The New CHRO Agenda: Lead digital transformation for the employee experience of joy
Overview of Blog Series
This is the first in a three-part conversation between Jeremy Scrivens as host with two senior members of ServiceNow’s team Tracey Fritcher – Director of Global HR Transformation and Deepak Bharadwaj, VP and GM of HR Business Unit.
ServiceNow have commissioned a major global survey into the status of digital transformation. The study reaches out to over 500 CHRO’s in 12 countries, asking them about their role in digital transformation and the future of work. The report’s conclusion is in some ways startling, challenging but exciting for people who believe the future of work to be good for people, not bad.
The report finds that the companies gaining the best traction from their investment in digital transformation are putting people first at the centre of digital, not process or efficiency first, as important as these are.
For these forward thinking companies, people are the reason for digital investment. Specifically, the focus is using digital, including AI, data, mobility and social, to free people up to experience the joy of work as the future of work. And it is progressive CHRO’s who are leading digital transformation as the focus on employee experience as the new agenda for HR.
ServiceNow are a major technology player in the future of work. Rated by Forbes Magazine as the most innovative tech company in the world, ServiceNow are using digital to put the employee experience at the centre point of business transformation for their employees and their customers.
When the global study came out, I sought out Tracey and Deepak to share the key findings and their own story into the future of work.
Part 1: The Future of Digital is the Employee Experience
I have been writing about the use of digital in the future of work as a choice between two streams.
The first stream uses technology to automate work at the expense of people. The second uses technology to automate transactional work and release people to focus on the experience of work as meaningful and purposeful.
You could say that 1st stream sees people as a necessary evil, to be tolerated only until such time as they can be replaced by automation and robotic tech. But 2nd stream sees people as the reason for work. It sees work as a noble thing, as something essential to what it means to be human. In essence 2nd stream is about putting People First.
What you said resonates deeply with me Jeremy. One of the main reasons why I work is to help people feel a deep emotional connection to their work. We spend so much time at work. My team is focused to help to look at the person first, then the technology. In the future, we have to enable an amazing employee experience and add more meaning into work.
Let’s go right back to the Mission Statement of ServiceNow. Our founder Fred Luddy’s personal vision was to make technology as easy as possible for people. This is a vision that is still in the making and it will always be in the making. He said “how can me make technology really useful for regular people?”
For a long time at ServiceNow we focused on how to help IT departments to make it easier for them to operate and function. But over time the focus shifted to the employee experience, with a particular emphasis on employees providing services to their colleagues in other parts of the organisation. Think about it this way. In every organisation, everyone is a service provider to everyone else and ultimately an end customer.
We wanted to make it super simple for our employees to use our software or technology. Our CEO John Donahoe puts this well when he says that “we are about the use of technology in the service of people.” Technology is not just about automating things. It is about putting the employee, the person, at the centre of everything.
Technology is not just about automating things. It is about putting
the employee, the person, at the centre of everything.
We are about using technology to automate the more basic things that people no longer need to do in order to free them to concentrate on the more meaningful work.
For example, our Chief Talent Officer at ServiceNow Pat Wadors has a very interesting story of how one of our customers, Magellan Health, used to have this call centre. Here, the work of the call centre operators was to take phone calls from internal employees and answer very basic questions.
But now, because we have helped them to automate that process, employees get answers to these questions themselves via a community, not a call centre and there is a huge difference between the two. Magellan are now using this community, supported by the tech, as a talent pipeline into the rest of the business. So they now bring in people from college. They train them to engage in the more sophisticated questions that people have because the basic questions have been automated. It is a great way for these young grads to learn about the business but also connect with other people meaningfully. They then go into the various parts of the business, stay connected and everyone learns and grows together.
So the value proposition has changed from answering a phone call as a dead end job to where technology has served to uplift people in what they are doing in the service of other people.
Technology has served to uplift people in what they are doing
in the service of other people.
We believe that the employee, the person, is at the centre of everything. We aim to ensure that people have the best possible experience as an employee and we want to help where we can.
What you have described is true transformation. Thirty years ago, we started to use business process management to eliminate or automate transactional work. But the focus became efficiency for its own sake and here people are expendable. This is first stream and it continues into the future of work. But the example you give here Deepak is where technology is used to automate or simplify transactional work so that people can do more meaningful work. So ServiceNow has a Future of Work ethos around people which sees work as good for people.
As we talk, I conjure up the image of what you are doing at ServiceNow as taking the noise out of people’s work, so that they can create beautiful music?
That is a great analogy. I call transactional work the friction points within work. After a while within organisations they start to add up and it causes a lot of angst. Identify and take away the friction points and you have a more highly engaged employee who starts to enjoy their work. When you enjoy work, the productivity comes.
Yes, and when you take the time to ask people what the friction points are in their work in the context of the why of their work, rather than being the expert with all the answers around the preconceived “tech solution” – something amazing happens!
Pic Source Gopal Shenoy
Tracey, hold that idea! Actually asking people what the friction points are in the context of their why - that’s pretty radical isn’t it! Asking people what matters to them? Let’s come back to this a bit later.
Deepak, you said a goal of the tech is to enable people to “enjoy their work.” The dictionaries define enjoy as “to experience with joy; take pleasure in, to have and use with satisfaction; have the benefit of.”
The root of enjoy comes from Old French word enjoir: en meaning in and joir meaning to rejoice. So, the pinnacle of the employee experience frees people up to enjoy work from within; to engage their very being, their innate talents and their personal why to contribute meaning and purpose in their work.
In essence Tracey and Deepak, what you are doing at ServiceNow is taking away the extrinsic noise or friction so that people can be free to work from their very inner being. This is about putting people first at the centre of everything and it is emotional. When you engage people inside out something happens. You open up people to engage their why to make the world a little bit better. And it is not just work because our ‘en’ or ‘in’ is who we are at work and outside of work.
What I am learning here is that digital transformation is really about is a future of work which engages people in the experience of lifework as a fully augmented and connected person. The tech supports this journey and you guys get your role in this space. That is really cool.
Please join us as we continue the conversation with Deepak and Tracey in the next blog in this series.
We will go further with Tracey and Deepak into how eliminating the friction points of work is opening up possibilities for a joyful employee experience, supported by digital. Augmenting the employee experience as joy is the true goal of digital.
Augmenting the employee experience as joy is the true goal of digital.
Links to other blogs in this series
Discover Past Posts