The employee experience sits atop 2021 HR trends, which also include engagement, productivity, wellness, flexibility, tech, and purpose.
This pandemic has proven on a new level that it’s people who make a business exceptional. When businesses amplify employee engagement and productivity with solid human experience management (HXM), they create an environment in which everybody can win.And that’s what we want in today’s business world: Putting people and their experiences first is no longer a nice concept; it’s a must.
This topic was just one of the issues recently discussed as part of our LinkedIn Live series, “The Rise of HXM.” This week my cohost Lars Schmidt from Amplify and our special guest Néstor Márquez talked with me about the state of HR in the Latin America region. (You can watch the replay here.)
The state of HR in Latin America: Critical to business success
Néstor Márquez is a researcher in Mexico City for Future of Work 2050 and a veteran of several consulting engagements in digital transformation. The need to shift from HCM to HXM – to adopt an employee-centric mindset with solutions designed to meet people’s individual needs – is especially acute in areas where COVID-19 infection rates are fluctuating.
Márquez begins by outlining the status of the COVID-19 pandemic in the very large region we lump together with the term “Latin America.”
In Mexico, where he currently lives, the situation is relatively calm, as it is across the temperate zone in which countries are experiencing spring and summer. But in the southern regions – in Chile, Paraguay, and Argentina – winter is approaching, so the next few months could be harrowing.
The emergence of variants and the shortage of vaccines, along with governmental decisions to relax protective rules, are complicating the challenge.Across the region, Márquez explains, “HR is very important both as we deal with the public health crisis and as we prepare for getting out of it.”
HR in Latin America is tasked first with keeping people productive as the definition of “workplace” gets turned on its head. The immediate challenges include:
- Keeping people safe in offices
- Constructing processes to empower them to work at least part-time from remote locations
- Also on the crammed HR agenda is making smart workspaces and processes available to everyone, including women with children, minorities, and those with disabilities
Acknowledging the people factors of productivity
“In general, Latin America has not been very rigorous about HR processes,” says Marquez. “We clearly need modern tools to track and measure employee activities and achievements.” He also points out that in the volatile marketplace, workers must be able to adapt quickly to move into new duties.
Latin American companies have thus begun to prefer generalists over specialists as they recruit. Until now, the workforce has largely been responsible for investing in training, but technology helps identify broader skillsets for recruiters and highlight training opportunities for candidates.
Márquez advises companies that front-end investment in training is the key to attracting, engaging, and retaining a productive workforce.
Schmidt notes that the need for upskilling and reskilling is not limited to Latin America, summarizing that “keeping employees happy and productive through human-centric process design is at the core of the global imperative for HXM.”
Keeping track of objectives and progress suddenly becomes a major challenge with people working in multiple locations, including from private spaces.Tools are helping to collect and analyze feedback, but companies have to be able to level up so that the information can be used to benefit everyone in the organization. Support should be a two-way flow, in which employees support the organization’s business and the organization supports employees.
Employee mental health is another area in which technology can provide better monitoring tools. “Organizations were simply not used to facing those challenges so extensively in the past,” explains Márquez. “In fact, before the pandemic, we didn’t even want to talk about the issue at the executive level. But now the biggest question may be how to design processes that pay attention to the whole person, with his or her many connections to family and society – to life beyond work.”
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Paying attention to the future of the organization
Márquez points out that the pandemic is also responsible for waking companies up to the need to “plan for the future in an age of accelerating change. Before last year, it was easy to talk loudly about managing the employee experience while keeping everything the same. Now, we really need to act.As an example of an enlightened Latin American company, Márquez offers Mercado Libre, an aggregator of online marketplaces based in Buenos Aires, which he calls “our version of Amazon.” He explains, “Mercado Libre has become a leader in revenue and compensation. Today, everybody wants to work for them because of their excellent relationship with its people.”
He says that several banks, for example, Santander, are also making a strong showing in the advancement of HXM and are thus seen as desirable workplaces. He continues, “Such organizations – and my own Future of Work 2050 – are working with universities to build talent and put people at the center of product generation and business development.”
Márquez also mentions Walmart as a case study. Although the company is leaving the equatorial and southern regions of Latin America, it’s thriving in Mexico. He says Walmart’s story demonstrates the power of HXM and technology to transform business and prepare organizations to manage ongoing change long after the threat of COVID-19 has been minimized.
The process of mentoring managers is also essential to the evolution of HXM. At Future of Work 2050, Márquez helps train leaders to understand employee needs and help them be most productive by providing the best tools and support.
He stresses “how to make organizations more open to investments in training along with discussion and resolution of problems among their people. In the past, you had to leave your problems at the door of the company. But now managers must acknowledge that business success depends on satisfying the whole personhood of the employee.”
Embracing technological transformation will continue to be essential to improving business outcomes.
As Márquez says, “We have to show that technology is much more than a set of robots coming to take our jobs. It’s all about changing how we create value and how we perceive value. If we see value only in the generation of products and services, we are not keeping up with the times. “