4 Ways Tech Is Helping to Fuel HR's Rebirth
As a profession, human resources seems to go through perpetual periods of rebirth and renewal. Think of the job titles alone. HR was once known mainly as “personnel.” Now we have job titles such as Directors of Happiness, People Champions and Chief Culture Officers. These titles represent a more people-centric design, and touch on the increasingly important intangible aspects of the HR profession.
We are now in one such period of rebirth. Following a year of heightened expectations, HR's importance is only increasing as organizations shift their focus even more towards people and all the things that come along with people processes at work. Additionally, in many cases, the CHRO now sits in the C-suite alongside other key decision makers — which was not always the case.
The current rebirth is fueled in part by technological possibilities. While situational opportunity abounds in all facets of work, here are four distinct ways digital transformation within HR can fuel transformation throughout the entire organization.
1. HR Actions Through Data
Using data to inform decisions helps create a workplace culture that aligns with organizational intent. Workplace tech systems hold and can produce a plethora of data, but that information is only as good as what HR leaders do with it. Take, for example, the possibilities surrounding the diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives that are at the forefront of business conversations today.
Companies using a unified HCM system often have dashboards to display aggregated real-time data showing the composition of a workforce. These serve as a window into the status of things like diversity and inclusion efforts and pay equity within companies. This data can help companies understand if there may be bias or unfairness in hiring or compensation practices for leaders to address.
Technology can also help organizations with processes like accessing a vast pool of candidates for open requisitions and assuring that hiring metrics are hitting their mark when it comes to industry and organizational standards. Consider how those (and other) touchpoints are measured now at your organization and determine if a tech review or change is warranted to provide a comprehensive, data-driven look into fairness and equity among current and future employees.
When HR uses data to drive strategic actions, organizations benefit in a multitude of ways. From fairness in many aspects of the employee journey, ensuring legal and regulatory compliance due to important decisions being made with proven numbers, to ensuring that the company has workers with the skills required for future organizational needs, HR is — and will be — at the helm.
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2. HR Builds Trust Through Communication Transparency
Positive employee experiences can have a direct effect on critical aspects of business success, such as reducing turnover, increasing performance metrics, and attracting and retaining top talent. Without the steadiness of trust within the exchange relationship between the employer and employee, that relationship will likely suffer. The right technology can help.
Technology provides a reliable and sustainable way to send and receive important messages at work. This goes beyond communicating via email or text messages. Employers have an obligation to keep employees informed and aware of important information — especially when it directly affects them. When it comes to trust and transparency, this is among the most important roles the organization plays.
The way companies treat employees during tough times will shape how the company is viewed when it comes to future success. Considering the changes we have all faced, a useful exercise may be to assess what went right and what went wrong during the initial wave of coronavirus-related disruption at your business. Based on what is now known, how will you communicate important messages during times of change in the future? Were messages received and perceived as intended? Have you surveyed employees on whether they felt like messages were clear and actionable when necessary? Taking that feedback and making any needed changes will serve to build trust and respect among leadership, HR and the workforce.
Collecting and sharing these kinds of insights are a major part of HR’s renewal and rebirth in this new world of work.
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3. HR Technology Creates Opportunities to Grow
Digital workplace ecosystems provide opportunities for learning that transcend the global challenges of location, language and time zone. This brings many positive impacts to the workplace. For example, employee training can be delivered electronically in several languages and taken when convenient for the worker. A trained and informed workforce is better positioned to assist in championing organizational missions and values.
Furthermore, when it comes to ensuring that everyone is given a chance to grow within organizations, using learning management platforms that deliver company trainings in different languages help open opportunities for all employees to advance within organizations. Collaboration amongst employees in different countries and within different cultures only serves to foster innovation.
Many HR strategies include upskilling and reskilling employees to meet future organizational needs. HR can use technology to track employee training and learning initiatives to determine career ladders and advancement opportunities for high-performing employees. This is impactful from both an organizational and employee perspective.
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4. HR Technology Protects Health and Safety Efforts
HR has always had safety in its purview, but the pandemic elevated that responsibility to unprecedented heights. Indeed, HR is now tasked with ensuring that business continuity remains, something that was not always a staple in HR’s job duties.
This mandate goes beyond physical safety and moves towards the psychological safety of workforces, too. A common complaint about the initial pandemic response is that it was too slow, according to a survey conducted by the Workforce Institute at UKG. Thirty-six percent of employees and business leaders wished offices closed faster and safety measures for essential workers were implemented sooner.
HR needs to stay on top of employee sentiment regarding safety and security at work, and tech can help them do just that. Through tech solutions with innovations such as contact tracing tools, shift swapping capabilities and vaccination tracking, HR can help ensure that business continues to move forward, even in the face of hardship. Furthermore, by using technology, HR leaders have the capability to quickly determine employee well-being, gather intelligence to make decisions, and protect critical operations during a crisis.
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It Takes Intention
Technology alone will not improve all workplace challenges, but it is an important catalyst for more efficient and effective workflows as well as making necessary changes. Working alongside technology and moving forward with intentional strategic planning that aligns with the employees, goals and mission of the organization, HR can continue to move through its rebirth working alongside tech. True progress can only be achieved when business strategy, people processes, technological initiatives and empathetic leadership exist harmoniously within an organization.
About the Author
Julie is a Sr. Partner, HCM Advisory for UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group), and an adjunct professor and co-coordinator of the HRM graduate program at McDaniel College, a school from which she also holds a master’s degree in HRD.