Article: HR Function: Finally treading the digital path


HR Function: Finally treading the digital path

This article discusses how companies can ride on the back of the digitisation trend to transform a wide range of elements in their HR strategy, including recruitment and retention.
HR Function: Finally treading the digital path

Analytics—the word that has been creating a buzz—has influenced almost all the functions in organisations, from production and finance to sales and marketing. While the degree of adoption is different for each, depending on the recency of introduction, the impact has been simply transformational. 

The HR function, however, has until now remained averse to the adoption of analytics, or even other digital technologies, to quite a large extent. A key reason for this has been the old school of thought that HR is primarily about relationships—typically measured “qualitatively”. However, the advent of analytics, which aims to bring in the “quantitative” factor, is slowly changing the approach. The HR function in companies is starting to embrace multiple digital technologies—including social media, analytics and cloud—to achieve outcomes and drive change. For example, UPS increased the number of hires through digital platforms from 19 to ~15,000 in just three years (2011–2014). Another example is Google, which has a separate “people analytics team” that reports directly to the VP, HR. The team collates and analyses data about its employees through various tools and techniques (such as predictive analytics) to increase employee satisfaction and hence, retention.

In this article, we discuss how companies can ride on the back of the digitisation trend to transform a wide range of elements in their HR strategy, including recruitment and retention.

Use of Social Media: The First Step

Use of social media platforms is typically the first step for any company testing the waters of digitisation—platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn are increasingly becoming popular tools for HR managers looking to recruit new talent. According to a 2016 survey by UK-based creative content agency Southerly, ~67% of respondents (HR managers) used social media to hire new staff, of which 73%, 67% and 50% preferred Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, respectively. 

In addition to attracting new talent, employers have found a new way to use social media for recruitment—candidate screening. According to CareerBuilder’s 2016 social media recruitment survey, 60% of the respondents used social media sites to research potential candidates, up from 52% in 2015—and significantly up from 11% in 2006.

Analytics: The Gen Z Tool

The rise of analytics as an indispensable tool for various HR processes has a direct impact on recruitment, retention, compensation, career planning, learning and development and appraisal. Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2016 study indicated that 77% of the ~7,000 HR executives surveyed rate people analytics as a key priority in the overall HR strategy. Predictive analytics has also disrupted the way business executives use analytics as a whole. 

It is worth considering the extent of information that can be predicted using analytics in HR—employee satisfaction, or perhaps the company’s attrition rate? However, companies such as Maersk are pushing the boundary of predictive analytics. At one instance, in 2014, it conducted a study on the relationship between HR metrics (such as managerial commitment, engagement and training) and employee safety-related incidents. The objective was to generate recommendations for HR to ensure employee safety. Some other companies using predictive analytics include Starbucks, RE/MAX and Capital One.

Don’t Forget Mobile and Cloud…

As people spend increasingly more time on their smartphones, HR managers are turning towards cloud-based mobile apps for a better employee experience, both for transactional tasks such as workflow approvals and leave management, as well as for learning and development—to augment employees’ skillsets even when they are on-the-go. And one cannot ignore the use of such apps for recruitment: the Deloitte study states that 42% of respondent companies are looking to adapt their existing HR systems for mobiles.

The trend clearly indicates that the digitisation of the HR function, though currently lagging behind operations and finance, is expected to pick up speed in the coming decade. Has your organisation started to ride on the back of this trend? If not, you may consider this as one of your top priorities for the remaining part of the year. 

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Topics: Technology, HR Technology, #TechHR2016

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