SumTotal Blog

Andrea Berg (15 Posts)

Andrea Berg

Andrea Berg is a Product Marketing Manager at SumTotal Systems. Throughout her career in marketing, Andrea has made product and marketing innovation a priority. When not working, she can be found with her kids, training for a 5k or relaxing at the pool.

SumTotal’s Latest Release 19.1 – New Customer-Centric Design

Today, we announced the latest version of SumTotal Customers spoke, and we listened. In fact, a significant portion of the enhancements we made is a direct result of customer input via our Design Partner Program. I believe, with these new features and functionality we are demonstrating that SumTotal products are market-friendly and very end-user aware.

So, what is included in this release?

We made a ton of updates. Since there are too many to explore in this blog post, here are several highlights. These are some of the critical changes that will significantly enhance the experience of working with SumTotal’s products and hopefully contribute towards making your job easier to complete. I’ve added screenshots to give you a visual of some of these changes.

Talent Development

We’ve extended our REST-based integration framework to allow customers and partners to easily integrate SumTotal with their internal HR and business systems and extend the functionality of the SumTotal suite. Some areas where this benefits include goals, gamification and recruiting.

Career mobility enhancements

Employees can create personalized development plans, with multiple goal periods and an interactive progress bar, to promote more agile career growth and mobility within their organization.

Redesigned succession planning

Managers and leaders can easily compare, rate, print and export talent pools in traditional performance versus potential 9-box grids as hundreds of additional comparison possibilities using the new n-box technology.

Mobile Optimization

For mobile-only users, this release ensures that these employees have a full, seamless experience delivered entirely through the mobile app.  Learners can personalize the experience from a mobile device without ever logging into the desktop application.  Also, the enhancements enable users to easily access the SumTotal suite – Learning Management, Talent Management, and Workforce Management – from a single app.

Universal Content Support

We expanded our content aggregation partners to include LinkedIn learning.  Additional features allow learners to create custom playlists and share recommended content with colleagues and other users. In addition, we offer support for crowdsourced learning content from smartphones as well as now providing documentation for mobile on the job training.

Seamless Extended Enterprise Capabilities

We enhanced our Extended Enterprise solution to provide an end-to-end, single-entry solution with complete e-commerce support, making it easier for customers and partners to deliver learning to their learning ecosystem.

For more information about how SumTotal can help your organization increase productivity, engagement and organizational success through talent development read Morné Swart’s Learning is the Heart of HR, and the Key to Business Success.

5 Talent Development Challenges for HR in 2019

5 Talent Development Challenges for HR in 2019

The US is experiencing historically low unemployment numbers. Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute 2018 Skills Gap Study, found that 2.4 million jobs will likely go unfilled over the next decade and that over the next decade more than $2.5 trillion in manufacturing GDP is in jeopardy. Furthermore, more than 90% of CHROs believe that competition for critical talent will only get more competitive over the next twelve months.

I could go on: however, the point is talent development is now a strategic imperative. Organizations, if they are to succeed, must establish a new approach to employee recruitment, development and retention. While there is nothing new about this sentiment, what is perhaps novel is that ownership for this objective will now fall to HR. That although in many ways executives and senior leadership may prioritize and drive the talent development strategy, the task of executing on such planning belongs to HR.

Facing such a behemoth task HR must consider these five critical areas to deliver on this target.

1. Company Culture

What may surprise some is that an employee’s rating of “culture and values” is 4.9 times more predictive of a company recommendation than salary and benefits.  Companies who have a clear vision for their culture and who work strategically to foster it produce happy employees who want to share their experience. Identity is a powerful thing. A clear sense of company culture allows an organization to say “this is who we are,” and bolsters loyalty and contentment amongst employees. It is also imperative for attracting new employees. As my blog, Why Employer Branding is Just as Important as the Company Brand, demonstrates, candidates are increasingly researching a company before they apply for a job. It is also worth noting that from a potential employee’s perspective, an essential part of an organization’s culture is what learning and development opportunities exist. In fact, 94% of employees surveyed said they would stay at a company longer if it invests in their careers.

2. Upskill

“It’s not a nicety; it’s almost a business imperative,” said Bill Pelster, a principal at professional services firm Deloitte Consulting LLP, of the importance of reskilling workers. Employees want professional development and organizations need a pool of talent from which to draw the rapidly emerging skillsets necessary to succeed in the modern economy. It’s a win-win. Plus, developing internal talent costs one-sixth the price of hiring an external candidate, and they gain the same skills as an external new hire in 9 to 12 months.

Focusing on upskilling and reskilling enables organizations to address the skills shortage with precision. Given the pace of change with AI, automation and digital transformation, the shelf life of skills has shortened considerably, placing enormous pressure on organizations to bridge the widening skills gap. Businesses must be ready to invest in L&D with a proactive approach to address this growing problem. The right solutions offer a comprehensive view of the people and their skills which make up the workforce, allowing businesses to close skills gaps, map succession plans and prepare for the coming waves of digital transformation.

3. Diversity & Inclusion (D&I)

In Diversity in the Workplace: Good for People, Good for Business we addressed the issue of the business case for changing the demographics of the workplace to reflect the changing demographics of our community, our industry and our world. While homogenous teams were once thought to be easier to manage, the similarities amongst members created biased patterns of problem-solving and often led to groupthink. Today organizations are diversifying to advance company culture and spur innovation. Recruitment policies must align with D&I efforts. Organizations need to ensure they are taking measures to broaden the talent pool.

4. Consumer-Grade Technology

Most leading HR departments are already utilizing technology to redefine the employee experience particularly as it regards L&D opportunities. However, introducing online learning capabilities is not sufficient. Employees expect the simplicity they’ve grown accustomed to from today’s app-centric consumer solutions with their intuitive user experience. Therefore, it is essential that any learning platform selected must be visually appealing, intuitive and easy to use. However, it’s not just about aesthetics. When choosing a learning management system, HR must ensure it offers sophisticated data collection and analytics that give HR leaders and L&D professionals the ability to:

  • Improve their grasp on employee engagement
  • More accurately perceive company culture
  • Register workforce skills and plan for talent advancements & succession
  • Understand the real impact of learning on business outcomes.

5. Employee Retention

Attracting new talent is just one piece of the puzzle. Another piece is making sure employees stay. Onboarding, or rather effective onboarding, plays a critical role in ensuring new hires do not leave within the first year. It’s also the ideal opportunity to introduce the new employee to the culture, value and expectations of the organization and sets the stage for learning and career growth for each employee. I believe onboarding is most successful when it is personalized to provide employees with the mentoring, goal setting and resources they need to be successful in their day-to-day role. In a move, I highly recommend, some organizations are taking onboarding a step further and continuing to deliver guidance and support as employees move from one position to the next.

I also believe forward-looking companies are overhauling how an employee receives performance reviews. Most have abandoned the traditional annual performance review system and replaced it with more frequent and regular interaction between the manager and employees. Included in these “reviews” are topics such as timely reviews, development and goal setting objectives, further contributing towards the value and giving the employee a sense of purpose.

There is no better time than the present to prioritize your organization’s talent development strategy. Want to learn more about how to accomplish this objective?  Read our newest whitepaper, Talent Agility in an Emerging Workforce, by Morne Swart, SumTotal’s VP of Global Product Strategy and Transformational Leader.



How Collaboration Engages Employees and Drives Productivity

How Collaboration Engages Employees and Drive Productivity

As a child, I dreaded the ubiquitous school class group project. Invariably someone in our group took charge, someone else did nothing, and perhaps one or two others and I did all the work for little or no recognition. Fast forward to today, and I now view group work in an entirely new light. It’s not easy to ensure everyone has a voice and can contribute to truly collaborative group work, but when it happens, the effort pays off in impressive ways.

What are the benefits of employee collaboration?

Collaboration sparks innovation when each person brings their own experiences, knowledge and skills to the table. Legend has it that Microsoft introduced the idea of using a mouse to click on-screen objects to tell it what to do.  Xerox first adopted this functionality in their Alto computers, and many believe that this is where Steve Jobs first saw it, inspiring the graphical user interface of the Apple Macintosh.  Although this isn’t an example of people working in a team, it does demonstrate what can happen when people share and build off each other’s ideas.  Imagine the possibilities of employees learning from each other and generating new ideas.

Some of the other benefits of collaboration on an organization are:

  • Organizational flexibility – working together makes it easier to pivot when strategies and priorities change
  • Employees are engaged – when collaboration works, workers get excited to take on new projects and embrace change
  • Attract top talent – candidates want to work with people they respect and can learn from
  • Higher employee retention rates – employees are happier and more fulfilled
  • Different departments and different offices and skills can be brought together to make a project more successful.
  • Increased profitability – because of all of the above the bottom line will grow and propel the business forward

Not surprisingly, technology is now helping to make workplace collaboration easier than ever. This trend is reflected in the growth of the collaboration market from $30.40 billion in 2017 to an estimated $59.86 billion by 2023. Part of the reason for such a tremendous increase is that ever-changing landscape of the workforce. Everything from the rise of the remote worker to the new flexibility around work schedules is playing a part in why collaboration is now a daily part of an employee’s day.

Studies also demonstrate that utilizing innovative process and networking tools can improve productivity by 20 to 30%. I experienced this first hand recently when our team moved to a new intranet and shared, over our work social networking site, the necessary tips and tricks to make the transition as smooth and efficient as possible.

Furthermore, working collaboratively fosters employee engagement. Engaged workers feel more connected to their company, leading to a 21% increase in productivity, heightened passion for their job and a more positive attitude during coworker interactions. Working in a team can spark innovation because each person brings their own experiences, knowledge and skills to the table, allowing opportunities for ideas to grow and expand as you listen to each other’s opinions.

Additionally, collaboration can help organizations increase business velocity – bringing products to market faster by speeding up the process to make it easier to produce anything.  Sometimes this means putting people into a team who do not traditionally work together. Often this mashup can result in problems, so YEC Next collaborated and put together a list of how to successfully bring to the same table any team members who don’t usually work together.

  1. Inspire innovation by hosting “Team Innovations” sessions
  2. Keep individuals organized
  3. Ask them to tell their story
  4. Implement effective task management
  5. Encourage open communication
  6. Align their interests

Recognizing the power of collaboration, SumTotal helps today’s organizations foster collaboration with strong social elements like blog posts and communities that can share discussions, files and best practices. Ultimately, connections and collaboration keep your workforce performing at a higher level, supports retention and learning throughout the employee lifecycle—desirable outcomes for businesses of any size or maturity.

Elevate skills and connect with peers with gamification

For example, SumTotal’s social platform – shown here – is one of the features of the SumTotal Performance Management solution. Managers can create communities to share blogs, files and start discussions amongst teams. SumTotal’s social platform also integrates with other third-party platforms like Yammer to encourage idea sharing and problem-solving.

To learn more about how SumTotal can drive the success of talent development and demonstrate how technology can support this goal, watch the Talent Agility in an Emerging Workforce webinar.


Talent Agility in an Emerging Workforce - Watch Now

Why Employer Branding is Just as Important as the Company Brand

Why Employer Branding is Just as Important as the Company Brand

When I have a question, I turn to Google for the answer.  I also do the same when I am shopping whether it’s a new television or a new car. What others say about the television or car or the companies that make them has a significant impact on my decisions. The same holds for job seekers. Candidates are increasingly researching a company before they apply for a particular job.  Studies show that that 74% of candidates conduct their own research during the job search and 46% said they want to do more research to learn more about the company before applying.

While many of us presume the company brand and employer brand are the same, the fact is there are significant differences. A company brand is the messaging, and the perception customers have about your products and services while an employer’s brand is the way people feel about working for your organization. In other words, your employer brand is your reputation as either a great or terrible place to work. In fact, in a recent MRI Network study, 74% of employers and 69% of candidates ranked employer brand strength as important or very important when a candidate is evaluating a job offer. Since talent is in high demand and highly skilled candidates even more so, companies with a strong and positive employer brand will attract the best talent.

Managing your employer brand is not a one and done task. For example, keeping track of employee review sites like Glassdoor, Facebook, Indeed and Yelp is time-consuming and requires continuous and committed attention. However, such sites are the first place candidates go when beginning their job search, so you cannot afford to be complacent or inattentive regarding what people are saying on them. Moreover, this is just one aspect of employer branding; there are many other moving parts. Fortunately, there are steps organizations can take to ensure potential employees view a company as a highly desirable place to work.

5 easy ways to manage your employer branding

  1. For starters, respond to both positive and negative reviews consistently. It is great to get positive reviews so remembering to acknowledge this and thank the individual is a good habit to establish. Negative reviews should never go unanswered. Consider these reviews an opportunity to respond proactively, and diffuse the power of a negative comment. In your response, demonstrate that your company is willing to discuss any criticisms and is open to change.
  2. Think of your high performing employees as your evangelists. Encourage all current employees especially your most successful, high-potential employees to leave reviews – perhaps an explanation for why they continue to work for your organization or a story that demonstrates their pride in the company. These comments and stories give job seekers a glimpse into the kinds of people they would work with and how organizations provide career opportunities.
  3. Don’t underestimate or overlook an employee referral program. Talented employees usually know other people who are just as qualified as they are. Candidates are more likely to apply for a job that is sent to them by a friend. Forty-one percent of recruiters and hiring managers believe referrals are the top source for quality talent.
  4. Ensure your candidate experience is easy-to-use, mobile friendly and fully compatible with smartphones. You ought to also have a short application process and options to “apply with LinkedIn” or one-click apply. Your career pages should be current, clean —not text heavy — and contain real images of your organization.
  5. Claim your company profile on Glassdoor and Indeed. Photos, awards, descriptions, links and more go a long way to balancing the perceptions of your brand when compared to comments. A blank profile tells just as much about your company – but you aren’t controlling the message.

Employer branding matters so put your best foot forward in the eyes of candidates. To learn more, check out these additional Seven Actions Guaranteed to Build Employer Brand.



How to Overcome Workplace Automation Fears Through Employee Development

How to Overcome Workplace Automation Fears Through Employee Development

We are on the brink of the 4th industrial revolution.  Innovative technology – think artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning – are now a driving force behind the design of robots, self-driving vehicles, virtual assistants and 3D printing. Many believe this will mean robots will supply us with towels in hotels and drones deliver our packages. For others, it begs the question, what will happen to employees as automation technology progresses?  Will robots replace employees? Will all this automation of services increase productivity? Will productivity increases come at the expense of employees?

The answers to these questions are complicated. In The Impact of Automation on Employment: Just the Usual Structural Change?, the authors Ben Vermeulen, Jan Kesselhut, Andreas Puyka and Paolo Saviotti have this to say:

Automation does indeed substitute for labor—as it is typically intended to do. However, automation also complements labor, raises output in ways that lead to higher demand for labor, and interacts with adjustments in labor supply. [. . . ] [J]ournalists and even expert commentators tend to overstate the extent of machine substitution for human labor and ignore the strong complementarities between automation and labor that increase productivity, raise earnings, and augment demand for labor.”

What we do know is that 42% of companies expect to be fully automated within five years, but many companies anticipate that automation will result in demand for human skills such as complex problem-solving (63%), cognitive abilities (55%), social skills (52%) and technical skills (65%). Perhaps the better question is, what are organizations doing to prepare their workforce for this transformation?  What measures is HR taking to deliver a talent strategy that allows them to remain agile and continue to grow in a way that will meet the future needs of the organization?

We also know that specific cohorts, such as Generation Z and Millennials, are growing up with more and more technology, and have expectations that automation is part of everyday life. Research shows that while most employees feel technology will empower them, the concern is it will have a more significant impact on younger generations.  Those surveyed also acknowledge the many benefits of innovative technology for employees:

  • Enhance productivity
  • Increase efficiency
  • Enable remote work
  • Reduce repetitive tasks

Many of these same employees have fears regarding their digital skills and look to their companies to promote and provide training to close any knowledge gaps and keep them current.

To address these fears organizations need to know what new skills are needed for future roles and then provide employees with the necessary customized learning paths. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help.  Innovation in incorporating brain science into learning technology has led to implementing gamification to drive engagement.  According to Eva Sage-Gavin, senior managing director of Accenture’s talent and organization practice, “The challenge for HR leaders is to shift their view of AI from an enabler of speed and efficiency to a key that will “unleash human potential.”

At SumTotal learning and career development go hand in hand. Our solutions enable employees to see what skills they need to acquire today for their role in the future. Tools such as personalized learning paths provide insight into each employee’s learning progress and offer tailored recommendations to ensure employees remain engaged in continuous learning.

This is just a quick view of how SumTotal Learning Management connects the dots between skills and competencies to deliver the required training.

This is just a quick view of how SumTotal Learning Management connects the dots between skills and competencies to deliver the required training.

Want to learn more about how SumTotal is preparing workforces of the future? Watch Derek Blake from PSAV explain how they are training their global employee population by deploying career pathing functionality.




How HR Technology is Reshaping the Hiring Process for Job Candidates

How HR Technology is Reshaping the Hiring Process for Job Candidates

It is now harder than ever to attract and hire top talent with the US unemployment rate at 3.7%, a historic low and one some consider full-employment. Ninety percent of CHRO’s say that competition for critical talent will increase over the next 12 months and 30% of organizations have already taken steps to revamp their talent acquisition strategies in part by removing standard education requirements from their recruiting profiles.

What this means is that organizations, if they want to conduct successful recruitment in today’s challenging job market, must offer an efficient and engaging candidate experience.

Often organizations make simple mistakes that turn quality candidates off from either applying or accepting offers:

  • Misspelling a candidate’s name in emails and other communications
  • Sending “canned” formed letter responses to job applicants
  • Having an unpleasant interview process
  • Providing a long or complex application
  • No follow-up
  • Lengthy process
  • Relying solely on corporate reputation
  • Not realizing that candidates will share their candidate experiences via social media

The role of technology in recruitment

Technology has impacted almost every aspect of the recruitment process. For starters,  64% of candidates spend time researching the potential employer before filling out an application. If they do not find any information, 37% will move to the next company or job listing! If you can get past the initial evaluation by a candidate, make sure your application and hiring processes are as tight as possible.  One in five candidates said they are not willing to complete an application that takes them 20 minutes or more and 66% of job seekers said they would wait less than two weeks to hear back from an employer before considering the opportunity dead and moving onto another.  For some tips and guidance about how to improve your recruitment methods, please read 3 Ways to Speed up Your Hiring Process from Hellosign, a SumTotal partner.

Put the candidate at the center

Using technology to enhance and streamline the recruitment process is but one component of the solution. The other element is ensuring that HR has designed its acquisition strategy around the candidate.

Consider how you will engage with candidates at the right time, in the right way and what method of communication you will use. Research shows that as many as 78% of US job seekers would use their mobile phones if the process were simplified. It’s also essential to make it easy for candidates to know where they stand in the process.  For example, provide updates on their status in the hiring process, easy access to all aspects of the process (including interview information, upcoming tasks and documents that need completion), and tools for quickly communicating with the hiring team. Finally, close the loop with everyone that applies. One study revealed that only 20% of candidates received an email and 8% received a phone call that they were not considered for a position. Technology has made such a situation easy to avoid. For example, the SumTotal applicant tracking system helps reduce the administrative burden and can ensure your organization is always on top of job offer approvals and notifications.


Screenshot of SumTotal HRM interface


The significance and relevance of the candidate experience will only continue to increase as employers battle it out for skilled workers. Our new whitepaper, How a Winning Candidate Experience Can Help Companies Win the Talent War, explores further why organizations must develop recruitment strategies that are designed around the hiring and retaining of new employees. Also review The Candidate Experience for a quick overview of why companies fail in their recruitment efforts.


How to Win the War for Talent

How to Win the War for Talent

“With record talent shortages around the world, it’s no longer a question of simply finding talent; we need to build it.” — Jonas Prising, CEO, ManpowerGroup

With each new headline, it is becoming more and more evident that organizations need to prioritize their talent acquisition strategies now. The labor shortage is the worst in ten years, and 90% of American companies have job openings. Forty-six percent of US employers report difficulty in filling jobs with skilled trade workers, sales representatives and drivers – the hardest positions to fill.

The problem is not just an American one either.  Globally, 45% of employers say they can’t find the skilled talent they need, up from 40% in 2017 and the highest in over a decade. Again, skilled trades positions — electricians, mechanics, welders are the hardest to fill, with IT roles jumping seven places from last year to take second place.

How are organizations responding to the talent crisis?

We are seeing a massive shift towards the training and development of current employees to fill the gaps. The number of employers using this strategy has doubled from one in five to over half.  Most organizations already see the inherent value in training their talent. Firstly, it gives employees the opportunity to develop and progress within their career and the organization, a primary motivator in both seeking employment and staying with the company. Secondly, organizations get the talent and skills they need for future success in a way that is cheaper and builds employee engagement. Recent research by Deloitte shows that internal employees can develop the same skills as an external hire in 9-12 months at one-sixth of the cost.

In short, with learning and development initiatives, employees see a career trajectory and companies get the talent they need and desire; it’s a win-win. However, despite this, it would appear that many organizations are not quite achieving these desired outcomes primarily because they fail to align talent development initiatives with the organization’s strategic goals. In one study, only 27% of those involved said their learning is effective in helping achieve business goals, and only 52% believed their organization is ready to do anything about it.

So how do you solve this dilemma?

Simple. Make learning a strategic priority.

Aaron Laznovsky’s How Learning Drives Talent: Creating the Talent You Need In-House whitepaper explores in detail the steps organizations should take to accomplish this. He describes the six practices that help managers and employees put learning first. Namely, you must ensure that the learning is relevant, is integrated into the flow of work, is offered in easy to consume bite-sized chunks, is self-paced and supported, and ultimately the employee is rewarded, and achievements are noted.

Align learning with business goals

For learning to impact business outcomes, organizations must also ensure measures are taken to connect learning and enterprise value. Again, Laznovsky addresses this and offers sound practical advice that organizations can use to support the achievement of the critical business goals.

Working in tandem, making learning a strategic priority throughout their workforce, and aligning every learning and development initiative behind clearly articulated business objectives, is the way forward.

To get these steps and start preparing your workforce of the future today, download How Learning Drives Talent: Creating the Talent You Need In-House.

What’s in a report?


Anyone working in HR or Learning & Development knows that a lot goes into reports. Often it is how Learning & Development programs justify their existence, their cost and importantly their effectiveness.

The role the information these reports produce is changing and growing in importance. Today, “Analytics is no longer about finding interesting information and flagging it for managers. Now, data is being used to understand every part of a business operation, and analytical tools are being embedded into day-to-day decision making.”

But are the systems you are working with, or in, able to deliver on this? How many times have you wondered why specific functions are not a basic component of either the learning management or human capital management system you toil in on a daily basis?

We wondered about this too.

It’s why when we were looking at ways to enhance our solution, we made sure to address specific areas.

Our SumTotal Talent Expansion Suite updates, which are now generally available, give users and managers some great new reporting tools.

Want to know the number of courses taken by learners?

Now you can. With integrated enhancements, both learners and managers can now track what Skillsoft courses are taken in Skillsoft, advanced learning structures and the Skillsoft Learning App.

Want to limit the number of attempts on a particular learning activity?

Yeah, now you can do that too. In fact, now administrators can set expectations for both the minimum and the maximum number of attempts that can be made on learning activities. Additionally, we’ve also made it easier to manage when either the learning activity expires or the leaner leaves.

Wondering if there is a way to demonstrate program impact?

Absolutely. To support this, we now offer over 40 pre-built KPT measures, delivered either in the dashboards – and now you can also create your own our use one from the three pre-built, or on the domain.

And everything is now mobile.

We know employees feel more productive and engaged when they have workplace mobility. In addition to our extensive learning and performance capabilities available on your mobile device, you can now also access reporting dashboards that are enabled with filtering and exporting capabilities, plus real-time markup and sharing capabilities from your smartphone.

I’m pretty excited about what these additions will mean for you. I’d love to hear some feedback or some suggestions as to what other ways we can make data work for you.

Find out more and see the updates in actions by requesting a demo.

Digital Transformation Hinges on the Least Digital Part of Your Org


Digital transformation is a top priority for any organization positioning itself for future success. Most people don’t need data to prove this – they simply feel it every day in their own work, and in their interactions with the organizations either serving them as customers or working with them as partners.

But if you do need some proof points, look no further than the latest CEO survey by Price Waterhouse Coopers, where digital transformation is a clear and consistent priority, or Gartner’s research illustrating how many organizations are currently working on a digital transformation. Or peruse recent issues of The Harvard Business Review, a bellwether for leadership priorities, where you’ll find a steady stream of articles about the necessity of digital transformation, including this rather interesting one.

Still not convinced?

Then check out these real-world examples of digital transformation, stories being devoured by organizations as they look for best practices and the pitfalls to avoid.

What’s fascinating is that, despite all the discussion of the technologies powering digital transformation, at the heart of it all is the least digital part of every organization: people.

Sure, there’s lots of talk about how digital technologies, especially artificial intelligence, will soon replace humans in the workplace. But we’re simply not there yet.

For now, and the foreseeable future, behind every innovation and organizational change is the unwavering truth that people are still doing the work. And the more talented these people, and the more relevant their skills to the task at hand, the more successful the digital transformation will be.

For some companies – especially “digital native” companies like Google, Amazon, Netflix, AirBnB or whatever the hottest Silicon Valley start-up is this nanosecond – there’s an easy recipe for digital success. Hire the best and brightest new digital talent, pay them a ton of money and excite them with the chance to be part of some “insanely great” work. The same might even be true for a few traditional organizations, companies like GE , as they go through high-profile digital transformations.

But what about companies that aren’t necessarily at the top of the technorati’s employment wish lists? Banks, hotels, industrials, CPG companies, brick-and-mortar retailers, and so on.

How are these companies going to make digital transformation work?

At SumTotal we’ve given this a lot of thought.

We’ve come up with a lot of ideas, ideas best explained by Morne Swart, SumTotal’s VP of Global Product Strategy and Transformation.

Listen here to learn what he can tell you about:

  • What digital transformation means for an organization’s people.
  • Why HR is at the heart of any digital transformation.
  • How the right technology can support and power HR’s success.

Long live continuous feedback. The annual review is dead.

Long live continuous feedback - The annual review is dead

42% of employees want and expect feedback every week. Yep, every week.

The question is, can current processes for performance reviews and forced ratings deliver and meet such expectations?

In most cases, the answer is probably not. Recent Fosway Group research shows that only 44% of respondents believe their performance management process is ready for the modern workforce. This means the majority believe there is work to be done.

The good news is we are seeing change. Companies are attempting to resolve this disconnect.  Mercer’s 2017 Global report reveals that 88% of companies not only made changes to their performance management process in 2016, they expect more to follow. Could the driver for this be the knowledge that organizations who provide in-the-moment coaching create a strengths-based culture which results in higher quality work along with employees who are more engaged and stay longer?

Whatever the reason is, I’m happy to see companies moving in this new direction.

One key change is an appetite for continuous feedback, which is now prevalent in the workplace with 81% reporting that they already have an “anytime feedback” tool in place. Granted, constant feedback isn’t always practical or feasible; but the simple truth is that most employees appear to want regular feedback. Real-time, continuous feedback encourages collaboration, gives development discussions more meaning and provides a process for giving and requesting targeted feedback.

The Mercer report highlights another interesting statistic – 97% of employees say they want to be rewarded and recognized for a wide range of contributions and not for financial or activity metrics alone. How do you achieve this without broadening and redefining the employee review? One way might be to capture real-time feedback that is linked to specific goals and competencies or projects from multiple sources and then tie it directly to the performance review. Again, giving employees what they want – when you can. And with access to continual assessment 24/7 via mobile phones, this is made even easier.

If it is true that the traditional annual review is dying, if not dead, then how or what you replace it with is hugely significant. More often than not, companies are still using or relying on these performance reviews to calculate employee benefits or bonuses and just rate overall value each employee’s contribution brings to the organization.

In large organizations, such calculations are a big deal.

And it will fall to HR to respond. How well HR responds may be determined by the technology at their disposal and if the team possesses the skills to utilize such technology. Best-in-class organizations that use the latest, most innovative HR technology for performance conversations, not only empower their workforce to grow, they give managers the tools required to award pay and promotions.

Want to learn more about what technology is available? Click here for a free demo!