How a People Analytics Expert sees the future of HR (part two)

15th Nov 2018 by Peter Anders Rasmussen
7 minute read

Let's dive right into the second, and last, part of our interview with Benjamin Borchorst. If you did not yet read the first part, we highly encourage you to take a look right here: How a People Analytics Expert sees the future of HR (part one)


The headlines in part two are:

  • The future of HR - looking into upcoming trends
  • How long time does it take to implement an HR Information System
  • Benjamin's favourite books, articles and podcasts


Enjoy the interview! And if you like this content be sure to follow us on your preferred social media.


Can you share some of the most exciting trends that you see in HR right now?

"Of course there is digitalization broadly speaking. Relating to this, but perhaps also acting separately, there is the focus on becoming more data-driven.

Earlier, you mentioned the struggle with being able to demonstrate the value of HR. We think that there is a trend evolving of more curious and ambitious approaches for data-supported HR initiatives.

One example could be to engage in a "before and after" measurement on whatever KPIs or elements you expect to be impacted by your initiative. The initiative could, for instance, be a learning program, a new performance management system or alterations to the recruiting process. Another example could be organizations looking into A/B-testing. This is where you implement an intervention on one population (e.g., a department) and avoid doing so on another and observe for differences following. It is often difficult to establish a cause-effect relationship; however, we find it a trend that organizations display an opportunistic drive towards understanding what drives impact.

Also, there is a trend around employee experience. This trend is inspired by Marketing and the work on understanding customer experience.

I find it critical to work professionally with the employee experience on a broader scale, moving from engagement spikes driven by isolated initiatives, to a more holistic way of understanding what really matters for employees in organizations, including not only culture but also physical space and technology.”

I agree with that. I think that is also a product of the times we live in, where the war for talent is going on. You really have to take care of how your employees are feeling about working at your organization.

"Yes, and this is also where we see interest from the clients' side.

The big heroes in HR have for many years been the HR Business Partners but possibly, going forward, it will be Employee Experience Architects; those who will design the ways of working while (holistically) taking care of the employee experience."

Definitely. So, what do you think that the future will consist of in HR?

"Related to what I said before, we expect to see an increased focus on employee experience. Within customer experience, great theorists talk about how we have moved from a commodities economy to a product/goods economy, to a service economy to now an experience economy.

In retail, we as consumers are now increasingly buying experiences. When we go to Starbucks, we don't just buy a cup of coffee. We buy the whole experience: It is my uniquely designed flavour, milk, etc. and my name on the cup being yelled out in a cozy atmosphere.

We believe that the experience economy is also very relevant to the market of employment. Some argue that this trend is more prevalent for the younger generations, for instance Millennials. For us - I say “us” because both you and I belong to this generation - it is essential that we do not only receive fair compensation. We also want to get great experiences while feeling that we are making an impact.

Perhaps you get to experience this trend as you are working in a startup in a fresh workspace with an exciting atmosphere. All these elements, we expect to see more of in the future.

Then a second element we think will grow in HR and organizations is behavioral science. We find that behavioral science already plays a significant role in marketing and sales, but in HR there is a potential for further application of behavioral science.

When HR brings the insights they have from data, interventions, and more, the operationalization of behavioral science – behavioral design – can guide organizations as to how change can be designed and implemented to make a real impact. Behavioral designers are experts in what drives behavior and determining what we need to do to change behavior. We expect to this play a significant role in assuring utilization of data-insights."

It sounds like these aspects also tap into the employer branding of the company?

"Yes, the experience you offer your employees constitutes your employer branding. In fact, we also see the employer branding connected to the consumer brand. The two have become intertwined. The façade fades, and the way you treat your employees (the experience you offer red.) is the branding of your business. Let's take Implement as an example.

At Implement, you choose your leader. After one year, your choice expires, and you (re-)choose a leader. Consultants can shift between practices and service lines. We believe our agile setup is essential for our employees (consultants red.). It is also important for our clients as we practice what we preach when we advise clients on ways of working, leadership and building an agile organization."

Yeah, there is a broader focus on authenticity out there.

"Exactly."

How long time does an implementation of a cloud-based HRIS usually take?

"It depends on how many modules you include. We do not advise implementing cloud-based HRIS through a big bang approach. Rather, we recommend a phased approach focusing on realizing some of the value/benefits early on.

You can implement one or two modules that cover different areas, for instance, the Core HR module (handling employee master data and reporting) and Recruiting. After going live with these modules, you could e.g. implement Onboarding and Performance Management. The benefits of the digital support for employee master data management and recruiting process are thus realized much sooner.

The time needed to implement varies a bit by module and is very dependent on the complexity of the organization and processes. Many different process adaptations across different business units, countries or regions the implementation will usually expand the scope of – and time needed for – Implementation.

If I have to walk the line and provide a concrete estimate for the time needed to implement a cloud-based HRIS, then I would budget for implementation of two HRIS modules per quarter of a calendar year. Some organizations will not be able to implement with this pace, however, we have been able to achieve this with some clients.

So, if we aim for implementing six core modules of Core HR, Recruiting, Onboarding, Performance Management, Compensation Management, and Learning Management we could budget for three quarters. Assuming we start now - we are in the start of Q4 - you could implement two modules in Q4 2018, two modules in Q1 and two modules in Q2 and you could have digital support for your six core modules by summer 2019.

Of course, there are more modules to consider e.g. Succession Planning and Analytics which could naturally extend the implementation period.

Included in this estimation is an intentional extension of the implementation period to allow for the business to “get some air” and run the business. We plan for breaks between the implementation of modules, and of course, include transition time and hyper-care. Digital Transformation can be a stressful process for the HR organization and we secure a balanced timeline to allow for the creation of sustainable change."

All right. Where do you find inspiration about HR, technology and all these subjects where you advise clients? Can you share a couple of your favourite books, blogs, and influencers?

"Yes. I really consume a lot (laughs). Starting on the books, I can recommend Work rules by Laszlo Bock. Laszlo was the SVP of Google People Operations from 2006-2016. This book describes Google's approach to data-driven people management. They dare to challenge some of the conventional ways of thinking. For instance "We hire Ivy League candidates because they perform the best." Is that true? Can we somehow look into this with data? A great book and very entertaining.

Also, naturally for me the behavioral science classics, Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky; Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein; Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely. Another important piece is The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

I listen to many technology podcasts. For instance The Economist Radio “Babbage”, which touches upon various technology-related issues. I can also recommend Freakonomics Radio, which touches upon socio-economic issues through a behavioral economics perspective.

On People Analytics I can recommend the Tucana People Analytics Podcast. The hosts, David Green and max Blumberg, interview influencers and practitioners in the People Analytics space, providing interesting insights. And finally, the podcast by CIPD - Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, a UK-based organization focused on the application of behavioral science.

On the blogs, I think that Clarity magazine by Visier covers interesting analytic approaches to HR-related problems. And then, of course, your blog going forward."

(Laughs). That is great to hear. Well, thank you very much for your time and your perspective on the HR Analytics area. It was fascinating to listen to your view on the current market and where the future will take HR.

"Pleasure to speak to you. I am really looking forward to seeing how the Ontame.io product will grow into the market and see how you will create value for customers. Your components around both employer branding and becoming more data-driven in your understanding of the sources of your hire plan is an exciting value proposition which could be relevant for many organizations."

If you want to connect with Benjamin on LinkedIn, click here

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