Handy tips for sustainable onboarding

The first impression an employee has about an organisation is crucial. Employees make up their minds to stay or quit working for an organisation within their first year with the company, according to a report from the Aberdeen Group. Furthermore, research from The Wynhurst Group shows that about 4 percent of employees quit on their first day at work. It is not surprising that employee onboarding is being viewed more seriously than ever before.

Organisations can use onboarding to make new employees feel welcome, and to get them excited and inspired about their roles and how those roles align with the larger organisational business goals. Onboarding helps new employees adapt to the new culture, learn their roles and responsibilities, and start delivering quickly. This increased engagement should lower rates of employee turnover within the first year of employment.

To be effective, however, an onboarding programme has to be sustainable, scalable, cost effective, and easily deployable. How can this be achieved? Here are some tips.

Create a Technological Platform for Onboarding

Face-to-face interaction is essential and irreplaceable. When new employees join the organisation, they should be taken around the workplace and introduced to their peers and the key people they will be working with. You may also plan lectures and face-to-face meetings for new hires. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to address all organisational issues during these in-person activities.

Use a technological platform or an onboarding portal to fill in those gaps and address the needs of new hires. This will become the go-to place for new hires to find any information they may need, interact with peers or mentors, and look for resources and job-aids. It can also be used to complete HR forms and other related paperwork. All the tasks related to employee onboarding can be assigned, controlled, and monitored through the platform.

Engage With New Hires Right After an Offer Has Been Accepted

Start engaging with new employees once your offer has been accepted, instead of waiting for their first day in the office. Give them restricted access to the new-hire portal and encourage them to explore it. Share documents and reading material that will help them get to know the organisation and its culture. This can be followed up with a fun quiz that tests new employees on how much they have learned about the organisation. If you can, include welcome videos from the CEO or key personnel. The new employees’ future colleagues could also use the portal to send welcome messages.

Make the First Day Interesting and Exciting

Small gestures such as having their workspace ready with a computer, phone, calling cards, email address already set up go a long way in winning over new employees. A planned itinerary for the first day of work shows employees that you value them. While paperwork, policies, and procedures are essential, they can either be completed before their first day or saved for later. A person’s first day should be focused on personal interactions and becoming familiar with their workspace, peers, and role. Instead of subjecting new hires to long lectures, set up one-on-one meetings with their immediate managers. Use these meetings to share job responsibilities and expectations, and perhaps give them a challenging or interesting task. If many new hires are starting at the same time, plan team activities or interactive workshops aimed at enhancing interpersonal communication and organisational understanding.

Use Engaging Videos and Interactive E-Learning Modules

Compliance training, data security training, organisational rules, regulations, and benefits are some of the essential topics new employees have to be trained on when they join an organisation. They may also require job-related training. Face-to-face training sessions may not be sustainable if there are large numbers of new hires or the hiring process is ongoing.

In such situations, you can convert the content into e-learning modules, which new employees can complete. Use assessments, quizzes, or specific assignments to complement the online training and monitor understanding and progress. Incentives—such as badges, certifications, or rewards—can motivate employees to move to the next level.

Think Long Term

Effective onboarding leads to better employee engagement and higher productivity. An onboarding programme should last a minimum of three months and can continue for a year. According to Kevin Sheridan, author of Building a Magnetic Culture, there are 10 drivers for early engagement by new hires.

They are:
• recognition
• career development
• direct supervisor or manager leadership abilities
• strategy and mission
• job content
• senior management’s relationship with employees
• open and effective communication
• co-worker satisfaction and cooperation (the unsung hero of retention)
• availability of resources to perform the job effectively
• organisational culture (such as diversity awareness and inclusion, corporate social responsibility, and work/life balance).

A well-planned onboarding programme can ensure that these drivers are taken care of. Using the technological platform, the new hire can have a clear goal to achieve in the next few months. Courses at different levels, involvement of the direct supervisor or manager, encouragement from senior management, resources to enhance knowledge, and peer-to-peer interaction through social media tools embedded in the technological platform are some of the most cost-effective ways to achieve these goals.

Planned onboarding programmes are essential to create a positive first impression, provide direction, and retain new employees. Technology can be used to make the programme sustainable and cost-effective. Once the systems are in place, it becomes easier to onboard new employees when they join the organisation.

RK Prasad is the founder and CEO of CommLab India, a global e-learning company. This article appeared on td.org.

How to achieve onboarding success

We all know how important first impressions are for a business. A bad first impression can make or break a long-term profitable relationship with a customer.

Say they continue to be your customer after that bad first impression, you know that they will probably be very reluctant to refer people to you or tell their family and friends anything positive about doing business with you. It is basic marketing 101, your first impression to the customer is gold and you only get one time to make a first impression.

But did you know that this same principal applies to your new employees?

How your business starts off its relationship with its new employees will dictate the type of relationship your new employees will have with the overall business and with your customers.

It is a well-documented fact that approximately 90% of employees make their decision to stay at a company within the first six months.

If you go through the trouble and expense of finding the best, and investing in them, why not give them a world-class onboarding experience so they want to stay?

What is onboarding?

Onboarding, not to be confused with orientation(!) which is the legal aspect of signing paperwork etc., is a very close and personal introduction to a company’s culture, employment brand, employees, mentors and ongoing business objectives. It can last for several months to a year.

Companies that use a well-thought out and well-planned onboarding programmes for their employees see higher revenue and profit margins; retain more customers; acquire a stream of new customers; experience less turnover and have happier employees.

According to the Aberdeen Group, organisations with structured onboarding programmes enjoy a 60% year-over-year improvement in revenue per full-time employee and a 63% year-over-year improvement in customer satisfaction.

Here are some more benefits from onboarding:

1. Employees are engaged and connect to the culture of a company, which leads to lower turnover and higher retention at a fraction of the cost of recruitment.

2. New hires become productive faster, helping them add to the bottom line.

3. Makes employees feel valued which will bring out a sense of loyalty and desire to make the relationship work.

4. A motivated workforce means your customers will see happier more efficient and knowledgeable employees thereby improving customer retention and growth.

5. Employees understand their contributions to the business and are more productive and educated about the company and its products giving them the confidence needed to be great at their jobs.

Successful companies capitalize on the first impression because their bottom line proves the better relationship a company develops with their customers as a result.

And by the same token, a better first impression to a business’ new employees guarantees a better employee and an even better bottom line.

This article appeared on newtohr.com

10 elements of an effective employee onboarding programme

Selecting the right candidate for the job is nothing without a proper employee onboarding programme.

We know well that the success of any recruitment strategy depends on a rigorous selection process. But it doesn’t stop there. Employee Onboarding, the last step of the recruitment process, is fundamental to guarantee this success and avoid any disillusion post hire.

To roll out an effective employee onboarding programme, your organisation will need to institutionalise a procedure of integration of its new hires. This HR process will rely essentially on a complete availability and engagement of its facilitators: HR, managers and employees.

Therefore, employee onboarding can be considered a matter of procedure, but above all, a matter of behaviour. Developing your employee onboarding programme will start by a thorough analysis of the work environment and will adapt in function of the nature of the work of the new hire (i.e. full-time vs. casual, manager vs. non manager, etc.).

This analysis will cover five main areas of the work environment which a new hire needs to assimilate and understand:

What To Include In An Employee Onboarding Programme?

1. Workplace Culture & Business Background

Every organisation will be the result of a history that has shaped its personality, its language, its customs and especially its values. Any new employee will need to know, understand and integrate these concepts to avoid being excluded from the day to day life of an organisation.

2. Business Mission, Objectives & Projects Underway

Where are we going? Why do we want to get there? How do we do it? These are all important questions any new hire would be wondering about, and to which you need to bring an appropriate response. By providing answers to these questions, you will develop his or her involvement and commitment to the business.

3. People

The third area to be covered is all about people. Your new recruit will have to evolve in a new social sphere, be part of a new team, integrate a new hierarchy, and know how to communicate with internal and external stakeholders. He or she will need to interact with these people (most probably unknown until now!) on a daily basis. Your role is to help new employees adapt best to the diversity (i.e. clients, colleagues, managers, etc.) of people they will encounter so that they become recognised and integrate seamlessly within the organisation.

4. Workspace & Equipment

Creating an element of familiarity, identifying a new territory and locating the tools that are required to perform one’s job are steps that your new hire shouldn’t have to do alone. Helping your new hire navigate the workplace constitutes an essential step that should be planned prior to their first day.

5. Internal Policies & Documents

The last area that should be covered by your onboarding programme will regard the internal policies of your organisation. From the workplace safety rules to the quality assessment process, every rule should be known and abided by employees as soon as they step into their new role. Your organisation should provide easy and quick access to this information.

Below are the minimum elements that should be contained in your onboarding plan to cover the five points covered above:

Your Employee Onboarding Checklist

1. Time to say ‘Hi’!

Scheduling a real moment for your new hire to be personally welcomed is important. You can make it shorter or longer depending on the requirements of the role. This moment will allow the recruiter to get on with the new hire and switch on their project to work together post interview.

2. Appoint a Mentor

Sometimes a trainer but always a guide, a mentor will act as a facilitator of your new hire’s onboarding. This person will be in charge of handing over any necessary information that will help your new employee in their role. The mentor or tutor will also be able to provide an opinion once the new employee has completed his or her probation period. Whether the trial period ends by a firm hire or a termination, this person will play an important role by informing both parties of what’s expected during the probation period.

3. Handover Important Documents

Delivering any important document that your new employee will need to do their job is critical to their success. Project reports, meeting minutes, welcome guide, HR policies, company directory, etc. are as many documents a new hire should have access to. Generally, the best way to make sure a new hire gets what they need is to compile a reference checklist you will both be able to follow so that nothing gets forgotten.

4. Communicate consistently

Maintaining a good internal communication is of paramount importance. Making sure that the current staff knows about new employees constitute a factor of success. An intranet, a collaborative HRIS platform, staff meetings, e-mail communications or even simple display boards can be used to communicate internally about new recruits.

5. Organise a Site Visit

The traditional site tour is another important component of a successful onboarding programme and should not be left out because of a lack of time. Depending on the size and structure of your organisation and the number of new hire you have to onboard, these visits might have to be scheduled. You may want to take advantage of these times to train new employees to OH&S for example.

6. Prepare a Personalised Onboarding roadmap

Writing and implementing a personalised onboarding roadmap is key to the operational success of your onbording program. This plan will be used as a blueprint to follow each step of the onboarding programme accurately. It will also provide more objectivity when time comes to make a decision at the end of the probation period. The onboarding roadmap will be used by the new hire’s manager and will reference the job description used to organise the selection process.

The success of your recruitment strategy relies on the capacity of your organisation to implement a genuine and personalised employee onboarding programme. Thanks to onboarding, the arrival of a new employee will be welcomed harmoniously respecting both the business requirements and the human dimension. The return on time invested in this operation will be paid back by an increased efficacy of your new hires, who will have the reassurance of knowing what’s expected from them while knowing how to deliver the appropriate response in return. A quality onboarding program will be the warrant of future job performance. And your new hire, confident in his role, and equipped with the recognition of his work environment, will be able to evolve in an autonomous and efficient way.

Ari Kopoulos is CEO at EmployeeConnect. This article appeared on employeeconnect.com

A strategic HR guide for moving from digitization to digital transformation

The move to “digital” systems is a priority across virtually every organisation. Most departments have been through some form of this disruption, including HR teams, where paper-only files have given way to workforce management, talent management, and other solutions in the cloud.

Digital HR

For companies to gain a competitive edge, however, digitization is not enough. The next step is the wholesale “digital transformation” of a business, a shift that has become top priority for CEOs and business leaders the world over.

The term “digital transformation” goes beyond viewing it as a buzzword within the corporate statement, or ticking it off once the rollout of more automated, cloud-based systems is completed. Rather, the litmus test of whether a company has truly embraced and benefited from this shift is in how an organisation applies these sophisticated tools to deliver real value and a superior user experience.

While most CEOs and senior leaders are championing going digital, for the initiative to be truly successful it must be led by the CHRO and HR department. That’s because the impact is dependent on the extent that people in the organisation can adopt these new technologies.

Setting the Wheels in Motion

Here’s the Catch-22 though, when it comes to digital transformation—in many businesses today, the CHRO does not have a strategic seat at the table, even though they’re the first person a CEO will approach about the program because of its impact on the workforce.

Historically, HR teams have been limited to “softer” responsibilities within the organisation, such as recruitment, onboarding, handling personnel files, and exit interviews. Yet the tide is turning where, by working with the CIO to effectively roll out these new processes and systems, CHROs have a clear opportunity to engineer the company’s vision.

A People-First and Data-First Approach

One of the biggest challenges for the CHRO is that because he or she has been more people-oriented in the past, the concept of standardizing digital processes can seem foreign. Establishing a data mindset is a gap that exists in many organisations, and CHROs need to recognize that it all boils down to asking senior management the right set of critical questions, and leveraging data to identify and plan for success.

From the onset the CHRO should be asking senior management lots of questions to set the right foundation and goals for the program. For example, will the new system help to reduce new employee onboarding time by 50%? How will it drive greater employee engagement—and how do we know that this has been successful? Will the system save time in the long run? And so on. If HR isn’t asking these questions—and setting specific metrics around them—then the success of the program will be limited at best.

Applying Predictive Analytics for Insights

Once the goals of the program are clear, HR can easily identify what data to scrutinize to ensure that an effective digital transformation is taking place. Fortunately, HR possesses a huge amount of information about its people, helping create data-driven predictive models that can support the well-being and performance of its workers.

For example, HR systems today can create models to review attrition rates, and alert the CHRO proactively when the rate of employee churn is running high. HR teams can then scrutinize the data and look at which teams are affected, and delve deeper into the reasons for the churn. On closer inspection, one reason could be that employees are leaving due to feelings of limited career advancement, which can lead to a refresh of existing policies.

At Hewlett-Packard (HP), the company experienced high rates of attrition in its ranks—up to 20% in sales divisions. By applying predictive models, HP was able to combine 2 years’ worth of data to create a “Flight Risk” score, which attempted to predict who was most likely to leave the organisation. This helped the company make better decisions to ultimately save an estimated $300 million in costs associated with employee churn.

But Wait, There’s More

We’re only at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to embracing analytics—as well as using more sophisticated innovations in machine learning and artificial intelligence today. Analytics can already help businesses understand how people are using systems, and if they are being utilized to their fullest extent. When companies are investing significantly in the latest systems, it’s absolutely critical to know that people are using them effectively to get the job done.

Additionally, there are further inroads being made so that businesses can gain invaluable insights into the extent someone is using a system, and where exactly the problems areas are in the user experience. There are already significant time and cost savings available in using systems to guide how and where an employee enters their personal information into a HR system during the onboarding process, for example. But think about how much more savings would take effect when the system recognizes common system use areas so that HR and IT teams can proactively fix the problem.

While predictive analytics is still a nascent tool within many organisations, it’s an ever-expanding category that can carefully scrutinize how people are using technology and how this impacts business performance. As the systems we use at work change constantly, HR is in a prime position to not only take the business through a successful digital transformation, but also evolve their roles to more strategic and visionary leaders within the organisation.

Raj Sundarason, Global Head, HR Line of Business, WalkMe. This article appeared on hrdailyadvisor.blr.com.

Why every “disruption” trend isn’t for your business

There is nothing but trouble to follow when we believe that we can be all things to all people. We also endanger any good we have the potential of doing by feverishly jumping on every fad.

As someone in HR, I was always asked to start sourcing for ways to implement whatever was being touted as the “best-in-class” practice. While it might seem harmless- like we were keeping up with the times; it was indeed harmful. There was seldom any consideration of what we excelled at as a business and why adopting any of these suggestions were worth our time. It was merely a knee-jerk reaction to hearing what seemed like good advice.

Having worked in STEM and Healthcare, every new technology or methodology was not always for us. Composed under these disciplines are an inordinate amount of regulations at the state and federal levels and stringent requirements for doing business that is unlike any other industry.

To make sound decisions about how we progressed was a consideration that required a lot of discussion and conceptualization of how to assimilate “the idea” of new ways into the a very rote, and established ecosystem. I repeat, “the idea”. Getting buy-in to potentially purchase was another round of discussion and conceptualization with several layers of approval.

For example, I was with a company that was in dire need of a new ATS and HRIS. I knew they outgrew what they had and all of our internal customers had their complaints about the system as well. To even begin sourcing for a new system, “the idea” was exposed to a six-sigma evaluation which took a few years and only then were we able to present the case to management for why this was needed.

What they wanted was something “perfect” with all of the “bells and whistles” that would somehow give others the impression that they were being “innovative”. In striving for perfection and racing towards innovation, they forgot to focus on what they truly needed. What they needed was something with a simple interface, robust reporting features and the ability to streamline what we were doing from a hiring and on-boarding standpoint.

You may ask why were they worried about having “bells and whistles” for the new system? It was because they tuned into the same publications and reports as every other HR department and assumed that because “consulting firm x” says that it is the best then it must be so.

Can we stop with the “best-in-class” or best practices lingo?

What is best for me as a company of 15 is very different if I’m a company of 40,000. Similarly so, the best-in-class mantra does not necessarily work when there are two different companies in the same industry with the same headcount. The differentiating factors between businesses (especially those under the same company umbrella) are endless. Hence why, it is absurd for anyone to assume that every suggestion for innovation, change or disruption should be answered by an obligation to implement.

Disruption shouldn’t be a call-to-action for hasty moves. It is meant to keep us all aware and awake to how the nature of our work is changing. It is up to us to decide what changes make the most sense for the organisation.

Consider the following when evaluating the ever-growing list of things to change:

1. How will these changes impact your workforce? In the implementation of the ATS that I spoke about, we actually spent too much time on this aspect. It’s important to understand how change will impact the people that do the work, but you must also be sure that you don’t stifle forward movement in an effort to be a crowd-pleaser.

2. Will these changes benefit you now or in the future? It’s important to consider how you stand to benefit from a short-term and long-term standpoint. If it isn’t clear how these suggestions will benefit you in either regard; it may not be the move for your company.

3. Is leadership prepared and invested in making these changes? It has been my experience that disruptive ideas die a slow and painful death without leadership being invested in the process. The real question is: Are they truly invested in making this change or is this a whim? Many ideas seem novel on paper, but being truly dedicated to the process and willingly traversing the hurdles that inevitably crop-up is something altogether different.

There’s no question that we must always be looking for ways to improve and better serve our customers. The key is not to make moves under duress, but from a place of being informed and prepared to take action.

Janine N. Truitt is an award winning blogger and CIO of Talent Think Innovations. Janine’s career spans over nine years in HR and Recruitment. This article appeared on thearistocracyofhr.com.

What is the changing role of the CHRO?

Lisa Weber highlighted many of the challenges facing today’s HR leaders at the Deloitte’s CHRO Academy event. Lisa previously served as Chief Human Resources Officer, Chief Administrative Officer, and President of one of the largest operations at MetLife. A few of the key themes were as follows …

The Bold, Business-savvy CHRO

Turnover among CHROs in F100 companies is high: 39% over the past two years, in fact. Many of these roles have been filled with leaders from outside of HR – executives from marketing, finance, operations, or lines of business. The turnover isn’t that surprising, given that only 5 percent of respondents in Deloitte’s global survey rated their organisation’s HR performance as excellent.

Driven by the need to deliver greater business impact and drive innovation, the CHRO role is changing. The need for CHROs with strong business and financial acumen is more pressing than ever. CHROs need to understand where the business is going and how the business makes money. Most HR leaders have only a fleeting glimpse of what really drives the business.

There is also tremendous pressure these days to be data-savvy. Data and analytics can help CHROs to see new directions and can bring better perspectives. However, the data alone is not enough. CHROs need to take those insights from the data and apply foresight – using their experience, wisdom, and judgment. With this combination, great things can happen.

So CHROs need to be business-savvy and data-savvy, but they also need to be bold. What does “bold’ look like? Bold is advocating a point of view on the company’s critical growth areas and how to get there. Bold is identifying where the company is weak and proposing solutions. If your company is thinking of opening a facility in a new location, for example, speak up on the talent implications: Can we find the right talent there? How long will it take us to recruit? What are the local labour laws and practices? Is this a wise move from a talent perspective?

A bold CHRO is also proactive in identifying trouble spots and creating talent initiatives in response. During the keynote, an HR leader at a cosmetics company shared an initiative that originated from his CHRO. In response to flagging sales numbers, the organization built a sales capability COE within HR to help recruit and retain high performers. The CEO commented on how impressed he was that HR was proactively taking steps to increase sales – independently, without being asked or pressured.

Know Your Strengths

A recurring theme at the event was “play to your strengths.” Each person on the leadership team has a role to play, and by capitalizing on everyone’s particular skill sets, the team can be more effective. So work closely with others with complementary skills, such as your CIO, CFO, and CMO. Leverage their expertise and perspectives in combination with your talent management prowess.

Too often we fixate on our (and our employees’) weaknesses and spend countless hours trying to bolster these deficiencies. By focusing on what people do well, and understanding and leveraging the strengths of others, we have much greater potential to add value to the organisation.

Within my own workgroup we are using Gallup’s StrengthsFinder to discover our individual talents. As an example, one of my strengths is that of an “Activator,” which Gallup describes as “someone who can make things happen by turning thoughts into action.” Activators can bring energy and clarity to others’ ideas and bring concepts to market; these individuals should team up with people with complementary skills, such as “Futurists.” By learning our strengths and sharing them with each other, we hope to get greater productivity out of our team.

Team members who understand each other’s abilities have greater trust and respect for each other. And they can selectively spend their time in certain areas, while leaving other areas to their teammates with other strengths. The team is therefore more efficient as well as effective.

Focus on What Matters

CHROs have a never-ending to-do list. Many try to do too much and end up working on things that don’t bring much value to the organisation. Be decisive about how you spend your time. Look at your to-do list and prioritize the most important items, then leave the rest.

Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s CEO, said in an interview that if you are completing everything on your to-do list, you’ve probably spent time on some relatively unimportant tasks.

One priority for your to-do list: building relationships with business and functional leaders. In fact, it’s recommended that 20% of your time should be spent networking. Oftentimes we let our calendars get filled up with meetings. Don’t let your schedule manage you – you need to manage your schedule. Decide what meetings are critical and politely decline the rest.

And if you’re in a new HR leadership role, it’s important to get focused early. It can be a lot easier to make changes when you are fairly new in your role. Get to know the business and landscape first and then make some bold changes in the first year. If you wait too long, the opportunity for change may pass you by.

Be Mindful

Don’t forget about placing importance on being mindful, or being present and fully aware. How many of us have this level of presence at work, or in our personal lives, for that matter? It’s hard to be mindful when your mind is full. Most of us are running at hyper-speed. So take some time to reflect, to bring focus to your thoughts, and to be fully present in the moment. You will likely see your judgment, decision-making, and relationships with others radically improve.

Oftentimes CHROs feel they have to have the answer to everything. “I don’t know” or “ I would like to think about that” are perfectly acceptable answers. We are much more effective when we respond, rather than react. Mindfulness helps us to respond.

Success is Deliberate   

You need to decide to succeed and go after it. Pick just a few things and over-deliver on those. Then prioritize the next set of deliverables. Many CHROs feel the need to say ‘yes’ to everything and then get caught up doing busywork all day. It’s easy to lose perspective when you are doing too much.

The job of the CHRO requires hyper-prioritizing. But prioritizing often isn’t popular, and you will likely get pushback from other executives and business leaders, who are irritated that you’re not focusing on their requests. Be clear but firm about what you are working on and why. And by all means – deliver!

Madhura Chakrabarti leads the People Analytics and Employee Engagement research practices at Bersin by Deloitte. This article appeared on blogbersin.com.

What CEOs look for in their CHRO

CEOs are actively upgrading their CHRO talent with talent management needs driving much of that change. Board members are increasingly prominent in the process and often interview multiple candidates. Here are some clear trends in who’s securing the CHRO role and why …

What CEOs want – Manage talent and the team

The CEOs we interview increasingly identify two capabilities that differentiate their preferred CHRO candidate:

Talent management: While not surprising given the heightened focus on this area, CEOs consistently list the ability to create strong talent management outcomes as their first priority in a CHRO. They expect their new CHRO to build and implement non-bureaucratic processes that identify and grow top talent. Lack of these skills is the most frequently cited reason for replacing their current CHRO. Candidates who have either a specialist background in talent management, or generalists who come from an “academy” company known for great talent management, are far likelier to secure the top job.

Top team management: Often an informal responsibility, CEOs are now specifically requesting CHROs who can help them manage the top team. The outcome CEOs seek is an aligned and operationally efficient team that works with minimum friction. For the CHRO, this means executing traditional talent management activities (assess and develop) and, more importantly, ensuring that senior executives function effectively as a team. The team effectiveness component requires a CHRO who understands the technical and emotional levers of successful executive teams and who can build the trust-based relationships that allow them to influence their peers.

What CEOs assume

In our conversations with CEOs, some factors seem conspicuous by their absence, but aren’t emerging as differentiators, including:

Know and love the business: Our client CEOs expect that candidates at this level will be “business junkies” and will bring the same business knowledge and passion as their other direct reports. We’re less optimistic that this is a common CHRO strength, but pleased that this is now a baseline expectation of CEOs.

Operational excellence: Much like knowing the business, CEOs expect their CHRO to have the broad functional competence to manage traditional HR. No CEO has asked for someone whose strengths include being an operationally efficient leader, a recruiting expert, a compensation pro, etc.

Line experience: It’s a plus but never mentioned as a requirement by CEOs, perhaps because they value the business knowledge displayed more than its source. Likewise, there’s no demand to recruit non-HR leaders into CHRO roles. That lack of demand is consistent with our earlier research showing no difference in the results produced by CHROs with an HR background compared to those without one.

Who’s going away

The CHROs being replaced fall into two categories:

Functionally narrow: These CHROs come from a narrow sub-functional specialty (i.e. compensation or recruiting) that was critical at some point in their tenure but is no longer sufficient. Recruiting is often a path to CHRO in smaller, fast-growing companies since those individuals have typically been with the firm longer and the firms’ CEOs may not have a sophisticated understanding of what differentiates great CHRO talent. As these firms evolve, the CHRO doesn’t broaden their other functional and strategic capabilities quickly enough and a talent upgrade is needed.

Humanistic: We often describe a deep belief in people and their potential as a helpful but not sufficient orientation for success in human resources. That “humanistic” orientation is marked by a focus on job satisfaction, work environment, opaque performance management, and other behaviours meant to ensure high satisfaction but not necessarily high performance.

We see this variety of CHRO quickly falling out of favour, especially in long-service cultures that need to increase performance and in quickly-growing mid-sized firms who require more rigor and discipline in talent management.

Board of directors becoming  more involved

We see increased involvement by board members in both selecting in and selecting out CHROs. Increasingly aware of how talent influences results, board members have pressured the CEO to initiate a surprisingly large number of our CHRO searches. Boards (or at least their compensation or talent committees) are often interviewing multiple candidates rather than just the finalist or none at all.

We find this to be both a blessing and a curse since board members’ passion for the topic isn’t always matched by clarity on what differentiates great HR talent. We expect this trend to increase as board members become more discerning about CHRO quality.

What’s missing?

We’d like to hear more often from CEOs that a CHRO should be their trusted business advisor. CEOs should expect their CHRO to have a strong voice in how the business is managed, be able to influence their opinion, be a confidant and an honest sounding board for critical issues. Too often CHROs, even very good ones, are relegated to their functional track even when they can benefit the business in many other ways.

Marc Effron helps companies build better talent, faster. This article appeared on eremedia.com.

6 traits that make a top CHRO

There is a key difference between the organisations who are the best and those who aspire to be the best. The top-performing organisations have set an example for us by recruiting a new breed of a C-level employee. That’s right, the top-most Human Resource leader is no more the one handling paperwork and dealing with petty issues. Now, more organisations are realizing the importance and need of a skilled CHRO to oversee the complete human component of an organisation.

Executive compensation, succession planning, and public relations management are tasks definitely worth consideration. They could be a “game changer” for an organisation. An effective CHRO needs to be aware of his or her roles and responsibilities towards an organisation that could either make the organisation or break it.

Here are the top 6 most desirable traits of a CHRO that the BODs are looking for:

1. A Clever Strategist: First and foremost, a CHRO has to do what all C-levels are expected to be best at: strategy making. He or she must possess the capability of thinking and operating strategically and determining how current actions will impact the future. This is the most basic yet the most difficult of all tasks that a CHRO must be able to handle to prove his or her worth.

2. Knowing Exactly How To Communicate: A superior CHRO must have the ability to communicate the human resources department’s contributions to the organisation. Other C-suites and board of directors often fail to understand the value of a CHRO. The reason why this is so is not necessarily because of erroneous mindset which simply “cannot be changed”. A successful CHRO would know exactly how to compete with any other C-Suite level executive and prove the function is worthy by fully participating and contributing towards the company goals and making sure everyone knows how they have achieve this.

3. Business Focus: A good CHRO is focused on the business side of the human resources. The gap between these two different facets of the organisation should be bridged by a CHRO. Thinking of ways the human resource impacts the business such as how trends and tools (in the human resources) can be utilized to ensure company is meeting its needs and expectations is essential. A good CHRO will be curious about how the business operates from a global perspective and not just from a single discipline perspective (i.e. training, compliance, or recruitment). He or she will ask insightful questions to determine how he or she can help drive results.

4. Comprehends Various Aspects Of The Business: Being an astounding people manager is definitely a requirement for any Human Resources leader. However, a top level Human Resources leader would not only be well aware of human resources, but also other aspects of the business/organisation such as sales, marketing, finance, and operations. This gives a CHRO sound knowledge, experience, and insight and allows him or her to make clever strategies that fulfill the organisation’s goals from a larger perspective. For example, talent management strategies need to be observed from all angles, not just from the perspective of the HR officer. Sufficient experience and collaboratively working with the other C-Suite level officers naturally give root to this required experience (after a certain period of time).

5. Global Experience: The marketplace, like they all say, is increasingly become more and more global. Technology and immigration has created a very diverse workforce all over the world which is different from how it was in the past. Intercultural communication skills, tolerance and diversity management can only be effectively learned through international and global experience. The better the HR executive is in this area, the more effectively he or she will be able to manage a diverse workforce. Diversity can be a major driver of success in the company by expanding the company’s talent pool, boosting morale, and improving company image.

6. Change Driver: If change is ever needed, will you be able to drive it in the right direction? Clearly, this is no easy task. A CHRO is almost always sought after to bring about the needed change in the organisation which could be at a small-scale or it could be a major one implemented multi-nationally. A CHRO must be able to communicate to and influence employees who will look forward to the change and view it in a positive way.

Ultimately a skilled CHRO can make tough decisions, carry out the heavy lifting, think differently on a dime and go beyond just the “fun” stuff in delivering results, can leverage a digital revolution, reshape organisational culture, and deliver a solid strategic mindset. This type of skill is learned through many years of experience and education.

Organisations who are the best already know about this secret weapon, well over those who only dream to be the best.

Skornia Alison is an specialist in offering career consultancy and helping people bring out their entrepreneur or leadership traits to foreground. This article appeared on hrcsuite.com

3 functions HR may want to delegate

These days you can’t evade commentary on what HR should be doing and assuming responsibility for. The list is endless and maybe even unreasonable.

How organisations structure their HR departments differs based on an innumerable amount of variables. For starters, complexity of the organisation, functional clarity and employee headcount are some of the more common variables that account for how HR gets structured within an organisation.

The nature of work is changing and so Human Resources is also changing as a result. This means rethinking the way “the way we have always done things”. In shifting from the “Personnel Mindset” to present day HR, we must also realise and admit that some of the ways that we chose to operate never worked and as such will not be sustainable in the current business climate.

We need to move forward as a discipline, but there is an elephant-in-the-room and it is about how we are structured. It doesn’t matter how many strategies, tips, or insights any HR expert provides to you as an HR practitioner, if your HR department is so fat that it is bulging from all of the unnecessary sub-disciplines dragging it down from a both a functional and financial perspective – HR will be inert.

We can’t be all things to all people …

Perfection is impossible and while we are still collectively trying to get there – we miss the mark everytime, because some of our beloved sub-functions need go or need a makeover.

Here are three examples:

1. Exhibit A: Payroll the odd HR stepchild. If you are a small to mid-size company, Payroll may be fine under HR. Still, I never understood how this was an HR function at all. I get that there is FLSA and other labour considerations that scream HR. Nevertheless, anytime a function is handling funds for an organisation – I immediately think Finance. If you ask me, Payroll belongs under Finance with maybe a dotted-line reporting structure to HR because of the nature of their work. Why HR in many organisations remain responsible for this function is beyond me.

2. Exhibit B: Very few employees trust Employee Relations/Conflict Mediation owned by the HR function. Let’s talk about transparency and HR’s “open door’ policies around employee complaints and disputes. As someone who worked as a recruiter for many years, transitioning to a Talent Management professional was easy, because I had so much practice being an ear for employee’s who didn’t trust HR let alone the conflict mediation/employee relations process.

Some of the concerns expressed over the years have been:

“The ER Specialists never listen to our side, they immediately jump to defend the managers and/or organisation.”

“I told the HR Business Partner something in confidence about my work environment and now everyone in my department is treating me indifferently.”

“I see my manager go to lunch with the ER Specialist all of the time, I could never go to her with my issue.”

When it comes to Employee Relations, it may make sense to have this be a standalone function separate from HR. HR needs to be aware of the volume complaints and may even partner with them on approach and resolution of larger organisational issues. Outside of that, you may find employees being a little more transparent with what’s going on when this is no longer under HR. Additionally, I like when functions that have a direct effect on Talent Management report directly to the CEO. It gives frequent ER and discrimination issues the visibility needed to stop them in their tracks.

3. Exhibit C: Diversity and Inclusion should be an organisational strategy not a slapped-together group in HR. Unless there is a true dedication to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment from the top, HR is where Diversity and Inclusion strategy goes to die. Why you may ask? Many organisations have suffered a year or more of a meager HR budget. In almost every instance, the first function to have their funds tremendously cut, was the Diversity group followed by Learning & Development. No organisation can afford to defund or piece together a Diversity function lacking in both financial and strategic support in today’s social and political climate. This sub-function needs a direct-line to the CEO as well.

The point is: no one should be structuring HR as it has been for the past 30 years because that is what has been done. The focus and challenge for HR is to be lean and flexible. To be both means we need to take a hard look at what we have on our plate and start creating smaller, smart portions of HR so we are able to focus and add value where we are truly needed.

Janine N. Truitt is an award winning blogger and CIO of Talent Think Innovations. Janine’s career spans over nine years in HR and Recruitment. This article appeared on thearistocracyofhr.com.

How are the CFO & CHRO embracing digital HR?

Traditionally, HR and finance departments have depended on bespoke internal software and solutions to optimise employee administration. Finance Director Europe speaks to Michael Custers at NGA HR about how a company can build a culture of more streamlined and efficient digital strategies to bring the two departments closer together.

Finance Director Europe (FDE): To what extent do you think companies are ready for a digital transformation in all lines of business, including HR?

Michael Custers: Not many companies are really ready at this point, but I think HR is a line of business that shows huge opportunity, for the very simple reason that employees’ lives contain more digital interaction then they used to. Over the past 10-15 years, HR departments have started interacting with employees through social communities, email, call centres and more, so the dynamic has fundamentally changed.

The current challenge is that many processes in an organisation’s infrastructure have not evolved consistently or have been held back by legacy systems that haven’t allowed them to flourish in a digital environment. So the opportunity for these companies to move forward is incredible.

Consider any HR or financial process that was carried out on paper or in an offline form in the past – all of that can be done online today. And doing it online means transactions in real time, reporting better, analysing data better and achieving greater data integrity so that fewer errors are made.

This can all play an enormous role in improving the touchpoints between an employer and its employees. It’s a huge opportunity but it will require a massive shift to a company’s underlying infrastructure, tools and processes to move towards digital.

FDE: Do you feel that corporations are doing enough when it comes to embracing digital technology?

Michael Custers: I think companies are waking up and beginning to experiment with a couple of technologies. But it’s really a matter of them mapping out an all-encompassing strategy for every digital tool across the entire company, not just in nooks and crannies.

Now what’s required for that is broad management awareness, full understanding of the various opportunities and their cross benefits, and the strong business case that digital can bring to companies.

FDE: What are the main reasons why companies are still sceptical about investing in digital technologies?

Michael Custers: Part of it is due to the fact that we have a new generation of employees in companies who have grown up with digital tools; people who are now in their 20s and early 30s that have always known an online world. The previous generation, who are ‘digital immigrants’ and have known the last days of the offline world, are by now often in the management level of a company, and are being challenged by new generations of workers.

With time, the more millennials and late-generation X-ers that we see move into these senior management roles and positions that can trigger change in companies, the more digitally prepared organisations will be. That doesn’t mean that the previous generations cannot make the switch, they’ve just lived in different environments – and now they’ll have to adapt a little bit.

So I think this generational shift plays a significant role in how to deploy new technologies, but also how to absorb change. In the past, we used to talk about change-management projects typically taking 12-18 months. In a digital world, these changes can take place in a matter of weeks, so the speed of operation is massively changing.

FDE: What do you think the biggest obstacles are for enterprises when moving away from legacy management software?

Michael Custers: The willingness to give up the status quo is very important; companies over the past 25 years of automation have just layered systems over one another – it’s like a layer cake of different technology and processes that are embedded and highly customised. The big hurdle right now is for companies to be prepared to step back and say, “Do we really need this stack of old things that we’ve implemented or can we look at radical simplification?”.

So they’re really going to the nervous system of the organisation to reassess and question core processes. That requires courage as well as a deep understanding and knowledge of this; stepping away from legacy systems is going to be absolutely critical to make digital solutions work.

Another factor is the financial perspective – if you simplify things, how is that going to help you drive business cases? Moving away from complex bespoke systems is, over time, actually going to bring huge benefits such as maintaining fewer systems, and achieving faster processes and transactions.

FDE: As a solution provider for HR, do you see finance directors becoming more involved when it comes to working with their HR departments? Would you say the relationship between these two departments is becoming more collaborative?

Michael Custers: Historically, there’s always been a good relationship between HR and finance; in particular, in payroll and key financial functions where HR and finance cross over. Payroll is often one of the top expenses for a services company; in many cases, it’s the biggest. So it’s extremely important for finance departments to fully understand payroll data.

In global organisations, you have the additional complexity of operating in multiple countries, multiple jurisdictions and with multiple compliance regulations; keeping control of that whole framework can be pretty daunting. One of the services that we offer is to help companies get control over their entire global payroll function, which in turn gives the finance department full control over end-to-end processes.

Another way that HR and finance are coming together is in the approach to analytics and HR data. In the past, HR lacked data or systems and were more focused on ‘keeping the people happy’ through culture. That is still very important of course but, through new technologies, HR can actually use data, metrics and analytics capabilities to allow them to speak the language of finance. It’s HR’s capability to develop dashboards, metrics and analytics that is absolutely critical in bringing the two together.

FDE: In very broad terms, how do you see the HR management market changing in the years to come and how would you like to see it change?

Michael Custers: I think cloud technology will remain very significant as it allows organisations to transform and release systems very quickly on a flexible pricing model. Automation is also very important as it means more technology can be deployed and a lot more properties and standardised issues can be computed. If you carry out more processes in a uniform way, they are much easier to automate because there are fewer exceptions to work with.

Another vital element is analytics – the fact that everything is stored in a cloud environment means that technology can be easily deployed, consumed and analysed, which is critical to enabling a dialogue between HR and finance. The next wave of transformation will really be about making everything come together, combining the different digital and cloud technologies into one so the borders between software and outsourcing will really disappear.

I think the role of the chief financial officer (CFO) is essential in all of this. The CFO needs to help enable these transformations strategically and look beyond the individual components to see how everything can be combined. A CFO completely understands the opportunities that are offered from a reporting and analytics perspective, but also from a corporate strategy and agility perspective. When CFOs and CHROs align, challenge the status quo together and embrace the opportunities offered by digital technologies, the next decade is going to look really interesting.

This interview was originally published in Finance Director Europe.

Michael Custers serves as SVP Strategy & Marketing for NGA Human Resources, overseeing worldwide marketing. Michael joined ARINSO International in 2005, as Director Investor Relations & Communications and has divided his time at NGA (equally) between Europe and the US.

Why is the gig economy becoming an HR issue?

Articles about the gig economy have been written during the past 18 months with the focus technology-enabled on-demand work opportunities with Uber, Airbnb, TaskRabbit, to name a few. However, little has been written about the impact of the gig economy on human resources professionals as it relates to the challenges of the growing importance of this new “talent management portfolio.”

Global responsibility for talent management over the past 15 years has taken you China, Singapore, Europe and elsewhere.

How is the gig economy becoming a compelling global business and human resources issue now and into the future?

Looking globally at the gig economy you can see the following, in India and Singapore:

– Increase of free agents largely in tech and professional services
– Limited examples of large scale on-demand workers (Uber, Lyft and Ola)
– Largely supplemental income vs. full time career choice
– Millennials want flexibility but within full time employment

The challenges in India and Singapore include:

– Parental and societal pressures for young people to have full time jobs and security
– Rising middle class in India (and China) trying to pull families out of poverty; want security of full time work
– Concerns within companies regarding security and privacy


– Free agent (self-employment) work more acceptable with Millennials in current economic environment
– Free agent work more acceptable with wealthy not under family pressure for income stability (entrepreneurs)
– Mostly in tech sector and IT, also entertainment, arts and tourism
– 50+ age group with MNC experience attracted to self-employment
– 15 million university graduates per year
– Self-employed graduates increased 2.3% to 2.9% (2013-14)
– Government and universities encouraging self-employed entrepreneurs
– Traditional, full time jobs still preferred choice

The challenges in China include:

– Status associated with full time employment
– Family pressure in less developed areas for graduates to have full time jobs with SOE/MNC
– One child responsibilities and expectations to contribute financially to family
– Stable job and security critical consideration in marriage attractiveness


– 8.9 million “iPros” or independent workers in Europe
– Fastest growing segment of EU labor market
– 1 in 4 European workers working independently
– Economic decline in Europe has forced many to independent work


– Regulatory actions do not recognise legal status of independent workers (2010 Agency Workers Directive)
– Exclusion of independent workers from government funding, grants, training, and many procurement contracts
– Retirement plan options differ for permanent vs. independent workers
– Works Councils controls and opposition

How would agility of most Human Resources functions to effectively address the VUCA challenges of the gig economy (1 = Completely Unprepared and Fragile; 10 = Currently Prepared and Agile) rate?

Under most of the current conditions, HR would rate at about a 6 since many have experience working with workforce agencies for temporary employment, project work and help with identifying key full-time talent. However, as the need for key talent increases and can be accessed globally, the demand for a better way to plan for and manage the entire Talent Portfolio™, as you have referred to it, will require a broader view of talent including:
– Full-time employees
– Consulting and other Partners
– Independent on-demand workers
– Workforce agency temporary/project workers
– Independent specialised consultants

The broader or more enlightened view will require processes that treat all talent in a similar way since many of the on-demand talent will become valuable contributors to critical project success.

It is a concern that most HR professionals and teams are not effectively anticipating the changes demanded by the gig economy and will be playing catch-up in the next few years. Therefore, their agility would rate, regarding the business imperative of the gig economy, much closer to a 2.

Are there any examples of how to overcome organisational barriers to attract and engage on-demand talent?

A good example is when I needed to hire an individual consultant, not a firm, with multilingual experience who was ideally suited a specific project. However, I ran into procurement rules that were inflexible and treated every external resource as a “vendor” which required the same level of insurance as demanded of much larger firms. This roadblock was overcome by some creative solutions, but illustrates the cumbersome rules that we have for talent in the 21st century based on antiquated policies. It would be impossible to have “work-arounds” for each outdated process.

What are some of the actions which CHROs need to be proactively taking to address the challenges of the gig economy?

• Understand company workforce practices and policies impacting independent workers
• Understand regulatory restrictions impacting independent workers in countries where you employ talent
• Accelerate initiatives to identify and keep your best talent (project work, rotations, flexibility, and collaboration)
• Map and incorporate new demands for leaders into leadership development
• Broaden your workforce plan to include more external talent
• Build collaborative processes and plans with talent acquisition and procurement
• Think differently about a “career” in your organisation
• Start with a functional sponsor to build process and expertise
• Educate your senior management on the new workforce

This is an interview Nick Horney (Ph.D., is The Agility Doc, after serving in a senior role at the Center for Creative Leadership, he founded Agility Consulting and Training in 2001) conducted with Mary Eckenrod, former VP of Global Talent Management for Johnson Controls, Blackberry, Lenovo, and Cisco. This article appeared on SHRM.com

Top challenges facing HR Directors of global firms in 2017

These are uncertain times. Never has that statement been more pertinent in 2016 which played host to seismic political events such as Brexit and the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency. This allied to a sluggish global economy presents plenty of challenges for multinational firms operating across the globe.

The acronym VUCA which stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity is a trendy management term that perfectly encapsulates the conditions that many multinationals are operating under. So what are the main business challenges facing HR directors of global firms in 2017? Some of the challenges facing HR directors are long-standing, remarks Professor Paul Sparrow, emeritus professor of international human resources management at Lancaster University Management School. “It’s about continuing to build a global mindset and leadership ever more deeply into the organisation and creating much better linkage between their international mobility and global talent management functions.”

However, Sparrow cautioned that the recent uncertainty in global politics and the continued business risks mean that global HR directors will be facing some difficult challenges in the coming few years. “Their functions are still not as globally integrated as many of the other functions so they shall continue to globalise more and more of their people management processes. Paradoxically, they will be doing this at the same time that the world is to varying degrees, de-globalising. As the public mood begins to shift, there is increased scrutiny being placed on the sourcing and shoring strategies of many multinationals and on their ability to regulate and manage their global supply chains. Transparency is becoming the order of the day.”

Sparrow believes that there will be much more focus on local responsiveness. “There will be much more political pressure on HR directors to show that their organisation does a lot of localisation, transferring more skills and operations into host country operations.”

Attracting the top talent remains a continual challenges for HR directors in 2017, reflects Isaac Getz, professor at ESCP Europe Business School and co-author of the book ‘Freedom Inc’. “This is not new of course but what is new are the ways some companies are starting to tackle these challenges. The old ways such as signing bonuses and incentives work less and less in a VUCA world. Are we going to see companies offering fresh and free fish to its employees at the end of the day to outdo its competitors in attractiveness as one Silicon Valley tech firm does?”

Automation will also have an impact on certain job sectors and roles. According to an Oxford University study, administrative jobs topped the list of jobs most at risk of automation while health sector occupations such as nursing had a less than one percent chance of being replaced by robot labour. Companies and in turn HR departments face a unique challenge with automation, warns Brian Kropp, HR practice leader at CEB.

“But we need to step back and take a broader view of the environment that companies operate in. Right now there is more attention than ever on ‘reputation’ in companies in terms of their role in society and what they are doing to support their employees. The challenge that companies are facing with automation is that they have the opportunity to decrease cost and improve the customer experience with automation, but to do that companies will likely decrease headcount. In fact, one financial services company we spoke with said that with automation, they could reduce headcount by up to 35% without impacting the customer experience.”

Kropp argues that with the potential for such significant decreases in headcount poses a question for organisations. “Should they reduce headcount and achieve the cost savings and then hire new people as the need arises? Or, should they invest significant resources in up-skilling their employees that will have their jobs eliminated with automation and prepare them for their next, different-in-kind role? In the past the decision was almost always the former, but with the increased attention that companies are playing in society and the additional scrutiny they are facing, they are actively debating if they should do the later instead.

Another trend that is impacting organisations is the increasing emergence of the Gig economy. Some reports estimate that by 2020 as much as 40% of the American workforce will be contingent workers or independent contractors, remarks Ellie Filler, managing partner, human resources practice, Europe, Middle-east and Africa at Korn Ferry. “There are two key drivers for the rise of what is now being called ‘the gig economy’. From the workers’ perspective, there is a demand for diversity and flexibility in their roles and the ability to showcase their unique skill sets. For organisations, there’s a shift in strategy from ‘I need to hire a person’ to ‘I need to complete a task.’”

Filler argues that the ability for HR departments to work with predictive analytics around skills need, resource requirements and sourcing strategies, as well as compensation and legal governance while at the same time move quickly will be in ever greater demand if HR is to remain relevant.

A recent Korn Ferry executive study found that nearly three-quarters of respondents reported that culture was core to the success of organisational financial performance. “This means that in 2017, employers will need to focus on and invest in their employer brand to help candidates understand the company culture and motivations within the workplace,” comments Filler.

The new Gig economy alongside agile working and mobile talent will mean that companies must focus on building inclusive leaders, warns Charlotte Sweeney, founder of Charlotte Sweeney Associates. “Inclusive leadership is a key enabler to creating more diverse and inclusive workplaces and should be a keystone within the leadership cadre. Move away from ‘initiatives’ and create a sustainable leadership mentality of getting the best out of all colleagues and being agile enough to deal with day-to-day business challenges.”

A new way of working will be one of the new trends facing multinationals in 2017, comments Dominique Jones, chief people officer at Halogen Software. “We know the workforce is changing and becoming more spread out across different countries. This is shifting how companies manage employee performance. This has understandably left many HR and business leaders wondering how they can adopt these types of activities and be successful in the transition. In the end, it’s about educating staff on a new way of working and adopting a new set of behaviours and expectations for how managers and employees operate on a day-to-day basis where employees come into to work each day motivated to do their best.”

Karen Higginbottom writes about the junction between being human and the workplace. This article was posted on Forbes.com.

Why the CHRO Challenge is adding value to the business

We have long been discussing about HR’s presence in the Boardroom. This debate has done innumerable rounds, some veering completely off the highway.

As recently as a year back, Ramcharan created a stir by publishing a short note titled “It’s time to split HR?” indicating that HR people are far too often busy settling administrative topics than anything else. He made a case for making HR professionals accountable for leadership and organisation.

I want to take that argument forward with some caveats, the fundamental of which is that it is unfair to point at one function for administrative activities just because it is seen as not directly linked to the concrete variables of sales, operations and finance. All functions have elements that have routine elements of administration and others that are value adding and long-term in orientation.

When one looks at organisations at large, they fall across the continuum, which has administrative activities at one end and value adding activities at the other. Where an organisation falls on this continuum depends on multiple variables, the most important of which are current and future business challenges and the quality of leadership.

Organisations that are doing financially well and have a futuristic orientation, have come to realise that building leadership and organisational capabilities (L&O) is too precious to be left to the others in the organisation. It needs agenda setting; sustained push and expert power in conversational intelligence as many of these topics impact those sitting in the room. These organisations are seen as continually investing in L&O.

In fact, the farther one looks into the future, the more he realises the value of L&O in creating a sustainable organisation. In my view, Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs) would do better to ensure that they have dedicated focus on L&O lest they get lost in the rest of HR & welfare administration. It is a topic that is not easy; it is a topic that requires constant push, regular exchange, and stakeholder alignment in addition to the decisive top leadership push.

One of the activities where CHROs play an important role on a regular basis is in filling up key leadership roles. The quality of leadership is an energy and opportunity maximising activity. Right leaders work on culture building elements of integrity, autonomy, and accountability. The way a leader manages his subsystem is one of the most important variables in the system. She is the one who creates possibilities, builds business and creates many more leaders for future. She is also the one who creates hurdles for many and stifles many in the pipeline. Looking at the right behavioral attributes of these leaders is something that cannot be left to a part timer whose exposure, interest and canvas is always smaller than that of the organisation.

It has been fairly well established that strong organisations are far more effective in internal succession to key leadership roles as also in creating a culture where processes take precedence over whimsical, inconsistent leaders. Repeated iterations of people practices ensure that leaders live the values that the so-called wall danglers have inscribed on them all through the organisation. Good behavior is encouraged but more importantly, contrary behavior is clearly punished. Once this is done, the myth of hero leadership is shown its rightful place that is one of the biggest risks in Indian run large corporations.

Most of the large size Indian organisations have market renowned leaders at the apex level but when it comes to their succession, the pyramid slackens. There is a big hesitation amongst the entrenched top to showcase their talent to those beyond their domains. At times, the succession drama appears as the great Indian leadership development game of having many good people at the top but not a single good enough one to replace them- something that creates doubt in the ordinary mind.

To me, a CHRO’s success in institutionalising leadership development process, identifying people in advance and showcasing them to the wider world before their time has come is what can do the trick to their effectiveness. Leadership succession is too critical a variable to be left to external hiring or last minute political drama. And yes, it is not easy, it requires hell lot of effort in mobilising the top leadership support and being at it all the time, but it is worth it. It will save the ignominy of a being a non-value adding CHRO.

Sanjay singh works as Global Head-Human Resources for Crompton Greaves Limited. Prior to this, he was Vice- President, Human Resources for Tata Motors Commercial Vehicles and International Business. Started in the Indian Civil Services; followed it up with an MBA in Strategic Management from Nanyang Business School, Singapore. This article appeared on dailyindian.com. http://www.dailyindian.com/2017/03/16/the-chro-challenge-adding-value-to-the-business/

What is the ROI of Onboarding?

Onboarding is a crucial time to steer the employee experience in a rewarding direction. As with many employee experiences that fall under the responsibility of HR, the potential financial upsides might not be obvious, but they are present.

The first day of a new job is often strange. After our new boss departs with a cheerful (if vague), “Let me know if you have any questions!” we find ourselves mired in the endless phone maze trying to get IT to reset our password which we haven’t even assigned yet, while our new colleagues trickle by to offer names and titles that we struggle to retain. We might feel a little confused, isolated, or even tentative about how we will fit in and what our future at this organisation holds. If this is the experience of a new hire at your company, it might be time to make some changes.

What is onboarding?

Onboarding is commonly confused with orientation. Orientation is the first step of onboarding, where new hires are shown around the office, walked through rules and policies, and so forth. Onboarding is a much longer set of activities which ramp people up to full capacity quickly and efficiently, rather than just getting them introduced to their new organisation at a surface level.

The process of onboarding can involve both formal education and on-the-job learning. Employees also get to immerse themselves in company culture, understand their role in the organisation clearly, and have a chance to become invested in the vision and mission of that organisation. Expectations are set and norms of behavior are learned during this time.

Why does it matter?

It may be easy to brush off serious onboarding as frivolous, yet the first six months to a year that an employee is with a new firm can make a big difference. In a 2015 Equifax study, it was found that over half of people who left a job in the last year did so in the first year of their position. The bulk of those leave within the first six months. Any HR professional working right now can tell you how costly turnover is, and speak to the importance of careful hiring. Yet attention is not lavished on that crucial sub-one-year time frame: only 37% of employers extend onboarding activities past a month, tapering off to just 15% at six months.

What do organisations stand to gain from improving onboarding?

Onboarding is an investment in the future returns an employee can provide, but it need not stop at improving their chances of staying. Among its cost-saving benefits, increased retention means less negative externalities to company culture and a strengthening of institutional knowledge.

Employees who go through effective onboarding become productive quicker and put out more valuable work. Rather than spending months haltingly building connections and branching out at their own speed, they can be supported in exploring social circles which will help them solve issues and be collaborative. Onboarding can help establish an environment of cooperation which is more productive, and delivers more innovative results.

Clear expectations and norms of behavior can be intentionally set during the onboarding process as well, which saves misunderstandings and preventable waste later. It turns out, when employees have clear, comprehensible goals they are more likely to stick around and meet them. Having a solid understanding of their role through discussions with their superiors, new hires can move ahead with a level of autonomy, saving manager’s time. Autonomy is also linked to increased satisfaction and productivity.

Over all, employees who go through a more attentive onboarding experience are more likely to be happy, industrious, enthusiastic about their organisation, and prepared to tackle challenges. This all translates to real bottom-line results, especially when we factor in increased retention combined with greater ongoing contributions. Employees who are onboarded well are set up with long term attitudes and behaviors that will aid them in continued success.

How can organisations improve their onboarding process?

Digital solutions are an obvious place to start for the compliance piece of onboarding. Some organisations even have a pre-onboarding component to their digital onboarding process where new employees can complete their paperwork and learn about necessary rules and regulations in advance of their first day. This is a nice and streamlined experience, but also frees up some of the compliance burden on HR professionals so they can spend more time giving a personal onboarding experience.

There are also digital tools available for key educational topics during onboarding. Of the new hires who “fail” or leave, only 11% are due to lacking technical skills. Because the interview process is typically effective at identifying technical proficiency, this is not surprising. Incoming hires may not need technical education, but may need to develop their emotional intelligence. 26% fail because they can’t accept feedback, 23% for inability to understand and manage emotions, 17% for lack of motivation to excel, and 15% due to temperament. That is a laundry list of emotional intelligence issues which could be aided with a mixture of digital resources and in-person work.

In addition, make the investment in encouraging new employees to connect through social events, but double down on that investment by incorporating company values and culture. Perhaps make a point of including new hires on a volunteer day for a relevant cause, or even a picnic where an executive gives a talk on the company vision. New hires will get a better understanding and sense of belonging by socially integrating with their colleagues, while people who have been around longer will remain cognizant of the vision and mission driving their work.

As with any new initiatives, evaluate the metrics you already have available to establish a baseline and target specific areas of improvement. Get a feel for what costs your organisation is incurring by not making changes and then identify what tweaks will be most effective. You can start small and work towards building a complete onboarding plan for new employees. For example, set a goal to have paperwork in order by day one, and increase awareness about the company mission among employees over their first six months of work.

Nicole Beckerman is a marketing consultant, writer, and clothing designer based in Los Angeles, CA. She holds an MBA from Mills College as a Goldman Sachs Scholar. This article appeared on Geteverwise.com.

What are the employee onboarding best practices, from a technology perspective?

The employee onboarding process is no longer used just for administrative issues. It’s true that advanced software and automated technologies eliminate duplicate entries and streamline employee onboarding, but that’s just the beginning of the array of business and employee benefits that onboarding technology can deliver for your business or HR department.

Benefits Of An Organised Employee Onboarding Process

Research shows that new hires are more likely to leave companies within the first 18 months of their employment. The costs of finding, attracting, hiring, onboarding and training new employees can prove prohibitive, so it makes sound financial sense to develop an employee onboarding process that makes the best possible impression on new hires. A smooth procedure provides the following business benefits:

– Increases employee retention
– Heightens employee engagement
– Enables a self-service onboarding process
– Fosters brand advocacy among current and former employees
– Accelerates administrative processing
– Identifies new hires for training, promotion and other actions
– Improves employee efficiency
– Shorts the learning curve
– Promotes inter-office communication
– Attracts top talent from word-of-mouth promotions and referrals
– Builds trust and strengthens alignment with company goals

The Importance Of Employee Onboarding

A smooth and organised onboarding process (and offboarding process) can prevent bad hires, make favourable impressions on new hires and expose people early to the company’s culture. The costs of bad hires are truly shocking – a Career Builder survey found that two-thirds of employers experienced problems due to bad hires. Out of 2,700 employers, 41 percent reported that each bad hire cost an average of $25,000. 25 percent of respondents reported average costs of bad hires to be $50,000 or more. Employee onboarding presents some technological challenges, but overcoming these issues can ensure a smooth and effective onboarding process.

First Impressions Drive The Employee Experience

A new employee checklist reassures new hires by identifying critical employee issues. Astute employees can quickly spot whether anything is missing or seems inappropriate for their positions. Strong employee self-service programs help to retain top talent by making a favourable first impression and engaging new hires immediately in the company’s culture. In fact, statistics show that employee onboarding programs can increase retention rates by as much as 25 percent while improving productivity by 11 percent. The onboarding process doesn’t just enter a new employee in the system; it introduces new hires to the technology tools that the company uses, familiarises people with office practices, facilitates preparation before the start of work and acquaints new hires with managers, team members and the company’s core culture.

Using Preboarding Time To Best Advantage

There are many ways that software technology can deliver HR and business benefits while making the most out of the time between preboarding processes and the actual starting dates of new hires. Lawyers from multiple jurisdictions suggest that clearly identified paperwork for new hires – as conditions of employment – don’t require employee payment, so companies should make the most of the preboarding process. Designing a new employee checklist not only streamlines employee onboarding but also reassures new hires in multiple ways. Your new employee checklist might include the following items:

– Welcoming and orientation materials
– Instructions for obtaining an employee security pass
– Automated processes for entering ALL payroll information and completing any applicable employment eligibility – verification processes
– TFN declaration
– Authorizing criminal background or financial checks
– Information about the company’s culture, Conflicts of Interest Policies, outside employment regulations, acceptable extracurricular activities and noncompeting agreements
– Information on Insurance coverage, benefits packages, salary, etc.
– Any compliance training requirements
– Cross-training and advancement policies

The Power Of Rules Driven Workflow

Rules driven workflows ensure that the onboarding process follows a predefined sequence of events for approvals, notifications, escalations, reminders and exports . You can ensure that your process fulfils the needs of your organisation with custom-designed workflows. You can automate many tasks through self-service processes and assign someone from HR to monitor each new hire and shepherd him or her through the onboarding process.

Eliminate Unnecessary Paperwork and Processes

Automation can eliminate the need to re-enter critical information. If your employee onboarding software is fully integrated, each action automatically updates to the next step. Everyone who needs to sign off on the approval receives an alert. When all processes have been approved, a new hire candidate automatically transitions to ‘employed’ status.

Non-negotiable Processes

The onboarding process can consist of non-negotiable and optional processes. These apply to both employers and employees, and organisations that only focus on their own demands will encounter difficulties in trying to engage, retain and nurture talent. Your company’s culture is non-negotiable, but it might be amenable to evolutionary changes over time. Employees might be required to work a minimum number of hours each week, but when and how they work could be flexible. It’s important to determine what exactly is non-negotiable and what is more flexible.

Say Hello To New Employees

It’s important to take some time just to say ‘hello’ to new hires before they get processed into the treadmill of daily work activities. Many organisations concentrate on the essential administrative tasks without making new hires feel appreciated and welcomed. Best practices for greeting new employees during employee onboarding include:

– Enlisting as many staff members as possible to meet and greet new hires
– Implementing a mentoring, coaching or buddy program to facilitate orientation
– Expressing holistic interest in each employee as a person
– Explaining company culture and enlisting new hires in community projects, team competitions and social activities
– Providing an employee onboarding agenda
– Making new hires feel comfortable in their environment
– Walking people through critical ‘dos and don’ts’
– Inviting new staff to lunch

The Video CEO

CEOs can greet new hires with strong messages of support. The CEO can establish the company’s culture with a few key remarks while fostering a better sense of engagement in new hires.

Process By Exception

Modern workflow technology enables management by exception, which is a process of monitoring financial costs that relate to recruiting, hiring and onboarding. It’s only necessary to bring matters to management’s attention when costs exceed budgeted amounts by substantial margins. This technology – a direct benefit of onboarding automation – reduces the administrative burden on your HR staff and financial managers.

Smart Onboarding

Smart technology facilitates seamless integration with core company operations such as ERP and CRM software. You can monitor the entire onboarding process through custom alerts, dashboards and reports. Compliance issues can be fully integrated with the onboarding process so that compliance is automatic. Smart onboarding enhances the user experience and simplifies filling out forms, collaborating on projects, conducting background checks and managing document integration.

Alert Reminders

Switching from spreadsheets to integrated onboarding software offers many signature benefits that include setting up automatic alert reminders. These can alert new hires to essential onboarding processes that need completion, but they also prove invaluable for reminding staff members to approve different aspects of the employment process. You can also set reminders for self-service onboarding processes such as requesting time off, scheduling vacation time and reminding people about birthdays and other special milestones. You can tailor automated alerts for almost any purpose and not just onboarding tasks.

Compliance In The Workplace

Global business complicates all HR processes from hiring and onboarding employees to complying with local and industry regulations. Automated onboarding software and tools make it easier to manage employee benefits, comply with government regulations from multiple jurisdictions, manage time and attendance, view benefit plan options and review job candidates’ compliance profiles.

Contracts, Visa, Statutory Forms and Certifications

You need to ensure that each new hire’s profile complies with the latest applicable regulations. These compliance issues might involve equality and diversity, health and safety regulations, certifications, data protection, employment contacts and physical compliance to empower employees who have disabilities. The onboarding process might require providing accessibility assistance to disabled job candidates. Onboarding software can help your company stay compliant throughout the recruiting, hiring, onboarding and training processes.

Building Your Own Compliance Requirements

You can design and build your own compliance programs based on fiduciary responsibility, legal and regulatory requirements, reporting guidelines, Standard and Poor’s credit ratings and other company-specific compliance issues. The right Onboarding technology can monitor personnel intelligence from third-party resources and certifying authorities to deliver automated updates that impact compliance issues. Your compliance requirements might include fostering an ethical business culture, identifying and managing risks or integrating compliance standards into the company’s ERM framework.

Digital Training

You can increase employee engagement through onboarding programs for earning certifications, cross-training in new work skills and moving laterally and vertically throughout the organisation.

Employee Engagement

Self-service capabilities and clearer expectations foster greater employee engagement. The more engaged your employees are, the more likely they’ll stay. Your software can make it easier for employees to get answers to questions, and ask for time off and other considerations. Employees can also view the requirements for advancing in the company.

User Experience

The user experience no longer applies just to your company’s customers; competitive recruiting and retention means that the employee experience is equally critical to business success and retaining top talent.


Your employee onboarding strategy can take advantage of game theory to engage new hires. You can offer rewards, tokens, prizes and special considerations to engage employees in the onboarding process.


Social activities can be posted and organised through employee self-service applications. These in-house and outside events can indoctrinate new hires immediately into the company’s culture and social activities.

Employee Onboarding Metrics

Advanced onboarding technology allows you to configure reports and third-party intelligence into manager consoles for greater visibility, more interactive formats and customised summaries.


You can measure your onboarding costs, engagement rates, training costs, succession management successes and other business benchmarks that relate to recruiting and employee retention.


Managing your onboarding program is an ongoing process that depends on monitoring and adjusting your techniques. Checklists can help you stay more organised, but it’s just not possible to let new hires know everything about the company in just a few days or weeks. Metrics can help you determine the optimal times for broaching new subjects or offering customised employee development programs.

Return on Investment

Calculating return on investment, or ROI, is one of the major benefits of onboarding technology. You can cross-relate performance, development costs, attrition rates, retention rates and talent management to determine more precise costs related to hiring and development than were ever possible to calculate before advanced technology.

Optimise Employee Onboarding

The right technology allows you to monitor each employee’s progress at 30, 60 and 90 days and beyond. You can generate custom reports, compare individual and team performances, assess manager success rates and estimate new hires times to employee proficiency.

Onboarding Outgrows Simple Orientation

Your company’s onboarding strategy depends heavily on technology. If you implement the right software tools, self-service processes and educational programs, your new hires get the critical information they need immediately to become productive and satisfied employees. About 59 percent of employers anticipate major challenges in attracting and retaining top talent over the next decade. Your employee onboarding program – with the right technology partner – can make the difference between a confusing orientation and an engaged user experience. You can build a strong foundation before employees start work to develop a thriving company culture and an engaged workforce.

Ari Kopoulos is the CEO at EmployeeConnect HRMS. This article was posted on Employeeconnect.com.

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