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Cloud-based solutions are the answer to many HR dilemmas. However, that’s only half of the story, argues Sandrijn van den Nieuwboer - van Stokkum, Senior Manager Strategy, Talent & Organization at Accenture. ‘HR needs to make a mindshift from a solution-driven approach to a customer-centric one.’

‘Of course, cloud-based HR solutions are necessities for modern HR departments. They offer practical solutions for practical problems. But when it comes to genuinely adding value to your workforce in such a way that your human capital strategy leads to improved business results, you simply need to double up. More specifically, you need a drastic change in mindset, ideology and strategy.’

Customer-Centric HR: putting your employees first

Today, employees expect the same level of service, care and “rights” as the organization’s customers do. If your customers’ questions and complaints are answered via social media within the blink of an eye and transactions are dealt with super efficiently, employees won’t settle for anything less. In other words: employees have become (your) customers, too.’ Which instantly clarifies the concept and ideology of Customer-Centric HR: you have to the put your employees first, at any given time. Back in the day, HR could get by with processes that were mostly convenient for the HR department itself, but weren’t necessarily all too focused on the employees. Those days are gone: the realization that people are our most valuable assets is now a dominant factor in our strategies.’

The essence of all HR processes and strategies

‘The more engaged and productive your workforce is, the higher the likelihood of the business strategy translating into results. In other words: less engagement means less performance. Engaging and empowering your people should be at the forefront of all Human Capital strategies and HR processes - not from the bottom-up, but implemented in a top-down approach. When the ideology is truly embedded in the mindset, it will permeate into the HR strategy, offering tailor-made solutions to satisfy employees’ needs, and keep them as relevant as possible. To put it bluntly, HR definitely needs to go the extra mile.’

"In today’s fierce “War for Talent”, this type of tailor-made customer relationship management is vital"

‘Practice what you preach: we’ve also pulled up our socks. We all know recruitment processes in organizations can often not run as smoothly as we’d possibly like - Accenture is no exception, unfortunately. However, thanks to the launch of our in-house recruitment application, we’re on the ball like never before. Here’s how it works: as soon as a job applicant has been invited for an interview, he or she receives a notification about the upcoming interview, which includes details on whom it will be with, the exact job specs, useful tips from a recruiter and where and what time it takes place - including integrated Google Maps directions and a picture of the office, which is very useful in the labyrinth also known as the Zuidas.

True, all this information can be found elsewhere too, but the fact that it’s personalized, in real-time, and accurate means the foundation for a personal relationship with a potential employee is set. In today’s fierce 'War for Talent', this type of tailor-made customer relationship management, also referred to as talent relationship management, is vital.’

Paper job applications still exist (more often than you think)

‘Think about what an administrative nightmare the recruitment process must be for companies with a high staff turnover rate. For example, retailers often employ students or part-time workers, so for larger companies we’ve developed a candidate-centric mobile app to support and simplify their recruitment and onboarding process. This really decluttered the process since data has to be stored in different systems and - believe it or not - this often involves the filing of actual paper documents.

‘How can we decrease the enormous workload all this turnover implies?’ was the question our solution had to ultimately provide an answer to. We gathered experts from all over the organization dealing with HR and retail for a Design Thinking workshop in order to come up with the best customer-centric solution. It took us one night of solid brainstorming over a few tasty pizzas before we left the room, with a paper prototype of a future app in our hands.’

From a paper to a clickable prototype

‘A week later, that prototype became a clickable one, which we offered the retailer on a tablet. We proudly presented the client with a smooth, strategic and fully digitized HR system. True, it won’t solve the high turnover rate - which is not a problem, simply a given - but it surely decreases the workload. In addition, their HR processes are becoming significantly more interactive and engaging, satisfying the employees’ aka customers’ needs optimally. Customer-centric HR at its best!’

Moments that matter: how to improve the experience?

Bigger organizations feel the urge to digitize, and digitize fast. In this context, so-called “moments that matter” are key to keep in mind, since it’s the only way your employees are actually part of your new, customer-centric, custom-made HR strategy. Which moments throughout the employee lifecycle impact their mood, engagement, loyalty and productivity? More importantly, organizations need to look at how they can positively contribute to the experience of these crucial moments. A Design Thinking workshop in which you simply ask your employees will set you in the right direction.’

A classic win-win situation

‘A common outcome of such a workshop is learning that numerous employees are unhappy in their current positions and are yearning for a new challenge. Now that the problem has been identified, you can start looking for a solution, which, in this case, is usually right under your nose since many companies have internal vacancies. You do the math: how convenient and effective would it be if you had an algorithm that would match these employees with potential openings? Or even better: an algorithm that would make it significantly easier to find matches for vacancies, not only within your own database, but also on platforms such as LinkedIn? It’s what we call a classic win-win situation.’

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