Five Resolutions for 2014
With the start of a new year comes a great chance for HR leaders to break some bad HR technology habits and open the door to some opportunities.
By Steve Boese
It's that time of year when many of us pause to take stock of the past year and to look ahead.
Naturally, many of us will take this time to set some goals for the new year ahead, including (at least for me) things such as consuming less coffee, Diet Coke, sitting through fewer disappointing New York Knicks basketball games, and consuming more vegetables, granola and TV shows that don't have the word swamp in the title.
But it also is entirely appropriate to make some professional and organizational resolutions as well. Just as the start of a new year provides us the opportunity to launch new personal or fitness goals, it also gives organizations the ability to start new projects or reinvigorate stalled ones, explore the use of new technologies, and even set a new course.
And in the corner of the world that is the concern of this column -- HR technology -- there are plenty of resolutions that you can make to maximize the technologies you are currently using.
So here are just a few HR Tech-centric New Year's resolutions to mull over as 2014 gets going:
Clean Out the Closets
We all know it's a great feeling to start the new year with a clean house, car, garage or desk. Once you are free of all the mess and everything is in its place, you kind of feel reinvigorated and ready to take on whatever comes next.
The same holds true for the systems we use at work to get work done. So start 2014 by taking an inventory of the tools and technologies in use - as well as those on your shelves - in order to sort out which ones may not "fit" any longer, as well as ensure that you head into the new year with less clutter and more clarity. It could be that even the process of inventorying all the systems, licenses and subscriptions you have accumulated over the years will actually reveal some hidden value that you never realized you had, or perhaps had forgotten about.
Break a Bad Habit
As I mentioned earlier, many personal New Year's resolutions center around dropping a habit that is clearly bad for you, your health and your well-being, and it always seems easier to stop these kinds of things once the fun and parties of the holidays are in the rear-view mirror.
In a similar vein, you may want to also take a closer look at where your HR technology "habits" might not be serving you or your organization so well as you enter the new year. It could be that "shadow system" of employee information that you maintain outside of the company's HRIS, or it could be that antiquated process for extracting, parsing, compiling and manually distributing monthly HR reports that you know need to be updated, but that you continue to keep in place year after year because everyone knows the old process so well.
Fix That Leaky Faucet
All of us have something we really should take a few minutes to fix, but, for some reason, it never gets to the top of our priority list. It could be that pesky drip in the kitchen sink or the window shade that won't seem to lower all the way. But while we often recognize the problem, we frequently feel like it's something we can live with and move on to something more pressing.
As a result, these little problems don't get fixed, and, if ignored for too long, they can often turn into larger ones down the road. For HR technology, this almost always means data problems.
Back when I was running HR technology on the corporate side, there always seemed to be a few "bad" records out there: a missing or incorrect employee ID code here, an incorrect location there, an improper classification of someone's worker type somewhere else. Since they were all (relatively) minor issues, and something more important was always trumping the correction of these issues, lots of them persisted for way too long. If I could wish one New Year's blessing upon you for 2014 it would be this: 100-percent clean HR data!
Make a New Friend
At the start of a new year, many folks resolve to get out of the office more or attend more social events and networking opportunities. But, just as with many other well-intentioned ideas, this one often gets blown up by the more-pressing and practical concerns.
Here's the thing, though: If you actively plan to connect in the professional community more frequently in 2014, and, more importantly, update your calendar to reflect these plans, then you have a much better chance for making them happen.
I will even get you started: First, book 20 minutes on your calendar each week to read and (hopefully participate in) our HR Technology ® Conference LinkedIn group. Next, block or at least place a tentative hold on your calendar for the 17th annual HR Technology ® Conference in Las Vegas from Oct. 7 to 10.
All too often, New Year's resolutions fall by the wayside sometime around mid-March -- mainly because too many of them are a form of punishment. Stop doing this, eat less of that, don't stay up too late and so on.
But if a resolution was actually fun, it might have a chance of sticking until at least the summer! For the HR technology equivalent, I would recommend finding that one real sticking point or recurring nuisance in 2014 (it might even be a small thing, but it drives you crazy each month or quarter) and focus time and resources on applying technology in that area to solve it. It could be HR case management, it could be reference checking, maybe even something more fundamental such as PTO management, but where there is pain, there is opportunity.
So there you have it: five shiny New Year's resolutions for you and your organization to consider in 2014.
Now, of course, we all know no one can stick to all their resolutions -- otherwise, we would not have to repeat the process year in and year out. But I think if you can stick to one or two of these in 2014, you will be ahead of the game, and you may even feel a little less guilty when it comes time to make next year's list.
Steve Boese is a co-chair of HRE's HR Technology ® Conference and a technology editor for LRP Publications. He also writes an HR blog and hosts the HR Happy Hour Show, a radio program and podcast. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.