Technology has fundamentally altered human interaction in the digital age. It has also made information accessible, work more fluid and opened up new opportunities. The excessive use of technology has also created a numbing effect - with people spending a majority of their time on their devices.
Within HR, technologies are being implemented at every stage of the employee lifecycle from pre-hire to post-retire. Prospective candidates have access to information about a company’s brand. Employees are engaging with each other mostly over virtual platforms. Which begs the question “How much technology is too much technology and are we losing the human touch?”
Rapid digitalization has led to a situation where people are disconnected, face the stress of extreme and feel that they are constant employer scrutiny. With the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and allied technology, as more employees not only work with machines but “alongside” machines, there’s a growing tendency to compare man to machines, resulting in relentless efficiency pressures at work.
Today, there are two aspects of HR transformation:
- Enablement of people through technology: Talent technology is not merely about digitizing transactions or employee-help services. We are in the age of augmented humanity where smart people will continue to take decisions, and smart machines will be used to automate processes. The creative use of machine learning, data analytics, robotics etc., the amount of productivity and efficiency that an individual can drive is very high.
Tech platforms have become very simple (take the example of the app-ification of our daily life and the personalized profiling of services), whether it is at the level of look and feel, personalization of policies, working hours, compensation structures and other HR interventions. Talent technology is all about personalizing the employee experience, and creatively delivering people interventions like learning.
- Enterprise effectiveness through culture, systems, processes, and policies: Most HR systems have now become intelligent i.e. moved from being “sources of information” to “sources of insights”. Technology is delivering insights which are proactive, predictive, and most importantly prescriptive. These insights and data are driving the effectiveness of an enterprise.
HR plays a critical role here (of looking at how we can enable individuals to take decisions that will allow them to be more effective in their workplace). Earlier, HR data was siloed with a limited understanding of insights, but new-age talent technologies allow HR and business managers to look all possible variables that is relevant to making a decision.
How should HR enable employees?
The right blend of man and machine will create a strong human connect to technology. To make that happen, integration is key.
- Today, employees want the systems to enable whatever they want, and not just be restricted HR transactions. Going beyond siloes addresses an organizations’ biggest pain points.
- Employees today come with the experience of using the latest and best technologies unless organizations can create such an experience, organizations stand to lose from an employer-value perspective.
- HR professionals must ask pinpointed questions- How do you create an environment alongside technology, which allows people to focus on things that matter the most? On things that give people the maximum pleasure and happiness, and the things that they believe is the better use of their capabilities?
- HR professionals should think from an intuitive automation perspective which means thinking about how people can focus on the strategic aspects of their job.
- It is up to HR leaders to identify where the human-touchpoint must be enhanced, and this should be customized uniquely for each organization from a culture, context, processes perspective, because each organization is very different from the other.
The best way to humanize technology for the current age is to invest in employees. Leadership skills will continue to be in demand and will be far more required and challenging with solitary workplaces coming up.
HR professionals must keep in mind that a digital transformation journey need not be based on the latest and the best technology, but it should look at how talent interventions fit into the context of their organizations. This is possible only when “intuitively intelligent” systems work in tandem with humans and help humans perform their work along with machines, just like their friends would.
(Insights in this article are partly curated based on an Oracle webinar on this topic)