With the end of one decade and the beginning of a new one, I’ve been thinking about all the changes happening in the world of work and what’s going to be required to keep our organizations happy, healthy, and successful in the future.
Any well-run organization has a team of leaders who work together like a symphony: smoothly and elegantly, in concert across the organization and with each other. This also applies at a cross-functional level, because when teams operate in silos all harmony is lost and the business can’t progress—the world is moving too fast, work has become too complex, and the competition is too tough.
If I continue with the music analogy, within the HR function itself, we must prioritize our performers over our sheet music. Here at Workday, while we view policies and processes as necessary, we’re more focused on how we’re shaping the future of work and the human aspects of work. In other words, my team looks at infrastructure as a means to an end rather than as the output of HR.
As HR helps the broader business meet this new future, I’ve pinpointed three areas that I think are critical for me and for all HR leaders in maintaining a competitive advantage in the years ahead: Making the most of data-driven insights, understanding and expanding our employee skill sets, and developing a diverse pipeline of talent in an inclusive environment.
Today, HR teams have access to more real-time data and information than ever before, which can provide new insights, helps us make faster decisions, and enable us to accelerate positive change for many aspects of the business.
Many of us remember manual tools like “smile sheets”—those feedback forms people filled out after a class or a training event. Now, you can launch electronic surveys on any number of topics and go so much deeper on productivity, employee sentiment, and attrition (in previous posts I’ve talked about our Best Workday Survey, which is an invaluable tool). You can get a lot more focused and therefore gain more insight on where to invest and where to scale back.
So how does this connect to the human aspects of work? The data-driven insights we’re gleaning are powerful, but human judgment remains crucial. In other words, we still need to peel back the layers and figure out how to take action on our discoveries, and address them in a way that’s right for our business. Perhaps it’s taking advantage of a market opportunity, filling a gap, or rethinking an organization’s structure. That's where my team members and those they collaborate with—such as people managers—are working together to make a real difference with the help of data.