HR and Digital Transformation: Technology in HR Management
The other day, I was talking to one of my clients’ HR Managers and I asked her how she was doing. She responded enthusiastically: ‘tech now allows my team to automate most of our administrative work and reduce requests from our employees, who can find solutions independently through the portal’.
This HR Manager and her employees can now focus on more significant business objectives in a strategic way. The moral of the story is that the manager and her colleagues felt like they were part of a modern company capable of providing innovative services, rather than part of a company that had stopped evolving a few decades ago.
As the HR Director at Microsoft Australia, Ingrid Jenkins, argues:
“Transformation is underpinned by a digital mindset that is a unique interplay of technology, people, and process, and technology can also be used to vastly improve HR processes for employees and managers, resulting in a snowball effect of positivity and paving the way for even greater digital transformation within a business”.
It is by adopting this view that we can seriously acknowledge and implement the transformative effect of tech in the HR environment in order to achieve successful results within a business.
Digitalisation = Productivity
By promoting the transformation and digitalisation of HR services, it is possible to understand how much tech can improve the workflow of the people within this sector and free up time that can be dedicated to core activities.
There is no doubt that the HR management portals represent an excellent digital tool that can greatly improve the employees’ experience and increase their involvement within the company. In fact, they include almost everything an employee may need: access to forms, manuals, pay slips, contract, and data. They can also file complaints, view the corporate calendar of events, and much more. Furthermore, with the ever-increasing diffusion of performance management, employees can also have the opportunity to consult their own evaluation sheets and give feedback.
IoT and advanced technologies are expected to replace all the conventional tools and systems at workplaces with their digitized versions by 2022 in all the top 10 economies of the world
If a company ignores these types of platforms in 2019, their business is doomed and can only expect to encounter negative effects. Preventing employees from accessing the information they need can not only create confusion, but, above all, it can impose an unnecessarily burdensome load on the HR department, which finds itself forced to devote much of its time to continuous and pressing requests rather than focusing on other management tasks. Such a scenario can become highly unproductive and clearly shows the importance of implementing HR tech tools, which employees and managers can learn and use easily.
So what should the HR department do over the following years? Focus on skill development. HR should not only encourage the training of their employees and collaborators: it is essential that they become the promoters of change. Those within the HR department ought to invest in themselves, to keep up with the times and trends, but above all, they must be able to anticipate change. Therefore, it is necessary to upgrade one’s skills in order to understand which new ones have to be implemented and which ones need to be improved.
How can the HR sector do this? By taking part in CIPD courses that can offer HR staff professional training, networking, learning, and development opportunities. Obtaining CIPD certifications can grant great benefits to employees and employers within the HR sphere.
Unsurprisingly, many HR job advertisements list at least one CIPD qualification as an absolute must – regardless of whether that’s foundation level or a higher-level qualification
In recent years, technology has greatly automated the typical functions carried out by the HR department. In essence, it became possible to activate online payroll transmission, record keeping, training, skill management, job interviews, hiring and compensations.
These activities have been partly automated and managed in the Cloud, which has automated the basic processes of HR management.
The mot-de-passe becomes ‘productivity’: new functions are introduced, employees become more involved, and teams work together in a more efficient manner. In essence, there is a strong need to adopt a platform that manages talents and teamwork.
Overall, the introduction of digital elements for on-boarding, off-boarding, performance reviews, employee surveys, payroll and everything else in between, makes the organisation more agile. Any document can be retrieved and reviewed in a few minutes, saving a lot of time and hard work. Above all, it can allow the HR team to document everything appropriately (in particular complaints, information requests, and other reports).
Moreover, such methods contribute to the reduction of the organisation’s risks and responsibilities. Employment laws are complicated, so taking appropriate measures by keeping updated digital records is very important to prevent any liabilities.
Since it allows to automate the HR Process, platforms such as CakeHR were created to make the workflow and life in the workplace easy and productive. Managers can digitally approve/reject employee’s time off requests, schedule shifts and create timesheets on which staff can track overtime, manage company expenses an interactive reports.
HR Tech: A Digitalised Recruitment System
Even recruitment modalities have changed drastically and are likely to transform even more over the following years. What’s happened? They have been digitalised. In fact, Jon Bischke, CEO of Entelo, remarks that
“Twenty years ago, the résumé was a piece of paper. Now, it’s a collection of all [candidate] data that can be found online, like participation in online communities, conferences and meet-ups. Recruiters can assess whether a person will fit, and learn if he or she has the right skills for a job”.
Recruitment tools can also help recruiters find potential candidates with suitable skills for the job. Bob Myhal, the former CEO of NextHire and current director of digital marketing at CBC Advertising, argues that
“Cloud-based hiring tools will allow recruiters and hiring managers to easily and affordably find, evaluate and organize top job candidates, while innovative assessment and filtering techniques will help provide a 360-degree holistic view of top applicants. Through biometric data, companies like NextHire will better predict which candidates are most likely to be a good fit for a position, and which are not”.
Moreover, it is becoming more and more common for managers to conduct first-round interviews online through platforms such as Skype.
However, evolution goes both ways: it is not only the recruiters that find new and quick ways to employ talents. Candidates are also aware of the huge demand for jobs and they make it easier for their potential managers to employ them by using online profiles, digital portfolios, and social media.
In essence, every tool can be maximised in order to stand out to a potential employer and show off one’s own talents, skills, and abilities. As Myhal claims: “You need to take advantage of the new tools and resources that allow you to move beyond the résumé. This will help ensure you’re finding the righthire and ultimately saving your business time, headaches and cold, hard cash”.
The Promising Future of HR Tech
Before delving into the future of HR Tech, let’s briefly observe HR’s current responsibilities.
What exactly do we mean by personnel management? The word ‘personnel management’ says it all: with HR management we identify all the activities and measures put in place to ensure that the staff, external collaborators, and consultants of a company work best in every situation and in every context.
The organisation and management of HR involves these activities:
- Deciding the number of people to be hired and determine the tasks/needs that the company requires at that time (and take into consideration what it needs in the future).
- Attracting and recruiting the right pool of candidates.
- Manage and define competitive wages (compensation and benefits).
- Provide employees with opportunities for training and personal development in order to ensure that they can improve their skills, always feel stimulated, and prepare them for future growth that is also in line with the company’s expectations.
- Accept and manage the employees’ training/development requests, as well as participation in external events.
- Evaluate work performance, plan career paths, manage any promotions and transition phases.
- Guarantee the safety of personnel (HSE).
It is definitely not surprising that “the global HR management sector is projected to reach $30 billion by 2025”. After all, since 2014 the HR management market has grown exponentially thanks to the integration of technology.
As we have already discussed, technology is significantly altering the composition of company personnel and recruitment strategies. Let’s see what are the determining factors in this process.
Trend 1 – Transformation
With the digital revolution that is currently taking place, companies are constantly confronted with new situations and new tools such as mobile integration, analytical tools, IT security and data protection laws.
On the one hand, this new market requires employees to upgrade their skills, and, on the other, it requires HR personnel to search for people who have these necessary skills. This is the reason why technology is provoking a real revolution also when it comes to the components of the company’s personnel.
Moreover, a study conducted by Oxford Economics has shown that more than 80% of human resources managers are available to adopt new technologies in order to improve employee research and management. Right now HR managers need to find flexible and proficient candidates with great digital skills. It is therefore essential for HR to integrate the needs of their company with the world of tech. Annual reports show that every year that the most successful companies are the ones that are investing in tech.
Despite their concerns, Grand View Research says “the global human resource management sector is projected to reach $30 billion by 2025
Overall, thanks to the advent of new technologies, the work landscape has changed significantly and has created job-positions that did not even exist until recently. An example is the Chief Digital Officer – responsible for implementing and teaching digital tools in the various departments of a company. As McKinsey & Company and Forbes rightly point out, a company will achieve full success only when the role of Chief Digital Officer will no longer be necessary since as all employees will have reached an optimal level of digital knowledge.
Leadership Strategist Jeanne Meister states that according to the Report from the World Economic Forum “75 million current jobs will be displaced as artificial intelligence takes over more routine aspects of work. However, 133 million new jobs will be created, and skills in both emotional intelligence and technical intelligence, like technology design and programming, will be important”.
Trend 2 – The Benefits of the Cloud
Only a few years ago, companies were discussing the benefits of systems such as the Cloud. Today, on the other hand, they have embraced it and Cloud-based systems are being used more and more for a variety of reasons.
The possibility of being able to manage and complete work through a digital platform has allowed staff not only to do the job much faster, but most importantly, it has allowed to significantly increase earnings. For example, in Japan, Randstad uses Gigwalk technology to manage temporary workers. The use of this system has brought numerous benefits such as reduced costs, greater and easier collaboration, access to a large work database and specific skill requests.
The future of HR is both digital and human as HR leaders focus on optimizing the combination of human and automated work
Until recently, companies organised their data on multiple platforms: this meant a waste of time and resources when it was time to put together all the information taken from the various databases. However, the use of the Cloud currently allows companies to integrate various systems with data, creating a unique platform on which employees can work on and focus their attention entirely on one thing. But to make the most of these innovations, companies need staff members with the right skills. Using these new technologies also for the research of candidates is crucial.
Trend 3 – Virtual Reality Becomes More Real Than “Real Reality”
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are also significantly transforming HR. According to the Bank of America Merrill Lynch, both VR and AR will bring a turnover of 150 billion dollars by 2022. In the coming years, HR research and management will be one of the main areas affected by these innovations.
In recent years, companies have experimented with gamification for recruitment purposes, but now things have already gone further. Soon, during interviews, candidates will no longer simply be asked how they would behave in a given situation, but they will be allowed to live it with virtual reality: at that point, it will be possible to evaluate their competences and their behaviours in a concrete situation.
HR already use virtual reality in different areas (for instance, for training purposes). However, purchasing a VR system does not mean that a company will automatically obtain the desired results: one must first understand where it can be really useful and then have the ability to use it in the most appropriate way.
The future of Human Resources: Driving Change
HR absolutely cannot neglect the tech aspect of their business. As data and research has proved, the world of HR is rapidly evolving and staff within this sector will have to guide this process.
HR cannot only follow the tech ‘trend’: It has to give it a precise direction.
Francesca Prato is a British writer with a Master in Philosophy. Although her writing focuses mostly on Humanities, she also enjoys writing about digital trends and its positive effects on society.
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