Blog: Technology should enable and not replace human element in HR


Technology should enable and not replace human element in HR

Technology in HR needs to be an enabler and not a replacement to the HR function
Technology should enable and not replace human element in HR

Here’s what happened with me the other day.

I used a famous app to place an order for a salad online; every ingredient meticulously tick marked for a perfect salad. When the salad was delivered, I found that the uneven distribution of sauces had totally ruined my entire meal. After a few days, I again used the same app; this time I made a direct call to the food joint for the same salad carefully stating the exact amount of each ingredient. Yes, this time it was a perfect salad!

Technology in HR too needs to do exactly that – become an enabler and not a replacement to the HR function. As much as organizations may look to adopt technology that results in more effective, efficient and reliable outcomes, genuine interaction fostered through the human element should never be replaced with artificial intelligence. It is authentic face-to-face interactions on which performance, and hence businesses, thrive.

HR technology is no doubt one of biggest drivers of organizational and business transformation. It is no wonder that new companies are working towards developing HR intelligence; that mergers and acquisitions in the HR technology space is gradually rising; and that companies are growingly increasing investments to transform the way they handle HR processes. While with these initiatives the HR processes have become much more effective and less time intensive, but at the same time the processes have also become mechanical.

With processes that involve numbers or tedious clerical tasks, getting everything automated makes sense. But there are other aspects of HR like recruitment, onboarding etc. if human touch for which is lost, can result in distasteful outcomes. Can anything replace the intuitive gut feeling while interacting with your potential candidate; or can technologically enabled onboarding make up for the warmth involved in every first few face-to-face interaction with the newly appointed employee? Yes, the processes do get simplified. That is why technology should be applied as an enabler and not a replacement to the human element in HR processes.

Even when it comes to factors such as performance management and learning & development, completely getting rid of the human element can work against the real motive. One of the most crucial elements of training and career development is the discussions that take place between the managers and employees. While on hand it might be difficult for managers to keep track of every employee’s performance, on the other hand, managers can use the data stored in HR information systems to review performance and give person-to-person feedback and guidance to the employee. Same goes for learning & development; while training can be digitally driven, it is important for coaches to leverage technology and assist employees based on each of their respective shortcomings or ‘areas of improvement’.

While today many companies are looking to generate larger revenue numbers with lesser employees by automating processes through intelligence and machine capabilities, what’s important to understand is that complete dependence on technology can be futile and result in mechanical outcomes that miss on the human element. Bolstering direct employee-employer relations, using enabling technology, is crucial for attracting, engaging and retaining today’s ‘mobile’ employees. 

Disclaimer: This is a contributed post. The statements, opinions and data contained are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of People Matters and the editor(s).

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Topics: Technology, #TechHR2015

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