Human Resources Innovation to Drive Digital Growth

CEOs are requiring their Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) to reimagine the HR charter to focus more on enabling the organization to achieve strategic business outcomes through superior talent development practices.

As a result, 49 percent of HR leaders named “Innovating for Success” as one of their top three priorities for 2022, according to the latest survey findings from Gartner.

Despite HR leaders prioritizing innovations, a Gartner survey of more than 3,500 employees found that only 46 percent of employees agree that their organization encourages creative thinking.

Human Resources Innovation Market Development

“The survey results show that an organization’s actions directly impact the ability of employees to be creative by 25 percent,” said Emily Rose McRae, senior director at Gartner. “In fact, an organization’s actions have more than double the impact of an individual’s personality when it comes to driving employee creativity.”

According to the Gartner assessment, there are three actions organizations can take to increase employee creativity: Broaden participation to increase knowledge and expertise; lower stress to reduce the stickiness of prior knowledge; and increase novelty to drive imagination.

In today’s distributed workforce, individuals seamlessly toggle between asynchronous and synchronous work environments. As such, leaders and teams must create space for idea generation to occur across all modes of work, while simultaneously facilitating participation.

Leaders must also intentionally include employees from all levels. Executives are more likely to spend their time thinking strategically, while managers are more likely to focus on change management, and those more junior may have the clearest understanding of where potential quick wins lie.

The pressure to evolve during the global COVID-19 pandemic affected every industry, all leaders, and their employees. HR had to exercise creativity — from developing a hybrid work plan, designing a new talent retention strategy, and offering flexibility for essential frontline workers.

Finding innovative solutions requires transformation. Managers must reduce tasks that inhibit creativity while ensuring employees have time to decompress and recharge between tasks. Senior leaders must determine if their culture rewards idea generation and bold change management.

The shift to hybrid work has changed employee interactions. When work consists primarily of similar days interacting — or not interacting — with the same people, creativity is particularly challenging.

Gartner recommends HR should work with managers to bring together people who haven’t worked together before, or who have very different perspectives. Progressive organizations are intentionally creating shared new experiences among engaged employees.

One method is to offer individuals and teams — both remote and onsite workers — daily or weekly challenges, such as working from a different location, and creative design thinking exercises.

Outlook for Human Resources Transformation

“Adding novelty to the everyday — and sharing it with colleagues — can spark people to see problems differently and thus develop new solutions,” concludes McRae.

That said, I believe HR leaders must offer actionable strategic advice and practical guidance to executives and middle managers on the mission-critical digital business transformation priorities that cut across the human resource talent development function.

Digital transformation value creation is a key skill that forward-looking leaders crave. However, few CHROs have planned or implemented the learning development and employee training programs required to support this skill set. I predict that this will become a priority as the requirement is mainstreamed.

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