Wednesday 18 December 2019

HRZone’s 10 most popular articles in 2019

It's great to be included in this compilation of 2019's most popular articles on HRZone, with "Supporting the business isn’t strategic HR – people centricity is". 
Here's our round up of the 10 most popular HRZone articles of the year: Thanks to Stuart Duff, Megan Reitz, John Higgins, Jon Ingham, Fiona Adler, Blaire Palmer, Max Blumberg, Garry Turner MCIPD and Leena Nair for your fantastic contributions!

I'd definitely recommend reading this and the other articles if you've not done so.

Tuesday 17 December 2019

CMSWire Future of Work webinar

I'll also be providing some predictions about the future of work and technological disruption in this webinar with CMSWire and Workgrid (digital workplace) software at 6pm BST on 22 January:

Being prepared for the “future of work” is no easy task. With new technologies coming out virtually every day that promise to revolutionize the workplace, it’s impossible to know what you should be focusing on.

Join CMSWire and Workgrid in this live, hour-long interactive discussion and we’ll discuss the big predictions from top digital workplace thought leaders. We’ll share what you need to know to prepare your organization for success in the coming decade.

Featured panelists for this discussion include:
  • Gillian McCann, Co-Founder and Head of Cloud Engineering & AI for Workgrid Software
  • Sharon O’Dea, Co-Founder of Lithos Partners and Senior Principal Consultant for Infocentric Research AG
  • Jon Ingham, Human Resources & Organization Development Consultant and author of “The Social Organization”
  • Brett Caldon, CEO and Co-Founder of Workgrid Software

You may also be interested in my posts from CSMWire / DWG's Digital Workplace Experience in Chicago in 2018:

Monday 16 December 2019

11 HR tech trends to watch in 2020

I'm in this article by Sage People on 11 HR tech trends to watch in 2020:

1. Go beyond functionality to add true value for employees
The right HR technology doesn’t just automate tasks for employees – it enables them to contribute fully, and leverage their potential as unique individuals, explains Jon Ingham, author of ‘The social organization’.

“Approaches need to move towards liberating and empowering people,” he explains. “HR tech needs to support this change”.

Jon adds that that something else the sector can expect to see over the next year is a shift towards managing teams, groups, and networks – rather than just individuals: “HR systems, therefore, need to focus much more on the value of a group, enabling us to measure and reward the performance of teams, not just individuals”.

You'll also find more on my predictions for greater people centricity in 2020 in this article at HR  Zone:

Jon Ingham,, +44 7904 185134

Tuesday 10 December 2019

For Love or Money 3: Opportunities for Re-engineering

I've had a chapter on reward included in MuseumEtc's book, 'For Love or Money': Re-engineering the Way Museums Work. However, I would hope the content will be relevant for people working in other sectors too.

The changes required to support both customers and employees / workers are often going to be very significant and may require radical re-engineering rather than more incremental improvement (although implementing these radical changes in an ongoing, agile manner is often the very best approach).

As shown in figure 3, re-engineering means developing new processes and services to meet particular objectives, without being constrained by the way things are currently done. However a key requirement in today’s digital age is that these objectives now need to refer to employee expectations as well as business and customer needs. In addition, redeveloping processes and services to meet these needs will often benefit from including design thinking, personas and journey maps to help ensure interactions with employees at key touchpoints within or around the process are as positive as possible.

Once processes and services have been redeveloped it is possible to identify new roles and skill requirements to support these, allowing staff appropriate discretion to identify new ways of meeting customer needs in order to provide exceptional experiences.

These roles can then be grouped together to provide new jobs and gigs to be performed by people acting in the different segments of the workforce. These jobs and gigs need to be supported by the use of digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotic process automation and robotics (Jesuthasan and Boudreau, 2018), as well as outsourcing, to ensure core, contract and peripheral staff can concentrate on the most valuable activities, as well as the digital gig working platforms required to support contingent workers.

These jobs and gigs can then be grouped together into an updated organisation design. Whilst most organisations, in the museum sector and elsewhere, have traditionally organised themselves using functional and divisional structures, they are increasingly using new organisation models (Ingham, 2017) based on project teams (the main opportunity for contract and especially contingent staff), and communities and networks (core, peripheral and contract staff). They are also increasingly using new approaches such as self management. Museums should also look at using these more modern approaches, particularly as they tend to support people’s sense of purpose and empowerment, helping them to add value to their customers.

Based upon the above steps, museums can then check whether they have the right people working in these redesigned roles and reselect people into them as appropriate. Museums should also think more broadly about recruitment pools which may help them improve the diversity of their workforces.

They also need to set up mechanisms to support changes in the workforce, such as the HR and management processes required to support the various workforce segments. One particularly important requirement is to update the museum’s reward strategy and practices.

Monday 9 December 2019

HR strategy in the 2020s - have you been paying attention?

Yes, it's prediction time again, and I'll be sharing a few thoughts in a couple of different places. First up, in HRZone on HR Strategy.

You'll hopefully know that I think strategic HR is all about focusing on people, not ever tighter alignment with the business (eg this post recently).

My new article is about all the stuff going on with people that explains why this focus on people is essential (and that therefore, if we don't do it, someone else will!):

Jon Ingham,, +44 7904 185134

Thursday 28 November 2019

For Love or Money 2: Changing Requirements of Staff

I've had a chapter included in MuseumEtc's book on reward, 'For Love or Money': Re-engineering the Way Museums Work, writing as an associate of Barker Langham.

However, I would hope the content will be relevant for people working in other sectors too.

This is part 2 of the chapter. Part 1 on the changing context of work was here:

Changing Requirements of Staff

Managing staff more smartly is also more important because the expectations of the workforce in many areas of the world have changed. People want and increasingly demand a sense of purpose and meaning from their employment as well as connection with others in the workforce. Employers in all sectors already need to respond to this demand and this will become an absolute requirement if we ever see the widespread introduction of something like universal basic income. This will mean that people have a more realistic opportunity to take on work that they want to, rather than have to do and will potentially provide a significant opportunity for employers like museums working in the creative economy.

People also want more flexibility, often including the need to work part vs full time, to work at home, and increasingly to work for multiple organisations as freelancers, or by developing ‘side hussles’ on top of their main employment. Importantly, these expectations are not limited to generation Y / Z or their global equivalents, eg China’s post-80’s, but are increasingly expressed by people of any age.

Organisations therefore need to focus on meeting these workforce needs as well as their business and customer ones. Sometimes this can be quite easy. For example museums often need project based staff to design exhibitions and this short-term focus often fits the aspirations of people who want to work in this role.

Similarly, museums’ increasing need for flexibility often means they need to get work done by temporary employees, contract or ‘gig’ workers, and consultants. This contingent workforce is an increasingly common addition to the traditional organisation. For example, as shown in the above figure, Charles Handy’s shamrock organisation model (Handy, 1995) now needs to be considered to have four constituent parts (or leaves):

   A core workforce with specific skills and a high alignment with a museum’s mission and domain who want a long-term relationship with the museum. The core workforce may include curators, conservators etc, but also front of house / visitor experience staff where excellent as opposed to average performance, for example by offering and personalising explanations on exhibits, can make a huge difference to customer experience.

   A contract workforce of key talent who do not fit the above profile but are still really important for the museum’s future. Handy suggests this may include people who have previously been employed by the organisation. Web designers and other digital staff may also fall within this category.

   A peripheral workforce who will probably be employees rather than gig workers, but who may bring a ‘gig mindset’ (McConnell, 2018) to their work, meaning that they are more focused on their own development and career rather than loyalty to their current and short-term employment. This workforce segment will include staff working in generic functions such as Finance and Marketing as well as areas like security and food and beverage if these are not outsourced.

   The additional leaf provided by the contingent workforce of gig workers and other short-term contributors. This group could include people working in a range of different areas but where it is easier and more effective to rent rather than own capability. As opposed to the contract group, these staff will not generally provide a strategic differentiation and this means they may need to be managed with rather more focus on efficiency.

Each of these different workforce segments have different requirements and expectations and will need to be treated differently, though to the same extent in terms of the relative quality of the approach.

Meeting each of these segment’s needs can also be fairly easy as the flexibility required by an organisation often relates to the flexibility desired by individual staff. However, the challenge is often in matching the two. For example Glassdoor reviews from staff on UK’s zero hour contracts, show a significant difference in perspective depending on whether these arrangements have been designed to meet employees’ as well as the employer’s needs (Ingham, 2015). In addition, staff need to be participants in the design of the flexibility to ensure it really does meet their needs.

Organisations also need to focus on providing suitable integration between these workforce categories in order to avoid tensions between them (McIlvane, 2019), as has been reported recently at Google (Wong, 2018).

Other ways of meeting the workforce’s new expectations include providing more involvement in the core domain of the museum. For many staff, this will be a core reason that they work in the sector and most museums could make much more out of this alignment than they do, maximising the opportunities for intrinsic as well as just extrinsic motivation. For example, museums could develop internal communities enabling staff to contribute outside of their specific job areas.

The role of volunteers in many museums shows the potential provided by people who want to contribute to a museum’s cause, separate to any financial compensation for doing so. A good example here is the London Transport Museum which has a large volunteer workforce, including roles which might usually be standard paid positions, including research, IT, helpdesk analyst, curators, and event stewards. The museum even takes this approach a stage further forward by using volunteering as a means to meet the museum’s broader mission, providing volunteering experience as a means for people to develop into transport engineering careers with other employers through the museum’s Enjoyment to Employment programme.

However, it is also important that this opportunity is not taken too far. Providing broader and more altruistic benefits can never be a good excuse not to pay people appropriately!

The above strategies should also help museums improve their diversity as moving towards more personalised approaches also makes it easier to meet an increasingly varied range of requirements and hence appeal to non-traditional recruitment pools. However, making this approach work also requires an effective approach to inclusion, ensuring a more diverse range of people are able to contribute and work together effectively.

I'll be posting parts 2 and 3 of the chapter over the next couple of weeks.

Jon Ingham,
Top 100 HR Tech Influencer - Human Resources Executive

Mover and Shaker - HR magazine, +44 7904 185134

Wednesday 27 November 2019

The Melded Network HR Model

My Different Slant article on the Melded Network HR Model in HR Magazine is now online.
The article suggests modern HR organisations will increasingly involve a mix of traditional functions, horizontal (process, project, product, agile) teams, communities and networks, as well as melds of these.

For me, it's the first model that truly takes HR beyond the Ulrich model:

-   The platform management group is qualitatively different to most existing service centres -   Centres of excellence become communities supported by an even deeper focus on projects
-   Business partners morph into network brokers - this is the most significant change and the one which makes me think the whole model has now, for the first time, been completely transformed. 

Importantly, it's not a change in the model for the sake of changing it, but a change to align with changes in organisation models - see part 1 of the two part series in HR Magazine too:
I've started outlining the model in a bit more depth in Linkedin, and you may like to check out those posts there as well:


Jon Ingham

Tuesday 26 November 2019

Amazon Best Seller: The Social Organization

Thinking about a Christmas present for someone in HR or linked areas (Recruiting, Learning, Organisation Design & Development, Internal Communication, Talent Management, Property / Real Estate / Facilities Management, Digital Workplace, etc)?

How about Amazon's Best Seller in Human Resource Management, The Social Organization?

This week you can also get 30% discount if buying at Kogan Page - use the discount code FLASH30:

Otherwise you can buy at Amazon, and keep it in the best sellers list:

Jon Ingham

Monday 18 November 2019

For Love or Money 1: The Changing Context of Work

I've had a chapter on reward included in MuseumEtc's book, 'For Love or Money': Re-engineering the Way Museums Work. This was on behold of Barker Langham, a culture sector consultancy I've been doing some work for.

However, I would hope the content will be relevant for people working in other sectors too.


Many museums have been trying to minimise their staffing budgets by reducing headcount and keeping their employees’ salaries low. But this strategy is not sustainable. It is a bit like trying to lose weight – you can focus on your diet and lose a few pounds, but are most likely to end up putting the extra weight back on. Instead of this, most people find the best way of losing weight is to change their lifestyle. The same type of thing is true in organisations too so what museums really need to do is to change the way they organise their work and their people. The supplementary benefit of this approach is often that museums will need less people. Many times, they will also be able to pay their people more appropriately too. This article reviews the opportunity for this re-engineering, supported by digital technology, and its impact on the types and levels of staff rewards.

The Changing Context of Work

Organisations across all sectors are currently undergoing major transformation due mainly to the impact of digital technologies. Many museums are introducing guides and apps to help people explore and learn about their collections. Good examples include new devices such as the Van Gogh Museum’s multimedia guide allowing visitors to walk at their own pace whilst accessing tour guide-like support (Van Gogh Museum, n.d.) and mobile games such as the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Secret Seekers which enable families to uncover facts about the V&A through a social gaming experience (Price, 2017). An even more innovative approach is Cooper Hewitt’s Pen which allows visitors to create and collect their own objects (Cooper Hewitt, 2014). Other institutes in Detroit (Detroit Institute of Arts, n.d.), Cleveland (Moore, 2015) and elsewhere are using virtual and augmented reality to provide exciting new immersive opportunities to interact with their displays. Increasingly, museums are looking at the internet of things and better use of data to provide even more personalised and engaging as well as educational experiences.

However digital transformation is rarely just about technology. All the above examples potentially disrupt these museums’ business models and allow or require the development of new, broader organisational ecosystems. For example, many museums have partnered with Google Arts & Culture (Google, n.d.) to extend their audiences and allow people to view new items or access collections in different ways.

Digital technologies also allow organisations to get closer to their customers as well as other stakeholders in order to better understand and meet their needs. Many museums are developing even deeper, longer-term and more collaborative relationships with their customers, embedding themselves within their communities. They also need to become more customer centric, including through the use of human centred design techniques such as journey mapping, personas, participatory design, user testing and prototyping.

These approaches are particularly important in museums which often find themselves in a rather unfortunate paradoxical position. The positive aspect of this is that the work museums do is increasingly recognised to lie at the centre of strategic culture, knowledge, creative and tourist industries all of which provide significant economic benefits. However, at the same time, museums’ outputs are often under valued by publics and governments which leads to reduced funding and greater pressure on being self financing, pushing museums to reduce salary levels too.

Dealing with this situation requires museums to become even more entrepreneurial and commercial as well as digital and customer focused in order to find new ways to provide a compelling experience for their customers. Museum staff need to be at the centre of this approach.

People have always been the main basis for success in any organisation. This is probably best explained in a classic Harvard Business Review article on the service profit chain which demonstrates how satisfied employees provide satisfied customers and high profits (Heskett et al, 2008). These days, we tend to focus on employee experience, or the level of satisfaction provided by the nature of people’s jobs, and the physical, cultural and digital environments in which they work (Morgan, 2016). We need to provide people with a compelling employee experience to provide the sort of compelling customer experience which was addressed above. And providing a compelling employee experience requires the same sorts of techniques, like journey mapping, which was described earlier, as well as organisational and managerial activities which are just as employee centric as the externally facing ones focus on customers.

As shown in figure 1, it is also useful to recognise that new opportunities for performing activities are often best identified by people acting near to where the work is done rather than by those doing it, for example by customer facing employees rather than customers for external opportunities, and by HR generalists or business partners rather than employees for internal ones.

Looking specifically at the retail sector, which is another area in which organisations often aim to reduce the numbers and pay of staff, Harvard professor Zeynep Ton promotes a good jobs strategy as a basis for an uncommonly employee centric way of operating (Ton, 2014). This is based on an ongoing cycle in which good quality and quantity of labour leads to good operational execution which then provides high store sales and profits which in turn allows high staffing budgets to provide the required labour. In particular, a good jobs strategy allows organisations to maintain a certain level of slack resourcing which enables them to respond to new requirements and opportunities.

Ton’s research suggests this strategy provides significant business benefits over a ‘bad jobs’ approach, and that the strategy works in other sectors too. For example, Toyota has been more successful than many manufacturing companies because its well trained and empowered workers are able to implement standardised management processes which enable the company to deliver excellent quality.

In the museum sector, a good jobs strategy needs to involve quality employees working in a flexible way. This will often require moving away from the standard 9-5 work day and a single location to being more available when and how customers want access, for example with more varied staffing patterns responding to peaks and troughs around exhibitions. Staffing also needs to respond to new and more quickly changing skill requirements, which include more commercial focus, customer service, partnership working, and the broader mindsets and abilities required to provide value. Increasingly, staff will also need to work in cross functional teams and internal or external networks.

One live example at the time of writing is a transformation taking place across the seven museums run by Leicester City Council where four curator posts are being replaced by a new audience development and engagement team, aimed at attracting new and more diverse audiences (Adams, 2019).

Therefore, although digital may reduce, and will certainly change the demand for staff, together with increasing people centricity, this will make people even more important to museum success. Museums need to invest in their core domains as well as putting an increasing focus into digital access and often into locating their physical displays in attractive buildings and facilities. But they need to invest in smarter and more tailored ways of managing their staff too.