Connecting Employee Experience and Organizational Agility with Steve Goldberg

We have recently hosted Steve Goldberg; an HR thought leader at 5 Fortune 500 companies, a top 100 HRtech influencer, and an analyst. In this blog post, we outline the gist of Steve Goldberg’s ideas on how employee experience impacts organizational agility.

September 28, 2022 By Ravijojla Novakovic Share on Twitter! Share on Facebook! Share on LinkedIn!

Introduction

When Covid hit the World like a storm and agility as an organizational value landed on everybody’s lips, Steve Goldberg has already had more than 10 years of experience researching organizational agility, clearly showing that being able to predict challenges is the only way to surpass the market changes.

In the webinar Trending in HR Tech: Connecting Employee Experience and Organizational Agility, Steve Goldberg talks about developing an agile organization and what characteristics the HR tools need to have in order to manage change as efficiently as possible. In his view, securing an organization’s talents is possible via assessing and improving the organizational agility, while simultaneously working on improving the experience both from the employees’ and customers’ perspectives.

After a brief but profoundly to-the-point and insight-rich presentation ‘Trending in Tech’, Steve Goldberg was joined by Semos Cloud’s CEO Filip Misovski for a chat about the current and future outlooks for HR tech, and answered questions about how the HR tech providers fit the HR industry, and some questions from the audience. 

 

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What follows is a recap of some of the most insightful observations Mr. Goldberg makes about EX and organizational agility in the context of HR tech. 

About Steve Goldberg 

Steve Goldberg has had an experience-rich 30+ years-long journey from being the global head of HRIS and HCM product strategy, to being a widely published feature speaker whose insight companies and vendors seek around the globe. Currently, he is an industry advisor, market influencer, and principal analyst for HCM & HR Tech. 

Steve holds an MBA in HR and BBA in Industrial Psychology. He was an HR executive on 3 continents, an HR and HCM practice leader at Bersin and Ventana Research, and a co-founder of boutique Recruiting Tech and Change Management firms. 

Having such a rich vendor, customer, and analyst experience allows Steve Goldberg a unique position to look at the HR tech and HCM-related topics from different lenses. With so much Mr. Goldberg brings to the table, it’s no wonder he’s been recognized as a Top 100 HRTech Influencer, and a widely sought thought leader when it comes to what the future holds for topics revolving around HCM and HR Tech. 

The Importance of Employee Experience and Organizational Agility: the Best EX Wins

In the webinar, Steve Goldberg discusses organizational agility and defines it as the ability to be in front of business risks and opportunities. Steve Goldberg’s definition departs from the traditional views of organizational agility in the way he considers the ability to pivot: an organization should be able to foresee upcoming threats and opportunities. This view is advantageous because there is a crucial difference between the ability to pivot and pivoting too late. 

Steve Goldberg claims that elevating agility and employee experience are two avenues for ascending the ranks within an industry sector. To illustrate this, Mr. Goldberg uses the term adaptive HCM, which is about managing the workforce optimally and leveraging culture for competitive advantage. He defines adaptive HCM as a strategic prerequisite to the ability to foresee a need for pivoting. Borrowing from a framework from Boston Consulting Group: for an organization to be truly agile, the workforce needs to be ready, willing, and able. And the way to influence that is by addressing employee experience strategically. 

Steve Goldberg uses an ERP framework (E- engagement, R- retention, P – productivity), which helps to see the drivers impacting employee experience – including EX strategy, line manager effectiveness, effective onboarding, HCM systems and tools, and so on. 

A striking claim by Mr. Goldberg is that from his 40 years of experience in and around HCM and HR tech – he hasn’t seen any clear evidence that HCM systems and tools are driving retention. On the other hand, he’s seen evidence that they’re driving engagement, which is significantly correlated, according to Mr. Goldberg. 

Vendor View

In the webinar, Mr. Goldberg touched upon the shift in priorities in the HR tech industry. He identifies a departure from being process-centric to being experience- and outcome-centric, while optimizing the trifecta of processes, experiences, and outcomes. For Mr. Goldberg, this change is positive. 

Steve Goldberg outlines three major areas vendors should keep in mind. As a starting point, which Mr. Goldberg admits may be obvious, he stresses the importance of the HR tech vendors knowing the customer’s business context – including business plans, priorities, challenges, and their unique characteristics. 

Secondly, the vendors and the new technology they provide represent a change in how things are done, and often, the change in itself makes customers nervous. To alleviate that – vendors need to offer reassurance in terms of presenting the net benefit and answer the customer’s question: why should they replace their old tech with the new one? What features and functionalities make it better and easier to manage change? Thirdly, Mr. Goldberg notices that many vendors still resist moving their products from the on-premise to the cloud. 

In Goldberg’s view,  personalization is one of the crucial drivers of employee experience – and this is where the technology comes in as it makes scaling possible. Integration with the HR core system is critical if vendors are to offer the maximum possibility for personalization. With advances in AI and machine learning, the HCM provides numerous opportunities for personalization. 

Future View

In Steve Goldberg’s view, managing change could not be stressed enough. He doesn’t believe that historically, HCM systems were directly associated with managing change, or if they did – it was limited. HR technology is going forward; correspondingly, it has to be a hub for research and experimentation, which does not happen by unilaterally applying best practices everywhere.

Steve Goldberg asserts that managing change includes assessing the readiness at both the front and back end, meaning assessing the readiness of both the employees and customers. Goldberg identifies two significant factors that allow technology to be in a position to help organizations manage change.

One is a composite view of assessing organization readiness, including attitudes, readiness, willingness, and ability, but also skills available, the potential of the workforce, and the ability to move people around, reassign and train them.  

The other refers to knowing the best strategic and workforce-related options available in each situation. It is vital to remember that organizations and their dynamics differ. 

Regarding machine learning and AI within the context of HR tech, Mr. Goldberg identifies 5 categories of use cases: personalize, prescribe, predict, curate, and understand. While prescribing is still in its beginning stages, the artificially intelligent HR tech can currently scale personalization and predict and identify possible risks (when it comes to talent shortages, for example). Curate is about managing knowledge and learning resources within a company, while understanding is about gaining insight from data, such as why a lower percentage of candidates accept a job offer. 

Conclusion 

In his presentation, Steve Goldberg provides a couple of frameworks revolving around organizational culture, including the ERP framework featuring a list of EX drivers and how they impact engagement, retention, and productivity. Another framework depicts the employee journey stage – featuring ten steps and what matters most for each of them. Mr. Goldberg highlights immersion as critical, calling it strategic onboarding. Finally, there’s the illustration of the strategic value of outcomes in which Mr. Goldberg links delivering a great employee experience to achieving a target culture.  

The most clear-cut depiction of how EX and organizational agility intersect in Steve Goldberg’s view is the Moments to Matter – both concerning employees and organizations. Here’s where transparency and communication within a company come to the forefront. Moments when an organization is going through a major shift – is the critical moment when transparency has transformational power. 

Watching Steve Goldberg talk and share insights is a treat. His research- and experience-informed frameworks help to navigate the quick pace at which HR tech is evolving. This webinar is a highly recommended watch for anyone looking to understand how employee experience and organizational agility come together. 

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