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Reimagining Work

Finalists in this year's Bersin > by Deloitte WhatWorks Award Program competition demonstrate the power and value of innovation and collaboration.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017
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The digital world of work is changing the rules of business. Business and HR leaders have little choice but to innovate, as new technologies have enabled a new slate of disruptive competitors. Indeed, according to Deloitte's 2017 Global Human Capital Trends research, nearly 90 percent of leaders surveyed reported a need to build the organization of the future as their most important issue, yet only 11 percent said they understood how to proceed.

As this year's < Bersin > by Deloitte WhatWorks® Award Program demonstrates, many HR leaders, and their teams, are starting to address the challenge by simplifying processes, helping employees manage a flood of information at work that's caused by the digitization of everything, and building a culture of collaboration, empowerment and innovation.

"What makes this year's < Bersin > by Deloitte WhatWorks Award Program so compelling is that the finalists already are experimenting with the future -- and they are able to succeed because of it," says David Mallon, head of research for < Bersin > by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP. "The Deloitte 2017 Global Human Capital Trends research shows that high-performing organizations operate as empowered networks, coordinated through culture, information systems and talent mobility. In almost every case, the WhatWorks Award Program finalists are demonstrating the need to empower their people to innovate and collaborate. The role of business and HR is to create solutions and frameworks that enable networks and teams to thrive -- and at a lightning pace."

Originally created to recognize innovation and excellence in learning, the program -- now in its 12th year -- has expanded to encompass all areas of HR, including leadership and talent. (This is the fifth year that results of the program appear in Human Resource Executive®'s print publication and on its website,

Judges include < Bersin > by Deloitte's internal analysts and consultants -- each of whom has years of experience in the HR, talent and learning industries -- as well as volunteer industry thought leaders not employed by Deloitte.

Judges scored each submission based on degree of difficulty, the level of innovation found in the solution and the results demonstrated, and used that same criteria to select leaders from many impressive submissions. Each finalist then presented at < Bersin > by Deloitte's 2017 IMPACT conference in late May, where conference attendees chose by way of vote the ultimate award recipient -- Pivotal.

What follows is a description of finalists in four of the five categories, including the ultimate award recipient. Among the finalists was MetLife Inc., which was recognized in the Enabling High-Impact Learning category for implanting a new digital-learning platform within one of its largest divisions. MetLife declined to provide HRE with details of their initiatives and therefore is not included in the following report.

Acquiring Top Talent

The U.S. jobless rate, across all industries and sectors, fell to a 16-year low and, at press time, stood at 4.3 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Talent- acquisition teams are responding by innovating, collaborating and using new tools to identify, attract and retain talent. How is the organization successfully finding, recruiting and hiring the top talent required to fuel growth and drive new business opportunity? 

Pivotal, headquartered in San Francisco, is a software and services company with 2,300 employees serving large corporate clients with digital-transformation solutions. To stay competitive and respond to market needs, Pivotal changed the way it develops software by taking an extremely agile and paired programming approach. Similar to design thinking, agile development means collaborating with cross-functional teams and end users to create a solution. Pivotal's human resources team sought to apply these same agile principles to solve serious challenges it faced in how top talent was acquired.

Faced with fierce competition for talent and finding that traditional approaches to sourcing and interviewing were not sufficient, Pivotal executives sought a new way to identify and attract candidates. They also wanted to reduce the complexity and length of their final-stage hiring and onboarding processes, which had resulted in the loss of great candidates to competitors.

Pivotal's HR team, in order to compete effectively, prioritized the need to provide candidates with a great experience, improve the process' efficiency and shorten the time it took to get candidates up and running.

To differentiate itself among prospects, and to add a personal touch to the hiring process, Pivotal introduced video sourcing. Pivotal's recruiters record themselves in a video, explain the company and why they believe the candidate is a great fit, then email or text a tailored video to a potential candidate. Using agile methodology, Pivotal's sourcers have improved the process through experimentation and iteration.

The company also opted to hire for potential versus experience, thereby opening access to a larger talent pool. The HR team developed an interviewing technique that screens for key behaviors and skills such as empathy, communication and willingness to learn -- rather than technical expertise. Candidates work alongside an employee on a real customer problem so they get an authentic feel for the job, while giving Pivotal executives real-world insight into how the candidate solves problems.

Pivotal tested the efficacy of the new approach by sending videos to a population of passive talent who did not respond to earlier outreach via a well-known, business-focused social network. The videos achieved a 21-percent response rate, compared to no response from the earlier outreach.

So effective was the interview technique, originally designed for screening technical talent, that other internal departments and even some of Pivotal's Fortune 100 clients now apply the same method to their own interviews. The company also reports that attrition rates are now 2.7-percent lower than the U.S. industry average.

Developing Tomorrow's Leaders

In today's fast-paced, global and evolving digital world of work, the concept of leadership is also evolving. Most organizations now need employees who can lead at all levels and functions, enabling the organization to adapt to market changes quickly and to innovate. While many companies still organize around functional teams such as sales, marketing, finance, product development and engineering, tomorrow's functional groups more likely will organize into smaller teams focused on product releases, customers, markets or geographies. In this new world of smaller, flatter and more empowered teams, how is the organization building better leaders to drive agility and growth?

Amdocs, headquartered in Chesterfield, Mo., offers business support systems, operational support systems and network operations for communications and media companies around the world. Key to the company's history of business success in the highly competitive field in which it operates has been a strong, centralized structure and culture driven by its leadership.

Recently, however, the company's leadership grew concerned that Amdocs' formal structure might prevent the company from identifying future risks and business opportunities. To address this concern, the HR and innovation teams sought to transform the way the company does business by offering fresh and provocative voices to challenge Amdocs' traditional leadership, collective mind-set and decision-making process.

Due to Amdocs' enormous footprint -- 25,800 employees in 85 countries -- HR leaders sought a solution that could tie employees closer together, while eliminating organizational boundaries and freeing individuals to impact the business.

Amdocs' HR and innovation teams responded by creating Shapers, a nine-month program to promote disruptive leadership. Using the same cross-functional model it wanted to promote across the company, the organizational-development team collaborated with an internal innovation group, a strategy team and a representative from a university known for its entrepreneurial programs. The group was charged with building a program for non-official, grassroots leaders who would possess the motivation, skills and mind-set to influence Amdocs' business environment with fresh perspectives. Key objectives for the program included promoting a culture of innovation and internal entrepreneurship; and creating a cross-company community of employees who could transcend organizational boundaries.

Shapers was designed to help individual participants achieve specific objectives. These included unleashing employee potential; providing grassroots leaders with disruptive leadership tools and skills; and connecting leaders across the organization.

Amdocs invited all employees to apply, and 18 were selected for the initial pilot. The group was diverse, with participants representing different seniorities, ages, tenure level, cultures, global regions, professions and genders.

The program included five distinct phases:

1. Boot camp. This involved six-and-a-half-days of intensive exposure to new market trends, global perspectives and groundbreaking practices. Five working groups generated ideas at the boot camp that were presented to a committee of executive leaders. 

2. Research. Teams elaborated and expanded their ideas and established a valid business case for each.

3. Hot House. The group assembled for five days for proof-of-concept tests and the creation of marketing collateral.

4. Validation. Teams tested and validated their ideas with potential customers.

5. Closing session. The group gathered to reflect upon the leadership and development process, and senior executives signed on as sponsors to the teams' ideas.

The program yielded compelling results. Four of the five ideas developed were identified as potential future growth engines. An internal analysis put the potential revenue value of the ideas at almost $1 billion. The program also proved to be a valuable talent-retention program. Several members of Shapers indicated an increase in their commitment to the company following the program.

The program achieved another important goal: changing the mind-set of the senior leadership team. Fully engaged executives continue to contribute to Shapers' success by providing resources, including budget, talent and external leaders who mentor teams.

Transforming HR with People Analytics

At the cutting edge of efforts to transform HR is the use of people analytics. While the potential is great, the reality is that few organizations today correlate people data to business outcomes, perform predictive analytics and deploy enterprise scorecards. Among the challenges to success is that HR team members -- and even analytics team members -- often need to improve their skills to make truly informed business decisions based on the data. How is the HR function being transformed into a specific contributor to business results?

Chevron is a global and integrated energy company, involved in the exploration and development of energy resources as well as the refining and marketing of those resources into petroleum products. Headquartered in San Ramon, Calif., Chevron employs more than 55,000 individuals around the world.

Questions at the core of a transformation driven by Chevron's HR team included: How do employees affect profitability, and how does an organization measure that impact? Chevron estimates that its employees are responsible for 70 percent more revenue and 25 percent more profit than Fortune's Top 20 average organizations, but the company did not have a consistent and effective way of understanding how its employees were drivers of profitability. Nor did it have a scalable way of using people data and analytics to inform business decisions. Starting with a small and centralized people-analytics team, Chevron wanted to scale, unify and grow analytics capabilities across the entire enterprise and leverage those capabilities as a competitive advantage. The team established several key challenges, including:

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* Identify areas to eliminate redundancy in data and analytics work;

* Reduce the variability among dispersed analytics teams;

* Build analytics capability so that it is an essential and expected skill among all HR professionals; and

* Apply business judgment to data-driven decision-making.

HR at Chevron began by aligning the organization's existing and centralized people-analytics team around a common vision and mission: "To support business strategies with better, faster workforce decisions informed by data." The team then identified common metrics that aligned with business strategies, and created a mechanism to prioritize project requests based on their business impact and cost. The team built analytics capabilities across the enterprise by creating a Community of Practice. This virtual network of people who perform the people-analytics work promotes cross-team learning and leverages a global talent base to help business units around the world solve common problems through data.

Launched as part of the CoP, Chevron developed an in-house workforce-analytics curriculum to expand the skills of employees working with data and analytics. Integrated with Chevron's learning management system, the three-stage analytics curriculum equips analysts with the skills and competencies needed to excel at their job.

In addition, the people-analytics team created a hub of expertise and governance called the center of expertise. This enabled the team to consolidate analytics work occurring across the enterprise into a centralized team. The CoE was staffed based on analytics capabilities, opening the door to non-traditional hires such as data scientists, engineers and physicists who brought technical skill and diversity of thought.

An important result of this transformation was the creation of what data-analytics experts call a "single source of truth" for Chevron's people data. The analytics CoP smoothed out differences in analytics reporting, created a common governance model, facilitated peer learning and projects, and provided a central repository for analytics information and resources. About 75 percent of its more than 300 members are HR employees, and it includes members from other functions, including finance, strategy and IT. This transformation has helped to eliminate redundant work and has improved efficiency across the enterprise. In just one example, the CoE eliminated nearly 100 hours redundant reporting from a business unit. The CoE's sophistication has also improved. For example, there are now standardized metrics with greater than 99 percent accuracy, predictive staffing models, probabilistic scenario forecasts and attrition forecasts with greater than 90 percent predictive validity.

Optimizing Talent Management

Leaders, managers and employees -- especially younger ones -- now expect a digitally enabled workplace that helps employees increase productivity, achieve personal goals and get the most out of their work experience. It is HR's job to deliver that experience: The organization of the future. How is the organization increasing performance and productivity through end-to-end talent management?

IBM is a cognitive solutions and cloud platform company that enables its clients to tackle complex challenges with speed and technological agility. With headquarters in Armonk, N.Y., it has 380,000 employees working around the globe.

The exponential increase in data, the growth of cloud computing, and the role of social engagement represent three historic changes that are disrupting businesses. These forces are also reshaping human resources, particularly in the area of talent management. IBM had taken a siloed approach to talent development, with managers and employees receiving guidance from multiple organizations within HR. These typically took the form of workshops or documents that did not effectively differentiate between employees and their individual needs.

Executives at IBM worried that these silos led to a poor employee experience, and missed opportunities for the company to coach, promote and retain talent. Managers were unable to see a full picture of potential job opportunities, attrition risk and compensation history without a significant investment of time and effort.

Using design thinking, IBM's HR team created a new talent-management approach that integrated previously siloed HR functions. This automated experience nudges managers about key actions they can take to help make employees happier and more successful. The adoption of this platform, called the "cognitive talent alert" for managers, by IBM's HR team, has exploded. Today, personalized guidance is efficiently delivered to managers' desktops, tablets and smartphones across much of the organization. Armed with individualized information about each employee, managers from 170 countries are transforming the employee experience.

At the touch of a screen, managers can access information on internal mobility, feedback, compensation, skills and attrition-risk mitigation. The platform provides employee job-matching recommendations to help facilitate career conversations, goal setting and feedback discussions.

Analytics capabilities also reflect managers' and employee actions. For example, the system knows when employees take classes, receive promotions or go on vacation, meaning that recommendations are always up-to-date.

Over the period of one year, IBM rolled out its talent-management solution to a quarter of its manager population, impacting more than 120,000 employees in 170 countries. Human resource executives attributed $60 million in savings to the program through a 2-percent reduction in attrition. At the same time, the solution led to a 3-percent increase in promotion rates and 450 employee placements.

For more information and to review a research bulletin about < Bersin >'s WhatWorks Award Program, visit http://<

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