Ready to get “inspiHRed”?!

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When summer approaches, it is a good moment to look back and think about this ending 2016/2017 academic year. It has been particularly exciting for me because for the first time I have a run a full-year module/project on Human Resource innovation for the super students of the International HRM Master at the Ciffop (school specialized in HR at Paris 2 University – Panthéon Assas, in France). I am really grateful to Yasmina, in charge of this Master, who agreed to give it a try together.

We started the year working with the students on the basics of innovation and design thinking and on how to apply them to Human Resource Management. It was also the moment of inspiring them by sharing some examples of successful HR innovations on the market. Later in the year, I trained them to become innovation catalysts, that is making sure they could facilitate innovative approaches and methodologies in the organizations in which they work. Indeed, these students work part-time in HR fields such as training & development, compensation & benefits or career management in a variety of sectors and companies such as L’Oréal, LVMH and Schneider Electric among others. Based on these new approaches, around 20 HR innovation workshops and experimentations run by these students took place in these companies with great feedbacks – well done guys!

One of the deliverables we asked to students was to identify some of the best HR innovations on the market and centralize them on the first existing HR innovation database. Under the name of “inspiHRation” this database created by the students has more than 50 innovations in the HR fields worldwide, and future students of the Master should continue it…

Just to mention a couple of examples, did you know that employees at the dutch home care organization Buurtzorg fully manage their training in an autonomous way? Were you aware that when some Zappos staff log in their computers in the morning a picture of a co-worker appears, and they have to guess his/her name between 3 options as a way to connect employees? Did you know that Deloitte proposes in New Zealand a fun online interactive game in order to know if you would fit in their company and values? And what if I told you that several HR hackathons have already taken place in the world?

This is just a bit of teasing. I let you now surf and discover this great HR innovation database. You will be able to navigate via tags or categories such as recruitment & employer branding, training & development, career & performance and other HR subjects…

You find here the link to the “inspiHRation” HR innovation database.

Enjoy!

What if organizations started proposing “double part-time” jobs?

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I came up with this idea during one of the last HR innovation workshops I run… what if, instead of proposing classic full-time positions to employees, organizations started proposing also two “part-time jobs”, or, if you prefer, two half positions to some of its staff? I proposed that idea to a working group during that workshop and they included it in their HR innovation action plan; maybe it was not this bad.

To give some concrete examples about what this idea would mean in Human Resource jobs, a person could be in charge of internal talent identification half of the week, and the rest of it design talent development programmes within the company’s Corporate University, which is not the case it big groups nowadays. An employee could manage workforce planning in the mornings and work as a campus manager in the afternoons, and an HRBP could spend half of its time as internal HR consultant; all of them would suppose original job combinations creating synergies among these activities. You may have noticed I did not mention C&B in my examples because these people often work 150% and maths would work with the rest of jobs!

Taking it further, what if only one of the two “part-time jobs” was in HR and not the other? An employee could work for example as HR Business Partner in the IT division part of its time and as IT project manager too. Also, a same person could work in business strategy and in workforce planning too. Even a common theme could connect both jobs: for example, concerning the subject of change management, an employee could work both as team leader managing change, for example in operations or in finance, and also work part-time as training officer in charge of change management trainings.

I see several benefits to this “double part-time approach” that could suppose a competitive advantage to companies proposing it. First of all, it would be highly appealing to fresh graduates willing to discover several positions and businesses in the organization they join, something they ask more and more often to their employers. Second, this could also contribute to reinforce staff engagement, as it strengthens employability, skill development, transversal competencies, and job/assignments diversity, some of the aspects often mentioned in engagement surveys. In both benefits mentioned, this could be a powerful weapon in the war for talent all organizations face. Third, this approach would allow organizations to establish new value-creating synergies among jobs and businesses (such as the ones mentioned earlier) and also reinforce cooperation between the departments involved: going back to the IT example I mentioned before, probably an employee would be more partnership-oriented with his HR colleagues if that HR team was his own team 50% of the time, right? Finally, this idea would also reinforce team spirit in organizations, because 50% of the success of your job would depend on a colleague of yours!

Several conditions would nevertheless be necessary for this approach to work. First, it should of course concern jobs requiring similar skills, otherwise, the benefits just mentioned would not be possible. The easiest way of launching such and initiative would be, at least at the beginning, that two employees switch 50% of their job with each other, therefore becoming some kind of “part-time buddies”. A second condition would therefore be that these “buddies” establish a very clear and formalized working functioning including dedicated information sharing and briefing moments to avoid any possible operational risks in their sharing of responsibilities. The managers of both buddies would of course need to be aware of this functioning process, or even have to approve it before it is actually implemented. More generally, companies should probably need to accompany the employees in this new way of working through training, an advisor or an informal community of exchange gathering all staff concerned. A third condition would be that a very clear communication towards internal and external partners is established for them to understand the benefits of this innovation so that they also see it as value-creating for them. The working dynamics between the employees involved and their partners would also change, and “buddies” should therefore also make sure they onboard all stakeholders in this new working and collaboration style. Finally, jobs involved should have a certain degree of link or connection in terms of contents or business area, otherwise people concerned would probably feel too “lost in translation” on day-to-day activities and the synergies mentioned would not actually happen.

This approach would of course have an impact on some organizational aspects that companies should anticipate and manage, such as team management and dynamics, appraisal and remuneration, or legal and social relations among others. However, if the people and the jobs are well chosen and accompanied, and if all stakeholders are also well informed, this idea has a lot of potential to me taking into account the benefits presented. Launching such an initiative would of course involve some risk taking, but hey, innovation is about taking some risks before your competitors, when you consider it is worth it!

A good way to test such an innovation would be via a POC (proof of concept) with some “part-time buddies” the organization would identify and train. You could even do some communication about it within the firm and propose that staff interested in taking part in the POC are in charge of finding their “buddy” and propose some kind of roadmap presenting the way in which they would work and the synergies and benefits expected. An internal committee could then rate the proposals and approve the ones that make the most sense concerning the strategy of the organization.

In a world in which companies trust almost blindly on digital as their main source or reinvention, what if such an “old school” innovation could be an unexpected source of competitive advantage and contribute to shape the future of work?

Welcome to the Board of Millennials…

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“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open” – Stephen King

Accor is a French hotel group which has been in the spotlight of French management press lately due to a very original initiative they just launched: a shadow Executive Committee, or “Comex” in French. This new committee is a sort of “Board of Millennials” in charge of challenging the company’s key decisions and helping Accor deeply revisit its digital strategy.

This “shadow Excom” is composed by 12 people between 25 and 35 years old, not only because this is the age of the founders of the new players reshaping the industry, such as Airbnb, but also because Accor declares that as of today, 90% of their decisions are made by executives who are older than 50. As well as a young commitee, this is also a very diversified one: 6 men and 6 women, 7 different nationalities, 5 to 12 years of experience in the company and very diverse backgrounds and profiles.

The objective of this “shadow Excom” is to challenge company’s key discussions and decisions by bringing fresh new ideas and points of view. More concretely, the mission of these Gen Y profiles is to propose specific recommendations to the actual Excom of the company on how they would approach some of Accor’s most pressing challenges and digital business stakes. To do so, these 12 young talents are given the same level of information than the actual Excom members, and they are also given the support of a coach to help them formalize their proposals prior to each Excom meeting.

According to Sébastien Bazin – Accor’s CEO, from now on, no important decision for the company will be taken without having listened and taken into consideration the ideas and proposals coming from these smart Millennials. In order to ensure as much fresh input and inspiration as possible, the members of this young committee have a one-year mandate after which they will be replaced by new Gen Y colleagues proposed by themselves.

Of course this initiative is strongly inspired on the more famous reverse mentoring, in which young generations challenge older colleagues on their digital practices or business ideas, but it is the first time I hear this takes place on a regular basis at the very top of a company. Only the time will tell if this is only a nice HR marketing initiative or a radical cultural change in this company, but I have to recognize I found the idea (and the courage to implement it) very inspiring…