In the classic 1993 film “Groundhog Day,” meteorologist Phil Connors is trapped in a time loop – waking up on the same day (and the same Sonny & Cher song) over and over again. In response to the continuing situation, Phil experiences confusion, discouragement, anger, and ultimately hope. In some ways, experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic has trapped our organizations into their own groundhog-like day. A “great” pandemic has resulted in a “great” resignation and even a “great” migration. But, like Phil, we are doomed to relive those current moments over and over again unless and until we undertake a “big” reset.
The big HR reset
The reality of the moment is that talent is tired, talent is scarce, and talent demands change. The new empowerment of talent is evident everywhere. From restaurants reducing hours of operation due to a staff shortage, to retailers adding new perks such as fully reimbursed tuition fees. Combine this ‘democratization’ of work with the unprecedented speed and scale of digitization, and you find an HR function breathless in the face of the pace of transformation. As an organization’s talent strategists, HR now finds itself in a new light: employees insist on accountability and business leaders and boards insist on solutions. However, last year’s solutions will not solve today’s problem. If you don’t recognize this, your organization risks re-experiencing today’s talent challenges over and over again. To avoid the time loop trap, HR can start by asking itself two critical questions:
1. How are we redesign work to allow talents to flow in as smoothly as possible while allowing its perpetual reinvention
2. How are we rethinking the talent experience to meet all the talents where they are and on their own terms?
The answers to these two questions will guide HR through the human and cultural transformations needed to keep your business relevant and profitable.
How to change the conception of work
Rethinking the job and rethinking the talent experience are both ultimately about making connections. Connections between people and work, people and business, and people and, finally, people. To help make these connections, we need to consider three types of ways to connect people at work: fixed talents, flexible talents, and flow talents. In addition, each requires its own unique working strategy.
Fixed roles or jobs are best suited to situations where there is a practical volume of work that matches regular work, compliance or control reasons, or they have unique or difficult-to-learn skills that warrant offering a job. full-time fixed assignment. Here, organizations rely on ERP-enabled work architectures to connect talent to work. These are particularly relevant when the work and skills required are relatively stable. Traditional workforce planning tools, such as workforce planning, remain important.
Flex and flexibility have become almost generic terms these days to describe the current reality of our talents. Here, however, flex actually represents employees in hybrid roles that are both partially fixed while still allowing them to commute to work as needed. Think, for example, of a marketing employee taking on an assignment with HR so that she can apply her customer knowledge and analytical skills. For such flexible working to occur, talent markets are needed to strengthen traditional ERP systems to support ever-changing job and skill requirements. Traditional workforce planning is combined with skills-based planning to reflect the duality of jobs and skills being the currency of work.
As skills become the currency of work, employees are freed from the traditional constraints of a job and can fully devote themselves to short-term bursts of tasks, assignments and projects when capabilities are required. Think of a freelance or project-based data scientist who moves between marketing, HR, and operations projects as needed. To reset, you’ll need a fully developed internal talent marketplace. Marketplaces allow you to expand scarce skills as demand changes rapidly, while also providing opportunities for development and retraining. Workforce planning is now a long way off. For the âflowâ, agile working and competency-based planning take priority.
Employee personas ensure success in remediation, flexibility and flow
If you want to connect people at work, you have to connect with your people, individuals. Traditionally, HR has offered âone size fits allâ solutions. The future of work, however, requires an architecture built around the unique needs of your employees. The pandemic has shown how the demands for flexibility can strain our current systems. For example, does your current compensation and benefits structure allow four people to share their work on an eight-hour day? Can your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) appeal to an employee who is focused on the organization’s mission and purpose as well as one who ranks personal safety higher on the engagement scale? (To see this come to life, check out Amazon’s current ad “You’re Hired.”) Hitting the “Snooze” button will not work here. Standing up and bringing human detection to digitization, will. When you meet workers where they are and provide an EVP based on Who they are, you are building a sustainable workforce, a sustainable organization and sustainable communities.
It takes leadership to hit the reset button
I’m going to take great leadership and good strategy rather than great strategy and good leadership. Fingers in the nose. Because even though it’s a big TIME Reset, it ultimately influences every corner of the organization. Active engagement and support from management is essential to your success. Center these conversations on the need to:
– Orchestrate a new working ecosystem where every company is distributed and where leadership comes from the periphery
– Cared for the optimal set of experiences (benefits, development, engagement, etc.) for all types of talent
– To acknowledge the need for ambidexterity in today’s complex and fast-paced environment
– Activation culture at to become the new governance structure of the company
One key truth must be at the root of these conversations: The great HR reset is about becoming more agile and that agility today means embracing our reality of perpetual obsolescence.
Free from the time loop
Waking up each day with constant change can make HR feel like they, like Phil Connors, are caught in a time loop. At the end of Groundhog Day, Phil breaks free from the time loop by resetting his attitude about life and what really matters. Last ascending on Sonny & Cher’s âI’ve Got You Babe,â he steps into a very different future because he’s a different person. Likewise, our new world and our new social order demand new ways of working and connecting. The Great HR Reset has one âbigâ promise: to create a different future for the function, the organization, the workers and the community.