ChapmanCG was honoured to be invited by Microsoft’s Pino Mercuri and his team to co-host a global HR leaders meeting in Milan that focused on "HR Innovations and Digitisation" . In attendance were HR friends from a wide range of organisations and industries, including Accenture, Cerved Group, Colgate-Palmolive, Gruppo Campari, Marsh, Mattel, Novartis, Parmalat, Promoteon Group, SAP and many more. It was a great opportunity to see a combination of HR friends we have known for many years combined with some more recent HR friends.

Pino Mercuri shared a short story on the impressive new Microsoft building in Milan. He highlighted that one of its purposes is to develop higher levels of engagement with both employees, customers and the public. This engagement of employees, as well as customers and the community, was a theme throughout the discussions.

Later, a few other large organisations shared how they started their digital journey by first looking at the learning elements as a means to support the underlying objective of developing an engaged workforce. It was generally agreed that whilst there is a huge opportunity to leverage technology, there still needs to be a very strong focus in areas like facilitation, follow-up and, of course, good management and leadership. It’s important not to forget that a blended approach is critical for a larger, more diverse workforce to ensure that people with different needs (and wants), along with varying learning styles, have the ability to access development in a method that works for them.

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There was a discussion around the increased focus in the People and Shared Services space. Some of the innovations in this area highlighted how technology, coupled with relevant and effective data management, could support the next level of management and leadership. Leaders armed with the right kinds of data and empowered to use it, could have a positive impact on retaining top talent and developing current employees for future business needs, all of which leads to a more robust and engaged team of employees. Interestingly, it was noted that these kinds of innovations often highlight the more effective managers and people leaders as they are forced into having deeper, more meaningful conversations.

Some of other points that were raised in the HR leader meetings were:

  1. Often success comes from being prepared to fail. Trialling or sampling projects in pockets or parts of the organisations can be a less risky approach. And it an approach that engages and develops.
  2. Having an element within your culture that acknowledges that "anything can happen" and then being comfortable with that can help towards creating a more agile and engaged business.
  3. Often success comes from keeping things simple. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs speak about the importance of simplicity, yet they all agree it is one of the hardest things to do.
  4. With point 3 in mind, don't have more than 4 key areas of focus. We can only do so much and it’s important to prioritise and set realistic expectations.

Everyone mentioned what a great opportunity the meeting was to learn about the initiatives and approaches being implemented at other organisations, especially amongst a group of companies spanning such a varied range of industries.