The Future Of Work, Workforce Experience and Being Digital – Interview with Erica Volini

Future

Today’s interview is with Erica Volini, who is the US Human Capital leader for Deloitte Consulting. Erica joins me today to talk about the Future Of Work, the implications for organisations, organisational transformation, Digital DNA and how the employee experience fits into all of this.

This interview follows on from my recent interview – The uniqueness in everyone is the largest asset you have in customer experience – Interview with Sam Johnson of Jamf – and is number 241 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.

Highlights from my conversation with Erica:

  • The big headline that usually gets people attention when it comes to the future of work is ‘the robots are coming and your jobs are going away’.
  • All of this talk about robots and automation is creating a culture of fear.
  • There is no doubt that robots and automation will have an impact on the work that is being done. But, the technology will also provide an opportunity to create net new roles, capabilities and skills. It will also enhance what the workforce has the capability to do and will bring experience to the fore.
  • This will all have an impact on the structure of the organisation, the culture and the way that people and leaders are motivated and developed.
  • Many organisations are still stuck in 20th century models of organisation and management and need to re-evaluate everything, including their mindset, if they are to respond adequately to the challenges facing them in the 21st century.
  • One of the characteristics that Deloitte believes will epitomise the organisation of the future will how they embrace the idea of becoming a Network of Teams.
  • However, they are not proposing that all hierarchy should go away, particularly in large global organisations.
  • But, organisations need to embrace this type of approach as well as consider what sort of levers, incentives and rewards they need to introduce in order to bring that team based thinking into their organisations and into action. Deloitte calls this developing the Digital DNA for your company.
  • There is a lot of talk about digital transformation and much of it is dominated by technology. It does not include people much of the time.
  • Digital transformation should start with mindset change as that will inform technology choice.
  • Without understanding where you are today and then understanding the mindset shift that you are trying to create as you shift towards digital then it is really hard to select the right technology to enable that.
  • Deloitte have been conducting research with MIT on digital maturity and transformation for the last five years and the biggest predictor of success is consistently mindset.
  • This new world of work is likely to increase the demand for skills like customer service, empathy, active listening, uncovering of insights from mass data sets, the creation and curation of experiences for customers etc etc. With those skills in mind, the majority of current identification and recruitment processes are not fit for purpose as they are more geared towards technical skills than they are the required skills listed above. This means that companies will have to evaluate and completely revamp their recruitment and development processes and systems so that they are fit for purpose.
  • People call them soft skills but they are really relationship and experience skills.
  • The only way to execute your brand and the experience is through your workforce as that is what brings it to life.
  • This will mean that the successful execution of a business strategy will be very closely tied to its approach to its people.
  • Deloitte have through their research uncovered 4 stages of maturity on the way to being digital. They are 1. Exploring digital, 2. Doing digital, 3. Becoming digital and 4. Being digital.
  • Deloitte have identified 23 traits of what they believe epitomises a ’Being digital’ organisation. These include:
    • Are you continuously innovating?
    • Are you geographically agnostic?
    • Do you have the ability to democratise information?
    • Do you have agility?
    • Do you have a flattening and changing hierarchy?
    • Do you have a culture that promotes failing early and failing fast?

Fig.1-OrgOverallDigitalMaturitySource: http://deloitte.wsj.com/cmo/2017/08/14/digital-dna-a-road-map-to-maturity/

  • Only 1-2% of companies are ‘Being digital’ and they tend to be the digital natives. However, even some of the more prominent digital native companies still have work to do and sit between “Becoming digital’ and “Being digital’.
  • Most companies have explored digital and many of them have moved to doing digital. A few are becoming digital in their thinking but very few are being digital.
  • Digital is not an initiative but a mindset. It’s never finished.
  • With the future of work, robotics and different talent models, employee experience should be re-expressed as the workforce experience.
  • We have to apply the same principles that we apply to the customer experience to the workforce experience.
  • Many HR processes today are still designed with HR in mind and are not employee or workforce centric. That has to change.
  • Erica describes an example that involves a hotel chain who were grappling with a number of the issues described above and, particularly, around the role of the concierge and how they play in delivering an enhanced experience. What they have done is use digital technology to gather insights on their customers so that they can deliver a curated and tailored concierge experience. But, they have used the technology not to replace the actual concierge but to help enhance the service that the concierge provides to hotel guests.
  • How can you use digital to elevate certain roles that are key to pushing your business strategy forward?
  • Adopting a digital mindset is like adopting a new behaviour or developing a new habit. It takes time, commitment and practice.
  • To achieve that you have to know where your culture is starting from.
  • Digital leaders are very different from traditional leaders. They think, act and react differently.
    • Some of their characteristics:
      • A digital leader knows how to influence vs command and control through a hierarchy.
      • A digital leader is going to understand how to promote and incentivise failure for the sake of driving innovation.
      • A digital leader knows how to promote a collaborative working environment.
      • A digital leader knows how to communicate a vision that everyone can align to knowing that the details under that vision may be constantly changing.
  • The biggest mistake companies make is that they try and copy the ‘Digital DNA’ of another company. It has to be personal to you and/or organisation.
  • You have to be thinking about how to embed digital. But it’s not embedding digital into the way that work happens today. It’s about rethinking the way work has to happen tomorrow with the advent of digital.
  • The creative skills, the analytical skills, the customer service skills…these are the skills that will differentiate your organisation in future and these are ‘The New Essential Human Skills’.
  • All of these changes will increase the risk around workforces. Therefore, don’t overlook the cost and the risks around these issues and prepare to also become more proactive around risk. If you don’t then it could be very damaging for both your corporate and employee brand.
  • Wow service/experience for Erica is personalised, contextualised and truly integrated end-to-end.
  • Find out more about Digital DNA here.
  • Also, check out ConnectMe, the product that Erica mentioned which is enabling a digital workplace by utilising data and insights to connect the workforce to what they need, when, and where they need it.

About Erica

Erica VoliniErica is the US Human Capital leader for Deloitte Consulting. In this role, she is responsible for the 4,000+ practitioners focused on helping organizations solve their most complex and pressing Human Capital issues. In today’s world of constant disruption, those issues include: Determining the future composition of the workforce; Enabling the digital organization; Managing the cost of labor; and Optimizing the employee experience–all centered around how to optimize the intersection of people and business performance. Throughout her 20 year career, Erica has worked with some of the world’s leading organizations across multiple sectors and geographies and is a frequent speaker on how market trends are impacting the HR organization and profession as a whole. Within Deloitte, she serves as a member of Deloitte Consulting’s Management Committee and Board of Directors. She has a Bachelor of Science in Industrial & Labor Relations from Cornell University.

Check out Deloitte’s work in Human Capital and other areas here, say Hi to Erica and the folks at Deloitte on Twitter @DeloitteUS, @DeloitteTalent and @erica_volini and feel free to connect with Erica on LinkedIn here.

Thanks to Pixabay for the image.

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