For a High-Performing Digital Workforce, Reimagine HR

Steven Thorne

Ester Martinez CEO and Editor in Chief, People Matters
Josh Bersin Principal, Bersin by Deloitte
Prashant Bhatnagar Senior Director, People and Culture, Hike Messenger
Jonathan Campbell CEO and Founder, Social Talent
Jon Ingham Exec. Consultant, Strategic Dynamics
Laurie Ruettimann Founder, LFR LLC











To deliver the connected, engaged workforce necessary for digital business success, HR has to undergo a transformation. More than 1,000 business leaders, HR practitioners, and technologists gathered on August 4 and 5, 2016, at TechHR’16—Asia’s largest HR technology conference—in Gurgaon, India, near New Delhi. They came together to share their vision for recruiting and retaining top talent, motivating high performance, and facilitating new business models that are driven and enabled by disruptive technology. (Adobe, Careerbuilder, Cornerstone, PeopleWorks, SAP, and SumTotal were among the event sponsors.)

People Matters CEO and editor in chief Ester Martinez got the conversation started with a Twitter chat on July 1, posing five critical questions about trends, attitudes, actions, and  advice to consider when reimagining HR for the future workforce. “The world is getting digital,” Martinez tweeted to kick off the discussion. “What role will HR play in this transformation?”

Conference presenters Josh Bersin, principal, Bersin by Deloitte; Prashant Bhatnagar, senior director, people and culture, Hike Messenger; Jonathan Campbell, CEO and founder, Social Talent; Jon Ingham, executive consultant, Strategic Dynamics Consultancy Services; and Laurie Ruettimann, founder of HR consultancy LFR LLC were among dozens who weighed in.

Read excerpts from the #TechHR16 Twitter chat below, then join the Digitalist conversation about the Future of Work at

What are the unstoppable forces that are driving the need for our business to become digital?

@RamanVNathan Digital consumers as workforce, overwhelmed employees, performance demands.

@joningham For me it’s a bit simpler than that; it’s just about more focus on people. Digital = people tech.

@joningham And agility/changeability etc—digital helps us be more fleet on foot. Bigger gap, so prob even more important in HR.

@biswajitdash79 Need for higher #transparency & #accountability inspires the #business to go #digital.

@Mandanpanathula There is need for non-linear growth in today’s world. Only digital can enable us to achieve it.

@lruettimann HR must pivot to the digital world to overcome unnecessary failure in time management, teams, communication, politics, etc.

@Ester_Matters Cost pressures, customer demands, government directives shares @Deloitte CmSHz2OW8AAbmHU

@pdbhat Consumers are discovering, researching, buying, returning & experiencing products digitally more than ever.

@Ester_Matters Who drives what? Cost drives innovation and quality that creates more customer expectations…

What all needs to change in our organizations to become more “digital” from the talent perspective?

@kunjal23 Its the “mindset” that needs to change. Rest all will fall in place post that.

@pdbhat Mindsets that will require change
– consumer empathy
– learning from anyone, anywhere, not just from people w/titles.

@pdbhat Mindset requiring change
– emphasis on execution & pace, not just ideation
– being comfortable with failing/not knowing.

@pdbhat Mindsets to change
– being comfortable with data to drive decisions
– collaborating with others who don’t resemble you.

@Josh_Bersin Digital means design thinking. User empathy. Iterative solutions. Hackathons. Apps. MVPs. Not complex HR process software.

@ideabound Loved the first two; they are in the right order and right sequence.

@sumit_neogi The point on Non Complex HR process is key.

@JohnnyCampbell Data is easy; moving towards an “outputs” culture V an “inputs” culture is much harder but essential. Data holds a mirror up.

@Anand_Pillai The big change that can be done is for the senior talent to lead from the front in going #digital

@joningham That can’t be right surely; you can’t impose a more collaborative approach on people!

@Josh_Bersin Right on. We need a new breed of digital leaders. We have profiled them.

@purnimakumar21 Yup… the new digital leaders may not  be senior by age but senior in experience/expertise.

@purnimakumar21 For all you know, the millennials may be more capable to lead the change. Leaders need to empower them.

@lruetimann Need empowered HR pros who are willing to make mistakes. They need strong & trustworthy relationships with leaders, too.

@GautamGhosh Empowerment is a function of lack of fear. Most HR people are afraid and play it safe.

@lruettimann We’re all afraid, aren’t we? Shame is a powerful motivator for dysfunctional behaviors. I’d like to help fix that.

@Mitalee_Shah Mgmt’s trust – in the HR technology and its manifold ability to organize the workplace.

What can HR impact the most in enabling this business transformation?

@prabhakarl Ensuring that the humaneness is not lost.

@vipul_mathur Transform managers to coaches for business impact.

@lruettimann HR makes the most impact on a biz when it has its own house in order. Improve your digital competencies, improve your life.

@Josh_Bersin Helping select digital leaders. Empowering teams. Fixing performance mgt.

@npandit The biggest impact will be in deriving people behavior insights using sophisticated algorithms.

@purnimakumar21 Inclusion will become big agenda. There is proof enough that digital age is leading to bigger economic divide.

@purnimakumar21 So employability in a sustained and inclusive way is what HR can have a big impact on.

How is your HR team leading this business transformation? What interventions are moving the needle towards digital in your org?

@Mandanpanathula Digital age is going to render a lot of skills redundant. HR can smoothen this restructuring by making people digital ready.

@prabhakarl Starting from myself. Becoming digitally aware and aligned.

@lruettimann The best HR teams aren’t focused on digital. They’re focused on improvement. Technology follows the desire to change.

@pdbhat Enabling culture that values data/experiments; where an imperfect/controversial decision is better than no decision.

@venkateshiyer19 It should start with tying up #talent outcomes to #business objectives #increase #collaboration amongst employees.

Your words of advice to the community to truly be the change agents in this historical business transformation of our companies.

@pdbhat Get going. Then get better.

@UPIAM Be careful of shiny objects; anchor ur digital journey in biz outcomes.

@joningham Yes, but people outcomes even better. Too much focus on business reduces people, then business opportunity.

@_gbajaj Drive Digital wherever it makes business/function smarter not cooler!

@JohnnyCampbell For all decisions, ideas and “opinions”, bring data. Be data driven in how u work & sell internally.

@prabhakarl Never take human emotions out of the equation, including yourself.

Steven Thorne

About Steven Thorne

Steven Thorne is the social media lead for the Marketing Strategy and Thought Leadership team at SAP. Responsible for the social amplification of SAP thought leadership content, he delivers on the team’s digital-first thought leadership content marketing strategy. Along with digital marketing, Steven's extensive experience includes product, developer, partner, demand generation, and channel marketing for SAP and other tech leaders including Intuit and Macromedia (now Adobe). In his spare time, he is an avid traveler, cook, and volunteer. Share your thoughts with Steven on Twitter @sthorne.