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Bringing Employee-centricity at the Helm of HR Tech

Stephane Charbonnier, Chief Human Resources Officer at L’Oréal USA.

Bringing Employee-centricity at the Helm of HR TechStephane Charbonnier, Chief Human Resources Officer at L’Oréal USA.

Often recognized as a “people person,” Charbonnier has successfully been at the helm of driving leadership and learning initiatives within the organization. With his vast experience and expertise in key HR roles across several dynamic companies, Charbonnier has always strived to develop talent and build an HR team with an employee-centric approach.

In conversation with HR Tech Outlook, Charbonnier states the importance of CHROs and HR teams to focus on employee-centricity and engagement. And how it can enable organizations to flourish and prosper, even in such trying times.

How has the pandemic affected HR functions within your organization?

The need for reinvention was only further amplified through the pandemic. We had to adapt and, at the same time, build a safe environment of collaboration among our employees. With our community’s safety and wellbeing always being paramount, we initiated a rollout of various programs and resources as the pandemic continued to develop. We worked as a team to create instructional safety videos, initiate talking circles and design events to support our employees’ health, both physical and mental, their continued career development and, ultimately, their sense of impact within the company.

Apart from the safety aspect of things, we had to face alarming economic consequences as most brick-and-mortar retailers and salons shut down. Despite these circumstances, we continued to protect and safeguard employee jobs, which we did with pride.

“CHROs and HR teams need to ensure the Human connection is maintained, and the human element is at the heart of everything they design and deliver.”

We also witnessed the racial injustices that occurred in the U.S., which greatly influenced the socio-political climate, and brought to the surface deeply painful experiences for our entire L’Oréal community. As a response, we created listening circles amongst our employees to create a strong sense of community and togetherness during these difficult times. The goal is to provide an avenue and an open platform for anyone who wants to speak up, be heard or listen and be educated on a new perspective.

What are some of the technologies to be leveraged for optimizing HR capabilities?

It is an excellent opportunity for us in the HR space to leverage more technologies in the service of employees and to maintain employee-centricity. Utilizing virtual reality tools can help several potential employees get a holistic picture of the organization, operations, culture, and work environment. It also offers the much-needed connection among employees worldwide to share ideas, opinions, and rich content that can help take the company forward in strides.

It is my vision for the future of our function that one day, every employee of our company has a personal, digital HR assistant at their desk, accessible at any point of the day to address their queries. The use of digital platforms has become more pronounced over the past year. Rightfully so, as it augments and assists HR functions to be more employee-centric and allows organizations to enable a greater degree of engagement for their people. With technology growing every day, we have also found the opportunity to become more data-driven, which further gives us the ability to gather more data on how people feel about the organization, their work, and the overall situations they are in. All this information can then be leveraged to enhance employee engagement.

With the right technology, we can resolve the challenge of bringing people together for reasons they feel are worth their time and effort. It will give us the power to connect people seamlessly and provide a unique experience to every individual, which will almost mimic the feeling of being together in the same room and sharing that connection, even in virtual workspaces.

What would be a piece of advice you would like to convey to your peers in the industry?

Organizations need to invest in the right technology to improve employee experience and provide the required collaboration and connection across the board. There is also a need for leaders and employers to regularly check with their teams on how they are doing, going beyond regular annual employee surveys. HR is all about transformation. That has to come in how companies can empower their employees by offering a strategic frame to operate freely and decide what they require.

The pandemic drove changes unprecedentedly, introducing innovations that were not expected to happen even ten years down the line. And this creates a challenge for HR teams to accelerate their functions while also identifying interactive ways to harness the organizational zing, either through a network of employees who will provide the needed insights or by changing the way the company operates.

What does the future hold for the HR industry?

We will undoubtedly see newer technologies unfold, but becoming closer as a team will ultimately benefit employees, leaders, and organizations. As a part of the HR team, there is one thing that should not be neglected, the ‘H’ in HR and what it stands for. CHROs and HR teams need to ensure the Human connection is maintained, and the human element is at the heart of everything they design and deliver. At the end of the day, it is the people who matter the most, and that is how we can relate to companies. In conclusion, I would like to mention, that as much as technology has evolved and will continue to propel industries in the future, let’s always keep the human at the heart of everything we do.

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