How joined-up HR tech can boost productivity
The world of work has changed forever. The last two years have given so many of us time to reflect on this statement and what it means for us as individuals. For the HR function, any period of self-reflection has likely included ways in which the growth and application of HR technology is affecting the way we do our jobs and how we interact with our colleagues. As employers have had to find new ways to create engaging and collaborative work experiences, we are seeing growing numbers of organisations using HR technology to support everything from recruitment processes to well-being initiatives and beyond.
Research by the CIPD on technology and the future of work reported how advances in technology are presenting new opportunities for HR professionals to free themselves from routine low-value tasks and focus on more complex human-centred activities. As HR systems have become more sophisticated, with self-service options for employees, digital learning platforms make collaboration and knowledge sharing across dispersed workforces easier than ever. With better reporting tools, people professionals are increasingly expected to use people analytics as part of an evidence-based approach to solving organisational problems.
Before the pandemic, research by McKinsey described how next-generation automation technologies were set to become the biggest workplace disrupter. The McKinsey Global Institute predicted that around 56 per cent of typical ‘hire-to-retire’ tasks could be automated with current technologies and limited process changes, resulting in potentially significant cost-savings – among them, applicant tracking systems (ats) that select the most suitable candidates for job interviews, automatic assignment of annual leave days based on employee requests, and always-on chat agents that can answer questions instantaneously and be available on employee phones.
It's not just about saving time and money
Of course, HR Technology is and must be about more than saving time and money. As HR and Reward professionals, we know that employee engagement is a critical activity of the HR function. The potential risks of disengagement, isolation, and loneliness among employees, especially those working remotely, have been well-documented since the pandemic began. While some employees have fully embraced the opportunities offered by remote or hybrid working, it is not the same story for everyone. Nevertheless, using digital tools to help employees feel more connected to their colleagues and organisations generally is here to stay and can provide new and engaging ways to help employees feel supported and promote collaborative working. Applications such as Amplify provide a platform to employees, enabling them to access a variety of information and help-line assistance about their benefits alongside access to learning and development tools, employee well-being advice and support and meaningful ways to recognise their peers.
We can be left with no doubt that technology has had a huge impact on how work is now being done. It has resulted, it is argued, in significant gains for organisations including increased employee productivity and a healthier bottom line, and the ability to connect with employees across multiple platforms. For HR, technology can also support in creating a more collaborative approach to how the function works day-to-day as information can be shared more easily across different departments.
But is there an ethical question ….?
When thinking about the rise of Artificial Intelligence and automation in the workplace, ethical considerations inevitably spring to mind. Some of the concerns we have been hearing include increased monitoring of employees, the loss of human interaction and the potential elimination of certain kinds of work, although it is also argued that new technologies can lead to more and better-quality jobs.
The CIPD has stated that ‘people professionals need to act as “critical friends” as well as the main stakeholders to ensure technology strategies are people focused’. In other words, technology should not just be implemented for technology’s sake. It must be aligned with the needs of organisations and their employees.
The CIPD has further highlighted the importance of AI regulation and the need for a framework that covers the safe use of technologies. The UK is currently someway behind the European Parliament, which in 2020 was among the first institutions to put forward recommendations on what AI rules should include with regards to ethics, liability and intellectual property rights. The legislative initiative proposed that future laws should be made following several guiding principles including a human-centric and human-made AI, safeguards against bias and discrimination and respect for privacy and data protection.
What does it mean for the skills gap?
The 2022 Global Digital Skills Index reported that collaboration technologies are now viewed as the most important digital workplace skill for workers over the next five years. The survey draws on responses from over 23,000 employed and prospective employees across 19 countries on their perceived readiness to acquire and retain the digital skills needed to succeed in the workplace, now and in the future.
Over three-quarters of respondents to the survey do not feel ready to operate in a ‘digital-first’ world, although only 28% are actively involved in digital skills learning and training. The global digital skills gap is undoubtedly a concern, but as the survey concludes, it also presents a real opportunity as the demand for employees with digital skills has grown so significantly.
It also puts the spotlight firmly on the HR function. A recent report by Sage asked a selection of HR leaders about some of the key trends likely to be shaping the role of HR in 2030. As one HR leader comments: ‘HR technology is moving from “good to have” to “essential to survival”. The issue that HR leaders must tackle is managing all this technology in the most effective, efficient and streamlined way’.
Are you using HR tech to best effect in your organisation? If not, our HR tech platform, Innecto Digital, might be the answer you are looking for! Our suite of Reward solutions - including Evaluate, PayLab, Advance and Amplify - have been designed for HR, by HR, providing reassurance to employees and line managers, adding credibility to the HR strategy in the boardroom, engaging your people to produce results, and delivering a better ROI for your pay pot. If you would like to know more, download our brochure here, or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org).