According to PeopleStrong, the HR outsourcing, and technology firm, Indian organizations can save nearly $600 million annually by 2021, using HR Technology, says a recent news report. The figure might seem unbelievable at first, but the same has been computed using realistic estimates. The report explains, “With the movement of more people from unorganized to organized segment, the number of employees working in organized setup would double by 2021 and the cost of managing employees would rise to about $2 billion. By 2021, HR Technology can help companies save at least 30% of $2 billion annually, which would amount to $600 million approximately.”
The rise and rise of technology in HR in the recent decades has created quite a buzz in the industry. Globally, as well as nationally, start-ups are betting heavily on the use of technology in HR and even big multi-nationals are building resources of their own. Although the pace of adoption has accelerated in the past few years, this transition has been in the making for nearly two decades.
HR Technology: The infancy
The last few years have seen an increasing interest in automating routine labor-intensive HR processes. Searching and screening of potential candidates for interviews, payroll, and compliance, performance management, employee engagement, benefits management, L&D programs – almost every quintessential HR function and vertical is undergoing a technological overhaul. This has also meant that organizations take their ‘employer brand’ rather seriously, and the focus on ‘candidate experience’ is heartening. The thrust on mobile-based interaction and integrating social media, or similar platforms, to communicate with employees has also found many takers. However, this has also given a rise to concerns about whether humans will be needed at all in the future? Undoubtedly, some impact will be visible, as obsolete job profiles will cease to exist; but to assume that ‘HR’ will function without humans is a far-fetched idea. Much like digitization in the fields of retail, banking, education, transportation, communication – jobs will evolve and require new skills.
How is this helping to reduce costs?
Reducing the dependency of HR personnel on inefficient processes that take up time means that they can focus on issues and concerns of strategy, employee satisfaction, engagement and retention, employer value proposition etc. Cloud-based digitization of routine processes and data has resulted in quick, easy and hassle-free access to information without HR acting as the time-starved gatekeeper. Another added advantage of leveraging technology to engage with employees is the generation of large quantities of data. Although much work needs to be done to efficiently analyze the data, but identifying high-potential employees, predicting employee turnover, gauging employee engagement levels, and rewarding high performers are some tasks that have become much more objective and efficient. Tangible benefits, in costs and other parameters, are immediately visible to organizations, and propel further interest and confidence in increasing the role of technology in HR. The best part though is that the adoption of technology is not restricted to big organisations only as smaller ones are also experimenting and benefiting tremendously, like the ones discussed here .
The road ahead
With hundreds of millions of dollars invested the TechHR space in the last four years , the pace of digitization and adoption of new technology is set to intensify further. The day might not be far when an employee can seek all the information he/she wants from a single web-based portal and grievances are redressed by HR Chatbots – eliminating the query-based interaction that employees currently have with their HR Departments. This will allow HR executives to unilaterally focus on being a strategic partner in the organization, and aligning the needs of the company with that of the HR functioning. Start-ups will continue to venture into uncharted territories and solve age-old problems facing HR, as will big corporations invest dedicated resources to build a technological edge in the domain. Consumerization of HR - from recruitment, L&D and employee engagement – will take over sooner than expected.
However, it is critical to understand that technology is just an enabler to ensure that the function of HR remains seamless, and is by no means a replacement to the ‘human’ element in the field. As suggested by this Forbes feature, as much as companies think of themselves as being technologically advanced, the transformation of HR into a technology-intensive function means using the latest technology to deliver an employee experience that is centred on humans, while making is personal, compelling, efficient and memorable.