Workplace 2020: Now is the time to think about the Next

By Jason Averbook
Author of “HR From Now To Next” Jason Averbook
CEO, The Marcus Buckingham Co. 

Most everyone remembers Y2K and how much money, time and resources businesses spent on preparing for that global event. Today, HR is in a similar spot by having to prepare for what I call Workplace 2020. Just five years away, Workplace 2020 means your workforce, technology and business challenges will all blend together to create an opportunity that HR never has had before in its history.

Of course, HR won’t realize that opportunity if it doesn’t act immediately.

Unfortunately, most organizations haven’t even begun the journey. That’s a shame. In my view, the Workplace 2020 concept should be top of mind and embedded in every current HR strategy.

What is the key to successfully realizing Workplace 2020? For one thing, it means choosing an HR technology solution that invites adoption, one that drives users across the enterprise to really dig in and leverage what their organizations give them. Sadly, if we use some recent Workday poll results as a gauge, many employers have a long way to go. When asked if they are happy with their current HR solution today, 82 percent said no. As for adoption, an even higher number, 85 percent, report that their employees are not adopting their current HR solution. Not very promising, but the good news for them is there is nowhere to go but up on the adoption front.

Winning the adoption battle, while critical, is just the beginning. A business really launches its successful trek towards Workplace 2020 when not only does its workforce adopt its HR solution, but actually loves using it..

What do I mean here by addiction? Just consider: Who has better technology, consumers or business users? In almost every case, consumers have the better technology. With the recent launch of the iWatch and iPhone 6, the interest in new Apple gear is off the charts. It’s crazy that businesses can’t generate even close to that type of enthusiasm with their technology.

How many of us today, in a manner of speaking, sleep with our device? In fact, we keep getting closer to have these devices embedded into us. We also are bringing devices home, but it wasn’t that long ago, we left our devices at work. The concept of always being connected is key, and that will continue. And, as businesses drive forward with their HR solution strategies, that constant connectivity will have an impact on how they decide to roll their new HR solutions out.

As noted, adoption is a start, but it’s not the finish. How do you move from adoption to addiction? For one thing, you don’t turn your HR solution into an occasional experience. Think about it: How many times do you move? Have a baby? Get married or divorced? If those are the things you are going to record in your HR solution, your workforce will never be addicted. If you checked email or Facebook once every five years, for instance, you would not be addicted. You get the point.

For your HR solution to succeed, you have to look at how employees are thinking, feeling, using and leveraging technology in their everyday lives. I can find my iPhone anywhere in the world. I can know what people are thinking at any single moment by checking Twitter. Yet, most likely I am using employee engagement surveys and performance management processes that are a year or two years old, at best.

There is a reason why my latest book is titled, “HR from Now to Next.” The focus needs to be on how we move from where HR is today, the Now, to where that Next might be. To be clear, Next looks different everywhere; there is not one Next. But every organization must define theirs and go for it, or their HR strategy will fail the business.

When it comes to their HR solution, employers large and small are in different places for different reasons. But they all must realize that to get to Workplace 2020, they need to launch their plans now. With platforms such as Workday, for example, they successfully can move HR from Now to Next.

We are Workday.