'Employees don't want feedback, they want attention'

by HRD12 Jul 2018

Digital disruption is presenting HR professionals with a range of new challenges, changing the nature of roles and the expectations of employees.

So what are the key challenges for HR that will intensify as the pace of change quickens over the coming years?

Firstly, we are living in an age where nobody wants to work for the same company forever, according to Jason Averbook, author of the new book The Ultimate Guide to a Digital Workforce Experience - Leap for a Purpose.

“We live in a very curious world where people will not simply show up to the same company and spend 30 years there,” he told HRD.

Averbook said that in this world, switching jobs is front and center of people’s minds and there’s a major reason for that: technology.

“We see opportunities better than we’ve ever seen them before,” he said. “If you think about it, not that long ago the main way that people found out about new job openings was by reading the newspaper.”

“These days the world has visibility to new jobs and new opportunities every day. The barriers of entry to trying new things are completely different.”

Averbook believes that in this climate HR really has to change their focus from jobs to actual tasks.

“I think that’s probably one of the biggest changes that will impact HR ever,” he said.

“We are going to increasingly break down how work gets done into tasks and we already live in a world where contractors are common.”

Averbook said that the second key challenge is dealing with the fact that every employee is “dying for attention”.

“We live in a world where we post things on Instagram and Facebook - we live in this concept of an ‘attention economy’ - yet many employers don’t have effective strategies to give their workforces attention,” said Averbook.

“What they get is feedback, but employees don’t want feedback, they want attention.

“If you say to your spouse or partner ‘I’ve got to give you some feedback’ they are not going to respond by saying ‘yes, I’ve been waiting for feedback for a long time’.”

Averbook added that HR should really think about how they can deliver attention so that they can assure employees that they are listening and focusing on them.

This involves looking at questions such as: What’s the employee value proposition of working here? How do I deliver new ways of rewarding people? How do I deliver new ways of training people which they see as attention?

Finally, Averbook said that the third challenge centers around “thinking digital first”.

At the recent ServiceNow Knowledge 18 Conference in Las Vegas, Averbook told the audience that “HR is one of the oldest professions in the world”.

“We have been doing things forever the same way, doing all these processes the same way,” he said.

“If we really think about the digital world we live in today, we really need to think digital first.”

Averbook said this is going to involve focusing on the “next generation of the digital workforce technology”.

“How do I make sure that I am delivering technology to you that is going to add value, that is going to give you attention and that is going to deliver you the services that you need to help you do your job?”

“It’s so important to look at what’s the value of what we are going to do from a workforce lens, not from an HR lens.”

Jason Averbrook is co-founder and CEO of Leapgen, an international consulting and education firm.

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