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Let's Be Real: Your HR Technology Might Not Be Cutting It

Monday, October 2, 2017
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Our world is full of amazing digital experiences -- Uber, Instagram, Snapchat, Airbnb and Amazon, to name a few. And once we're exposed to these great interactions, we come to expect the same experience across the board. In fact, we demand it. So why do we think that changes when our people walk through the office door? It doesn't.

Time to Get Real

Despite some important exceptions, when you look at the advancements made with SaaS and moving to the cloud, most other HR technology just doesn't measure up. According to Alight Solutions 2017 Workforce Mindset study, only 42 percent say their employer's HR systems are effective and only 41 percent believe HR systems and platforms are easy to use.

So how do we get HR tech to get with the times? Consider approaching HR tech like consumer tech, with equal weight between strategy, design and functionality. Easier said than done. So the question we should be asking is, "How do we translate the user-centric approach to HR tech?"

Be Human

First, let's stop using "buzzwordy" terms like "consumer experience" and "design thinking" -- and then proceed to create the same old programs and experiences that only leave us talking to ourselves. And employees frustrated.

"We need to be more personal, meaningful and human," says Eric Schroeder, product design and strategy leader at Alight Consumer Experience. "And move from looking at consumers or users, and orient around the idea of understanding the needs of human beings. Create things that are meaningful to them first, and then fit our business needs and drivers into their world."

Human needs can include managing a chronic condition, figuring out a way to save for the future or mapping out a career journey.

The good news is that we don't need the "shiny" Apple-like bells and whistles to bring HR technology into the 21st century. We just need to make a general shift in how we think about technology. Because it's not even about technology, really. At the end of the day, it's all about the human experience -- and the approach to creating it. Keep it simple. Make it smart. And put users at the heart of it all.

Make it Personal

Think about websites and apps you love. Chances are, they needed to know something about you in order to create a more relevant and meaningful experience.

Everything from your zip code to your favorite coffee order. And YOU gave them that information. Willingly. In fact, that made you "part owner" of the experience curated just for your party of one.

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Don't be afraid to get employees involved in creating their HR tech experience. Most are willing to offer up personal information in return for something worthwhile. Especially if the technology is "smart" and becomes more personalized as more information is shared.

"Two-thirds of employees are willing to provide more personal information to their employer for more personalized guidance," says Ray Baumruk, research and insights leader at Alight Consumer Experience. "When they are assured of security and obtain real and relevant value, they are willing to share personal information with employers. This is especially true among millennials."

Channel Your Audience

In the HR world, we have the advantage of speaking to a fairly captive, committed audience. But that only goes so far. We need to start treating employees like real people -- where attention spans are short and our time is incredibly valuable. But if we begin to act like a consumer brand, our built-in advantage becomes even stronger.

Begin by developing personas -- so you can design for a person you know -- not a "target" or a "demographic." Give them a name, speak to people as an "audience," and in a way they'd like to be spoken to.

Keep it Simple, Silly

So let's get real and acknowledge HR technology has to be better. But remember to keep it simple. Make sure it's human, personal and meaningful. Be empathetic to the pain points of employees and design for them. Let the user experience lead and guide you every step of the way. And challenge yourself to raise the bar and help HR tech make the cut. 

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