Q&A on HR Technology

Thursday, September 1, 2016
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Q: What's the one HR-technology solution today that is most transforming HR departments?

A: It's so hard to choose a single technology that is transforming HR departments. We're experiencing a confluence of transformative technologies -- mobile, machine learning, social networking -- all of which come together to drive engagement and enablement across the business.

While all of these technologies are powerful on their own, they become truly transformational when they are seamlessly joined together and powered by transactional data. For example, if an organization wants to enable continuous performance management, employees and managers need to be able to update goal statuses, check in after a one-on-one conversation and request feedback, all from a mobile device.

Continuous performance management also needs to be personal, reflecting that the system (and by extension, the organization) knows who its employees are, where they are in their careers and so on. It needs to be one step ahead of employees, using machine learning to deliver personalized recommendations -- their best career options, what they need to learn to develop skills and who they should connect with to be more effective in their current positions.

Lastly, when employees and managers are able to use social features -- such as comments, likes and shares -- to quickly provide feedback and guidance, the whole performance management process becomes more transparent. If each of these technologies stands alone -- different mobile apps for different functions or processes, machine learning operating outside of the transactional system, and a separate enterprise collaboration tool for social -- then they're nothing more than a disjointed and confusing group of applications. But when HR departments use a seamless system that unites mobile, machine learning and social capabilities, managers can better understand who their employees are and how to encourage them to develop and explore additional career opportunities in the organization.

Q: Going forward, what areas should HR leaders be focusing their HR-tech investments on to secure the best bang for the buck?

A: To be transformational, HR should be investing in technologies that unify core HR transactional data -- such as employee-lifecycle events -- with mobile, machine learning and social technologies. By creating a seamless experience -- one that transforms the system of record into a system of engagement -- HR will be able to harness its data and enable the business to grow. Enablement is about surfacing new possibilities -- making it possible for employees to explore career opportunities without leaving the company, making it possible for the system to deliver proactive recommendations that drive engagement, making it possible for managers to understand and mitigate retention risks, and making it possible for HR to enable and empower rather than manage and control.

Q: In implementing new HR-technology solutions, what are the specific best practices HR leaders should be employing to ensure that those implementations go smoothly and successfully?

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A: First and foremost, HR leaders need to understand the shift from a system-of-record to a system of engagement. A system-of-record is just that -- it records transactions such as hires, transfers, promotions, terminations, organizational changes, personal data changes and so forth.

A system of engagement uses all of that rich transactional data to make intelligent recommendations such as providing employees with career options or alerting managers about employees who might be likely to leave. HR leaders need to make sure that the system they deploy is not simply a tool for the HR department to use, but is also accessible, usable and meaningful to all employees across the globe.

By choosing a technology that is simple to use, has an engaging and delightful user experience, and encourages exploration, HR leaders will win champions across the business -- not just in HR.

This means they need to not only involve HR practitioners in the deployment, but also employees, managers and leaders. And they need leadership from within the organization to champion the project and to openly and publicly embrace the new technology.

Lastly, HR leaders need to ensure that the system they deploy is built for change so that they can respond to organizational transformations -- quickly incorporating an acquired company, nimbly changing business processes as economic conditions fluctuate and seamlessly reflecting different global requirements.


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