What is People Enablement?

May 14, 2020・7 mins read
What is People Enablement?

The traditional corporate boardroom consisted of chief officers from a variety of departments within the company. There is finance, research and development, sales, information technology, and production. But no company, no matter what product or service they produce, can run without people. The talent needed to innovate, manufacture, and distribute has always been integral, yet HR rarely had a seat at the boardroom table. There has been a shift in the past few years to bring HR to the C-suite. All the strategic planning for a company’s growth is useless without the talent to execute. The newest seat at the boardroom table is for the CHRO (Chief Human Resources Officer), who addresses what is necessary and how a company’s talent can execute goals. In addition to meeting the needs of headcount, the CHRO has shifted their internal role. HR is no longer the administrative (payroll/compliance) side for a company, but an integral partner in planning for success. For many, the change is long overdue. For companies who are investing in a Chief People Person, the partnership looks beyond recruitment strategy to development and retention, as well. People enablement leverages all available resources to foster growth for employees to meet the strategic goals of the organization.

New tech means new challenges

The tech revolution is changing how we work. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are replacing rote tasks with lightning-fast results that drive massive amounts of actionable data. We are planning for how tech will shift the way we do business, but don’t always plan on how the tech/human interface will stay current. Some suggest technology will destroy jobs but also create many job categories we haven’t considered yet. If technology creates data, and there aren’t people to understand and act on it, it serves little purpose. Talent that works with tech drives improvements, efficiencies, and data that companies can use to succeed. But without people, no one is available to interpret and act on the information. When it comes to the tech revolution, people enablement not only shows businesses how to leverage the tech available today, it positions them to imagine what tech can do in the future. At PricewaterhouseCoopers, a $3 billion plan to upskill employee tech capabilities resulted in more than training individual employees. Those staffers who completed the digital upskilling programs have become digital “accelerators” for their colleagues — providing help and insight on how even those staffers who didn’t go through the program can leverage tech to their advantage. The strategic plan to train staffers included the dissemination of knowledge beyond the classroom, into the day-to-day operations.

Beyond tech

While tech advancements may pose the most pressing need for businesses, they are not the only factor in people enablement. Shifting the way we value talent means planning how to recruit smarter, develop skills and competencies, and shift staff members from new hires to long-term valuable members of the team.

Shifting the way we value talent means planning how to recruit smarter, develop skills and competencies, and shift staff members from new hires to long-term valuable members of the team.
A holistic approach reads the room constantly:

  • What do candidates want from the hiring experience and how are we measuring up?
  • Our employees — what do they want today and how can we meet needs?
  • What will our staff need tomorrow, and how are we planning to get them there?

Just as an organization plans for growth in sales, development, and market share, they must plan for growth in talent, skills, and capabilities.

The people factor 

People enablement factors in the human factor in plans for success. We plan to grow our business in a new market. We strategize consumer demand in the area, assess the competition along with our ability to meet needs. People enablement includes the questions: what people will we need, how will we train them, what will they need to succeed? As we plan for growth, the tools talent needed to meet goals must be part of the equation. That will mean leveraging available resources to meet current needs and planning for the future. Just as an organization plans to buy new equipment in the future or plans to expand its reach, it also must plan for people enablement.

Empowering growth and ownership

Innovation and improvement are key to success, and they require empowering staff members to take risks, suggest new strategies, and have a voice.

When employees are engaged partners, organizations succeed. When staff members stagnate often, so does the company. Innovation and improvement are key to success, and they require empowering staff members to take risks, suggest new strategies, and have a voice.

Engaged employees take ownership of the work they do and how their contribution aligns with the goals of the organization. They look for ways to do it better, faster, and smarter, and they’re ready to provide their insight. Seeking out and leveraging the knowledge of those who do the job every day enables them to take that ownership. People enablement may be one of the main components in organizational success.

But even before employees are hired and trained, we need to address their needs and wants in a position. While current economic upheavals are temporary, talent shortages may soon return. Competition for top workers with the skills necessary for today is fierce. The more productive option may be to compete for talent with the potential to learn what’s needed today and how to grow in the future. To acquire those workers, organizations will need to address what candidates look for in a company and meet those wants.

Planning for their future, in your company

Harvard Business Review reports that for Millennials, job hopping isn’t a problem — it’s a career plan. What motivates them to move from one employer to another may largely be their perception that one job is a stepping stone to another. Rather than lose them to the competition, smart businesses are looking to build the stepping stone path within the organization. For Gen Z, data reveals they are focused on managing their own future. Understanding this about Gen Z workers may be the key to retaining them. People enablement, in retention strategy, revolves around making sure employees grow within their job as well as within the company. Talent management that builds on skills and charts a career pathway within the organization not only satisfies employees on a daily basis, it shows their career trajectory is assured within the company, not outside of it. People enablement shifts the focus of HR from administrative to management in more ways than just a seat at the boardroom table. Talent management, from recruitment to retirement, has to be a part of overall organizational planning from the C-suite. However, HR executives have to execute. With all the available resources — from surveys, elearning options, training, upskilling, and tech innovations — at their disposal to satisfy and grow staff, HR can move to enabling the current talent pool and building on it for the future.

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