Module 3: HR development and maintaining staff competences

Landing the Concept
Take Action
Test Yourself

Landing the Concept

Digitalization has changed the work of HR, promoting new types of relationships between employees and leaders. In order to address these changes, five dimensions were considered to develop modern and effective HR strategies inside institutions. The ultimate goal of these strategies is to ensure both the achievement of good outcomes by institutions and the physical and psychological well-being of the people who make those outcomes possible.

We suggest you read chapter 5.5 of “Human resources in higher education” [1], published by the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development to acquire the theoretical foundations on how to improve HR management in order to promote good performance. Also, we provide a PowerPoint presentation  which may be of help in summarising the concepts of modern HR management, along with its risks and opportunities.

We then consider the context in which these changes are taking place, showing how digitalization has radically altered the work scenario. In fact, we are witnessing a shift from a generally hierarchical structure, based on control and strict adherence to rules, to a more flexible structure, where trust is preferred to control and guidelines to rules. Therefore, we analyze how digital culture has made it necessary to rethink organisations in a more agile way, taking examples from companies founded or operating in the digital space [2]. It is clear how digital transformation has put the workers at the centre: they must be viewed as real persons and not merely as tools or resources for the institution.

To achieve a positive employee experience, it is therefore necessary to adopt new HR practices that take into account key digital principles, from speed and agility of processes to personalization of services.

Finally, we highlight the importance of learning about recent trends in HR work innovation processes from major digital companies, from simplifying recruitment practices to improving worker performance.

Additional reading materials are provided in the references section below.

Take Action!

After reading the provided materials, reflect on the best practices used by your institutions to manage HR, whether they are up to date on this topic or improvement is needed. If you find specific methodologies which are, in your opinion, particularly effective, please leave a comment in order to point them out. Please do the same if you, on the other hand, find that those are lacking.

Test Yourself


[1] OECD (2020), “Human resources in higher education”, in Resourcing Higher Education: Challenges, Choices and Consequences, OECD Publishing, Paris. DOI:

[2]  Patty McCord, How Netflix Reinvented HR, Harvard Business Review, Jan-Feb 2014

[3] Frederic Laloux, Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage in Human Consciousness, Nelson Parker, February 9, 2014.

[4] Rosario Sica, Employee Experience. Il lato umano delle organizzazioni nella quarta rivoluzione industriale, Franco Angeli, 25 ottobre 2018.

[5] Deborah D. Waddill, Digital HR: A Guide to Technology-Enabled Human Resources, Society for Human Resource, June 30, 2018