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HR Leaders’ Perspectives on Engaging and Retaining the Talent of Tomorrow

How do HR leaders embrace –and leverage – generational, demographical and technological shifts to shapetheir talent and culture in a way that promotes long-term success?

That’s the question Emmy andPeabody Award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien recently posed a panel of HRleaders I had the honor of being a part of at the 2016 HR TechnologyConference.

Soledad opened the discussion by sharingrecent findings from the ADP Research Institute’s® 2016Evolution of Work study, a global look at workplace trends across 2,000individuals in 13 countries. The study revealed the key drivers for the globalworkforce of the future including, employee demand for greater choice andflexibility, access to real-time learning, increased autonomy, a sense ofstability, and the ability to work on projects that are personally meaningful.

As the expectations ofemployees change, businesses need more agile and responsive HR approaches toattract, engage and retain tomorrow’s top talent. Panelists including DianeGherson, Chief Human Resource Officer of IBM, Francine Katsoudas, Chief PeopleOfficer of Cisco Systems, and Scott Pitasky, Chief Partner Resources Officer ofStarbucks shared with the audience some of their top challenges — and ofcourse, how they’re using technology to improve the employee experience.

ADP's Dermot O'Brien addressing moderator Soledad O'Brien at the 2016 HR Technology Conference.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

1) How HR needsto be customized for each employee. It’s no longer “one size, fitsall,” said Katsoudas. “It’s one size, (that) actually fits one,” she said.Employees are expecting their experiences with technology in the workplace tobe as good as, or better, than the experience they have with technology intheir personal lives. Cisco’s doing this by using technology to create benefitsprofiles that help guide employee choice. For example, if an employee is arecent college graduate, she can see a profile of the benefits most meaningfulto her peers.

Associates not only want a morepersonalized experience, but they want information readily available on their mobilephones as well. Starbucks recently launched a new healthcare marketplace for its180,000 associates in the United States and found that 40 percent made theirhealthcare decisions on their phones.

2) HR is becoming less of an art form and is applying more sciencethrough data and insights. Data is becoming democratized and has the power to dramaticallyenhance the strategic value of the HR function. The ability to leverage data tomake better HR decisions is no longer limited to only very large enterprises.Benchmarking and analytics are more widely available as technology continues toadvance. Technology can also be used tomake a more human connection between the organization and the individualemployee.

Gherson shared that IBM is using Big Data to help employees make betterbenefits choices by showing them how they would have saved money if they choseanother plan. By using data and analytics, they found that lower-earningemployees were buying the most expensive health plans because they were afraidof the deductibles and/or they didn’t study the materials enough. By gamifyingthe experience, IBM was able to both coach and educate employees so they couldmake more informed decisions based on past data.

3) “Everything great happens through teams,” said Katsoudas. Since theteam leader shapes the employee experience, it’s important to do pulse surveysto check on how engaged the team is and gain insights into what can be improved,she added. At ADP, we have thousands of leaders and it’s our firm belief thattechnology should be used to assess whether they’re creating positiveexperiences for employees. We recently launched the Leadership Compass in whichassociates are asked 12 questions about their leaders. This gives leaders quickfeedback to help them adapt their behavior to meet the evolving needs of theiremployees.

Having one leader serve as the “almighty” decision maker is a thingof the past. Companies need to think about who the right teams of leaders areto give their portfolio balance and drive success. It’salso about being a better listening organization and including more people indecision making. The world’s changing so that more initiatives are “grassrootsup” versus “top down.” At ADP, we solicit emails from associates and our CEO andsenior executives read them and respond to them all. By opening yourself up andpursuing all concerns and suggestions, you often gain insights that can helpchange things for the better.

Employers and employees no longer are married for life. Employees don’tstart a job and say, “This is where I want to retire.” Knowing that, everyoneon the panel agreed that we need to embrace technology to make sure that whileemployees are with us they have the experience they expect and deserve.

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