from the #Valley

HR is Rocket Science

date: 16 / 11 / 2018 | written by Evelyn Stremersch | comments: 0
This article is provided by guest writer Evelyn Stremersch of ESTE LLC who went to the HR Summit & Expo in Dubai and is happy to enlight us with her insights. Be carefull, this is not for sensitive readers ;-)

People suck.
But people are successful as well. The fact is that without people you can't get ahead. Good people leave the organisation because they are offered better opportunities. Bad people… well, they stay… If you don't want to risk falling out of business, you need high performers.

Focus on outcomes and communication

This week I attended the HR Summit in Dubai to improve my HR competencies, to meet global HR professionals and to finally find out if we are all prepared for emerging HR technology. We are a specialised HR agency that supplies high-tech experts and technically skilled talent to Northern European countries and also we have ambitious plans when it comes to technology.

By living and working in a hub for technology like Dubai, it's easy to keep up with the evolutions in technology. For a long time, I have been immersed in the world of geeks and high tech and I follow trends and the progress in the field of ai and blockchain. The HR Summit was the ideal opportunity to find out what to expect from the future, considering our own HR industry.

The ability to attract experienced talent from around the world to Dubai is more likely than anywhere else. During the keynote of Alex Davda, Business Psychologist, who specialises in identifying high potentials, it was clear that nowhere in the world is the government preparing its population for digitisation like in the U.A.E.  The level of education is growing, it is taught how to attract talent and there is rapid progress.

Using a study of local employers compared to global data, he demonstrated that the typical mindsets of the U.A.E. talents are that:

  • they quickly grasp concepts
  • they look beyond what is obvious
  • they are curious and open about complexity and ambiguity
  • they are open to new experiences.

I can only confirm this when looking at my own national team.

Quickly I learned that top-driven organisations focus on outcomes and communication. ‘Fortunately, we are on the right track’, I thought during the first day. Communication is our most important asset.  Our Mission Statement is in line, our people are engaged, and we have no challenges in finding and retaining talent.

Unfortunately, this is not the case in many other organisations.

To get the best outcomes and the best people, you need a good HR department or partner. HR has become almost as important as sales in an organisation. That was different a few years ago, when HR was rarely appreciated. According to a recent Wall Street Journal study, the primary role of the HR department in an organisation has proven to be increasingly important.

  • First place is assigned to the Sales department: 63%
  • 2nd place of importance belongs to the HR department: 59%
  • The administration follows in 3rd ranking with 57%.

The main bottleneck in larger organisations is that not all departments are on the same level and communicate well. The HR department, for example, is still far too far away from the financial department, sales and marketing departments. However, all departments are sometimes too far away from the management.

Will technology solve our problems?

The major question that arises with many entrepreneurs and managers today is if technology will solve all the problems.

Organisations struggle with finding and retaining talent and with their internal communication and are thus hindered in their growth. They are desperately seeking a solution in technology because people suck.
But as I said, people are successful as well.

Ai is a problem solver but it’s not magic, no science fiction.

John McCarthy, who coined the term, “Artificial Intelligence” in 1956 said, “as soon as it works, no one calls it ai anymore”.

We develop a machine and let the machine do the things we want. How are we going to expect the machine to do this if a lot of organisations are still facing challenges in real life? Again, ai is not magic, it is just algorithms.
Admittedly, it is "cool" to develop technology and be the CEO of a technology company. And yes, it is "cool" to introduce a new high-tech application to the company. But just like in any other industry, we must always keep in mind who the end user is. In HR, these are our current employees and our future employees.

Before investing in technology, think first:

  1. Do you know who your high potentials are? If not, how will the machine know?
  2. Is your target group ready to be recruited by a machine? If not, you run the risk of missing your target group.
  3. Do you know where to find your future experts? If not, the machine doesn't know either.
  4. Is your staff eager for an internal communication platform or application? Maybe they might need to be just a little closer to their manager.

A fact is that a digital mindset is needed to move as fast as the world is going. But what must come first comes first. If you want to add value to your business with digital transformation you first have to understand a few things. What is digital transformation, understand human nature and know what drives people.

HR is Rocket Science.

The tsunami

70% of the digital transformation projects fail! That is the painful reality, explained Professor Samir El-Masri, Phd and certified Digital Transformation Expert and Blockchain & ai expert, who compared the digital disruption with a tsunami. It’s going too fast and if you are not prepared for it you risk falling out of the market.

Common pitfalls for this failure include a lack of employee engagement, inadequate management support, poor or nonexistent cross-functional collaboration, and a lack of accountability.

If you only implement new technology without implementing a new digital business model you are only doing a digital change, not a digital transformation. Without a new digital business model you are not protected from the tsunami of the digital disruption.

The world is moving fast and we need to change if we want to keep up with the competition. Add to a digital transformation the full understanding of human nature, what drives them and how they behave, and you're taking a big step forward.

The search for Engagement

"An engaged employee personally identifies with the corporate culture, feels satisfaction in his or her role, believes in the company as well as what it does and what it offers, trust and respects the leadership, and volunteers discriminatory effort to contribute to the organisation’s differentiation success." (- David S. Cohen - Professor Organizational Behaviour for H.R. Professionals)

If you implement all these factors to your company the risk of failure decreases considerably.

Businesses with diverse and engaged employees see revenue increases of up to 46%! With that in mind, it is obvious that we must first continue to focus on people by creating a culture. People stay for a corporate culture, but it is also the reason why they leave. It’s also possible that they come back because they miss their old culture because they thought it would be better somewhere else.

As said HR is rocket science. If you treat person A and person B in the same way, the result will be BOOM.

That’s how humans are. Every person is different and needs a different approach. And that is something the machine cannot (yet) take over, whether it is about attracting them, recruiting, retaining, motivating or communicating. So far we cannot implement emotions in the machine. Not yet…

Robots vs HRBP

The next question is not anymore if robots are going to take over millions of jobs. That is crystal clear today. Don’t worry about it, technology will create many other opportunities.  If you want to excel as an HR Business Partner stay focuses on the H of Human Resources so you can stay in the business for a while. You will be needed for your soft skills.

Ready for the tsunami?

When the digital business model is ready and approved within the organisation and when everything is understood about the end uses, you are ready for the digital transformation.

Bear in mind that high potentials are not ready (yet) to be recruited by a machine and employees are not all jumping in the air (yet) to have an artificial HR or communication manager. People want, in order of importance according to the Index of Happiness at Work:

  1. Organisation, management and cultural environment
  2. Overall happiness and balance between work and private life
  3. The ability to be themselves, shape their own work and the opportunity to learn and grow

Everyone will have to adapt at the end. Use the time left to understand more about human needs and learn to communicate better, and interact better with people in real life, so you can soon teach your skills to your artificial colleagues. 

No space for failure

Yes, AI and technology will definitely solve a lot of problems in the world.

With all our expertise and given the fact that we are located in the technology and talent hub, we are ready to develop many great solutions. Our next big thing will be based on ai. As a good student I follow the advice of Professor Samir. There is little space for failure in a rapidly evolving world. The digital business model must be our focus. When it comes to all other aspects, we are ready and I can say that I am very proud of that.


With more than 10 years of experience in HR and recruitment and 6 years of international business experience, Evelyn Stremersch is the access to hard-to-find talent for Belgian and Northern European companies. She is specialised in recruiting technical, digital and technological experts. With extreme reactivity and an incredible focus on communication she transforms hard processes in simple actions. 

A never-ending curiosity for technology combined with a passion for HR brings her in a unique position to create a solution with a crucial competitive advantage.

For all information on how she works and how you can benefit from her method visit esteinternational.com

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