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The Rise of Digitalisation - Roles of HR

Updated: Dec 6, 2018

Digitalisation. What comes to your mind?

New technology?

Automation? how about e-Everything?

These are all considered the process of converting information into a digital form - Digitisation, not Digitalisation.

Digital transformation is about people, and culture, not technology, and since HR is in the people business more squarely than any other department within an organization, it is critical to involve HR pros in every part of the digital transformation process. - Shelly Kramer

Digitalisation is more than just digital transformation through implementing new technology; it's about having Technology as the DNA of your Company. In order to move through and be successful in digital transformation, companies need to "live and breathe" Technology, rather than having yet another Technology-led initiative.

At its heart, digital transformation is about changing people before culture, with a particular role played by HR throughout the process.

In an open letter Linkedin article by our fellow HR thought leader and founder of People Mentality Inc, HR is still side-lined partly because HR still maintains its traditional role as a supporter of business, rather than a leader. As a result, there is a higher chance of becoming passive recipients of digital strategies, instead of a key voice its strategic transformation. Below are 4 areas where HR can make a difference to partner and drive business value through the digitalisation journey.

1. REVIEW - current structures with reference to the future

Manpower planning. Take charge of conversations across the various functions understand each of them foresee they are involved in the digital strategies. HR needs to rebuild the structure of the organisation and how it impacts its talent plans.

Will they need more or less manpower? What kind of competencies do they need from future hires? Which parts of the job needs to be automated and the employees currently in those roles might be affected? What do we do with current set of employees if they do not possess the skills required to digitalise?

2. RECRUIT - the very best through awesome onboarding experience

To answer "what kind of competencies do they need from future hires?" in part 1, we need to first hire the right people. People who have seen it and experienced the digitalised side of things. Begin by employing staff who are not just self aware, but also have a mature level of digital awareness. These candidates are typically comfortable with turning data-driven intelligence into meaningful outcomes.

Amid the Talent war, it is increasingly hard to find good candidates, who are also selective about the opportunities they pursue. It is common nowadays to have candidates with more than one offers to choose from, so an attractive culture with strong employee representation and branding is critical to anchor their decision making.

Every touch point through the hiring and onboarding process is critical to quickly gain candidate trust through culture - a key area potential employees look for these days.

What they READ about your Company ratings and reviews from actual employee on professional sites.
What they SEE from employees past and present, sharing about life with the Company on Social Media platforms.
What they HEAR about employee experiences through friends and family.
How they  FEEL as a candidate though interviews, close follow-ups, can be critical in creating positive candidate experience to help secure hi-potential talent.

If an onboarding programme is not available just yet, create it. If the recruitment process is not good enough, fix it. Be who you say you are, and influence with great culture above everything else. This for sure, will make your Company above the rest, attracting the best.

3. RETAIN - with strong employee engagement

Your team is only as strong as your culture. After so much effort put into what needs to be done, who needs to be hired, you now need a culture of trust, team dynamics, and high performance to keep them in.

We all know an engaged workforce is a more productive workforce, but how do you keep employees in an age of short attention spans and constant change? Will they ultimately leave us for more money easily? Will they get bored and start sourcing for opportunities externally just because we are unable to support their career aspirations?

Employees are no longer interested in waiting around for the annual performance reviews, as oppose to much frequent casual feedback. Focus more on personal development, feedback, course-corrections where required and improve opportunities for learning.

Employee engagement is really much more than having parties, team bonding activities. Treat employees like how you want to be treated, take care of them, and they will take care of you :)

4. RE-DEVELOP our existing leaders

Re-development the mindset of leaders before they are be able to bring their team along with them. Start by assisting current leaders to learn and unlearn what they need to know about today's technology, and concurrently bring in talent who are already digitally experienced. How about introducing a millennial mentorship programme? By this I mean letting the millennials teach us and cultivate an environment where each employee is encouraged to be both a teacher and student.

What more can HR practitioners do to support digitalisation?


  1. How technology can help match candidate profiles to the role?

  2. How technology can lead to a better influx of potential talent, keeping the pipeline full, allowing the company to operate at full throttle?

  3. How the standardization of HR processes, driven by the adoption of technology, can have a big impact on culture?

  4. How about making onboarding, talent management, and talent retention all more effective within the organization through technology?

Technology plays a huge role in digital transformation - a long and complex journey for the whole organization. We should play a tactical role in business transformation, before we fall behind. Automating standard HR tasks and using the technology to help employees better connect and frees up HR to focus more on partnering, and;

Let HR do what humans do, they communicate.

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