HR Tech: 10 ways it can help your organisation
For too long, the HR function struggled under the weight of administration. New starters, training courses, grievances, legal requirements… the role of the HR was limited by the sheer amount of paperwork involved in running a successful organization.
However, times have changed. Once seen as a way of simply reducing the amount of work that HR professionals had to complete, HR tech is shaking up the role of HR in organizations across the globe.
What is HR tech?
HR tech is the software and hardware designed to make the job of HR professionals easier. It ranges from very specific tools such as payroll software through to all-encompassing software packages known as HRMS or Human resource management systems.
HR tech is used to make HR professionals lives easier, by enabling them to provide the best HR service for their organization.
The use of HR tech isn't merely limited to HR professionals. Business owners are finding it invaluable when looking at HR processes in order to streamline their companies' workflows. HR Tech allows employers to monitor HR activities from a great number of angles, including HR management, HR compliance and HR strategy.
HR tech is now available to all organizations in the form of cloud HR software. This means that HR professionals can access HR data from any location, at any time via an internet connection. Some cloud HR systems are extremely advanced, with built-in workforce analytics that pinpoint where HR interventions are needed. These data-led reports provide insight for forward thinking employers looking to use technology to better inform their decisions.
How has HR tech evolved over the past few years?
Think back to the start of the 21st Century and the technology used in HR was limited to say the least. Company-wide intranets were becoming popular in the early days of the 2000s, providing a one-way information flow to employees. Details such as policy updates, important documents and interdepartmental news might have been stored on a company intranet, but as with the internet, they were often slow and irregularly updated. A visit or phone call to HR was an easier option for anyone who needed information in a hurry.
But in recent years, HR tech has bloomed. As the ‘cloud’ became more commonplace, HR tech evolved to make HR portals more common. Now, employees can access the information that they need such as checking holiday allowance, requesting leave and updating personal information. By making life easier for employees and managers, HR are free to do other things.
Cloud-based HR tech means a more affordable solution for many organizations. Instead of relying on software which required costly licences and scheduled updates, cloud-based HR software provides an entire HR department with access to these tools. This allows for increased analysis and access to processes which can streamline workflows for HR.
HR Tech is even more widespread than HR portals and HR software. HR leaders are now beginning to use big data for workforce analytics, filling in the blanks that HR tech leaves behind. HR teams can use HR tech to analyze trends among their employees, allowing them to spot issues such as attrition rates and staff engagement scores.
These cloud HR systems allow HR professionals to make better decisions which benefit both the organization and its employees. They also provide proof of employment, reducing opportunities for fraud within organizations and providing an accurate audit trail of employee records.
Crucially, the uptake of cloud-based HR technology means that organizations can now function remotely, if and when their employees do so.
How did Covid-19 impact our use of HR tech?
The disruption of Covid-19 forced many organizations to review their working practices.
HR departments across the globe struggled to deal with enforced lockdowns and juggle the need to make redundancies or wait for government support such as furlough payments. HR tech provided the perfect tool at the perfect time thanks to its flexibility and ability to provide clear insight in the management of a newly remote workforce.
An unexpected benefit of Covid-19 was the proof that a remote workforce was a feasible option for many industries. HR tech has been core to this by allowing employees to stay in touch with crucial information, despite being away from the office. With a reduced workload, some organizations used this time to conduct training and professional development for their employees. Others used the tool to stay in touch with their workforce helping reduce the impact of isolation.
10 ways HR tech can help organizations
There’s little doubt that HR tech has proven its abilities in supporting remote work and analysis in times of crisis. But to limit HR tech to these two situations underplays the potential benefit that it offers.
A more strategic focus for HR
With HR tech in place, HR professionals can direct their energy to the activities that really matter such as strategic planning, culture building and dealing with employee grievances. Instead of dealing with paperwork and following up on missing data, the professionals in your HR department can put their efforts into more strategic activities which will truly benefit employees and the organization.
This means means that HR leaders can use technology to empower employees and provide a clear purpose. HR teams can use it to review current performance, pinpoint areas of excellence within the organization and identify where improvement is needed. HR professionals can also set goals which align with the organization's vision and values, establishing an HR strategy which engages employees and HR teams alike.
Human resources technology is a true asset in the war for talent. Using Applicant Tracking Software (ATS), HR can more easily identify the best candidates to attract and target them more effectively. It also allows for an easier and more satisfying recruitment process for candidates and the organization. This sends a positive message to candidates which may result in them being more likely to continue with the recruitment process instead of accepting a role elsewhere.
HR technology can also be used to organize effective reach-out campaigns, providing HR teams with a wider pool of candidates from which to choose. This allows HR professionals to build a strategy that will attract the best talent by engaging them in the recruitment process and ensuring that HR processes are streamlined.
Digital transformation can only take place with the right people in the right places. By providing tools to analyse and understand the best talent mix and create the right blend of skills, HR tech can play an important role in facilitating a smoother and more effective digital transformation.
Moreover, HR tech is playing a key role in HR transformation. HR teams are equipped with the tools to engage employees digitally, something that was previously unheard of. HR departments have evolved into digital HR teams that are able to use HR tech to increase engagement levels, improve employee experience and drive up productivity.
Cloud based information
HR tech opens the door to easier and more secure data storage and access. This can complement a flexible workforce and support hybrid and remote working by making it simple to access important files and data from any location. Instead of multiple and duplicated file locations, HR tech enables better version control making it easier to assure correct information at all times. Because it is often cloud-based, HR tech can support a multi-location organization – saving the need to duplicate files and expensive hardware and software.
HR tech is also scalable, allowing HR to be more responsive when hiring temporary or contract HR staff without the need for expensive retraining.
Although HR tech may not seem closely related to employer brand, it’s time to think again. By carefully using HR tech to improve and personalize the employee experience, employee engagement will improve. For instance, HR tech can be used to make the professional development process better tailored to employees and make it easier to access learning materials. Even simple details such as having the ability to check holiday or parental leave allowances and knowing that the correct details are on record mean a more satisfying experience for employees.
HR tech can also be used to build and maintain a positive company culture. HR tech that makes it easy for employees to make suggestions on how they can support company culture will result in happier and more productive staff.
Digital learning, training & development
HR tech tools such as Learning Management Systems make learning more flexible and easier to administer. Not only can L&D professionals keep all development materials in one location, but these systems provide greater flexibility for the modern workforce. LMS are ideal for hybrid teams because they work in any location. They’re also ideally suited to employees who work flexible hours as the employee can choose when to study. With digital learning tools, an organization can ensure training and development is easier to access and more convenient for employees. This makes it easier to ensure compliance and up to date training records. HR tech also makes it simpler to link digital learning with professional development plans and career paths. By linking an employee’s development plan and performance review with learning software, HR professionals can create a more cohesive employee experience that supports the overall organization’s business objectives.
HR tech tools such as HR analytics can provide invaluable insight into what is most effective for your team. HR analytics can increase the effectiveness of training strategies and guide HR professionals in how to work more effectively with activities that support learning. HR software can generate data on what specific areas employees need to work on and HR tech trends around digital learning mean HR professionals have the power to influence how training, development, and engagement are handled.
Simplify HR processes
With the correct planning, HR tech can simplify HR processes making life easier for employees and HR professionals. Employee self-service tools such as leave booking and personal data access make simple tasks more accessible for employees. HR tech also gives HR the opportunity to automate processes such as employee lifecycle management and payroll, which reduces the pressure on the team and ensures a more consistent approach to such processes.
HR tech can also help HR professionals save time. HR tech tools are quick to implement, with the benefit of lower implementation costs, making them both flexible and scalable. This means HR can spend more time on HR activities that require their involvement, such as training or developing talent management strategies, rather than focusing on technology concerns.
Improve workforce analysis
With easy access to measures such as employee retention, sickness absence and performance targets, HR tech makes it easier than ever for HR professionals to analyse the workforce. Because the data is so easy to review, it can be cut by department, demographic and even start date. This allows HR professionals to identify trends and measure the success of new policies. Data can even be used to understand the impact of a new manager. This can provide an indication of what is working and what is not, providing an opportunity for continuous improvement.
HR professionals can also analyse HR practices through benchmarking, which allows HR to identify areas for improvement and compare HR practice to what is best in class. HR managers can also analyse HR functions from a process perspective, for example identifying HR policy gaps and HR practice effectiveness.
Reduce HR costs
Modern HR tech can save an organization money in more than one way. Modern, cloud-based HR tech is often more cost-effective than older on-site forms of HR software. Instead of needing to purchase licences and pay for regular software updates, a regular fee will typically provide access to the full HR team without any interruption in service.
Once in place, HR tech will save the savvy HR team money by helping them work smarter and reduce costs. For instance, recruitment software will help a team identify the best places to advertise for new roles. This can reduce the cost of advertising and also shorten the recruitment cycle, yet another way of reducing costs. Another example is that of HR tech helping create a smoother and more cohesive onboarding process to increase new starter retention. When you consider the cost of recruiting an employee is estimated at $4,129, HR tech could quickly pay for itself simply by reducing employee turnover.
Enhance team collaboration
Thanks to the flexible nature of HR tech, it’s easier than ever for HR professionals to collaborate with other parts of the business. With meaningful data, HR can present hard facts to support their case for changes to policy or investment in certain areas. This in turn strengthens an organization by prioritizing investment in Human Capital.
HR tech can also help HR staff and business leaders collaborate more effectively on HR projects. HR teams benefit from social collaboration features that automate feedback, curate resources and support knowledge sharing.
HR technology has quickly become a major ally in supporting the role of HR as a strategic partner in modern business.
HR technology offers HR tools to approach their work with a broader perspective and develop greater HR insight that can be shared across the company. HR professionals who want to leverage HR technology need to have a better understanding of how it can help them do their jobs more effectively, whether it's for recruitment, people management, or workforce planning.
By providing measurable benefits for the HR department, employee and the business as a whole, HR tech has become an indispensable part of any successful forward-thinking organization.
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