processes, without requiring additional contracts with specialised RPA providers.

Voice enablement for virtual agents is also an interesting trend to keep an eye on, with this technology developing fast in the direction of natural language programming, so as and when we get more information on this we’ll of course keep you briefed (or you can connect with me on LinkedIn). Although the demos were compelling, I get the impression that it may take a while before we see this technology applied in HR: with some delegates I discussed questioning the quality of the interactions that the employee will experience, as well as some comments about chatbots being "overhyped", with a small portion of organisations adopting it in HR service delivery.

What else was in it for HR?

What was interesting about the event was that not once did I hear delegates talk about "HR services" or the use of the "HR portal"; the focus and narrative has now fully shifted to the concept of ‘employee experience’ (surprise, surprise!). To enable HR to truly be in the flow of work, the now Platform allows to create Workflows for employees: processes and complex transitions are automated and managed across departments via one UI, so that the employee is assisted in completing their tasks without having to worry about what team is involved in the background. Whether this is IT, HR, Finance or Facilities: the most important factor is that the user themselves has the easiest process possible and can get on with their jobs (according to stats shared during a session, managers still spend about 50% of their time completing admin duties!).

Mobile naturally played a big part in discussions too, with useful demos of both the MobileNow App, as well the Onboarding App. It’s clear that Onboarding is still one of the most frequent use cases, as most companies struggle to provide a smooth and engaging experience for their new starters. Although we all get most of our things done on mobiles these days, a lot of organisations still don’t account for a “mobile first” experience for internal customers; the trend is now shifting also thanks to more and more technology companies offering solutions for the workforce on the go.

From an industry trend perspective, the Now system features an "Employee Forum" which is a section of the Portal which enables employees to engage in internal discussion topics amongst themselves. Taken from the customer services industry, this feature allows employees to share questions and answers in dedicated forums and proves engaging and useful for the service delivery teams, as it is likely to decrease volume of queries raised on most common topics. As this is also a solution provided by Zendesk with "communities", it is good to see technology providers recognising the value of peer-to-peer support. It will be interesting to see how this trend develops, if there is any challenges in moderating employees forums, and learning more about the gains from both an employee engagement and a service delivery point of view once case studies become available.

The HR tech space is an exciting and ever evolving one. At LACE Partners we’re always working to ensure we are keeping abreast of the latest developments and so we’ll look to keep you posted on any new technology innovations as they come in to the market. If you have any questions about any of the areas of focused listed in today’s blog please feel free to reach out to me via email at chiara@lacepartners.co.uk or drop me a note on LinkedIn.