Demystifying the Secrets of Global Human Resources: Part Two

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CxOs facing globalization and demands for greater enterprise agility must examine their organization's prevailing modus operandi and identify approaches that will help the enterprise accelerate.

User Empowerment Delivers Business Agility

CxOs facing globalization and demands for greater enterprise agility must examine their organization's prevailing modus operandi and identify approaches that will help the enterprise accelerate. Growth-oriented CXOs will recognize that properly implemented next- generation Global HR applications increase enterprise agility.

The traditional role of the departmental, divisional or national HR professional is to provide the first line of support for employees with their HR-related questions. The common best practice to address this need has been to install call centers, staff them with lower cost employees, and arm them with knowledge bases, thereby offloading inquiry-and-answer capacity from the HR professional. In reality, this approach does not reduce the workload of the more expensive HR professionals for many Global HR related question, as they do not make it into the knowledge base. For sure the call center approach creates higher levels of frustration for employees who now must wade through two levels of support. Outsourced HR call centers often result in longer answer times that take employees away from their real jobs, where they create value for their enterprise.

Furthermore, in a global setting, the approach has been challenged on multiple fronts. Smaller employee populations don't warrant the call center scale or the creation of a knowledge base for a single country, the most common nonstarter. Time differences make the multinational approach hard to implement, limiting employees to small call time windows. Language and other cultural barriers equally play a role; communication may not be smooth on a language level employees may not be comfortable addressing certain topics on the phone with an unknown person multiple time zones away.

Characteristics of a Global HR System that Enables Business Agility

Globalization has created an environment in which organizations that want to be competitive must be agile. Watch the video Empowering End Users is Good for Business and see how your employees can benefit from a consumer like user experience and deliver value across your organization. Discover how next-generation Global HR systems deliver this agility via a set of eight distinct capabilities:

  1. Self-service means self-service. While the term "self-service" has been part of HR lingo for almost two decades, most employees find that self-service means completing forms for later processing in the HR department. Much of these processes has been designed to make HR's life easier, not improve the employee experience. The next-generation of Global HR software enables true self-service, with direct answers, efficient knowledge provision and consumption, and, most importantly, reduced effort by the individual employee to interact with HR.
  2. Resolution speed drives employee empowerment. In the next generation of Global HR software, employees experience a higher resolution speed for getting answers for their questions. The result: The employee is empowered both by having more time for the "real" job and by the ability to resolve an HR problem quickly and efficiently. Getting things done is one of the highest drivers of engagement and motivation for employees, so enterprises that adopt a next-generation Global HR solution will see benefits in this vital category.
  3. Personalization mitigates frustration. One of the prominent sources of employee frustration with HR software is the necessity of re-identifying themselves at any given point of interaction. Logins, repetitive questions, and familiarizing an HR call center agent again and again make traditional HR practices frustrating. Next-generation Global HR applications use personalization techniques to recognize the employee holistically, preserve context over time, and learn what matters to the employee. Next- generation Global HR software will "know" what matters to the employee, similar to an HR professional understanding and anticipating needs holistically.
  4. User experience makes HR delightful. Employees are spoiled by easy and elegant user experiences on their smart mobile devices and expect similar experiences from their enterprise software systems. The next generation of Global HR software features intuitive and beautiful user experiences that are competitive with the user experience on consumer smartphones and devices. Delightful user experience is necessary to achieve a positive relationship between the employee and the software.
  5. Interactivity with high frequency documents improves user experience. For next-generation Global HR software to succeed on its mission of high resolution speed and superior user experience, it needs to ensure that frequent tasks are interactive and easy for the employee. Two traditional HR documents, the paycheck and the benefits statement, are prime candidates for this interactive functionality. These two documents represent the most common interaction an employee has with the HR function.
  6. Interactive paychecks empower and engage employees. Instead of being a static PDF document, paychecks produced by next-generation Global HR systems are interactive, almost "living" documents. Interactive paychecks now offer explanations why a certain value is on the paycheck. This proactively addresses potential questions and empowers the employee himself to get immediate answers by clicking around the interactive paycheck. The interactive paycheck also expands beyond the single paycheck, showing longitudinal capabilities that employees want to see, such as Year to Date, Projected for Year, etc. Projections and what-if questions are supported, again with the primary purpose of answering the employee's next questions when he is looking at his paycheck.
  7. Interactive benefits statements create one-stop shopping. Benefits statements evolve through the year as employees accrue and use benefits. The same design principles that apply to the paycheck apply to benefits statements and inquiries. Fields are interactive, longitudinal information is available, and personal what-if questions can be answered, such as what is the projected co-payment total, when will the deductible be hit, or what will be the out-of-pocket expense for the rest of the year. The outcome is the same as for interactive paychecks –the interactive benefits statement becomes a one-stop event for the employee.
  8. Empowerment pays for itself. The good news for enterprises adopting next- generation Global HR software is that, through empowerment of employees, the software usually pays for itself. While calculating pure quantitative payback poses a challenge, next-generation Global HR software is a sound investment, considering the motivation-boosting benefits of spending more time on one's "real" job. In global enterprises with many country- specific operations, saving even a single hour per employee in a month on tasks like checking on benefits and payroll correlates positively with substantial increases in sales revenue and greater satisfaction with customer service.

Other articles in this series:

Demystifying the Secrets of Global Human Resources: Part One

Demystifying the Secrets of Global Human Resources: Part Three

Demystifying the Secrets of Global Human Resources: Part Four

Demystifying the Secrets of Global Human Resources: Part Five