Digital is redefining the world of work, and the key talent driver i.e. the HR function too, is fast transforming. The growth of the HR technology market is indicative of tech-leading times to come, with people-processes vying for efficiency and effectiveness. In the United States alone, there are more than 12 million employers spending over $5 Tn on payroll, benefits, and other employee programs (2019)*. However, to effectively leverage these available technologies for achieving the objective, it is important for HR leaders and professionals to don the technology-hat. This starts with the HR function upskilling and reskilling itself to understand, assimilate and apply these technologies and therein, drive a people-advantage.
Success Skills for the HRTech-Edge
HR technology initiatives and implementations can be a success only when HR leaders are informed and take the right technology decisions. Firstly, any HR technology initiative must be meaningful, i.e. it must align with the business objectives. To ensure this, HR leaders must deep dive into the what, why and how of the emerging-technologies landscape:
Cloud HRIS: While human resource information software has been around for a while, the focus is clearly changing from mere “systems of productivity” to “systems of engagement”. There is a need to design and devise HRIS which create a compelling employee experience- useful, productive, and engaging to employees. Cloud technologies can empower employees by encouraging new-age working ethos such as virtual working, mobile working, collaborative working, and allowing employees time-agnostic access and availability of information at the fingertips. Cloud is fundamental to creating a favourable Employee Experience Platform, and the earlier HR professionals get a hang of cloud competencies, the better.
Social: Talent acquisition, employer branding, learning and development- they are all going the networked and collaborative way. HR must make their presence felt on social platforms, both internal and external. Whether it is displaying a “Day in the Life” to prospective employees through the careers forum, or sharing the latest leadership updates across employee groups, social sharing is critical to enable a collaborative and engaging work culture. Especially relevant for internet-savvy millennials which form a significant chunk of the workforce today!
Data, Analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools: An HR professional who understands data and AI can contribute significantly in various HR arenas. Talent acquisition is becoming intelligent through automated resume parsing. candidate screening, and intuitive job postings. Natural language processing can help HR managers analyze employee interactions, and thus help take proactive steps for employee engagement. HR professional of the future would gain an upper edge by equipping themselves with the knowledge of organizational data. Where is data stored, what forms of data, how is it useful for predictive modeling- these elements shall help harness AI for intelligent, data-backed talent-decisions. In an age where fresh recruits are swimming in data pools, being data-savvy is non-negotiable. Basic knowledge of SQL, Reporting, Data Management can aid the use of interactive tools such as chatbots and voice bots. HR leaders must back this with innovative reasoning skills, so as to uncover connections between business and the workforce.
Gamification, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality: HR must think out of the box to engage both candidates and employees. For example, values-orientation games in the screening tests can help recruiters find the right culture-fit. Today’s employee is on the lookout for immersive learning experiences- gamification, AR and VR are the answer to train employees on-the-job. Wearables is another area which organizations are already tapping into, to drive wellness initiatives.
These are just some of the core HR technology skills essential for organizational progress. HR Technology skills must be backed by softer skills such as innovative thinking, creative inquiry, critical problem solving, flexibility and change management, communication, collaboration, design thinking, and most importantly, a strong business orientation.
How to build these skills?
Creating a strong HR technology foundation requires dedicated planning. efforts, and resources. HR leaders must keep the following in mind, to make a sustainable HR tech transformation:
Understand the reason for change: Any upgradation or change must be done for the right reasons. HR leaders must align any HR technology investment with the business need, and continuously assess its relevance for the business objective.
Build an HR Tech CoE: HR must start with building a core team of the rightly skilled personnel. HR technology must be a core Centre of Excellence, working in collaboration with business, IT, digital functions, vendors, partners and employees. Hire, loan, upskill and reskill to create the right blend of HR technology in house experts and advisors. One can also leverage freelancers and new talent models for short-term projects.
Stay invested: It is important to be sustainably invested and foster a long-term change. Designing and deploying futuristic technologies such as latest HRIS, talent models, telecommunication infrastructure etc., may not show immediate returns- making it a tough call. It means that HR must develop a solid business case HR technologies.
Don the learning hat: Having a continuous learning mindset is a must to create a technology-mindset. The learning outlook must change- learning should be made available, accessible and engaging to encourage employee-driven learning. This change starts from within HR- the onus of upskilling the HR function rests with the modern-day HR professional.
Cultivate a digital mindset: More than anything, HR must understand the impact of technological change on employees’ morale and engagement, work methodologies and work productivity. HR leaders must inspire and enthuse the employees by showing “What’s in it for them” and leading the way for HR technology adoption.
HR professionals must go the extra leg to keep pace with the rapidly changing technology landscape. Yet, they must apply the optimum blend of human touch and hi-tech to create an engaged, productive workforce that delivers a competitive advantage to business.