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How Digital is your HR?


How Digital is your HR?

I must confess that a few weeks ago I told me son to put a 'cork in it'.

He had overstepped the mark and I thought it was time to make it clear that what he had said was not on.

But he laughed and asked me what a cork was!

HR is being disrupted globally by digital and some businesses are still using corks to solve new problems.

We work with clients around Australia helping them to define their Digital HR strategy and roll out their Digital HR roadmap.

It does surprise us how often client think that Digital is technology and that is only an enabler for HR. Actually, that approach is the old cork.

Digital HR is transforming the traditional model of HR and no longer playing a subordinate role.


The role of Digital HR for workers

Digital is about driving the whole worker experience and driving engagement. The consumerisation of HR. Digital is really an extension of our arm (much like Apple marketing told us with the original iPod) and we want the experience of HR to be at our fingertips, anywhere and anytime.


The role of Digital HR for management

From a management perspective, Digital HR is about helping their business move through the Digital HR maturity model to achieve Digital HR actualisation. The benefits to the business with greater maturity include:

  1. Driving employee engagement
  2. Gains in efficiency through automation
  3. Gains in data management for better compliance and business storytelling
  4. Gains in predictive analytics and reporting
  5. Potential for driving business innovation
Digital HR Maturity Model.png


Digital HR maturity model

In helping clients understand their Digital HR maturity we help them plot their HR domains on a heat map.

Digital HR Maturity Heat Map.png


Digital HR maturity heat map

After plotting the current state HR domains we then develop a future state and a strategy to achieve Digital HR maturity that will achieve the intended benefits.

FK is a leader in Digital HR that can help companies HR become truly digital


Why the traditional training approach doesn’t cut it in today’s aggressive implementation projects.

Why the traditional training approach doesn’t cut it in today’s aggressive implementation projects.

Organisations are seeking ways to refine budgets for digital transformation programs, and are seeking ways to accelerate the time it takes to implement or upgrade systems compared to what was typically set out for projects five years ago.

This is increasing the prevalence of two things:

1.  Vanilla implementations.
2.  Aggressive program timelines.

So how does this change the way we roll out technology to our people?

The combination of these two factors puts huge pressure on user adoption programs, which need to be looked at differently. 

Firstly, an out-of-the-box vanilla system will always require an organisation to change the way they operate more than if a significant system customisation program is undertaken. From an end-user perspective there is no such thing as a vanilla system. It’s just the system.

This means that there is more onus on business process design and user adoption, which need more consideration, but equally these programs reduce the technical effort required – thus shortening the time frames of the project.

Which leads us to point two.

There has been a conscious and significant reduction in the timelines planned to undertake digital transformation programs over the past five years. This aggressive approach can pay off by costing down projects and stopping the bleed of project overruns, but it can also impact the organisation’s ability to be fully prepared for the change and take full advantage of the benefits.

In some cases, the desire to ‘chase a date’ can override the desire for a perfect solution. We are seeing business process design happening later and later in project cycles - and in the case of ‘chase the date’ scenarios – we have even seen projects go live with no detailed business process design or documentation at all.

The issue is that the process design is the most integral part of any adoption program and is the foundation from which the organisation can actually embed the change. 

As a result of these current trends, there are more and more immature processes and immature system builds compared to what we were seeing five years ago.

From a user adoption perspective, traditionally we have tried to comprehensively prepare people for a go-live by providing information and training around the future state. We would look at what the change would mean for people, how their work would change from a process perspective and how they would use the system in the future state.

Typically, in the lead up to go-live, time would be spent preparing and deploying learning that supported the change, whether it was classroom-based training, eLearning, or any other form of training. By the time go-live came around, people would be well prepared to do their job in the future state. There would then be some support and transition to BAU activities, to make sure the business is up and running, with backup from user support material developed in the lead up to go-live.

However, there are a number of critical dependencies to enable this to happen, including system readiness, business process design and understanding of who will do what (largely driven from process design).

Consequently, it is impractical to use this strategy on most current digital transformation projects and, to be honest, it can become a bit of a waste of money. New ways of approaching user adoption need to be undertaken and, on the most part, a drive towards learning being embedded through various strategies after go-live is the way to go.

This is part I of a two-part blog post. Part II looks at developing effective user adoption strategies. 

HR Technology: What lies ahead?

HR Technology: What lies ahead?

We often have the opportunity to meet and discuss with a variety of people from university professors to business thinkers, futurists and analysts in our space and it’s very exciting to see how workforces are going to interact in this digital world that is upon us. Here are some of the megatrends.


Addressing the megatrends: think futurist.

Bring your own Data

This will be a big shift over the next 5-10 years. Currently we build HR and payroll systems to record and keep a masterfile of employees and it is very much owned by the organisation and lives as a single frame of reference around your time with an organisation. 

“There is definitely going to be an increasing movement towards the ownership of data going to employees and candidates themselves." David Guazzarotto, CEO of FK

It’s a bit like where Linkedin is today. It will be the standard of what we are looking at in terms of employees profiles and master files. There will be a time not too distant where employees will bring their own master files. They will plug that into your HRS and you will take what you need in your organisation’s context, and you will add to it so that things you provide the employee such as L&D experiences and performance reviews will form a part of not just the file for their time spent with the organisation, but inputs into a dataset that the employee will take elsewhere.

A point we’ve heard numerous analysts talk about is that organisations are very much behind the eight ball already, and that there are third parties like LinkedIn that know more about your employees than you right now. The industry has a lot of work to do to think this through and take a leap forward.

Robots are coming

Yes, Robots ARE coming. Automation is continuing to impact work at all number of levels. And we’re not just seeing that in the obvious places. People think of robots as taking over unskilled jobs on manufacturing lines, but increasingly we are seeing automation of jobs that are higher value and the domain of more highly educated people. Even in fields like customer service where now we can see artificial intelligence like IBMs ‘Watson’ (a question answering platform) that can come into play and actually solve problems for people using artificial intelligence without the intellect, training and experience of an individual human being. That is scary stuff but it also brings opportunity for us to look at our organisation structures, how we define the work and how we start to break down the hierarchical models that are perhaps a bit stuck in a previous industrial age.

We are seeing this particularly with starts up that grow quite quickly, and tend not to have these hierarchical organisational structures that evolve. They tend to become networks of teams centered around a specific collaborative construct that deliver outcomes on a project by project basis.

There is plenty of debate to be had around this topic but this is increasingly a mega trend that if we put our heads in the sand, the opportunity will be missed to take advantage and steer our organisations through the change that is required to support it. 

Performance management has a performance problem

Performance management has a performance problem

Recent high-profile announcements from the likes of Deloitte, Accenture and NAB scrapping their year-end employee reviews has sparked a growing debate about the effectiveness of traditional performance management approaches in organisations.

Is this the death-knell of traditional performance appraisal processes? And, if so, does that mean we no longer need to put a priority on managing performance?  Does that in turn mean employees no longer need to worry about how well they are doing in the jobs?

I’m confused! Imagine what the average HR person is thinking now that the whole ball game appears to be changing around them.  Not to mention the average employee who, whilst generally hating the annual review process, at least they know what is on the end of it – typically a 1.39% payrise and a pittance of a bonus.

So, let’s delve a little deeper shall we and consider two aspects to this annual performance review debate.

Firstly, what are the factors that are catalysing the shift away from reviews.  Secondly, if we ditch the reviews, what should we be doing instead?

Right, firstly, this is not an overnight seismic shift in thinking from the corporate world.  This little storm has been brewing for the term of my living memory in the HR world – close to 25 years.  Let’s face it, the annual review has been the source of angst, frustration and occasional parody since its very inception.  Why is this? Well, in my view, it’s because it is an artefact – perhaps a relic even – of the very worst aspects of 20th century industrial-era human capital management.  An era when labour was merely an input to production and productivity was measured on the outputs as opposed to outcomes.

Tying compensation to performance reviews became the main instrument to drive motivation and increase individual workers’ productivity.  And for nigh on half a century we have locked and loaded around performance reviews as the primary tool for managing human capital in organisations.  We have spent the last 20 of those years only managing to re-engineer the process by eliminating paper with very little improvement to the data collection nor the impact of the practice itself on the humans involved.

But what the hell is wrong with performance appraisals?

Surely, employers need to be able to hold their employees to account for making a contribution to the business.  We go through our school and university careers being constantly assessed, why not our working lives too?

Well, here’s a snapshot of the latest research that points to the ineffectiveness of performance appraisals.

  1. Alec Bashinsky – the HR Director at Deloitte – compared performance reviews to a drive-by shooting with neither party being clear on their objectives nor how to rate individuals against them.
  2. A recent Harvard Business School report highlighted the “idiosyncratic rater effect” – that the rating given to an employee is a more accurate reflection of the rater themselves than of the person they are rating. Challenging to standardise, pathologically inaccurate and impossible to calibrate, it is therefore a very poor tool to effectively drive better performance.
  3. Jason Averbook has been telling us for a while now that performance reviews are designed to support HR’s needs and that we should instead be focusing on building and supporting better team leaders who in turn will influence positively the effectiveness of their teams and the individuals within them.

Ok, so if we’re willing to accept that performance reviews should be sent the way of the fax machine and the dodo bird, what should we be doing instead?

The answer to that is longer than we can cover in a single post, but here are a few conversation starters that we can pick up on in the next installment.

  1. Organisations are already evolving their performance approaches to encompass more informal and more frequent feedback opportunities between team leaders and team members. This trend will continue to be at the heart of the evolution of performance management in the future.
  2. Increasing investment in talent management platforms is driving a more holistic approach to people management with better tools to support the employee life-cycle resulting in a better data-set to aid team and individual development.
  3. The growing adoption of social collaboration technologies in the enterprise provides increased opportunity for more frequent contextual feedback, social learning and employee engagement.
  4. The transition of a higher proportion of the workforce to contingent or freelancer models will increase the redundancy of traditional employee-centric performance approaches. If it hasn’t already, focusing on engagement will trump a focus on performance in getting the best out of this new generation of workers.
  5. The severance of the umbilical cord that has tethered performance ratings with compensation reviews will accelerate the movement away from formal reviews.

Clearly, I’m only scratching the surface on this, and it deserves further discussion.  Interested to hear what you all think? Is there life left in the Annual Piece of Paper yet? Has your company moved away from the formal review yet?

The nature of work is changing – can you keep up?

The nature of work is changing – can you keep up?

With technology becoming further ingrained in our lives and our work habits, the nature of work is changing and our traditional HR practices are at risk of getting left behind. At Future Knowledge, we pride ourselves on staying on top of the latest trends and information impacting the face of work. In our conversations with business leaders and industry influencers, we have noted some key points resonating with those managers looking to navigate through this process.

Unified talent management

One of the key trends evolving now is the concept of unified talent management. This refers to the idea that HR needs to break out of the traditional silo approach and look at the holistic lifecycle of an employee.

A parallel can be drawn with consumer businesses that focus on the customer lifecycle. The aim of the customer lifecycle is to generate repeat customers who leave with a good feeling about the business and have a strong desire to return. HR should focus on the same aim to generate greater employee engagement and improve their reputation as an employer of choice.

HR needs to change

Currently in business there is a shift towards greater process automation. Now is the time for HR managers to closely connect with business goals and play an outcome focused role. HR managers should embrace the use of data analysis to inform smart decision-making.

Shifting work environment

Research has discovered that an average person checks their smartphone 150 times a day! This causes a very convoluted lifestyle where we are constantly bombarded with information leading to what is known as the overwhelmed employee – something I know I’ve experienced before.

HR managers need to simplify complicated processes and information to cut through the noise and engage employees. The business can then achieve a more effective outcome as communication is improved between employees.

Performance management in the future

Performance management has always been a tricky process to get right. Often when employees are worried about generating a specific performance rating, and are constantly watching the numbers, it can result in lower engagement and performance.

It’s time for performance management to evolve to better measure the relationship between employees and managers, and move away from figures. If you really want to push boundaries why not look at ways to do this in real-time with immediate results to generate more of a feedback mechanism.

The time is now for HR teams to take a greater stake in the direction of the business and look at employee engagement from a more holistic perspective. With new technology on offer to enhance processes, if you’re not already exploring the opportunity this brings you could run the risk of being left behind!

To see more of our insights into how the nature of work is changing watch our video ‘Key themes from day one of Cornerstone Convergence’.

NextGen HR Operating Models: Just another “Wrecking Ball”?

NextGen HR Operating Models: Just another “Wrecking Ball”?

Looking back on the last decade of my career, I truly am lucky to have had a front row seat on some of the hottest HR debates. I have seen major organisations strategically turn on decentralised HR models and run towards holy light of centralised a HR practice only to swing back a few years later to a decentralised as swiftly and purposefully as a half-naked Miley Cyrus on her metaphorical wrecking ball. In the exact same seat, I have seen David’s Ulrich model successfully deployed with significant results, only to later be shunned and criticised more recently by a tidal wave of articles claiming “NextGen” approaches to HR. My love for consulting in the HR Technology space keeps me spinning in this chair. Yes, it is a chair that moves and swivels quite a lot in our new era of business, and I can’t help but point out three key observations:

  • A “One HR Model” to rule them all mentality that abruptly leads to a political “right” vs “wrong” moral standing on pretty much any model put forward;
  • The pendulum swing between Centralised vs Decentralised HR models (you are thinking about Miley still aren’t you?). The same can be said for “outsourced” vs “insourced”
  • A “demolish and rebuild” mentality whenever the model is challenged around effectiveness.

So, hence, when I was recently asked by a client as to which HR operating model is the best fit for their organisation, I thought it was time to take a few steps back, do a little bit of high level homework and reflect on HR life for a moment.

Per my research of the abundant amount of papers, articles, case studies and examples, I discovered a consistent pattern in the content as if they all sing from the same music sheet:

  1. The big case for change: Yes, we are operating in an incredibly complicated business era trying to deliver simpler solutions to demanding clients. Yes, technology has certainly push HR into a new world of working. Yes, agility, scalability and feasibility are imperative. And yes, this is definitely the perfect time to relook (and continue to assess) the HR activities businesses deliver and how these are channeled to the HR customer/client. We get it!
  2. A blatant prosecution followed by a gory public desecration of the Ulrich Model: Generally, a google image mug shot of the model in question followed by the judgement – it’s outdated; it fails to deliver strategically; it has gaps delivering transactionally and we just hate it.
  3. A bright, shiny and new NextGen Model: Lots of circles and shapes tattooed with sexy consulting lingo which in reality is just the Ulrich model put through a blender, given liposuction, facial augmentation and a new stage name.
  4. The shameless sales pitch from a consulting firm: In a nutshell, “choose our firm and we will give you this cheaper, faster and with implementation success”.

In all honesty, I am not a big fan of Miley Cyrus and her music, but I am going to stick with this metaphor here because it works. All that is happening here is that our big HR record companies are turning a Hanna Montana (Ulrich) into a NextGen Miley Cyrus accessorised by a large wrecking ball of change. But in reality, underneath it all… the parts are all still the same, albeit in different places, shapes and sizes. Her success both before and after had nothing to do with appearances alone, but rather:

  • Solid market research and data analysis
  • A bullet proof branding and marketing strategy
  • A committed team and partners
  • Raw Talent
  • A dedicated fan base

I can’t help but think we are doing the same with HR operating models and maybe, just maybe, we are completely missing the point here. Don’t get me wrong, I think there is a lot of merit and good thinking that have gone into NextGen HR models. I quite like the idea of performance coaching teams, centres of excellence focused on business best practices and insight, and I believe strongly in a Tiered HR case management approach to fully leverage technology.

My issue is that maybe we should be less focused on a “one size fits all” model and more focussed on how we make its parts work together in order to deliver people success to our HR clients. We seem to be getting lost in all the glitz and glamour of these new models and forgetting that central to any model is the HR client after all.

So before we go and shun the Ulrich model (and more importantly, its parts), maybe we need to be asking more questions, such as:

  1. Who is our HR client within our organisations? What HR activities do they want and how would they like them delivered (or even done by themselves)?
  2. What is our business strategy? How have we aligned our People and HR strategy to deliver and support on this?
  3. Do we have our executive team 100% committed to the future direction of HR? Do they trust HR to deliver? Do they consider HR to be a strategic enabler of the business? How are we involving them in the design and implementation of an HR Operating model?
  4. Does HR have the internal capability to analyse, design and implement an agile, scalable and efficient model?
  5. How are we assisting our HR clients on the journey of change?

By turning the traditional “top down” approach on its head and making the various layers of HR clients central to HR outcomes of the operating model, we are in a position to better design HR activities to meet these outcomes and articulate how the different parts of the HR operating model would work in order to deliver these activities.

I also cannot over-stress the importance of strategic executive commitment to the model as transformational change management is to the process. In the absence of this, even the most appropriately designed models will not deliver the value intended. For me, involvement is the magic ingredient to generate commitment and involvement of executives and operational leaders in the process is critical.

So before you call the “wrecking ball” specialists to redefine your HR look and feel, take a moment to focus on outcomes first, before getting too fixated on images and pretty pictures.

How can we prepare for workforce 2020?

How can we prepare for workforce 2020?

By the year 2020 there will be more Millennials in the workforce than any other generation. As Millennials have never known a non-digital world, they demand greater connectivity and flexibility in the workplace. With this brings a new set of challenges to the workforce and causes a significant change in the way businesses function and engage their employees.

At Future Knowledge we regularly hear from business leaders who are unprepared for the changes Millennials will bring to the workforce. We recongise the need for businesses to prepare now for this change to attract the best top talent, engage their employees and maintain productivity.

This is why we have provided the top three ways businesses can prepare for workforce 2020.

Greater workforce flexibility   

By 2020, the new generation will have a perspective of the working landscape that is centred on what they can offer an employer – not necessarily what an employer can offer them, which was the viewpoint of previous generations.

We will also see a shift towards greater flexibility in regards to employment. A world where employees invoice businesses rather than earn a salary. And where the best and brightest will showcase their body of work in a portfolio, not a CV.

Greater personalisation in the workplace

Savvy businesses are realising the new wave of workers expect a level of understanding and personalisation. This means executives need to plan how their businesses can take a similar approach to data collecting giants, such as Amazon and Facebook, to work out what drives and excites Millennials and supports them to work to their full potential.

Destroy the ‘Sunday/Monday’ crisis

The Sunday/Monday crisis is a motivation killer for Millennials. It refers to the dread they have for using extremely outdated technology during the week at work. Businesses then need to put in place an ongoing people and technology strategy so the tools available to Millennials match the intuitive, easy to operate devices they use on a personal level.

We strongly recommend that businesses act now and prepare for the influx of Millennials in the workplace to attract, retain and engage the cream of the Millennial crop. From our analysis into this trend, we predict businesses that aren’t prepared for this change, will find it harder to compete in an already ruthless market place.

Three employee engagement drivers every business needs

Three employee engagement drivers every business needs

Recently, I was invited by SilkRoad to present a webinar to HR managers about driving employee engagement strategies, an increasingly pertinent topic in my line of work as a change andtransformation specialist. Employee engagement might seem like a simple enough theory, but it’s amazing how different the perception of staff engagement can be among employees, management and again in the HR department.

My presentation certainly sparked some interesting perspectives from webinar participants. Some feedback also highlighted that there can be a wide range of views from amongst HR and management on potential approaches to engaging employees.

In 2013, we are seeing employee engagement move well beyond its traditional roots to involve stages of communication that start well before a person becomes an employee of a company.

A person’s perception about the HR environment of a prospective workplace begins long before they actually start working there. One of my key messages during the presentation focused around the need to think about engagement as early as the recruitment process.

A recent research poll by Gallup found that more than 80 per cent of Australian employees feel disengaged at work, with more than 20 per cent being actively disengaged. The poll estimated that disengagement costs Australian organisations at least $33.5 Billion a year in lost productivity! This figure is astounding, considering engagement can be easily amplified by ensuring your workplace engagement strategy can be built around three simple pillars.


Leadership is the secret sauce of effective employee engagement – it’s not rocket science! We know that leaders are responsible for creating and sustaining a culture of empowerment and trust. Leaders must lead by example, exemplifying the values and behaviours that will sustain and engaging culture.

A great leader instills a sense of authority in their people to take (measured) risks, to be creative and to make a personal contribution to the cause.


If we presume our leaders are capable and effective, the next key driver is alignment. Unless we can harness the collective contributions of employees towards a common goal, efforts will be unproductive.

True alignment is based on employees understanding exactly what an organisation does and the direction of the company. It connects corporate values to brand and reputation.


No, I’m not referring to connectivity…. Connectedness implies that people don’t just ‘get along’, they feel a genuine and authentic sense of being connected to one another and with their team.

Fostering connectedness is the glue that binds all other engagement-related initiatives in your organisation.

You can have great leaders and a strong alignment to a common goal; but without a truly connected workforce – who posses genuine care for one another, their customers and suppliers – you’re missing a big opportunity.