These are disruptive times for the Human Resources (HR) organization. HR finds itself at an inflection point due to various external factors, one of them being the current gap that usually exists between the digital experience outside of the workplace and how the HR customer (the employee, manager, contractor, retiree, etc.) interacts with their HR organization.

Driven by their usually positive digital experience outside of the office, the HR customer is beginning to ask the question: “Why can’t my interactions with HR be at least as good?” We see an opportunity in the marketplace to explore how an experience-focused, information-driven approach to delivering HR services can achieve a great digital consumer experience, what we call the “digital workplace”.

There are five key attributes of what could be considered a “great” digital consumer experience:

Interactions are Personalized. Digital retail platforms get to know who their consumer really is and are able to continuously engage them through a targeted, personalized experience.

Interactions are Streamlined. The digital retail experience is usually highly intuitive and usually involves a “one and done” transaction – no user manual needed and no need to contact a service desk. Real-time contextualized information (ex.: shipping status) keeps the consumer informed of their transaction history as needed, prompting them then and there to take an action if necessary.

Interactions are Device-Independent. The digital consumer can interact at any point of their transaction experience with any device of their preference (PC, mobile device, tablet, etc.).

Interactions are on Demand. Consumers can purchase any item any time they want to. They can also view the status of their order whenever they need to.

Interactions are Predictive. Digital retail platforms suggest interactions based on your interaction history (“since you recently bought some Himalayan rock salt, you may also be interested in the following salt grinders…”)

These attributes may not describe the delivery of HR services at companies, however.  HR challenges at some organizations may include:

Impersonal: HR interactions tend to be one-size-fits-all and may assume every HR customer needs the same support.

Fragmented: They often require the HR customer to interact with multiple systems and teams across HR and the enterprise.

Inflexible: HR services are often built on legacy technology that is limited in its flexibility, prevents access from anywhere across devices and doesn’t typically scale to the workforce of the future.

Reactive:  Technology and processes require an HR customer to know what to ask for and from where, and typically do not use the information HR already has to anticipate what the HR customer might need and to guide them on what is next.

At the core of HR being able to address this gap is the ability to obtain and analyze information about the HR customer in a “system of engagement” to manage and personalize the interaction accordingly.  Some of the key HR customer attributes that engagement platforms collect and analyze in order to personalize include: who you are (individual contributor, manager, executive, contractor, retiree, single, married); where you are (region/country/business unit/department); what you do (what is your specific role/function within the organization); and, how you have interacted with HR (interaction and search history).  This is very different from systems of record like the human capital management systems on the market. Engagement platforms such as Deloitte’s ConnectMeTM  provide the HR organization with these capabilities.

Effective engagement platforms look at HR customer attributes and interaction data (what the user is requesting, clicking on, reading and initiating) to tailor branding, content, knowledge, workflow, language and even propose transactions or next steps based on these insights. This helps to enable HR to deliver a highly contextualized, and predictive experience. As an example, someone who has just had a child is prompted to update their benefits and withholdings, and join a business resource group/community of other new parents, while getting connected with wellness programs that promote work life balance.

Effective engagement platforms also provide the ability to automate highly transactional tasks through robotic process automation (RPA), reducing the amount of work that HR and HR customers need to do, freeing up capacity for HR to focus on more important activities. RPA can have a significant impact on the time required to complete a transaction. As an example, a compensation administration “bot” could aggregate year-end compensation recommendations from multiple systems or workbooks, produce real-time validation reports and import into a system of record when directed to.

Effective platforms also allow for HR customers to provide feedback on transaction, knowledge and content quality based on a scaled “crowd sourced model.”  Real-time feedback helps HR understand what is most valued by employees so investment can be redirected to the service delivery, technology and content that drive the most impact. In addition, these platforms provide social collaboration capabilities that introduce efficiencies in the flow and sharing of information across service teams and the HR customer.

The disconnect between reality and expectations is a call to action for HR. The digital experience outside of the office and the expectations it is imposing on how HR services are delivered provides an opportunity to re-evaluate the relationship and interaction model between the HR customer and HR. By considering the key attributes of a great digital consumer experience and leveraging engagement platforms to deliver services, the HR organization can embrace this disruption and deliver a digital consumer-grade experience to the HR customer.

About the Authors

Michael Gretczko is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP and the practice leader for Digital HR & Innovation. He collaborates with clients to identify and deliver innovative products and solutions that help clients harness the disruption in their businesses to create value. He has more than 16 years of experience in business transformation and focuses on leading multi-function initiatives for Fortune 100 companies. He has experience consulting on business strategy, cost reduction, service delivery and operating model transformation, shared services, and outsourcing. Gretczko has focused on large, complex global organizations across industries with deep experience in life sciences and health care, financial services, consumer and industrial products, and travel hospitality and leisure. He can be reached at mgretczko@deloitte.com.

Erik Alvarado is a senior manager with Deloitte Consulting LLP and part of the Digital HR & Innovation practice. He has more than 16 years of experience implementing and managing integrated HR processes, services and technology portfolios for global organizations across multiple industries. He can be reached at eralvarado@deloitte.com.

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