Companies globally are gradually augmenting traditional HR processes with new technologies and software, opening doors for businesses to transform. Long gone are the days when the workplace was merely a physical space: cloud, mobile computing, and automation are enabling more employee-friendly working practices, enhancing learning experiences and improving day-to-day HR functions.
With the increase in HR management programmes being performed electronically, technology has become a key change driver for the function. The last decade has seen a considerable rise in the number of organizations gathering, storing and analyzing information through automated systems – significantly improving the administrative efficiency and responsiveness of HR management for employees. Web-based, mobile technologies, and digital platforms are picking up the pace as essential requirements for all key HR activities, from employee benefits management to e-learning-based training.
This non-stop evolution has paved way for the HR function to become stronger and more strategic, contributing to growth strategies for companies and their people. This change means traditional aspects of HR are now only a small subset, with a new focus on redefining businesses, motivating leaders, and engaging employees.
The advent of new technologies has inevitably introduced the need to seek new and innovative ways to upskill both leaders and employees. Experiential learning is taking center stage, with organizations introducing activities, games and adventure to drive learning. The modes of learning may vary based on preferences: it can happen on-the-job, through exposure to cross-functional projects or formal education through academic partnerships for example.
Technology has introduced many benefits to the HR function. Some of these are:
Locating and hiring the best talent: New technologies have paved the way for passive recruitment to flourish. IT and internet-based recruitment capabilities – such as virtual interviewing, CV searching, and online psychological testing – have made the process more efficient and reduced HR costs. These applications have also removed potential obstacles to reaching a larger and wider candidate pool, with digital platforms being used to engage with potential talent. Hiring over Skype and career talks through video conferencing have helped reach out to talent across geographic borders, and communication through digital media is establishing thought leadership among existing and potential talent.
Enabling hassle-free performance management: Employee performance management has been significantly simplified, as automation allows evaluation of data in a consistent manner over a period of time, rather than through snapshots of performance. This leads to a fairer and more comprehensive assessment of employee strengths and weaknesses, and objective data can lead to better coaching and training recommendations.
Ensuring accurate data evaluation: Performance-linked incentives are common in most organizations and automation of the HR function has simplified this considerably – making it easier to track employee performance. Overall, accurate data and evaluation helps HR make better decisions.
Applying automated payroll systems: Use of automated systems for payroll processes optimizes accuracy, cost efficiency, and planning.
Future trends in HR technology
According to the latest HR Technology Survey by PwC*, organizations of all sizes are migrating their HR processes to the cloud at a record pace. Two years ago, 68% of organizations had at least one HR process in the cloud; in 2017, that number has climbed to 73%. For those that still use on-premise applications for core HR, nearly one-third are actively planning their migration to the cloud over the next 12–18 months.
With more millennials joining the workforce, HR will need to keep abreast of the latest tools and be comfortable with learning software interfaces: employing analytics to understand the needs of its people in a more customized manner, and providing solutions through the use of mobile technology and digital platforms. The future will also see increased use of mobile-friendly platforms for communication, performance management, continuous feedback, pulse surveys, and more.
Sometimes, employees can be averse to accepting and learning how to use new technologies and software in the workplace, as they feel this can interrupt their everyday workflow. In such scenarios, it becomes crucial for leadership to step in, lead and encourage employees to acquire new skills. A sense of pride can develop when employees feel their organization is investing time and resources to train them, facilitating a learning culture and motivation to learn. We have seen this at The Smart Cube, where we provide regular training and open-house sessions, particularly for any new technology/concept that is introduced.
To conclude, new HR technologies and systems not only enable leaders to lead by example and focus on retaining and hiring top talent, employee engagement and collaboration, but also plays an important role in the growth and development of the workforce.