Luigi Maria Fierro is the Global Head of HR Strategy and Transformation at ING, leading HR’s future strategic agenda and the implementation of the new HR operating model globally. During his journey in ING, as Head of Performance Management space, he has redesigned the Group’s new performance management framework and had ensured its full implementation with a transformation program covering 55,000 employees.
In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Luigi who will be speaking in a panel on the future of work at People Matters TechHR Singapore 2020, shares what strategies organizations can adopt to digitize yet humanize at the same time.
Meet Luigi Maria Fierro at People Matters TechHR Singapore 2020 on 20th February 2020 at Marina Bay Sands.
What talent challenges do you foresee in the workplace of the future?
We don’t know exactly what the workplace of the future will look like. But it is clear that most jobs will be more focused on digital and data. This means that many people need to upskill themselves in the areas of technology and data fluency. Many companies are going through a technological transition and this requires employees to be agile and flexible. Hiring people with those data and tech skills and that agile mindset will become tougher as companies are competing for the best talents. This means that companies need to become better at sourcing and screening talents in order to get the best people on board. But it won’t be just about hiring, but also about retaining people.
We also have to invest in your existing workforce; many colleagues are now working in compliance-related areas, for instance, Know Your Customer, so tasks are changing and require different skills. What will the workplace of the future look like? What does the optimal combination of humans and machines look like in the workforce of the future?
There is a lot of discussion about whether automation could mean a big loss of jobs. But I actually think we don’t need to fear for this. I believe you will always need human input and expertise.
Therefore I suspect robots and artificial intelligence will be complementary to our working environment. Current statistics from a recent EY study predict that in the next 10 years the global working population will increase by almost 500 million. That means however we will probably have more jobs related to data and robotics that would require different skills than most people have today.
What strategies can organizations adopt to digitize yet humanize at the same time?
This is difficult but it is actually possible. My suggestion would be to always design strategies that are taking into account both the teach/process point of view and role of employees in driving the change with the new technology. For instance, a bank can improve its banking app platform, which is enhancing its products by using better technology but unless you invest in developing a customer-focused culture and improve employee mindsets and capabilities you cannot enhance the overall customer experience. The same is true for HR; you can implement new HR systems but you won’t improve the employee experience unless you also made changes within the HR framework and the HR and business organization that have to work with the new processes.
How can brands leverage data and technology to create stronger bonds and improve company culture?
Data can help businesses to understand their culture, and technology can help in shaping and developing a new culture. For instance, data can help you understand how your company culture is evolving. For instance, within ING we have a continuous listening program which helps us creating a dialogue with employees. It aims to identify and address issues faster, monitor employee engagement and enhance performance.
What’s more, technology can help facilitate this process. For example, if a company would like to develop a continuous conversation culture, a feedback app available can definitely support such a shift. Yet it wouldn’t solve this on its own – you can’t do it without investing time and effort on mindset and behavioural changes.
What is your key piece of advice to fellow HR and business leaders about the two-three things they should focus on preparing their organizations for the future of work?
I believe it’s important to have a broader focus on diversity - beyond gender.
It’s very valuable to focus on the diversity of background, experience and expectations. Last year I hired someone who had no prior experience in what we asked for. But despite the fact she did not have the exact experience we required she did have a raft of other skills and capabilities that I knew would help us as a team. It can be very tempting to stick to safe hiring choices, but in order to get the workforce for the future, it is important to think outside the box and to consider more diverse candidates.
Try and fine-tune, try and fine-tune again: continuously try new solutions even small and do not be afraid of failure. Just be sure that each try is consistent with the strategy you have in mind and how you want to create value. Don’t just copy things. You have to ask yourself what you want to solve. What are the distinctive capabilities of the future? You need to build solutions around that. A typical example of this would be implementing an agile way of working in an organization.
ING was inspired by the Netflixes, Spotifys and Googles of this world when we introduced the Agile way of working in 2015, but we designed it solely on us as a bank. We started with the question: what are you prepared to give up? For ING that was authority, old structures, and hierarchy. That is not always easy. Fortunately, we also gained a lot from that including freedom, flexibility and personal development. We are now working in small multidisciplinary teams and can deliver innovative solutions far quicker than before.
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