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“It’s about creating the environment to leverage
digital properly. Generally, HR people have shied away
from this and not added significant value.”
A joint study last year by Deloitte and AHRI, called
‘Rethinking Social Media’, found that companies were
beginning to use social software techniques to improve
internal processes, connect employees, increase internal
knowledge flow and enhance productivity. These
included public forums such as Facebook, LinkedIn,
Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, and internal social
networks such as Yammer, Wikis and Google apps.
But the study also found that only about 25 per cent
of the companies were using social platforms to facilitate
people management, and most didn’t see it as essential.
A key issue, says Scott, is breaking down hierarchical
structures and leadership styles. Young employees
expect to use social and mobile tools that can tap
into the collective capability of the employee base by
promoting idea-sharing. But these tools don’t flourish
with a top-down approach.
Scott also sees a role for H R in educating leaders to
be involved in social media initiatives and encouraging
managers to relax when their direct reports set their
own goals and share projects with other divisions.
Williams describes a reverse mentoring program
Deloitte has run since 2008 as “digital natives teaching
digital dinosau rs to become digital immigrants”. As well
as transferring knowledge, the program helps younger
people feel valued, he says.
A 2012 study report by Deloitte and Telstra, ‘ Taking
Leadership in a Digital Economy’, u nderscores the
importance of people. In the ‘old’ economy, it says,
a company’s value was often reflected in its tangible
assets, whereas a digital business model is much more
reliant on the capability of its people.
For the digital pointy heads – the web-designers,
mobile apps developers, big data analysts, robotics
specialists, search engine optimisers and their ilk – HR
must champion open rules and policies if it wants to
retain their talent, says Williams. Bans on bringing your
own device to the office, accessing YouTube or working
from home might not be well received, for example.
“If you bring digital people into a non-digital
environment, they’ll look elsewhere. You can’t stick
them in a straitjacket,” he says. “It’s not pandering to
them. It’s actually making the most of them.”
Relaxed rules can foster innovation, particularly
in an environment where software developers can
experiment. At Deloitte, one team recently designed
prototypes to complete time sheets on smartphones,
while a February ‘hackathon’ came up with a program
to use smartphones to scan instructions for using office
equipment such as photocopiers.
McKinsey & Co, in a report in May on ‘The Seven
Traits of Effective Digital Enterprises’, even suggests
ring-fencing digital talent, at least in the short term.
Buying a five-person mobile development firm and
merging it into your existing web operation risks losing
the entire team, the report warns.
“Digital talent must be nurtured differently, with
its own working patterns, sandbox and tools,” says
the report, which cites Westfield as an example. The
shopping centre giant set up Westfield Labs in 2012 to
innovate in social, mobile and digital.
Then there’s recruitment. Scott says that more than
70 per cent of organisations have not yet switched to
support mobile applications. “Digital natives are highly
focused on their mobile phones. They’re not [job]
searching on computers.”
Some companies have taken the next step and
gamified the recruitment process. Cosmetics giant
L’Oreal set up a website called Reveal, where
visitors are challenged to reveal their professional
profile by taking part in real-life problem-solving
to collect points, feedback, prizes and perhaps a
“IF YOU BRING DIGITAL PEOPLE INTO
A NON-DIGITAL ENVIRONMENT,
THEY’LL LOOK ELSEWHERE.
YOU CAN’T STICK THEM IN
PETER WILLIAMS, CHIEF EDGE OFFICER,
CENTRE OF THE EDGE, DELOITTE
Peter Williams, chief edge
of ficer at Deloitte’s Centre
of the Edge and patron
of the AHRI Award for HR
the discussion on how HR
practitioners can champion
the need for digital
innovation via people on
the HRM TV video channel.
Watch the HRM TV
HRM TV VIDEO
26_33_HRM04_DISABLE_DIGITAL VERSION 4KW.indd 32
22/09/14 5:30 PM
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