How Technology is Helping HR Gain Influence with the C-Suite

By Thomas Hammond, Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Product Management, Paychex Inc.

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A transformation in HR technology has helped HR professionals take a more strategic role in the executive boardroom.

According to the 2017 Paychex Pulse of HR Survey -- the first installment of a three-year annual commitment to studying the latest trends in HR and technology -- there has been a shift away from traditional administrative duties as more HR leaders define their role as being a strategic partner to their organization.

In fact, 70 percent of HR leaders surveyed said they have a role in leadership conversations about the direction of their business. Forty percent meet with their CEO or CFO every week.

We uncovered HR trends that are leading to this important shift, as well as some challenges HR leaders are facing as more of them transition to become strategic partners within their organizations.

HR Funding is Increasing

It's difficult to address technology issues without a sufficient budget. We found that three-quarters of HR leaders expect a budget increase in the next year, while a third of them project an increase of greater than 10 percent.

Technology is Driving HR Effectiveness

While budgets are increasing, HR leaders are also seeing what three-quarters of survey respondents have confirmed: HR technology has enabled them to become more strategic and efficient on the job.

* More than 60 percent of respondents consider their technology to be very effective for payroll, retirement and benefits administration, and time and attendance tracking.

* More than 95 percent find their technology to be either somewhat or very effective for the full range of HR tasks, including onboarding, recruitment, performance management, and other administrative functions.

HR leaders are looking to make optimal use of their human capital. A substantial amount of time is being invested in human capital management, specifically in recruiting and developing employees. Tasks where the most HR leaders spend their time include:

* Building staff training and development programs (88 percent)

* Evaluating workplace productivity and efficiency (87 percent)

* Creating succession plans for key roles (76 percent)

* Engaging in C-suite discussions about new business initiatives (68 percent)

* Tracking and analyzing competitors' personnel moves (63 percent)

Companies are switching and upgrading their HR technology. As HR technology quickly evolves, HR leaders are working to keep pace. In fact, almost half of all survey respondents said they'd changed their HR technology solutions in the past 1 to 3 years.

Poorly integrated systems are minimizing productivity gains. However, as HR leaders try to hit that moving technology target, many have adopted point solutions rather than a single platform, which has created new challenges.

With only 23 percent of respondents using a single integrated HR suite, it's not surprising that manual rekeying of data is a common issue:

* 30 percent spend 15 to 29 hours per month rekeying data.

* 15 percent spend 30 to 50 hours per month rekeying data.

* 4 percent spend more than 50 hours per month rekeying data.

Analytical tools are becoming more important. As HR leaders take on more strategic roles within their organizations, the role of data analytics has followed suit. Eighty-six percent of respondents said analytics help them be more informed and objective. Their HR departments mostly use analytics to:

* Identify high-potential employees (61 percent), and

* Predict which employees might be flight risks (36 percent).

Still, analytics are underutilized. Only 40 percent of HR leaders use analytics predictively at least once per week, so there is much room for growth. The data is used more often for less strategic purposes. Half use analytics tools daily or weekly to provide recommendations for action, while most HR leaders, 57 percent, use descriptive analytics -- frequently looking at data summarized as charts.

Even when HR leaders rely on analytics, nearly half of all respondents said they weren't sure if they're leveraging the correct data.

HR leaders are in a good position. The 2017 Paychex Pulse of HR Survey showed that HR leaders have a positive view of how their function is seen within their organization. With new, powerful HCM technology -- in the case of Paychex, with the option of best practices from a dedicated HR professional -- HR leaders are poised to continue their strategic partnership with the C-suite.

To view the full 2017 Paychex Pulse of HR Survey, visit

Oct 2, 2017
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