Articles, Organizational Change

Can HR Help Bridge the Gap?

…… Part of The Basics series. First published in september 2015 ……

The internal digital work environment has evolved dramatically over recent years. I have conducted surveys and written reports annually on “digital inside” since 2006. This October I’ll be attended HR Tech World Congress in Paris on October 27 – 28.  I will be interviewing speakers and attendees, and collecting input on this question: Is HR helping to bridge the gap between words and actions — between intentions and reality — when it comes to digital inside organizations? And if so, how?

The HR Effect — Correlation or Cause?

For many years, I have followed the evolution of HR through my annual, global surveys about the digital work environment and my own consulting engagements over 16 years. I have seen HR roles that range from purely admin to highly strategic.

7 years ago, in July 2008, I wrote a post “The HR edge — joker card in the intranet game” in which I talked about this chameleon-like role.

The exciting discovery in that year’s survey was that companies where the intranet was the « way of working » had a higher proportion of HR involvement on the Steering Committees than did the other organizations.

Correlation or cause? HR may have been the or one of the differentiating factors. Six years later, in 2014, I became concerned that HR was stuck in the middle – in a “management versus people” polarity.

In that year’s survey, I asked: “Which parts of your organization are thinking about and preparing for the future workplace?” HR was cited less often than Communication and IT.

Can HR Solve Discrepancies Between Words and Actions?

In spite of the low numbers above, I began to see a new role for HR as a potential solver of discrepancies between words and action.

I quote here from the 2014 article:

“From what I’ve seen, HR is often stuck between what management wants them to do, and what they need to be doing for the people. If people are being encouraged to share information and knowledge (words), yet they are evaluated based on individual performance (actions), it creates an underlying conflict. If management —iPads in hand— are championing digital transformation (words), then the floor-field workforce must be connected through mobile (actions). And so on.
HR should represent the people, and at the same time, understand the big picture and the management perspective.   HR can talk to top management. HR can influence strategies. HR can help connect the words with the actions. The problem today is that in most organizations, this is not yet happening.”