Article: Emotional turbulence and digital HR transformation

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Emotional turbulence and digital HR transformation

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Understand how emotions get affected in an organization when it decides to embrace modern-day digital HR practices and platforms
Emotional turbulence and digital HR transformation

There can be no more common business buzzwords than “digital transformation,” but how to embrace digital HR transformation?

When we talk about digital transformation, the fundamental objective of that transformation is to bring more efficiency and effectiveness in the way we deliver our services. But when we look at digital HR transformation, it is significantly different. When we look at digital HR transformation, it is actually about using technology in all the areas of HR to deliver new experiences to employees such that positive emotions are generated which in turn will increase the engagement, enablement and productivity.

HR Digital transformation is not so much about digital strategy, but more about human emotions.


According to a report, 40 percent of CEOs across the globe acknowledged that HR digital transformation is their top priority. However, the reality is that 63 percent of digital transformation fails.

In most digital transformation, there is a direct linkage between digitization of the process, implementation of the new technology application and the way results are produced. However, when we talk about HR digital transformation, the emotional aspect becomes the central premise of digital HR transformation.

And hence, most of these digital HR fails to deliver the kind of results that it initially promised. The reasons for failure are emotional in nature- ambiguity, lack of ownership, inflexibility, lack of acceptance, lack of leadership. 

Hence, it is very critical for HR leaders to understand that digital HR is about people and emotions. 

Types of Emotions and Transformation Agenda

When we talk about emotions, there are multiple types of emotions that play a role in the success or the failure of any digital HR transformation initiatives.


One of the most emotional needs of human beings is “homeostasis” – People don’t like to change. People are the creature of habits. They want to go back to tried and tested ways.

Whenever there is a discussion around digital transformation, the starting premise of that transformation is “we will change everything,” and that is where the first emotional turbulence triggers. 

Try to retain what can be retained. It is about respecting the way an organization is working, respecting the culture of an organization, respecting the emotions individuals have invested in the way they do businesses.

Fear of Unknown

Technology is an increasingly important part of our daily lives. We are adopting newer technologies day in out. However, when FB came in it never ran a change management or training program for users. Similarly, Uber never conducted a workshop to help riders shift from other forms of transportations to Uber Cabs. This is because these technologies were intuitive. 

In new age digital HR transformation, it is essential you adopt technologies and applications that are fun, intuitive and personalized. It gives enough flexibility to users to assimilate the technology in their lives. If the technology needs to be forced on users, the transformation is bound to get failed.

Loss of control

It is often seen that the stated intent of organization, leaders, and management teams vs. real intent is different. People believe that implementing technology will lead to a loss of control- the kind of data shared, with whom the information will be shared and how the data will be used.

While investing in a system, know if the system brings:

  • Power to develop- People have control in developing the look and feel, developing the processes, etc.
  • Power to upgrade- People have the power to upgrade to the newer versions of the technology.
  • Power to redesign- People have the flexibility to redesign  the current system


A lot of stakeholders are involved in this whole ecosystem of driving HR transformation. All these stakeholders try to drive their own agenda because they don’t trust. How to build trust?

1. Identify why you want to adopt a particular technology?

2. Defining accountability becomes critical for the success of transformation.

3. Having Agile Mindset, i.e. ability to give up the redundant point of view.

4. Having collective collaboration. 

Human emotions impact and get impacted during digital HR transformation. Understand the multiple dimensions of emotional turbulence and how to manage them during transformations is imperative.

(This article is based on the session “Emotional Turbulence and Digital HR Transformation” by Shaakun Khanna Head of HCM Cloud Applications, APAC, Oracle at People Matters TechHR Singapore 2019)

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Topics: HR Technology, #TechHR 2019, #Lets Talk Talent APAC

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