A small group of top U.S. retailers gathered last week at Arno Ristorante in midtown Manhattan. They came to hear Macy’s Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Total Rewards Bill Tompkins present his strategies, insights, and lessons learned from the retailer’s HR transformation journey.
In addition to a recommendation for the scaloppine at Arno, I’d like to share my key takeaways:
The Future of HR
Digital technologies already are yielding great efficiency results and streamlining operations. Massive reductions in manual processes are changing how Macy’s defines its HR strategy, structure, roles, budgets, and service commitments. The HR department of the future will focus on people, talent, and culture.
Recruiting, Hiring, and Talent Management
Labor markets are tightening, especially for key roles. Regulatory pressures are increasing. Hiring is more competitive. Employee expectations are changing. Today, millennials make up around half of the workforce. They’re looking for a unique experience. They’re also totally comfortable with digital technology. According to Bill, retailers should use their brand equity and knowledge of omnichannel marketing to target unique groups of applicants and employees, using competitively differentiated value proposition messaging.
Reporting and Predictive Analytics
As a leading omnichannel retailer, Macy’s understands the value and importance of leveraging data. Most retailers are ahead of the curve on this. With talent shortages across all industries and the seasonal cycles specific to retailers, it makes sense to think of applicants, candidates, and employees as online customers.
With retail employers, and even across industries, access to unified data definitions, reporting, and analytics needs to be standardized. While perfect answers are elusive, retailers who put off taking action are likely to be left behind, at a competitive disadvantage.
Bill sees tremendous potential in the ability to use historic, real-time, and future predictive analytics to understand digital body language in order to better manage talent. Imagine, for example, the value of being able to benchmark and predict theft, attrition, and performance, down to the individual employee, manager, or store level.
A big win for Macy’s HR department was in presenting the business case at the executive level in a way that everyone could understand and support. Bill emphasizes that HR transformation needs to be much more than a technology “lift and shift.” People, processes and policies, and technology need to balance. The process is iterative. People need to be involved in all aspects, from the outset, starting with fundamental business requirements. It also needs to be clear who, exactly, is responsible for what, at each stage, and to enforce a clear escalation process. The challenge is to progress with whatever flexibility is required to minimize business disruption, while delivering on the expected outcomes of the program.
Organizational Culture and Change Management
Change is an ongoing process, not a destination. Macy’s chose Oracle Human Capital Management Cloud for both standardization of industry best practices and ongoing innovation. Bill hasn’t been disappointed. In fact, he claims that he has never experienced a vendor with sales and development working so closely together, hand-in-hand, to fully understand and address his evolving needs as a customer. His needs and requirements are highly valued and become part of future innovation and industry best practices.
For Bill, much of HR transformation is about creating a culture that accepts ongoing change. He points to the speed at which technology and people’s expectations are evolving, using the recent shift of mobility to smartphones as an example. With Oracle, he embraces both standardization and innovation. His people sometimes struggle in giving up the control they felt they had over highly individualized business processes or software customizations. By embracing industry best practices and standardized system configurations, Macy’s is better positioned to strategically manage change over time, across both the internal organization and externally.