Self Service as an HR Function

Wayne Reschke, VP-HR, Alliant Energy

Wayne Reschke, VP-HR, Alliant Energy

Shift from Transactional to Consultative Service

To enhance our value at Alliant Energy we are transforming our talent acquisition function from primarily a transactional service to one that is more consultative and proactive. In order to free up time we had to better automate the administrative and process tasks. We are now using Kenexa to support our recruiting efforts. In addition, we’ve shifted many administrative tasks to our HR service center, an option also enabled by the technology. Finally, independent of the efficiency and enabling gains that the technology provides, it is clear to us that we have to be up-to-date technologically in order to attract talent. If it is difficult for people to access us and work through the application process, we’ve lost them.

Easy Navigation through Performance Management System

We have implemented learning management and course authoring systems which has enabled us to leverage a fairly small group of training professionals; to address the development needs and training requirements of our 4,000 employees. We are able to provide high quality computer-based offerings (which people have come to expect with the general availability of such things on the web). Many of our required courses on safety, compliance, Code of Conduct, security, etc. are delivered in this manner. This frees up classroom-based training to focus on those subjects best suited to group/ instructor interaction.

Our performance management system is also efficiently being linked to the HRIS. Not only is it easy to use for our managers and employees, but the interface with other HR systems, such as compensation, make the process administratively easy to navigate.

Easy Interface between HR Data and Real-Time

Perhaps this is out there and I’m not aware, but I’d like to see an easy interface between our various internal metrics and HR data and real-time benchmarks. We participate in surveys that enable us to compare to industry norms, but it is a cumbersome process and data is always about a year old. Social media also creates communication challenges. We are being confronted with postings, both positive and critical, that we need to respond to. So monitoring becomes an important function followed by an effective response structure.

Self-Service as an HR Function

We are already set up for people to be able to access email from phones and tablets but we are still working on how to link them to internal systems other than through company laptops. We believe that we need to be doing things in this arena because our employees, and future employees, are or will be expecting it. Specific to HR, these vehicles will be used to access information on benefits, pay, job openings, company news, etc. So we need to be present on/ through all these platforms. We have already moved significantly toward self-service as an HR function. This pushes us further in that direction.

HR Tools to Attract and Retain Talented Individuals

Talent is scarce, particularly for effective leaders. This is a huge concern for most organizations. The Talent Development role of the CHRO has become increasingly critical. This includes effective workforce planning and forecasting, staff/leadership development, and, most importantly, using the  tools of HR to shape a culture that will attract and retain talented individuals.

This scarcity includes HR talent, in my view. It is difficult to find people with both strong business acumen and a good understanding of human resources. So, building an HR team is more challenging today.

The legal and regulatory context continues to become more complex and managing that has also become a more pressing element of the role.

Finally, providing coaching and counsel to the executive team has also become a big part of the job. The business context of uncertainty has made decision making and people strategies much more challenging, and the role of HR in achieving business results is seen as more critical than in the past.

"High quality computer-based offerings frees up classroombased training to focus on those subjects best suited to group/instructor interaction"

Solution Providers to watch out for Jargons

For fellow HR execs, I’ve long believed in a perspective from Peter Block (author and organizational development expert) that goes something like this: to change a culture, you have to change the conversation in the room that you’re in right now. It is a very effective thought about how to make progress on the big changes that are necessary from time to time in our businesses. And it is something we can influence. On another point, when I was a consultant I often saw HR functions that were doing leading edge work recognized as outstanding by our profession, only to hear from the leadership of their companies that they weren’t meeting their business needs. My takeaway when I took on this role was to make sure that we didn’t get enamored with our “best practices” to the point of missing the needs of our customers.

For solution providers, watch the jargon and buzzwords. You all sound the same, and too often the language and how you present yourselves is disconnected from the practical needs of our profession and our organizations.

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