Article

Tim Parfitt
Tim Parfitt 2 June 2016

HR and Digital Transformation

As a hiring manager at a digital agency, I am always interested in learning about how companies and in particular, HR departments, are embracing digital transformation.

Digital skills and how they are developed and nurtured are becoming increasingly important to companies, especially in view of the well-documented digital skills gap. I was therefore very interested to recently attend an Econsultancy roundtable event to discuss ‘How Digital is Impacting HR’.

Despite the variety of companies represented in the room in terms of industry and size, all the HR professionals were reporting similar concerns and barriers. This poses the question of whether companies are truly ready for digital transformation and what role HR and other departments can play.

The key digital challenges highlighted by companies included talent acquisition, development of digital capability and digital culture.

Talent acquisition is a hot topic in most sectors, yet the competition for digital talent is strong. Many present at the event stated that they
are having to find more creative ways of attracting talent and this is even more difficult in areas outside of London. Businesses are having to go out and find the talent rather than wait for people to apply. Using more creative job descriptions and even keeping in touch with ex-colleagues were discussed as useful ways of increasing the pool of talent available.

Addressing digital literacy across the entire business became a key area of discussion around developing digital capability. Interestingly, it was the development of digital skills amongst leadership in organisations which seemed to be the most common challenge. It’s key that the leaders of the business embrace digital. There was an interesting discussion around whether digital skills should be required for every position or whether they should be centralised. Possibly it depends on the business, but one thing is for sure, digital is vital in almost every organisation and so possessing a digital savvy workforce could well be a key differentiator and contributor to business success.

Developing a digital culture links to many of the topics discussed and there was an interesting discussion around how HR can embrace digital as a function through its processes and systems to lead from the front. It seems that many organisations still see digital as only belonging to Marketing. This led to a discussion about the importance of developing a ‘digital family’ by joining up IT, Marketing and HR within an organisation.

It’s an exciting time in the digital HR arena and there’s plenty of opportunities for HR departments to really add value to digital transformation, yet also plenty of challenges. The challenges will only get more interesting as digital is fully embraced across the organisation. What is clear is that HR will need to be at the forefront and ready to foster change.

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