We know the business cases regarding the benefits of remote work, but another reason emerges; the most important reason of all: humanity.
I began my career when the biggest buzzword in human resources was “human capital management.” Old-school HR was transactional and reactive – with systems, tools, and processes built around the needs of HR, not the actual employees. I mean, think about it: how many of your workers show up each day considering themselves “human capital?” Fortunately, that mindset is increasingly part of the past. Increasingly, enterprises today are focused on human experience management, or HXM.
Human experience management (HXM) reflects the next evolution of HCM solutions, with the employee experience at the center of HR processes.
It’s time to move beyond the traditional way of thinking with human capital management (HCM), which focuses on facilitating transactions and pushing top-down HR processes.
Human Experience Management (HXM) is all about focusing on the people who power a business to success; providing them with the tools and technology to enable meaningful, productive, and personal employee experiences that drive business results.
Modern HR: The path to power is now in the hands of the people
“Traditional HR was viewed as a pathway to power, so everything had to flow through that department,” says Lars Schmidt, founder of Amplify and cofounder of HR Open Source. “Modern HR doesn’t have that insecurity. Practitioners know the value HR brings to the business, so they can focus on creating programs and frameworks where leaders can lead, employees can do their best work, and HR supports it all.”
Ron Thomas, managing director of Strategy Focused Group, believes that employee experience is on the same trajectory as customer experience – where companies are learning to increase loyalty by boosting satisfaction.
“I’ve always been surprised by CEOs who don’t take the results of employee engagement scores seriously,” he says. “Companies need to accept that employee engagement scores are paramount. In a post-COVID world, you don’t have any choice. Either companies improve or people will leave.”
Yet employees are not a monolith, so prescriptive HR isn’t enough. “HXM focuses on individuals, democratizing the employee journey,” explains Minda Harts, Founder and CEO of The Memo, LLC, and Adjunct Assistant Professor at NYU. “I like this way of disrupting the old model and moving us into the future of work.”
I was thrilled to speak with these experts as part of a new LinkedIn Live series, The Rise of HXM, in collaboration with SAP.
Each week, my co-hosts Minda Harts, Lars Schmidt, and a special guest will dive into Human Experience Management as it relates to today’s hottest topics. You can watch this week’s whole replay with guest Ron Thomas or read on for the highlights and comments from the audience.
Emerging trends in HXM
HR no longer happens in a silo. With the events of 2020, we see that agility must be part of the skillset for modern HR teams. The shift to remote work during COVID-19 was dramatic – and more difficult for some companies than others.
Legacy HR teams had a prescriptive approach, policies, and playbooks.
When that was blown up, HR teams began opening their playbooks and sharing. “That’s a big part of HXM,” says Schmidt, “the ability to adapt, be agile, and look to peers for best practices. It helps get us out of the silos that were key to past HR practices.”
And HXM can help us check the pulse of an organization and take the right action.
Harts notes that workers in the U.S. don’t always feel comfortable sharing their feedback in racially sensitive times. “Not everyone is experiencing the workplace the same way,” she says. “But I’m excited about the opportunities for people to use HXM tools to engage with employees and help close the experience gap.”
It’s important that we avoid the impulse to create policies and programs for employees without asking for their input. “HXM gives us the chance to do a lot of listening,” says Schmidt. “When we understand employee needs better, we can work with them to co-create programs that support the overall employee experience.”
HR priorities were reshaped by COVID. Moving forward, HR can use HXM to build an employee-centric business focused on development and inclusion.
Leadership’s role in enabling change
One of the biggest challenges of my career has been making the case for people to be decent human beings, doing right by one another in the workplace. Crazy, right? But getting buy-in on HXM and the employee experience from leaders can help.
“We need to break it down and tell leaders why we are doing this,” Thomas says. “What’s the likely business outcome? What would it mean for you and your team to take part?” Otherwise, I’m afraid HXM will just be another new HR initiative that generates early excitement and then fades away.
Viewers of our LinkedIn Live series also affirm the need for leaders to get involved.
“The best thing you can do to change the employee experience is to simply be out there observing, asking good questions, and more importantly, showing genuine curiosity,” offers Elena Valentine, CEO of SkillScout.
“That’s how this starts. And if you follow HXM’s overall guiding principles, this can become an extraordinary way to solve problems creatively and collaboratively.”
Where tools yield positive results
Technology will be fundamental to this next generation of work, but it must support the needs of employees and what they need to be productive, in addition to their well-being and safety. “We need tools to support communication, collaboration, and community,” says Schmidt. “The role of technology is to support human practices and programs – not the other way around.”
The benefit of this, after all, is to organizations.
Harts mentions that 70% of the women she interviewed for an upcoming book said their managers weren’t invested in their success. That’s a serious problem.
Even as companies are battling for good talent, many managers aren’t taking the basic steps to make sure they retain good people.
Yet, Harts says, there are opportunities to use technologies such as machine learning to figure out how leaders can tap into their empathy, build relationships, and engender trust from their workers. I think that could make for a fascinating future of work.
A positive future for HXM
Each of the experts I spoke with seems optimistic about how HXM can help – even during a year when every past assumption has been upended. Think of it as opportunistic disruption.
“COVID-19 has been rocket fuel for HR departments that were stagnant,” agrees Schmidt.
“Now we have the opportunity to rethink how we work, how we support the business, and how we align with the business to help achieve its goals. HXM gives us the opportunity to rebuild from the ground up based on the circumstances and realities of today, and that’s something to be super excited about.”
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