Podcast: Will Experience Matter When the Recession Hits?

Boiler Room


I’m Mark Feffer and this is PeopleTech, the podcast of the HCM Technology Report.

This edition is brought to you by our friends at Ultimate Software, a leading innovator in cloud-based HR technology. They’re dedicated to putting people first—with cloud-based solutions designed to engage, motivate, and empower your workforce. Learn more at www.UltimateSoftware.com. That’s www.UltimateSoftware.com. Ultimate Software. People First.

Now… let’s have an experience.

On our podcast: UI, flexibility, & AI all contribute to the employee experience and enhance efficiency. When business conditions tank, which do you think executives will care more about? #HR #HRTech #HRTribe. Share on X

SuccessFactors CEO Greg Tomb says it’s time to stop talking about “Human Capital Management” and start focusing on “Human Experience Management.” So, from now on, you can expect to hear a lot about “HXM” from SAP.

There’s a lot of reasons for this. First, think about recruiting. Sometime around 2017, employers figured out they had to compete on more than salary and benefits when the labor market turned against them.

Then, there’s a variety of research that shows engaged employees are more productive and profitable, and that, ultimately, their level of engagement depends on their daily experience at work. Every conversation with a manager, every time-off request they file, even the simplicity of clocking in or out contributes to the strength or weakness of the employee’s experience.

So it makes perfect sense that vendors have been focusing their product development, marketing and support on the customer and end-user experience. SAP’s been showing off an impressive conversational interface that greatly simplifies SuccessFactors’ use. Oracle’s integrated natural language processing into its products. And, of course, an entire sub-industry has sprung up to measure workforce sentiment and advise corporate leadership on how to improve engagement.

Tomb said this focus on experience was inevitable—and he says that it’s permanent. He talked about the Business Roundtable’s statement that corporations should focus not only on shareholders, but also have “a fundamental commitment” to all of their stakeholders—including employees, customers, suppliers and communities. On top of that, Tomb argues that the roots of change—in terms of social mores, business and technology use—have grown too deep for either employers or vendors to reverse course.

Maybe he’s right. But I can’t help thinking about why the term “Human Capital Management” gained traction in the first place. In my mind, it was a result of HR’s attempt to develop a new roadmap for itself, to earn—as they say—“a seat at the table.” Talking about Human Capital is a nifty way for HR to get itself taken seriously. It says, See? We understand business, too! Why? Because “human capital” concedes that the workforce is an expenditure as much as a resource.

But back to experience: Ease of use, flexibility, speed and AI-supported decision-making are all important. They contribute to the employee experience, and they also enhance efficiency. I’m reading more and more about a downturn coming, and it’s making me ask: When business conditions get tough, which do you think executives will care more about? Come the recession, HCM vendors may not have to change their products very much, but their marketing campaigns will sure need a fresh coat of paint.

This has been PeopleTech, the podcast of the HCM Technology Report.  

This edition was brought to you by Ultimate Software, dedicated to putting people first with cloud-based solutions that engage, motivate, and empower your workforce. Learn more at www.UltimateSoftware.com. 

And to keep up with the most important developments in HR technology, visit the HCM Technology Report every day. We’re the most trusted source of news in the HR tech industry. Find us at www-dot-hcm-technology-report-dot-com. I’m Mark Feffer.

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

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