The role of People Operations (aka “HR”) is in a state of continuous evolution. Like never before in the industrial and digital era, organizations are recognizing their vulnerabilities and weaknesses, conceding that there is no secure path to profitability. As natural disasters, pandemics, economic breakdowns, and tech disruptions continue unrelentingly, companies that want to survive must focus on people and organizational adaptative capabilities to maintain their competitive advantage.

We at Walmart are deeply aware of this. We are witnessing unprecedented collaboration by our teams across 24 countries with regards to new COVID-19 requirements. Walmart China was the first market to address the pandemic and they generously formed a community to share their insights on health care, ecommerce scalability, and logistics where everyone benefited from the shared protocols, toolkits, investigations, and lessons learned. We are continuously challenged to be the best version of ourselves as we meet the demands of a 500 percent increase in e-commerce sales, while caring for more than two million associates around the world. 

With Donna Morris taking the helm as Global People EVP in February 2020, after 18 years working in the tech industry, the role of HR has evolved and placed new requirements on leadership to meet the demands of an extraordinary transformation. We are driven by the belief that our people make the difference, as they are at the heart of everything we do.  To anticipate and exceed our customers’ 24/7 omnichannel requirements, we must deploy new internal capabilities, focusing as never before on talent development and organizational agility. 

 With respect to this vision, at the beginning of the year we set four focus areas to make an impact on the business and our associates: 

1.       Digital

2.       Inclusion

3.       Growth 

4.       Well-being 

Consumer habits have evolved to rely more heavily on technology, so every aspect of our retail chain needs to be tech-enabled.  New skills and roles were identified in our omnichannel proposal which demanded internal upskilling and enhanced digital solutions to unlock inner human potential.  

At Walmart Chile, we extend the impact of our digital experience with the principle of being inclusive to our 45,000 home office, distribution center and store associates.  This journey began some years ago with an internal platform for global connection, which became our main communication and collaboration hub with many SME communities. We developed an employee application, conceived as both a communication channel and a platform for managing employee agreements and benefits.  It is home to internal job postings, vacation requests, compensation info, feedback requests and our performance review system. During the pandemic it evolved to allow us to inform employees of emerging health protocols, gather important personal information, and procedures related documents. Our people platform capability has presented additional opportunities for other innovations such as AI in our ATS to support the talent attraction process and candidate experience and enhanced digital learning which provides more access and variety to global and market-level training content. 

 Why is the future of HR Digital? EX & Digital Mindset

Regarding the new “digital imperative”, HR needs to concentrate on two issues during the digital transformation journey.

The first one is Employee Experience.  If a company desires to be customer centric, there is no other option than to focus on the employee experience as a continuum of the customer journey.  As Simon Sinek recalled, “customers will never love a company until its employees love it first”. This requires reinventing the associate value proposition and the employee journey, where technology plays a key role to simplify, satisfy, save time, connect, upgrade productivity, and unlock people’s potential to foster an agile organization Employee experience has been ranked as the top priority for HR leaders in 2021, according to a 2020 Gartner survey of more than 800 HR leaders across 60 countries. 

The second one is the most complex challenge: Digital Mindset. New ways of working must embrace innovation, lifelong learning, and a growth mindset, replacing traditional relations and hierarchies among organizations. This new mindset changes the way we look ourselves and our role as team members and augments that experience with hybrid workspaces, emergent positions, and new skillsets. It requires a hard process of unlearning and then relearning towards the future. In our company, we redesign our whole talent management process, leveraging in our home growth Employee App, we were capable of developing a customize talent journey for our leaders and associates, one capable of offering a unique experience while enhancing the mindset that we want to nurture on them.

Companies that desire to thrive after COVID 19 must adopt a strategy to make Digital part of their culture and employee experience. Is your HR team ready for this challenge?