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The War for Talent - What Gives?

HR Transformation - What's it all about?

The Global HR Transformation 2009 Report crossed my path earlier today. And, as ever with such reports, you need to be cautious.The report was commissioned by the HROA, which has a membership of some 75,000 HR executives and professionals, yet included input from only 188 organisations. So there is a great danger of it having an unwarranted credibility and unmerited influence. Nevertheless, it makes for some interesting reading.

One amazing dichotomy is the report claims transformation generally generates savings in the 25% range. Yet 40% of those who indicated they would not be undertaking HR transformation cited cost as a major factor in their decision. Given the savings were only marginally below what was anticipated, such conservatism seems extremely short-sighted. Certainly it suggests the HR profession has a way to go in understanding the concept of value. Images

More alarming and perhaps even indicative of an ostrich head-in-the-sand attitude is that 29% claimed "HR simply isn't enough of a priority to merit transformation effort." In the current economic climate this seems remarkable.

One interesting finding was that HR transformation efforts appear to have the greatest impact on organisational management issues, rather than what organisations say are the key reasons to transform: reducing/managing cost and freeing internal HR staff to focus more on strategic issues.

You can only wonder then about what precisely this impact is, and whether it is positive or negative. After all, the continuing decline in employee engagement suggests management issues are increasing rather than decreasing.

For people like us trying to transform the workplace, the report appears to have a number of conflicting messages and leaves us more confused than ever. To get over this you need to remember that transformation is another word for change and you are well aware significant, lasting and effective change requires people to be:-

  • willing to change
  • able to change
  • not prevented from changing

All too often the things that prevent change are systemic. Despite your best efforts to instigate change your success has been limited. Maybe that's because you have been focusing on symptoms rather than causes. It is time to stop looking at specifics and focus on the system.




Thank you for your comments. I think we are in total agreement.

Certainly you won't get the future you want if you don't get your people management right, and as you say, HR Transformation Programmes has to compete with other initiatives for investment and rightly so.

Your "great point" is also spot on, in that transformation does require the "whole system" to change. However, the challenge lies in getting greater emphasis for the human aspect. For the past couple of decades transformation has revolved around technology and process and to a greater extent largely precluded the people - largely becuase the justification for the investment has been the cost savings generated by reducing headcount. This has resulted in:
* Benefits never being fully realised
* Declining employee engagement
* People now becoming the focus because we have largely squeezed all we can out of process and technology.

With employee disengagement levels as they are, no transformation programme will deliver without greater effort being made to win the support of people. Thus it is false economy to prioritise HR transformation as lower than anything else.

Andy Spence

It is remarkable that given the economic conditions, "HR simply isn't enough of a priority to merit transformation effort".
Getting 'people management' right will be key to future growth with re-skilling, improving performance, managing the workforce etc.
However HR Transformation Programmes have to compete with other programmes for investment, so HR does often come down the priority list.
A great point about change, for any transformation programme to really succeed the 'whole system' needs to be changed, not the processes, policies, strategy, technology or organisation in isolation.

For info, the full report can be downloaded from the HR Transformer Blog, with our commentary.

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