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HR Binoculars

In the talent space of tomorrow, HR leaders will be the most sought after profiles and people with HR skills will be the most competed for. Yes, I’m biased as I think I have the best job in the world, and because it’s always easier to see how you create value vs how others create value. Ask a marketing person what will be the talent in highest demand in the near future and they’ll give you the same spiel. We all use the same argument for why our different skill sets are needed – and that’s also why diversity of skills are needed to build a successful company. 

Even taking my bias into account, there’s no denying what we in the HR industry are currently experiencing. There are job offers from the left, from the right – from every angle you look. Our profession has never seen anything like it. HR and People Managers have never been more important than in today’s turbulent times where people are seeking a clear and compelling purpose from their future employers.

The big question then becomes not about whose role or skills are more important, but what is the future we all need to work towards?

Today, companies want to tailor their products for their customers or more accurately put, their customers want a personalised experience. It doesn’t matter if your customers are buying a new car that allows them to manually adjust the colours of the user interface in their car’s entertainment system, or if they are logging into their TikTok account and receiving a tailored experience. No matter what the product, or who the customer is, they expect personalisation.  

It might not have been a top-of-mind demand for many of us already working as HR leaders, but the generation entering the work market today knows nothing else. Most of their experiences with brands are tailored to them and their interests. And they have the same expectation of a work environment and employer – a personalised employee experience. 

It’s not enough for a company to have a strong EVP that helps their (future) employees understand what they offer and why they should be the employer of choice. The experience needs to be more granular, it needs to be bespoke to each individual. We already talk about situation-based leadership as a necessity to tap into people’s potential, and now we need to level up to also provide a personalised employee experience that allows our people to do their best work.

At Spotify we solve this in a few ways. First of all, our Work From Anywhere program allows our people to work from locations and in environments that allow them to be their best selves. The key is collaboration between those meeting in person in an office and those meeting virtually. We provide streamlined tools and are developing ways of personalising the information presented to our employees – a great example of this is Disco. Or look at it this way: if an employee is reading an article on parental leave in our handbook, we should present them with the opportunity to also apply for parental leave in the same place. And when they apply for parental leave, we should inform the manager on how to order baby swag and find a contractor or start the hiring process to find a parental leave cover. It’s all about simplifying access to information, and automating as much as possible to remove room for human error and connect the dots to increase the employee experience. This in turn makes HR deliver what is needed just in time which also helps increase speed of the organisation. This is more important than ever with a distributed workforce in a highly competitive market.

There’s also a need to personalise the experience in the office. Some people need quiet, some people need social interaction and some need whiteboards covering the wall. Most need a variation of it all and it needs to be available just in time. At the same time they need to feel comfortable and “at home”. 

We don’t believe in blanket flexibility – where the entire office can be modified in the same way. That seems smart and cost efficient at first glance, because you can adapt the workspace and don’t have to invest as much in remodelling and adding more space. However, the organisation should instead be offering bespoke flexibility, where each team can work with the office designers on what elements of flexibility their specific team needs. It may be more expensive on paper at the beginning but in the long-term you and your employees will reap the rewards. Investment in spaces and tools are an investment in people and their productivity. For instance if HR can design their own space based on their needs, the entire team will be more successful. HR might need high tech conference rooms for virtual training, many small rooms for confidential 1:1s. IT needs to be at the same location all the time so people in need of IT support know where to find them. Engineering teams need lots of white boards and room for pair programming etc. By allowing each team to design their own space you personalise their experience to their needs and you set your organisation up for success.

You can read more about the approach of designing this kind of workplace in Sonya’s post on dynamic workplaces.

All and all – change is constant – the new generation entering the workforce have higher expectations of a personalised experience and the uncertainties around us keep increasing. HR is there to help guide your organisation and plays an even more business critical role in the organisations of the future. 

In HR, we have the best job ever.

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