The HR function itself has evolved over the years with the demands of the function moving from managing recruitment, IR, training and compensation in a localized geography to providing talent management, organizational restructuring, compensation benchmarking, deploying rewards and recognition solutions globally for a disparate workforce comprising of multi-ethnicities. The technology supporting the function also has evolved parallely to enable HR to scale up and meet the increased expectations of the stakeholders.
While ERP has taken over the mundane functions of attendance, leave, benefits administration and payroll, today corporate intranets are becoming the new tools for HR to increase the engagement of the staff across multiple geographies. The intranet is also becoming the new platform for providing robust employee rewards and recognition solutions thereby increasing the engagement with the employee. The technology tools also need to enable the HR manager to stay relevant with a workforce who is becoming younger and more tech-savvy.
Before the client–server architecture evolved in the late 1980s, many HR automation processes were relegated to mainframe computers that could handle large amounts of data transactions. In consequence of the high capital investment necessary to buy or program proprietary software, these internally developed HRMS were limited to organizations that possessed a large amount of capital. The advent of client–server, Application Service Provider, and Software as a Service SaaS or Human Resource Management Systems enabled increasingly higher administrative control of such systems.
In India, there is a definitive use of technology for recruitment. Many organizations use the benefit of the web using services from organizations such as timesjobs.com, naukri.com and monster.com.
Whilst retaining remains a challenge, the trend to use technology to measure and monitor employee engagement issues is yet to pick up. Many corporate are using manual systems to cater to these needs. However with International players entering the marketing, employee reward and recognition programs would soon build up and see a spurt of activity.
The role of HR manager is shifting from that of someone who protects to the role of a planner and change agent. Personnel directors are the new corporate heroes. The name of the game today in business is personnel. Nowadays to show a good financial or operating report, showcasing personnel relations has become important.
The trends that one would see in the space would include increased outsourcing of more routine tasks of payroll management, leave management and on boarding of staff. Hence technology should enable the top management to monitor performance levels of the outsourced vendors and the satisfaction levels of the staff of the services provided through a combination of online dashboards, surveys and benchmarking.
HR blogs and podcasts will increasingly become ubiquitous to transmit messages across the globe and to get the messages from the top management to the employees on a one-to-one format.
Technology experts who have best in class succession planning and workforce planning solutions have the potential for growth as organization move towards automating these processes for better monitoring.
Whilst attrition rates have become a common statistic, what should soon see emerging is the role of the “employee engagement ratio. Proof of employee engagement having a direct consequence on the overall productivity and output of the company will make all companies begin to seriously find ways of measuring this ratio using technology. Here robust Employee Rewards and Recognition platforms will hold a sway with the companies creating a culture of rewarding and retention and managers finding that the weightages for rewarding increasing in their KRAs.
HR technology space in India can broadly be categorized into 4 distinct spaces – the ERP space of HR function, Payroll & associated functions (standalone), Performance Management systems (related to KRA setting, tracking and assessment) and Employee Rewards and Recognition platforms. While the first three are highly evolved with a number of key players having significant market shares amongst them, Employee Rewards and Recognition is a new field with very few players like Accentiv are focusing on. While SAP continues to be the leader in the ERP space, the payroll and performance management systems spaces have a number of small and medium players carving the market share amongst themselves. The Performance Management systems are becoming more sophisticated with competency mapping and management becoming integral to this platform.
The Employee Rewards and Recognition programs which were earlier managed in an offline mode with most of the programs being managed on an Excel sheet in a decentralized fashion are now moving into a centralized platform using sophisticated tools. Companies like Accentiv, using their over decade experience in managing Employee R & R platforms, have launched their own platform, employEase, to cater to the increasing requirements of a unified platform to execute employee R & R programs. Such platforms offer the top management a companywide view of how their R & R budgets are allocated and utilized, whether the organization is moving towards a culture of recognition which is critical for employee retention and the sort of reward items which their employees are choosing to redeem. The Employee R & R platforms typically allow allocations of budgets to different levels of the hierarchy, issuance of rewards in the form of points which the employee can accumulate over multiple instances and redeem it for a reward of his/ her choice, peer-to-peer recognition and broadcasting recognition to a controlled group or event to the entire organization. The sophistication of the platforms today even enable mobile alerts of recognitions handed over to an employee by a superior or colleague, user or peer groups social media exchange and redemption on the mobile. While many IT, ITES companies attempt to build the platform internally, such platforms lose out on the benchmarking of best practices which a service provider like Accentiv or Rideau can bring to the table by virtue of their managing multiple instances of R & R programs. Also platforms built in the country like employEase typically tend to be more value for money as they offer all critical functionalities compared to global platforms which have traditionally been sold in the US markets.
HR’s focus has shifted to attrition control, retaining top talent for which employee engagement has become key.
Different organizations use different techniques and methods with most companies building their own internal software’s or making use of multiple platforms for basic needs. However the latest trends in HR show a much required emphasis on (a) Attrition control, (b) Retaining top talent and (c) increasing productivity. The role of HR has also matured into being a “Strategic” role with more involvement on employee development and employee engagement. Many companies have now built special Employee Relations teams to cater to the “emotional” aspect of the employee.
HR Managers today are focusing on the following;
a) Policies based on trust, openness, equity and consensus
b) Motivation – creating conditions in which people are willing to work with initiative and enthusiasm and make people feel like winners
c) Relations – fair treatment for a healthy work-place
d) Change agents – prepare workers for the future
e) Quality consciousness – commitment to quality in personnel administration
f) Integrate personal aspirations to company goals
The Technology space in India would still need to grow to encompass the new role of HR.
While customized solutions and some of the shelf solutions exist for all the basic functions of HR, there are now new entrants playing a “consultative role” and offering complete solutions:
1. Recruitment partners
2. Payroll and benefits outsourcing
3. Employee Engagement, or reward and recognition consultants.
Choosing the right vendor depends entirely on the budgets of the organization, the presence of in-house software teams and the overall size and complexity of the organization – i.e. number of employees, bands, and locations covered etc. Security of data and ease of use is paramount.
What is also important to the organization is the expertise the vendor brings to the platform and how well the company requirements can be customized.
For more niche areas such as employee engagement, rewards and recognitions, organizations would seek out partners that can (a) understand the needs of the company (b) build customized solutions (c) give end to end solutions (d) bring in ease and (e) a method to measure and monitor the results. Partners who can bring in a “consultative” and “adaptive” approach and who work as the extensions of the company would do better. Most importantly the proof of the pudding for the employee is when he/ she redeems the reward and partners who have strong capabilities to offer a wide range of rewards and manage their fulfillment including escalations are critical for the success of the R & R program.
Whilst the obvious benefits would be the reduction of resources, processes and paper work required to perform the functions, true ROI for using enhanced technology can be measured by the affect on attrition and productivity. The end result of a well defined HR engagement program should result in lesser efforts and resources required for re-recruitment and training of new resources.