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Workforce Planning | 5 minute read

HR Transformation: The 4 Pillars

August 31, 2023

Human resources transformation is not a new topic, but the way success is defined has evolved. While companies are still looking to transform their HR functions into strategic business partners, it’s become a critical indicator of operational agility and overall success.

Do you know you need to evolve your HR function but you’re not sure where to start? That’s where many organizations get stuck. Or they’re too busy dealing with the day-to-day HR function to put forth the effort an HR transformation requires. Leverage the concept of transformational pillars to guide your HR transformation efforts.

What is HR transformation? 
Human resources transformation maximizes organizational performance and growth. Analyze your HR function with an eye toward making it more efficient and less costly while providing a great user experience. HR business partners and subject matter experts should be in a business-facing, impactful role – and provide the same quality of service that a business would offer its client base.

The four HR transformational pillars can set up a solid foundation for the important work you’re doing in your company’s human resources function.

Pillar #1: HR technology

There are too many HR technologies to count. The idea of this transformational pillar is not to throw technology at your HR function, but rather to find the technologies that make a major impact on the efficiency of your operations and/or user experience. First and foremost, your core technology system must deliver for you – think process optimization and data utilization. This will make day-to-day tasks easier and more streamlined. (This alone frees up time on a regular basis to focus on more strategic priorities.)

The way in which information is gathered, saved, stored and shared has changed the way we do business. HR tech is the nucleus to an efficient business operation and having one interconnected technology-based system enables the business – and its people – to perform and grow. Neglecting to invest in the right HR tech could have a direct impact on your success – adding unnecessary time and resources to disjointed processes.

While the selecting and properly implementing the right HR technologies will optimize your process, maintaining a human element throughout is just as important. People want technology to make processes more efficient but still want to be able to partner with a person when it’s needed.

Pillar #2: Strategic partnership

Human resources transformation should coincide with each new workforce generation by recognizing their needs and wants (because they are never the same). With multiple generations working across your company – probably more than ever before – it’s important to offer benefits, perks and opportunities that each value.

In order to do this, HR professionals must be elevated to business partners. They should be in touch with what the workforce expects of the organization and work toward making the consumption of HR services easier. And they should also be part of the administration that’s involved in planning and creates policy so they can effect change.

Read more: 4 actionable insights to overcome today's top talent concerns

This is not accomplished by one department or a one-time initiative. Truly transforming your HR function takes time, dedication and partnership. HR business partners should work cross-functionally and closely with executives before, during and after the transformation.

Pillar #3: Change management

One thing is for certain in HR transformation: things will change through the process. (That’s the point after all.) And success will mean employees at every level adopt change. Therefore, change management is an underpinning to HR transformation success, from policy shifts to technology adoption. You must analyze, align and act. How your employees handle change is how the change is received and delivered.

Most failed transformations are due to a lack of change management contingencies and a clear path to adoption. Change management needs specific and continuous communication, “why this is good for me,” examples, immediate correction of issues and incentives for change agents. Conviction in sharing future-looking plans will go a long way to create a culture shift that’s accepting of change.

HR transformation is linked to strategy and creating value through services that address a company’s most pressing challenges. Preparing for the future is the main objective here. So, getting employees involved, making them feel in charge and capable, will inspire them to be the innovators within the organization. Successful change management in transformation creates significant employee engagement.

Read more: 3 ways to ignite corporate social responsibility and employee engagement

Pillar #4: Talent analytics

The analytics pillar and change management pillar go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other. Leveraging HR data will guide the transformation, as it’s near-term and accurate information. We often overlook the fact that human resources has a wealth of information about what employees expect and what competitors (direct and indirect) are doing and how it’s impacting the organization. This information needs to be incorporated into the HR transformation decisions and change management strategies.

Coupled with real-time labor market intelligence, you’ll be able to:

  • Make data-driven decisions about how to enter new markets
  • Ensure a workforce (current and future) that is ready for growth
  • Gain competitive insights that will help you get a leg up

There should be an analysis of where to take the company and an alignment of how the company will get there. Acting on these strategies will solidify the business for success.

Managing workforce risk
Proper insight into key human capital metrics helps manage workforce risk and support your HR function, which is increasingly a priority for executive leaders, according to Deloitte. This includes both internal and external risks, which have the potential to "impact an organization's financial, operational, reputation and brand, and regulatory and compliance outcomes."

By following the four pillars of HR transformation, you’ll not only build a foundation for making the changes you want to see but you’ll inspire a culture of innovation that continually moves your organization forward. Identifying individuals who are passionate about each of the pillars and can be change agents in your company will contribute to the progress. It can feel overwhelming to get started but these pillars can guide your planning and set you up for success.

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About Steven Davis

A talent acquisition and HR leader, Steven has 25+ years of experience building best-in-class recruitment solutions that support employee engagement and amplify company brand. He has extensive expertise in diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging initiatives and high growth environments building streamlined recruitment infrastructures.