Hallmarks of Future-forward organizations

21 august 2017

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for organizations on their mission towards #TheFutureOfWork. There are however characteristics that are shared by high-performing organizations. In this weekly #ConnectWithContent, we selected 3 articles with hallmarks that keep popping up when reading about and interacting with forward-thinking organizations. Enjoy the read!

The Skills HR Needs to Sustain an Engaged Workforce

The role HR plays in the workplace is undergoing a major shift. With today’s increasing jockeying for top talent, C-level has woken up to the importance of employee engagement, retention and development. Employee engagement is no longer ‘a nice to have’, it has become a necessity and HR is in the driver’s seat in the shift towards employee-centred processes, environments and strong value-based cultures, also known as the employee experience.

That’s why HR leaders need to open their minds to new ways of designing and the great news is that the skills required are already within their organization in other departments.

Here are 5 Skills HR Can Learn From marketing, statistics, psychology, design and storytelling:

1) Marketing to understand the Employee Journey

By creating customer journey maps, marketers found a way to categorically track each touchpoint a customer goes through until they make the decision to buy. Marketers also know that maintaining customers is more cost effective than acquiring new ones. Now replace ‘employee’ for ‘customer’.

2) Statistics to collect and analyse people analytics

Once you have your employee journey mapped out, it’s time to fill it in with the factors that matter in their work environment. The best place to start is by collecting data. The key here is to collect data regularly because the more data you have, the easier it’ll be to compare and identify potential causes. An array of new HR tech gadgets makes capturing and analysing data easier.

3) Psychology: creating personas to bring the human side to the HR processes

Creating buyer personas is another marketing tactic that HR can learn from: rather than thinking of your workforce as a whole, creating specific employee personas brings the human side to the process, enabling HR to visualize each stage from the viewpoint of a specific employee. Better to think about a specific person with a role and personality to help you get a better understanding of your HR processes.

4) Design thinking instead of traditional models of onboarding & performance management

Once you’ve identified the potential pain points in your employee’s journey, it’s time to rethink processes and propose new strategies specifically designed to eliminate these barriers. Design thinking can help here. This implies departing from traditional models of onboarding, performance management, etc. which have been HR cornerstones for decades.

5) Storytelling to make HR data human

Storytelling is a key skill every HR manager needs to learn. People analytics is not just data: it tells a story about the people in your company. That’s why HR’s role as a storyteller is essential to translate all this information into stories that explain what employees are going through and what the company can to do to improve.

Low engagement cannot be solved by offering a new ping pong table or better lunches.

Getting other departments to share their knowledge will allow companies to improve their team’s skills and remain relevant in #TheFutureOfWork.

Read the whole article by Steffen Maier here – this article was published on Talent Culture

The organization of the future: Arriving now

The way high-performing organizations operate today is radically different from how they operated 10 years ago. They move faster, adapt more quickly, learn more rapidly and embrace dynamic career demands. They operate as empowered networks, coordinated through culture, information systems, and talent mobility.

These futureproof companies are focused on redesigning the organization itself, not only designing but also building this new organization. As networks and ecosystems replace organizational hierarchies, the traditional question “For whom do you work?” has been replaced by “With whom do you work?”

Still, many organizations continue to operate according to old school models. These old school business models were designed for efficiency and effectiveness, leading to siloed organizations and most importantly, they were based on predictable patterns and have become completely unsuited to an era of unpredictability and disruption that we are in today.

Still, many business leaders have little confidence they will get the process right. Organizational design and change are indeed very complex. Many organizational redesigns fail because they are reduced to an exercise to cut costs. Or they face resistance from company leadership. Frustration is also common.

Designing the organization of the future is a difficult messy project of trial and error, not an exercise on paper. It is a continuous, dynamic never-ending process.

Yet for companies that rise to the challenge, the payoff can be immense in terms of financial performance, productivity, employee engagement, and a host of other benefits.

So how do you build the organization of the future?

Shift towards a networked organization with small teams:

An important part of building the organization of the future is a shift away from hierarchical organizational structures toward models where work is accomplished in teams. As organizations make this transition, they find that smaller teams are a natural way for humans to work. They encourage their teams and individuals to meet each other and share information transparently.

For a company to remain agile, teams must be formed and disbanded quickly. After finishing work in one area, teams have to be redistributed in order for the next project to begin.

High-performing companies often first develop these flexible models at the “edge” of the company and to make further progress, they then focus on building a new leadership mind-set that rewards innovation, experimentation, learning, and customer-centric design thinking.

Tools enabling the organization of the future:

Many new tools and techniques offer valuable contributions to building the organization of the future, such as the organizational network analysis (ONA),which uses specialized software and methodologies to help companies study “who is talking to whom.” This type of analysis, which can use patterns in emails, instant messages, physical proximity, and other data, allows leaders to see quickly what networks are in place and identify the connectors and experts.

A networked organization also increases the need to coordinate teams which can lead to an overwhelming number of meetings, emails, and communications channels. Cognitive overload can dramatically reduce productivity. That’s why new organizational models also require a new approach to leadership: leaders of networked teams in agile organizations require skills such as negotiation, resilience, and systems thinking.

Effective leaders in a networked environment must have a high degree of network intelligence, getting to know what’s going on throughout their company, throughout their industry, and throughout the customer marketplace.

Tools such as are Facebook’s Workplace, Slack, Google Team Drives, Atlassian Confluence, Microsoft Skype, and hundreds of others are helping to facilitate the transition to networks of teams and making collaboration easier.

Empowering people to make decisions and relying on networks of interactions does not mean that they are not accountable for results.

In fact, one objective of an agile network is to use goal-setting to support success. Think real-time dashboards that measure customer acquisition, customer satisfaction, hiring, employee satisfaction, and financial profitability across all the business teams.

1, 2, 3 > Start!

  • Embrace the speed of change understanding how strategy connectedness, customers and talent pools are changing as part of the digital transformation
  • Make talent mobility a core value
  • Form an organizational performance group that can help chart the way to an agile model
  • Examine and experiment with new communication tools
  • Adopt continuous feedback-based performance to empower people to reset their gols continuously
Working in teams will likely become the norm in business, and dynamism will become an organizational hallmark.

Read the whole article by Josh Bersin, Tiffany McDowell, Amir Rahnema and Yves Van Durme here -it was published on Deloitte University.

HR your way

To better understand how the next-generation digital workplace can counter disruptions by powering a deeply personalized HR customer experience, let’s flash forward to 2027. This is when we could see the first cohort of Gen Z employees engage in their organization’s open enrolment process for benefits.

This Gen Z futuristic scenario envisions three hypothetical levels of digital workplace “chatbots” at increasing levels of sophistication:

1) Workflow advisors assisting the HR customer using natural language, while automatically gathering data from disparate systems and tapping into available training, research, and operational services support resources.

2) Solution advisors “understanding” desired outcomes and leveraging all available internal and external data to design and propose an optimized solution for the HR customer.

3) The human advisors “empathizing” with the human emotions and feelings that are likely to be involved in the HR customer’s decision process.

How far are we from being able to deliver such experiences? This article takes you on a journey towards #TheFutureOfWork with a true AI model for HR.

Digital workplace chatbots may still be in the infant stages today, but disruption tends to breed more disruption which makes achieving sustainable HR so imperative.

Read the whole article by Michael Gretczko here and find out how the next-generation digital workplace can power a deeply personalized HR customer experience

Can’t get enough?

There’s a great report on Sustainable HR via this link. Enjoy! And be sure to check in next week for another #ConnectWithContent

Or even better > apply for the #HRBootcamp this fall!

Reach out if you’re interested: lesley.arens@hrbuilders.eu

Meet you at kick-off November 19th at CitizenM in the Netherlands

  • for 4 days of radical inspiration,
  • with behind the scenes views of world class innovative companies,
  • meet-ups with progressive HR leaders
  • in a networking centric setting with (international) HR peers.


HRbuilders – established in 2008 with HQ in Belgium – is active in HR Interim Management/ HR Consultancy assignments across Europe. Our niche as a matchmaker is 1. HR (only) 2. temporary assignments (only) and 3. freelancers (only). No headhunting, no other HR services, we focus on what we are great at! We offer our clients peace of mind where-ever they might need temporary HR support. On average our assignments are 1 year or longer.

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