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Digitalization - is it an HR issue?

February 27, 2020

Digital transformation is easily associated with technology, digital solutions and automated processes. What is important for us to remember is that technology is only one part of the transformation. People, leadership, culture and attitude are just as important factors in a digital journey of change.


Digital transformation means adapting to the digital transformation of the environment, affecting the market and customers regardless of the conditions for doing business. But, the transformation is also about the company's internal digitalization, the digital conditions that are right for your company. Knowing what needs to be done requires customer knowledge to be able to adapt quickly to the market, but equally important is having knowledge of the internal strategy and the company's internal human resources.


Digitalization is not a modification of the old. It is to adapt to completely new conditions, which will affect investment, maintenance and development. In order to succeed with the change, companies must change their employees' mindset and attitudes and it must go fast.

Is the organization built by people who can adapt and drive this development? The answer is probably both yes and no to that question, which means that it is required to work with both leaders and employees in the organization.


At the same time as the organization consists of those who both want and don´t want to be part of the change journey, Swedish labor legislation requires to handle our employees. We cannot change the team without restrictions at every time. The organization is obliged to take responsibility for resources that are available.

It is therefore important that the corporate culture gives room for transparency and openness.


How can HR then contribute?

  • The culture stands on a foundation that is made up on the company's values. Define core values ​​that can be support and guidance throughout digitalization.

  • Together with the organization, create behavioral KPIs to drive the organization in the right direction.

  • Invent the company's resources together with the managers to create a detailed competency matrix at an individual level.

  • In dialogue with the management, create the right conditions for managers and employees. Provide support in relating to, acting and working in a digital world.

  • Contribute in the design of the new organization, to create space for both digital development and human needs to find meaning and purpose.

  • Provide support for the managers, both as a coach and by listening and take the next step.

  • Create employee engagement. Together with the leadership, work with dialogue, transparency and set clear measurable goals for the change and provide support to follow up activities.

  • Develop a strategy for dialogue in the organization through structured appraisals and create a feedback culture.

  • Be the link to a close cooperation with the unions.

  • HR as a function is the only unit in the company that has access and opportunity to influence the entire organization from employees to management. HR should gather arguments and be the messenger of a positive attitude about the change. They also have to take responsibility for collecting and managing the frustration of the organization. Use the information for a constructive feedback in the project with the address of the right recipient.

  • Take responsibility for monitoring that the digitalization will contribute to an attractive workplace.

  • As the change moves on, create a knowledge of and develop the employee experience, to create commitment and attract the right people for the organizations. With this knowledge one can also explore the technical possibilities for achieving the highest experience and accessibility.


Will digitalization impact HR?

With digitialization, HR's role will be reshaped and strengthened. It will also place new demands on HR.


Digitialization creates new customer needs, gives new behaviors and increases the rate of change, which means that HR must also be inclined to change, acquire own knowledge about digitialization and be more flexible and innovative about practical solutions. In a digital immature organization, too much responsibility falls on IT. The incorrect comments that "it is the system that will solve the development" are created. HR's aim should be to create greater engagement between employees and the organization and here use digitalization as a tool in their own processes.


Digitialization is changing the requirement that HR's mission is to administer and take care of the staff. Administration is streamlined and rationalized with the new technology and the image of how to take care of staff is changing dramatically with the expectation of new generations in the labor market. HR has a strategic mission in creating the new organization and its needs as well as supporting the leadership that must function in the digitized organization with the people of the future organization. HR must also find its role in supporting employees with a greater digital focus.


Future trends


The future is interesting for many of us, above all there is a curiosity about knowing how it will be. Fortunately, it is not possible for anyone to have knowledge about. However, we can have an idea of the future and see trends.


Some things are more clear than others;

  • Companies must have a clear social commitment and take seriously on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

  • The speed of development is high already today but continues to increase, which is places new demands on us as employees and people

  • Digitialization is here to stay

If you look into HR in the future, corporate social responsibility will continue to be an important task. We must take overall responsibility and understand how we want to be involved and contribute.

Solutions must be presented to help employees cope with stress and pressure as a result of the rapid pace of development. Digitialization offers a quick dialogue with interactivity and great opportunities for inspiration, activities and follow-up where the shared responsibility between company and employees becomes obvious for changing behavior patterns.


HR must release and reallocate resources to be able to participate in the company's strategy work and to contribute to goal fulfillment and future development. By taking responsibility for making their own digital journey, transformation can be made possible.


For HR, the trend means that competence development is given new opportunities.

It must be adapted to the requirement of knowledge, be delivered faster and be more flexible. The team will solve more of the training themselves through on-the-job training at the moment, just when the need arises. It will have positive effects on motivation. When we help each other, you as a person are both seen, while at the same time you are adding value to the company. Employees may also take greater responsibility for their own development. Knowledge must be built on the basis of their own and the company's needs. Digitialization can enable a palette of e-learning so there are options for everyone and that they are easily accessible - a simple must for businesses.


The recruitment area will also undergo a transformation when the technology enables a quick and efficient handling of application documents, selection and skills testing. We win neutrality, reduce discrimination and become effective but lose parts of the human in the sample. AI is introducing at a fast pace in several businesses and we can probably soon say, Hello google - where is my right employee?


Administration is probably the process that most companies see the greatest business benefit from digitizing. It demands that data information is in place with high quality so you dare to trust it and that it is accessible and understandable. Robot technology has probably found its right place here, but we need to help so we move the analysis of data from people analytics, too analytics for the people.


With a changing organization and new demands on employees, leadership will be faced with new challenges. The time has come to leave management control and leaders need to be good at using insight and analysis to keep employees engaged and motivated.


We have to get used to and accept to become friends with the complexity and have a holistic view that also includes the technology - otherwise HR will be overlooked.



  • Dare to take a position and choose activities after that. Do the most and best of these.

  • Development means changing and that means that you need to do things differently. Change is created by people

  • It is not technology that drives development, it is new strategies. Strategy is not a document it’s an implementation. Start acting, do it fast and don't forget to react and reflect along the way

  • Give HR a strategic function, through participation in management and the board. It is the culture and the people that drive development with technology as a tool.

  • The success of digitalization does not come from a successful implementation of new technology, but through the organisation's ability to transform and benefit from the change.

  • Build leadership on visions and mandates instead of detail management

  • Choose to see the possibilities, it was not better before.

So, in response to the introductory question, I would like to say that the companies that want to succeed with their digitizaliation must make it an HR issue.


/Lena Överli


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