5 ways to stay modern in an ever-changing workforce

Employees sat around together discussing business issues.
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From remote working, Zoom calls and the rise of ChatGPT-3, the way we work has fundamentally changed. Ahead of a challenging year for the economy and businesses alike, it is important to understand and embrace these changes at all levels of a business. A key aspect is in finding a way for HR to work in tandem with leadership to maximize existing infrastructure while identifying the major roadblocks that may hinder the path to success. Here are my top 5 suggested ways to do just that:

Chris Port

Chris Port is Chief Operating Officer of Boomi.

1. Embrace the unknown of hybrid and focus on agility

The first shocks of hybrid working are now well in the past. Successful organisations today know that enabling flexibility in terms of on-site attendance makes a positive impact on both culture and productivity. But who knows what shape this working style will take as the workforce continues to change with the times?

Effective leaders understand that embracing this state of flux lies at the heart of future-proofing the business. Creating a 360 view of employees can help leaders constructively manage their individual needs and patterns; whilst also supporting effective management of the increasingly complex variables and changing conditions of employment. It even helps businesses navigate the new compliance requirements they face. Workplaces will continue to evolve, and a full view of what your employees need takes first place in the toolbox you will use to cope with uncertainty and volatility.

2. Tackle the digital skills gap

The more technology the world uses in the grips of digital transformation, the more people are needed to deploy, develop, and maintain it. Yet, as popular as tech careers are, there simply aren’t enough skilled people to fill the demand. This has been exacerbated recently due to decreased budgets and workforce changeover as many companies face macro-economic pressures. Arguably, we may never have enough.

With digital skills in high demand, some businesses will struggle to fill all the roles they need. Meanwhile, those already on the payroll find themselves coping with severe burnout as they shoulder an extremely heavy workload. All this while customer expectations continue to grow and businesses require increasing efficiencies and experience optimization without any disruption or downtime.

The only solution lies in automating those processes that drain IT resources. Low-code tools help teams rapidly develop new products and services that keep the business competitive and help it respond rapidly to market changes - all without retooling existing systems, which can be resource intensive and time-consuming.

3. Connect everybody to everything

With the best intentions at heart, whilst trying to move their businesses forward, many businesses launch new applications and set up new cloud services. That forms an essential component of digital transformation, of course, but will inevitably fail unless the organization can correctly integrate them. Boomi calls this a modernization chokepoint. IT resources like applications, data, and devices need to be connected so people have access to what they need for their jobs. In a world where IT infrastructures are more broadly distributed than ever before, IT connectivity forms a much more crucial component than mere "plumbing" or a ‘nice to have’. Connectivity needs to be an essential part of every IT strategy.

IT teams should watch out for, and be wary of, closed ecosystems of app families and siloed enterprise systems. These can hold back data integration, and without the ability to connect in a full-featured way, data breakdown occurs. If a remote employee can’t get the right data from Source A and Source B, they will be less productive and grow more frustrated. This not only creates inefficiencies, but can also lead to some employees developing their own workarounds to overcome it - which can pose serious security risks. It doesn’t take long for the pendulum to swing in the wrong direction: from unusable or incomplete information to a risky data leak.

4. Create a smooth omni-boarding journey

One oversight that has dogged HR professionals for years stems from viewing onboarding and off-boarding as two separate and disconnected processes. In fact, in the era of digital transformation, we realize that these stages are all part of an ongoing process: we call it Omni-boarding.

Omni-boarding comprises pre-boarding (the set of actions involved in preparing the position and the future employee, for maximum readiness to hit the ground running); onboarding (the training and enablement carried out by a company when settling a new employee in their role); re-boarding (the process of training and harmonizing the workforce when employees have changed roles due to career progression, merger or acquisition, or other reasons) and offboarding (which can include all the actions post-notice, such as exit interviews, access revocations, and reference issuances).

The only way to align the whole Omni-boarding process is to share the right data with the right people, applications and devices. Integrating these disparate nodes will streamline the employee journey and help the business have full visibility into every critical instance. An optimized Omni-boarding process enables businesses to improve talent acquisition, management, and retention. Bolstering a business’ innovative capabilities and achieving a competitive edge that can only be the product of efficient teams.

5. Process optimization

As businesses navigate change, they introduce new and improved processes - which bring their own challenges. These new processes need automation, orchestration, monitoring, and tracking in order to finetune them and mitigate any inefficiencies. Many entail customizations to HR, IT, ERP, CRM and other technology stacks, all for the greater benefit of the department or company. However, these will require time-consuming and expensive workarounds that most teams cannot afford.

Once again, low-code technologies are the easiest way to gain the benefits of new processes in a painless way. Without needing to entrust the entire operation to a potentially already overworked IT team, employees with a much lower digital skillset (or ‘citizen developers’) can use low-code and no-code tools to create and maintain new processes. Businesses that foresee increased reliance on citizen developers should create Data Communities of Practice, repositories of tools and best practices, which citizen developers can use to best approach the tasks at hand.

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Chris Port is Chief Operating Officer of Boomi, responsible for Support, Services, Success and Strategy functions within the company.