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Innovation and people at the heart of the HR transformation

In this article by Adeline Soulard, find out why (and how) giving a central place to change management to support the transformation of the Human Resources departments.

For over thirty years, and even more in recent years, technological innovation has been a groundswell that has profoundly transformed the HR function. Its businesses and organization are heavily impacted. With these challenges, the key to success is an appropriate and forward-looking change management. This is also highlighted by the recent Gartner study "Top 3 priorities for HR leaders in 2021". Published at the end of October 2020, it places organizational design and change management among the 3 priorities of HR leaders for the coming year.

Innovation serving HR

The development of new IS solutions allows HR to improve their performance and transform professions in depth. For example, they can make it possible to automate tasks, by automatically pre-filling administrative documents using RPA (Robotic Process Automation). The result: time saving for HR managers.

Another example :  the combination of big data and artificial intelligence, which creates a wealth of services and could facilitate administrative processing, the recruitment process and training offers. This is already what HR chatbots, a virtual agent available 24/7, can do to answer questions in a personalized manner. Do you have a question about your retirement? About how to request leave? The chatbot can respond to this depending on the user experience, but also the user's management/entity. While this innovation is still recent and not widely deployed in companies' HR departments, the benefits of chatbots in general are already widely recognized, in particular by users of e-commerce sites or BtoC services. 
For example, La Poste's "my online stamp" service is currently guided by its chatbot.

More simplicity and efficiency, less repetitive tasks: are HR professions the big winners in the transformation of companies and local authorities?

The answer is not that easy : in reality, the roles of administrative manager, payroll manager and recruitment officer are under pressure today and are experiencing difficulties. We note in particular difficulties in adapting to change, but also a loss of meaning in the face of the need to adapt to technological innovations, which will sometimes generate fears, one of which is the loss of employment.

Key to success: adapted and forward-looking change management

The change in HR roles has an impact on meaning and their mission and services. In this context: how can we reassure, mobilise and give meaning to HR ?  

Yesterday, a large part of the resources were focused on administrative support tasks. Tomorrow, they will be able to focus on other subjects, but which ones? As an individual, what place do I take in this change ?

The pitfall to avoid would be to support only changes in tools and working methods, without also questioning the meaning of the HR profession. This is to be built collectively, and change management can play a facilitating role in this construction. How? For example, by integrating all stakeholders into collective thinking to build these new roles.

An integrated approach to managing these changes with a forward-looking dimension, placing innovation and people at the heart of the transformation is, from this perspective, a key factor of success. 

This is what Unilever France has understood: to ensure that its new HR platform meets the expectations of its 2,200 employees (both at head office and at the plants), the company has designed and developed a change management strategy from the beginning of the project. This approach has made it possible to take into account the diversity of the business contexts of the company's 2,200 employees.

This system has made it possible to integrate users (HR managers), give them the floor, inform them, train them and support them towards new businesses. The result: widespread support and the emergence of new HR roles, for example, a data specialist who analyses HR data, or a People Partner who supports team’s reorganizations and mobility procedures. 

Conversely, one of the causes of failure of the "Sirhen" HRIS project in the French national education, pointed out by the Court of Auditors, is the lack of consideration of the observations reported by users. Started in 2007 and stopped in 2018, the project cost 400 million euros, the errors linked to the project’s management were pointed out by the Court of Auditors, which recommends in particular “to engage all stakeholders and users through wide-ranging and responsive communication”.

To avoid this pitfall, global, an adapted and forward-looking change management is a major asset: adapted and offering personalized support for HR businesses. Forward-looking, by facilitating the construction and appropriation of a strategic vision and a common direction to be built.