A little bit of HR heaven as Kutik tackles the toughie from Southie

Bill Kutik Talks with Christa Degnan Manning

Bill Kutik (pictured left) Talks with Christa Degnan Manning. Click to listen to the interview!

Last week, our own Christa Degnan Manning, Senior Vice President for Talent and Workforce strategies, was a guest on the revered Bill Kutik Radio Show.

As I have explained to many people, you can’t really claim to have “made it” in HR until Bill has you on his show… it’s that passport to HR heaven to which so many people aspire.  So we’re delighted to share Christa’s debut on the hallowed stage (click here) where she realized her life’s ambition of joining the HR elite, which she could only dream of when trawling the pubs of Boston’s Southie during her student days…

Christa talked with Bill about four key issues:

1. The Extended Enterprise

Looking at the workforce holistically has long been a missed opportunity for businesses. The workforce is not just the people on the payroll. It’s also contractors, and increasingly not just contingent workers that work for an agency, it’s also consultants that do statement-of-work-type engagements, and third-party service providers doing work on behalf of organizations.

Of note, first-generation outsourcing was not as successful as it could have been because no one really thought about the workforce that was left on either side: the staff that had to manage and motivate third-party service providers. And the staff of the third-party service provider had to be inculcated into the culture and the systems. The knowledge management and sharing required for them to be successful in delivering services is considerable.

The extended enterprise is all of the constituents doing work on behalf of businesses today. This trend has been happening for decades and will only increase – the SAP acquisition of contract labor management software provider Fieldglass is a tipping point. So at HfS we want to help companies look at how to source, manage, motivate, and measure all the people who are doing work on behalf of the business—not just employees – but the entire extended enterprise.

2.     Employee Experience

In HfS’s definition, the employee experience is actually quite broad — alot of software companies are looking to make their applications easier to use and consume. They want them to be relevant throughout the course of day-to-day work. But HfS just did an assessment of the core HR service firms, including, payroll, benefits and contact center-type support services, because it’s the foundation of the employee-employer relationship and the facilitative wrapper around software, no matter how good a user interface is.

And what we found was the employee experience really sucked. The systems have not been integrated, there are far too many interfaces, there’s way too much self-service, and not enough consistency across devices. And now companies are struggling with the bring-your-own-device trend.

There has to be some rationalization around systems and investments. But you absolutely have to consider the service wrapper around that. How are you taking care of the employee—not just from a UI point of view, but in how they want to interact and when they want to interact. That shows a company ultimately cares about the workforce.

Software is just a piece of the puzzle. It’s the people that use the software and the people who support a business that will drive growth and expansion.

3.     Workforce Enablement

Workforce enablement touches on some of these first ideas—making sure that workers are able to focus on their work and not on compliance or other HR-related tasks and processes.

I’ve done some research into academic and econometric studies on human capital—where the idea is that the investments you make in people for their education and development or their health and welfare should provide you a return in productivity and business contribution. Companies have really lost sight of that. They have to really hone in on what people are doing to contribute to top-line growth—as opposed to just taking out people to get better bottom line results.

Benjamin Franklin coined the term “time is money.” And what he was really talking about was the opportunity costs that result from what a worker was not doing in addition to what they may be doing that’s taking them away from productive work.

To understand and address this opportunity cost, which is likely way bigger than any administrative cost take out you can get in HR functions, companies have to reorient HR to focus on the day-to-day experience of the worker:

  • What are they doing that’s valuable to the business?
  • How do you eliminate, automate or outsource administrative tasks that take away from the core work that adds value?

That is what we mean by workforce enablement and think it’s a powerful new lens to look at traditional HR delivery as well as the related software and services markets.

4.     Hybrid HCM

Hybrid HCM is the last big issue and frankly major trend in business that is here to stay. Hybrid HCM has many facets, it’s people and technology, internal and external teams, software and services, on-premise and in the cloud.

I’ve been called a SaaS skeptic. To me, it’s just a delivery model. If you have an existing investment in on-premise software, you want to be able to save it and extend it. Certainly, the cloud does bring innovation benefits. Too many people waste too much time trying to put together a business case to upgrade on-premise software. But it takes tremendous effort to stay relevant to the business and give the worker a good experience—given the advancements in UI and mobility and different ways of consuming technology today – so the cloud will play a key role.

Every organization will continue to have on-premises software and cloud software. They’re going to have staff and outsourcers, they’re going to have a range of different types of delivery models to choose from to provide enablement to the workforce.

Hybrid HCM really needs to focus on where the integration points are, where you can simplify and integrate with the most relevant parts of the business to understand where the worker is making an impact.

We need to move the employee HR experience from the analogy we used in the recent HRO report: the “sad strip mall” approach (i.e., lots of different stores competing for business and confusion over where to get what you want) to something like the Apple Store, where you have a really cool device but you also have the Genius Bar where you can get expert help on how to consume and apply innovation in a more meaningful way.

And you can listen to the entire interview here.

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One Comment

  1. Stuart Stephen
    Posted May 21, 2014 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    Great read. Really crystalized a number of client and prospect conversations I’m having right now.

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