The Fourth Industrial Revolution and HR 3.0 – Part 2 by George Kemish

I have seen a number of concepts that have been put in place to enhance the employee experience, employee engagement, productivity, recruitment and retention over the years.  However, as stated in Part 1, if these are not aligned to the Value Chain their adoption will mean little; they just become ‘perks of the job’.  One prime example being an Airline whose HR Strategy puts the employee before the customer:  ‘Look after your employees and they will take care of your customers’. An example whereby this strategy does not work:  The same airline left passengers on a sweltering aircraft for two hours, after it had been diverted due to smoke in the cockpit, and paramedics had to be called to remove some passengers who had passed out due to the heat (weather, not smoke related). This is not just poor customer service. It is a blatant disregard for their health and welfare. Whilst I am in total agreement that employees should be treated with respect and that there is a need for the concepts previously mentioned, this should not be at the detriment to the customer but support the quality of service experienced by the end user. The Value Chain needs to work back, from the Customer, through the whole organization and the first stage in ensuring that the employee understands the Value Chain, the interactions that support the Value Chain, and how they themselves can bring value to the Customer, is during the Induction Training Process (onboarding).

Recent experience has proven that Induction Training in many organizations leaves a lot to be desired.  In one case there was no real induction training at all.   There had been a significant turnover of personnel in one area and a new team had been recruited.  They found that there was a significant backlog of work which, seeing it purely as an administrative task, they put to one side whilst they got on with, what they believed to be more pressing work.  Because they had no understanding of the Value Chain or the way in which the backlog impacted on other teams and the value to the customer, this resulted in a significant financial loss (mainly through a loss of market share).  I mentioned the problem of onboarding to David Ulrich.  His reply: 'What intrigues me is that at each stage of talent acquisition (setting standards, sourcing, screening, securing, and then orienting), something can go awry…early career successes probably predict the longer-term impact. Maybe this is why talent is so critical and often difficult to manage'. 

So, what does this all have to do with the Fourth Industrial Revolution and HR 3.0?  Surely this should all have been ‘ironed out’ as part of the HR 2.0 concept.  Shouldn’t it?

In my view, these are areas that should have been addressed before now.  I am not sure whether the problem has been a lack of understanding by Senior Management of the value that HR can bring to the planning process, the inability of HR traditionalists to take on board new concepts, or that there have been so many new concepts that some HR professionals have found it hard to keep up with them all.  Whatever the reason, to my mind, these need to be addressed before we can move forward with HR 3.0.  

So, where does that leave us?  What do we need to do before we can move forward and fully embrace HR 3.0 in a way that will add value (to the Customer and the Organization)?  I would suggest the following:

  • Map the Value Steam back from the Customer through the whole organization.
  • Ensure that your business planning process is fully integrated with all departments being
  • Represented on the Planning Team (including Business Scenario Planning). 
  • Ensure that there is an ongoing collaboration between departments – that inter-departmental interactions fully support the Value Chain.
  • That HR Strategy is written into the Corporate Strategy Document against each individual goal thereby reducing the chance that the business plan might be misconstrued when drafting the HR Strategy.  This also provides a more agile system of review thereby ensuring that change can be undertaken in a more expedient manner; and that other heads of department are given an opportunity to have an input to the HR Strategy, thereby engendering greater trust in the HR processes themselves.
  • Ensure that all HR Concepts such as wellbeing, employee engagement etc are aligned to each other and then aligned to the Value Stream.  Used unilaterally these individual concepts do not add value.
  • Ensure that your employees understand the Value Chain, the Inter-Departmental Interactions that support the Value Chain, and how they themselves contribute to providing the quality of service that will ‘wow’ the customer and increase market share.
  • Carry out skills audits in order to ascertain the tacit knowledge, skills and experience that lurk within the organization, making it easier to identify recruitment and training needs at an early stage in the business planning process.

My last word (well at least for the moment): When looking at areas such as Artificial Intelligence you need to understand that each organization and situation is unique and there is a need for HR systems and processes to be aligned to the Value Chain before embarking on digitalisation.  Following the lead of another organization may not add value to your own.  This means that you will need to be careful when selecting new technology – will an ‘off the shelf’ system really meet your needs, or would the added expense of a ‘bespoke’ system pay dividends in the long run?  How agile is the technology; how easy will you be able to respond to change in the internal and external environments? 

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George Kemish is a consultant specialising in HR Strategy, Workforce Planning and Business Scenario Planning. Having started out as an apprentice in the engineering industry he moved into business administration where he held management posts in both HR and Financial Management from 1978 to 1993.

For the next 14 years George held a senior management position in the Education Sector with responsibility for Management & Financial Accounting; HR Management; Secretarial Services; Facilities Management; Events Management, Catering Management; Marketing; Public Relations; Management of Freedom of Information & Data Protection. As Secretary to the Board of Governors he was also responsible for: Advising on the interpretation of all legislation, regulations & best practice relating to corporate governance; committee administration; drafting of the annual corporate report (including year-end accounts); drafting of the business plan to support short, medium and long-term strategic planning.

In 2007 George moved to the Ministry of Defence where he was responsible for HR Strategy and Manpower Planning in respect of worldwide operations until 2016 when he founded his company; specialising in Business Planning from a HR perspective.