Human Resources Keynote Speech – Connect to Innovate

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Connect to Innovate
Human Resources Keynote Speech

Video Transcription
We’re going to focus on our next speaker, he’s vice president of SAP success factors and he looks over employee experience and total workforce management. Ladies and gentlemen give a warm round of applause for Tim Ringo.

Guten Morgen! That’s the last Dutch you will hear from me today, I apologize for that. It’s a shame really because I’ll let you know something, that you probably didn’t know. The last name Ringo is actually Dutch going back to 1636. Everybody in America with the last name Ringo, which isn’t a lot of people, are all descended from Phillip Ringo who came from Amsterdam to New Amsterdam in 1636.

So, just so you know that you can Google it. There’s a place in New Jersey called Ringoe’s New Jersey and it’s spelled with an e so you have to add an OE at the end but everybody still gets together there every year. Not everybody, but we have a family reunion and if you want to go you can go meet lots of other Ringo’s you’re all related to and you can go to Ringoe’s New Jersey to do that.

Now it’s really funny I have been mistaken for Ringo Starr once in my life. So, I was flying (this is back when I was a partner in Accenture) I was flying from London to LA on virgin and, of course, you’re going to see loads of celebrities on that flight – every time you go. In this particular case, Joe Walsh was sitting across from me. Joe Walsh the guitarist for the Eagles, you may know him if you’re of a certain age.

I thought that’s interesting but anyway 12 hours later, get to LA go to get my bag and then I go out of the hall and there’s my driver there with a sign that says Ringo. There’s loads of paparazzi and there’s a very excited looking driver and I thought this is interesting so I walk on and I said hello I’m Mr. Ringo and I’m here for my ride. The look of disappointment on the driver’s face was classic. I wish I had a phone with the camera – back then it was 15 years ago.

Anyway, all the paparazzi melted away. Get in the car, complete silence from the driver and then he says after about 10 or 15 miles, he goes “Mr. Ringo because I have a telephone number here, it’s from Mr. Walsh, he says he’d like you to give him a call next time you’re in town.”

So, I was mistaken for Ringo Starr. My wife said we should have given Joe Walsh a call. It’s like, no, I’m not really an Eagles fan anyway.

So, that was a true story. True story everybody in America with the last name Ringo is related to Phillip Ringo who came over from Amsterdam in 1636.

Anyway, right so rethinking the employee experience. Just before I get started, I’ve been writing a book I’ve been researching for two years. Probably a lot of you know that people productivity is steadily going down for about the past ten years. It’s either flattened or going down in almost every region of the world and I was really fascinated by this when I read it.

It was an OACD paper predicting that this will eventually impact the annual average rate of GDP growth it’s a quite serious thing if people productivity is going down. And sure enough, through the research and talking to lots of people around the world this is a problem that everybody’s focused on.

So, I thought right I’m going to research this and I’m going to write my next book on this. It’s really interesting because the two things that I thought would have the least impact on people productivity – it was way down my list, not that important. One was employee experience and two was employee well-being.

I thought you know those are just hygiene factors. Those are just things that you kind of do if you can but throughout my research, and my wife kept sticking papers in my in my hand to read, throughout the research just over and over and over again one of the two of the things that was the biggest impact right now on people’s productivity is your experience at work and your well-being.

Those two things rapidly moved up my list and ended up in my top six things to fix people productivity. So, what I want to do is I’m going to tell a little bit of a sad story initially but I’m hoping to convince you all to be optimists in the end.

I’m going to tell you the pessimist story first. Let’s just take a look so and this is part of the sad story: organization perception versus workforce reality. So, 69 percent of organizations believe employees are engaged while for employees it’s 34 percent or less. You see this; you’ve heard this; you know it; you see it in your own organization.

71 percent of organizations believe employees are satisfied with their benefits. We were just talking about that a moment ago in the very little bit of Dutch I could pick up. 48 percent of employees don’t agree. I mean that’s a huge gap.

Then organizations say, well eighty-one percent say, that employees would recommend their company is a great place to work. You always win those awards and those sorts of things. I’m not sure how meaningful those are but when you ask employees it’s vastly different.

So, this is the situation at the moment. Where organizations perceive themselves to be exceptionally good at the whole employee experience from end to end: “we’ve put in new technology, we put in new processes – aren’t we great?”

Well, guess what? The workforce reality is very very different. The experience gap is huge and it has a major impact on people’s ability to get stuff done at work.

So, let’s look at that so three key areas. We’re going to have time to talk about two today. The physical experience, the technology experience and the culture experience. These three things come together to be the elements of people’s experience at work.

We’re going to talk about today just two of them. So, we’re going to talk about culture experience and the technology experience.

We’ll start off with the technology experience first because this is a major barrier to people engagement and productivity at the moment. So, this is called the productivity paradox. It’s actually been around since the 70s because periodically since about the 1960s we’ve seen people productivity go up, people productivity go down.

It seems whenever there’s a technology inflection we see people productivity go down. Now, the problem at the moment is it just keeps going down and it’s not coming back up again. So, this has got to be quite a serious situation.

So, it’s called the productivity paradox. Fantastic technology, but where’s all the productivity? We’re not seeing it at the moment.

So, if you look at this graph: that zero back there at the very beginning, that’s the year 10,000 BC and at the end of that blue line is 1780. So, between 10,000 BC and 1780 there was almost zero human technology progress. We had fire, we had the wheel, we had paper and a printing press and that was about it. But then you get to seventeen mid 1700s late 1700s: steam engine, all of these other things come online – just massive amounts of technology progress.

And it’s just accelerated, it’s almost logarithmic. It just keeps getting faster and faster and bigger and the impact is huge. Now, unfortunately if you’re human, this is you. So, humans are getting more and more overloaded and, therefore, getting more and more impaired by technology at work.

It’s because of this – the amount of investment and time spent in organizations aligning people to new technology, to the latest new app that you’re rolling out isn’t happening. It was, we had a lot more investment at the beginning of the internet revolution. But today, there isn’t a lot of investment.

The other thing, and the OECD talked about this, is organizations are not changing their structure. Their organization structure and processes to align people to technology. So, we’re pushing all this technology at them and it’s actually making them less productive, lower performing and it’s just getting worse.

So, it’s not a great situation. So, what you end up with is a graph from 2016 by OECD. They’ve redone this graph for 2018 and it’s virtually the same. But, you can see going from 2011 out to 2060, their prediction is the average annual rate of GDP growth is going to steadily go down. As you know, two-thirds of the GDP numbers are human effort, human contribution. That’s why this graph is going down. No other reason.

Human productivity is impacting this for what we just talked about, the technology. We’re not aligning to people and we’re not changing our organization structures to meet that.

Now, this is what’s called the pessimist view. These are economists who believe that this is what’s going to happen but what I’ve seen and probably what you’ve seen, is organizations are starting to change their structure, they are changing their processes, they are starting to invest in aligning people to technology.

So, what does that look like? Well, one thing it doesn’t look like is just working harder. In fact, it’s been proven that the more hours that humans put in and the more people you throw at the productivity problem the worse it gets. That’s why you see organizations and governments starting to experiment with the four-day week. It’s actually finding you improve people’s productivity when you go to a four-day week.

We can go into all the details of that, but we don’t have time today. But, this graph is from Deloitte. It shows that just in the last year that the more hours that you throw at the productivity problem, you actually make it worse.

So, working harder is not going to work. If you look at the workplace in 1990 – I started my career at Anderson consulting back in 1989. By 1990 this is kind of what my desk looked like. You had a big clunky PC or a Mac on it and then you go forward to 20/ 30 years later and it basically looks the same, there’s no difference. It’s a PC screen with a mouse and keyboard. That’s how you interact with the technology.

But, if you go to your home, your home looks like this. You’ve got your Alexa, we’ve got a refrigerator at my house that my wife says it’s smarter than me – it knows when we run out of certain things and orders it for us. So, those sorts of things go on at home.

Our technology is making us more productive, that is true. So, if you’ve got an Alexa, she is going all morning (at least in my house) while my wife is asking various questions about the Train, the weather blah blah blah. Things that are making us much more productive at home but when you get to work it looks like that there is a massive difference, right?

This is part of the problem. The employee experience does not look like the home experience, as we get more and more gadgets at home – big problem. However, in my book it’s called Solving the Productivity Puzzle, it comes out in February next year, I’ve come up with an equation quote: getting right people, right skills, right place, right time, right motivation.

Guess what? Employees love that. If they know what their job is and that they’re in the right job at the right time, doing the thing that they’re really passionate about. Guess what you get? You get what I call PEIP: people engagement innovation and performance. So, if you put in place in your organization the processes and the technology and the mindset that says: we’re going to get right people, right skills, right place, right time, right motivation we can flip that that curve.

We can flip that curve that the that the OECD have come out with. I think we can get historic people productivity, particularly when we take PEIP and we multiply it times the emerging technologies. AI machine learning people harnessing technology like we do at home to make ourselves better at work. This is what the OECD are missing right now they are not seeing that this is what’s happening.

Your HR organizations, your IT organizations are putting in place the technologies to get right people, right place, right time, right skills, right motivation. They’re putting in place the processes, they’re investing and aligning people to this approach and I think we’re going to have – and I’m in the optimist camp – we’re going see at the end historic people productivity because this is happening when I did my research.

Now, does everybody know 10% of companies I think at the moment have achieved this approach? People are moving very quickly by installing technologies like success factors which creates the processes that allow people to experience it.

So, if you’re an employee this is a great experience, right? Your organization knows what skills you have, they know your motivations and they use that to put you in a place so you can flourish so that you can be productive. This is what the OECD are missing at the moment.

So, let’s have a look at some technology. Let’s just see how things have changed. First of all if you look at HR technologies, or any technologies these days, everything is a lot more usable. Things are intuitive. The things we use at home are very intuitive and so the things that work are starting to become that way as well. We’re starting to see applications in work that are mobile inviting, almost beautiful things that really kind of motivate you into using them.

Humanize this is key. It used to be not long ago technology was designed and coded for the convenience of the IT engineer. Now, technology is being coded for the convenience of humans. It’s the model, it’s flipped.

And again, the OECD are missing this – that technology is becoming much more humanized and something that will put a smile on your face and help you at work makes you better. The new approach to work, the new work experience is all about making you better, making you more productive.

So, what does that look like? So, if you look at it – this would be my screen in successfactors. You can see it’s kind of a really nice inviting situation and it can be very individual. I can have my own sort of links down here that for things that I want, maybe I put the share price on there, those sorts of things. But then also if you’re a manager you have you can add this, you can put all your information about your team. It’s two clicks away and you’ve got all the information you need to get your people in the right place, right time, right skills, right motivation.

The technology makes this easier. In fact, it’s becoming so easy that you can literally just type, for instance, in this case you could just type comp into the keyword and up comes the compensation system and then there’s your team and you click on that team member and you get that person’s compensation and boom! I can go in, I’ve got everything there I need, I can provide bonus or su shares, merit increase – I can do all of that. HR doesn’t need to get involved. They’ll check it to make sure I did it right, but I can do it. I don’t need anybody else to do that for me. I control and run and I’m in charge of the motivation of my team.

It’s becoming mobile. So, you’ve got these mobile apps so a lot of the things that I do, certainly with my team, because we’re all virtual around Europe, Middle East and Africa is using the phone. I’m on the on the plane a lot and one of the biggest, most popularly used apps in any organization is your org chart app, right? To be able to use that down at the phone, I mean this creates lots of productivity.

It seems kind of silly and not a big thing but it’s a huge thing having a really easy-to-use and clever org chart app that can improve people productivity. Believe it or not it’s a very popular way to get people productivity conversational.

So, very soon we’re going to start being able to talk to our HR system. In fact, it I don’t even think there’s going to be a HR system anymore. It’s going to be your HR digital assistant and you can talk to it and you can go with the chat bot and the chat bot can help you find anything that you might need.

So, we could look at the future and this is what the future might look like. You’d be much more:

“ ‘someday’ here is your Sports update in NFL on Sunday. The Panthers beat the Cardinals 30:20. They’ll play this Sunday at 9:05 p.m. in Los Angeles against the Rams.”

“Alexa, Alexa launch SuccessFactors”

“Welcome to SuccessFactors running on echo. You currently have one approval and no deadline critical items.”

“Alexa, ask successfactors to get my HR update.”

“You currently have one approval for John Barnard, two learning objectives to be completed by December 31st and 12 end-of-year reviews to complete.”

So, you get the point. Now, this doesn’t exist today but for many organizations that is where they’re going. They’re going to that sort of, it almost becomes performance support, it’s something that you talk to, it’s something that goes and does things for you, it understands you, it knows you and that’s really where things are going. So, that technology experience is going to be very different in the very near future.

So, let’s talk about the cultural experience. So, turbocharging the employee experience. Let’s talk about workforce diversity. This was the third thing in my book that I got really excited about was the fact that we can gain productivity from just looking at the workforce and tapping into different pools that we maybe haven’t done before.

So, this is hopefully me up here in the corner when at about 85 or so I hope that I’m doing that. But in all seriousness, the fastest growing workforce demographic in North America right now is the 70 and over. Workforce demographics are going to go from 14 percent last year to 24% by 2022 and that’s happening all around the world.

The fact is people are healthier and able to work later in life and we need to leverage this. So, instead of retiring people, we should be finding them new roles in the organization to help improve productivity. Let’s use their experience, let’s give them new roles that are very different, let’s not retire them. This is a huge pool of potential productivity. So, leverage the experience and skills of six generations in work at once.

Next year we’re going to have that. For the first time in history we’re going to have that: Seventeen-year-olds through to 75-year olds. There will be a full-fledged six generations in work and we want to leverage that.

The next one is the feminization of work. So, by 2030 it’s predicted that the majority of the workforce globally will be women. So, an increasing number of women coming back into work or coming into work. We want to accelerate that because that’s a huge pool of productivity.

It’s an absolute fact that when you get men and women in fairly senior positions taking decisions, you get better decisions. Having that kind of male-female dynamic creates huge amounts of productivity. Getting better decisions by not just having all women or all male. You want to have that mix.

The last group that I’m really excited about is this whole idea of autistic spectrum disorder. It’s recently been discovered that these two guys from my hometown in Dayton Ohio. The Wright brothers were almost certainly autistic and the reason they went from knowing nothing about flight to solving the problem in two and a half/ three years, solved the problem that nobody could solve. In fact, at that point when they were building their Wright Flyer, mainly people were saying we will never be able to solve flight, we don’t understand the physics of lift. They understood it, they came at it from a different standpoint. It said, the physics of lift had been solved. It was the control of the airplane was the problem.

So, as you might know they invented wing warping which allowed them once the plane went up to control it. That’s how they fixed flight. In two and a half years they figured that out because they had different brains. They were able to innovate in a way that other people weren’t.

At Sapa we’re saying that 10% of our workforce in the net buy in the next couple of years is going to be on the autistic spectrum. 1% of the world’s population is predicted to be autistic but we’re going to have 10% of our workforce because different brains draw innovation.

So, if you take these three things together with PEIP you really turbocharge productivity. So, this workforce diversity pulling people in a direction that you might not have had pulled in your workforce in the past.

Let’s just finish with this. What I think when we look back in five years. Qualtrics and SAP acquisition. This is going to be massive, right? This is going to be seen as a an incredibly astute acquisition because we can start to use X and O data, experience data. So, in the HR world engagement candidate experience data, those sorts of things.

With operational data we can start to be able to take better decisions when it comes to improving the employee lifecycle. Every moment in the employee lifecycle we should be making very good for that employee. We should be making exceptions to improve their productivity but also their engagement.

If you come to my talk later this afternoon in Zahlen 22 at 12:20 I’m going to talk about workforce experience from the standpoint of well-being. I can go into a lot more detail on that, but I’ll have to pause there on this one and hand it over.

So, what I want to do is I want to ask if we can get the poll up. I gave you the pessimist case and then I gave you the optimist case which is mine and my book Solving the Productivity Puzzle. Let me ask you are you an optimist after this talk are you a pessimist or are you not sure?

Could we have that pull up yep that’d be all right yeah. Oh, lots of optimists, very good. Well thank you very much!

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Tim named to the list of HR Most Influential Thinkers. HR Most Influential is an annual list that celebrates the most influential players in the field of people strategy.

Tim's Bio

Tim has over 30 years' experience as an executive in the HR Consulting and HR Software industry. He has architected and led some of the largest and most successful HR IT and change programs in North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

He began his career in Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) in 1990 where he was Managing Director, in Accenture’s Talent and Organization, Service Line. In 2006, he was recruited to IBM Global Business Services where he led IBM’s global Human Capital Management (HCM) consulting practice.

He was most recently Vice President of SAP SuccessFactors for Europe, Middle East and Africa. He led SuccessFactors’ HR Advisory teams across the region.

Additionally, he is on the Board and Non-Executive Director of Optunli an HR solution providing a unique approach for strategic workforce planning. Tim is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD (FCIPD).

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