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Why Is the Digital Revolution Essential for HR?

Pourquoi les DRH doivent-elles se saisir du digital ?
Published on
26 March 2018

According to a study carried out by Markess*, 88% of HR managers believe that digital tools improve employee engagement. What is the impact of digital technology on HR? Why do companies have to digitize HR? In response to these new challenges, Grenoble Ecole de Management recently redesigned its MSc International Human Resource Management (IHRM) to bring attention to HR management in the digital age.

Two factors are changing the current paradigm: the digital revolution and changes in employee behavior and characteristics (generational changes, cultural changes and non-linear careers). The digital revolution is creating a major change in how we work and interact in organizations. “It’s clear that digital technology is fostering a leveling out of hierarchical structures and boosting horizontal management, collaborative work, agility, and autonomy. It’s now much easier for any employee to access information through tools such as company social networks, which have become the primary information tool for many employees. If an HR department isn’t ready to adopt digital tools others will do so whether they like it or not!” explains Sabine Lauria, director of the MSc IHRM program and head of social intrapreneurship.

HR operations: evolving to match employee expectations

The fourth industrial revolution is being propelled by digital technology. "The digital revolution started impacting companies through customer service as it created new connections between product culture and customer experience culture. But employees were forgotten! Yet the stakes are the same for HR. More than even, HR has to adapt its approach to match the expectations and diversity of its employees," highlights Sabine. HR has to adapt to internal clients, namely employees. It's not just about meeting a company's expectations. You have to understand employee expectations if you don't want to risk losing high-profile talent.

Defining new technology

The paradigm is changing. Sabine cites for example: “It’s not unusual to see a manager recruit his or her future team members through social networks (LinkedIn, Viadeo,...). You also have to know how to keep key employees at the company.” HR has to reorganize its approach to valorize the experiences of employees and keep them with the company. The first step is of course to analyze what each employee has done in the company. But that’s not all: “To focus attention on the employee experience, you have to identify groups or types of employees in order to meet their demands. Employees categories used to be very simple: worker & manager. Currently there are many other criteria to take into account due to emerging expectations. You can consider factors such as: Are employees graduates of the same school? Do they take MOOCs? Are they part of an internet community? The answers to these questions will help guide how you offer training, manage careers and implement salary packages. Thinking in terms of the ‘employee experience’ will help HR rethink their policies and practices.”

Adopting new HR tools

“The evolution of tools is creating this new working methodology. We should build on it!” exclaims Sabine. The first recommendation is to carefully adapt new digital tools to HR needs. Data analysis and management has become very precise and essential to recruitment as is the evaluation of skills and performance. “It’s for this reason we redesigned the MSc IHRM. Now called ‘MSc IHRM in the Digital Age’, the program aims to improve how we can meet employee demands, improve recruitment and retention, and finally meet the needs of companies. It’s also about learning how to convince various departments of decisions made by HR.”

The digital revolution will call into question the legitimacy of HR departments. “The more HR departments are on the forefront of new types of organizations and tools (recruitment, talent management, serious games for training, etc.), the more they will be appreciated,” concludes Sabine.

The MSc IHRM in the Digital Age program was recently updated to meet these evolving needs.

*Company specialized in expert studies of digital markets and strategies for digital transformation

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