What will “the new normal” look like for our HR leaders as we approach 2020? It’s been nine years since McKinsey & Company coined the phrase, ‘the new normal,” referring to the fundamental changes in the business landscape following the Great Recession of 2008.
We are witnessing revolutionary, not just incremental change. As Paul Daugherty said in his bestselling book, Human + Machine: Re-imagining Work in the Age of AI, the workplace experience is changing in profound ways. According to research conducted by Accenture and the World Economic Forum, 87% of workers polled believe new technologies like artificial intelligence will improve their work experience and they are willing to invest their free time over the next few years to learn new skills to supplement their current ones. This emphasis on learning new skills in the age of AI is reinforced by the most recent report on the future of work from McKinsey which suggests that as many as 375 million workers around the world may need to switch occupational categories and learn new skills because approximately 60% of jobs will have least one-third of their work activities able to be automated.
These new HR roles include:
IBM: Vice-President, Data, AI & Offering Strategy, HR
IBM has taken a leadership role in creating new positions in HR aligned with Chief HR Officer Diane Gherson’s vision of “Optimizing HR for speed, personalization, and democratization to deliver irresistible employee experiences.” Executing on this vision has created a host of new innovations and job roles in HR. Some of the most interesting innovations in HR include the ability to use data to proactively retain IBMers by examining factors such as an employee’s location, pay, skills, and job type. At IBM this is known as Proactive Retention and leading this effort is Anshul Sheopuri, IBM’s vice-president, data, AI & offering strategy, HR. Anshul leads a team of data scientists, people analytics practitioners, and engineers who use data to transform the employee experience. Sheopuri was instrumental in developing the patent for Proactive Retention which uses analytics and machine learning to calculate the relative importance of retention risk factors, while maintaining employee privacy. The end result is a decision support tool for managers to proactively retain IBMers. The retention risk program has now saved IBM about $300 million, as measured by the avoiding the inevitable costs of hiring and training replacements.
The next innovation, Blue Matching, is devoted to enhancing career mobility for IBMers with personalized job alerts by inferring their skills. This helps to boost their ability to find new internal positions, some of which they may not even know could be a fit. Recent projections from CEB Globalindicate that employees are staying in their roles 30% longer today. This lack of internal movement means employees are failing to get the broad experience they need to further their advancement. And furthermore, this lack of career growth is the number one reason employees leave their employer, surpassing compensation and the individual manager. IBM Blue Matching has provided more than 1,000 IBMers with the opportunity to grow their skills and land a new role within IBM.
These new IBM HR initiatives are made possible not just by deploying artificial intelligence but by also adopting a new mindset within the HR professional, moving from focusing on HR processes to adapting a consumer grade lens to people practices and delivering outcome-oriented solutions which personalize the employee experience at scale.
What’s next in this journey? Sheopuri believes that HR at IBM will include more end-to-end roles responsible for what we might think of at consumer product companies as the product manager. In HR at IBM, this role is called offering manager and operates much like a product manager, responsible for the launch of new HR solutions from inception through to pilot and commercialization. This introduction of the product management discipline into HR will continue to grow in importance as current and prospective employees demand a connected, mobile, and personalized employee experience mirroring their last best consumer experience.
Kraft Heinz: Senior Vice-President, Global HR, Performance and IT
It’s not just IBM that is adding job titles in HR to focus on using intelligent technologies to create a compelling employee experience. Kraft Heinz, the fifth largest food and beverage company in the world, is using artificial intelligence and crafting new HR roles in people analytics and data analysis, traditionally found in IT. Melissa Werneck, senior VP, global HR, performance, and IT is re-examining the entire employee experience from recruiting to exiting the organization. Says Werneck, “At Kraft Heinz, we believe that in order to create a true consumer experience for our employees, we must integrate all the areas that touch an employee from our people practices, from recruiting, learning & development, performance management, and total rewards. Having a combined responsibility for the people and IT functions allows us to compliment the people function with activities that are traditionally exclusive to IT – like leveraging machine learning techniques and using sophisticated algorithms to automate work.
To do this, Kraft Heinz has expanded the scope of Global Rewards to include a dedicated director of people analytics who will direct a team of data scientists and people analytics managers on how to use machine learning in HR. The initiatives underway include using data to predict employee retention and using the same data to suggest actions that can be taken to address possible outliers, including an algorithm that can suggest which employees in the company are likely deserving of recognition through a merit increase. This data driven approach to decision making espouses a core value at Kraft Heinz, of ensuring people decisions are based on meritocracy.
Shirley Weinstein, head of global rewards, believes this new emphasis on using data to create an enhanced employee experience is being driven by the growing importance in recruiting, developing, and retaining top talent. And recent research reinforces this point of view. A 2018 Conference Board survey of the global C-suite revealed that talent and skills are now the number one hot button issue for C-level executives surpassing cyber security, healthcare, and threats to global trade. Similarly, the Deloitte Talent Report suggests the phrase Learning Organization no longer refers to just the training department but is now a goal for the entire organization. At Kraft Heinz the HR team used predictive analytics to identify areas of potential attrition risk within the company. They are now formulating strategies to address the root causes, and, using machine learning, they are identifying future interventions. Says Weinstein, “I am seeing a premium on speed and personalization, and both can be delivered leveraging sophisticated data science techniques in the workplace. At Kraft Heinz we pride ourselves on being data driven as a company. We see no reason for the people function to be any different.”
SunTrust: Senior Vice-President, Employee Well-Being & Benefits
In addition to creating new technical roles in people analytics and data science, companies like SunTrust are developing new roles in HR to address a new employee benefit: financial well-being. Outstanding student loans currently have hit $1.5 trillion and exceed auto loan debt ($1.1 trillion) and credit card debt ($977 billion) And women hold two thirds of all student debt in the USA according the American Association of University Women.
SunTrust is a purpose-driven company committed to enhancing the financial well-being of its teammates (SunTrust employees), clients, and the communities the company serves. To better understand the magnitude of the financial wellness issue, SunTrust partnered with Martiz and introduced a Financial Confidence Index this year – derived from a national, ongoing quarterly survey of 2,500 Americans, representative of the U.S. adult population. Individuals rate their actions on five core behaviors of financial confidence: budgeting, debt management, savings, maximizing income, and retirement planning. The results? The index shows 50% of Americans do not have $2,000 saved for an emergency, one third have nothing saved for retirement, and a full two thirds report feeling financial stress and this keeps them up at night!
SunTrust decided to be part of the solution and started by surveying their own teammates. Many were struggling with financial stress. So they set out to help teammates take steps toward building financial confidence by developing and launching a financial wellness program, known as Momentum onUp for Teammates. This program has the express purpose of increasing SunTrust teammates’ financial confidence by providing SunTrust teammates with online and face to face training in how to pay down loans, apply for a mortgage, and improve one’s credit score.
This new focus on financial well-being led the SunTrust HR team to create a new role in HR focused on employee well-being and benefits. Reporting to the SVP, this role is focused entirely on financial wellbeing, bringing a deep expertise in adult learning, data analytics and financial services to the role. Think of the Financial Well-Being Program Lead as an ambassador for SunTrust’s financial well-being movement. And the results are impressive, with 79% of SunTrust teammates participating to date, and with the Bank contributing $1,000 to SunTrust teammates who complete the program. So far, SunTrust has invested more than $13 million in teammates’ savings accounts through the program.
Additionally, SunTrust HR uncovered those who complete the program are twice as likely to stay with SunTrust after 18 months and according to a SunTrust survey of participants, more than 80% of respondents said afterward that they now feel more in control of their finances.
What do these three roles have in common? All have been created in the last three years and acknowledge the growing importance of a company’s commitment to create a compelling employee experience by using data, research, and predictive analytics to better serve the needs of employees. In each case, the employee assuming the new role also brought a new set of skills and capabilities into HR. And importantly, the new roles created in HR address a common vision: create a compelling employee experience that mirrors a company’s customer experience.
What are the new roles you are creating in HR? Share them here and let’s start a conversation on this important topic.