From pen, paper and personnel files to online systems and strategic business partnering, HR has come a long way. Now, digitisation is bringing more change to the fore. And it’s empowering HR teams to better support organisational transformation.
We take a look at what digital technology means for human resources and how it’s already being used to shape strategy and impact operations. But first, if you aren’t familiar with digitisation and its impact on HR, here’s the gist.
Everywhere you look, digital technology is making an impact. Organisations quickly recognised the benefits that social, mobile, analytics and cloud technologies could bring when connecting with customers. And now HR is employing this tech to enhance employee interactions and make HR more efficient, connected and effective.
These goals aren’t new for HR teams. They’ve always been the focus. But digital technology provides a new way to achieve them.
Where Are You on the Digital Transformation Journey?
Renowned leadership and organisational author and professor, Dave Ulrich, believes HR digital transformation takes place in four stages:
Efficiency - organisations invest in and/or build platforms to help manage HR processes productively, often using existing providers.
Effectiveness - technology is used to upgrade people practices like performance management, work and communication.
Information - internal data is combined with external data, made accessible and shared to improve the way the business operates. People analytics are used to create relevant business insights.
Connection/experience - social networks are leveraged and experiences created through technology generating a strong sense of belonging.
Wherever your organisation is on the HR digitisation journey, it’s not enough to simply introduce and use digital technology. It needs to be implemented with a strategic goal in mind. And it must also align with culture, talent, HR structures and processes as well as providing a way to measure HR’s impact on organisational transformation. As we demonstrate with three HR outcomes enabled by digital technology.
1. Flexible Working
Whatever shape your flexible working policy takes - be it job sharing, part-time working, condensed hours, flexitime, working from home or a combination of all these options - tech takes the pain out of these arrangements. Cloud-based digital technology makes it possible to:
replicate employees’ desktops, access and work on files away from the office
collaborate on documents with a job-sharing partner or remote team members
communicate via video conference calls or messaging apps
Whether your teams are located in the same building or around the world, digital technology breaks down the barriers often erected by traditional IT systems. Enabling more effective working practices, improved collaboration and communication.
Digital platforms also extend flexible working practices to non-office based staff. Online systems that capture and automatically manage a range of shift patterns are now available. This enables employees to volunteer for overtime or swap shifts using their mobile phones, giving them more control over their work-life balance while reducing the time managers spend on rotas.
Insight From the Frontline
Olga Crosse is an experienced HR consultant who runs her own business, providing HR support to UK SMEs. She’s an advocate of using data to track and improve people management, which can have a significant impact on the bottom line as this story demonstrates:
“One of my clients found they had over £100,000 left over one year and couldn’t figure out why. What had changed was that they had started using data to track people’s absences and used that data to hold employees to account.
“Everyone was shocked, including the individuals, at how much time was being lost. Within 4 months they had £100,000 to play with because they didn’t need to hire contingent labour. This money was used to recruit extra staff resulting in less pressure on existing employees which translated into fewer sick days, increased productivity and less stress on managers. The business is now tackling lateness using - you guessed it - data.”
2. People Insight
Digital technology is brilliant for giving organisations the ability to understand what’s going on in the business. Large organisations use joined-up online platforms, like enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, to link data between departments. Providing leaders with an up-to-date overview of the enterprise.
HR has a part to play in this by taking people processes online. For example, digital platforms make it easy to complete performance, learning and development, pay and bonus reviews online. And they can feed data into other parts of the system so finance and payroll for example have what they need to inform their work.
Clear Review - software that enables regular performance and learning and development conversations
Spiralinks - is a compensation platform that can also feed human capital management systems sharing data with the wider business creating real-time oversight of pay and bonuses
Degreed - provides businesses with access to thousands of ready-made courses helping staff learn and develop for greater productivity with minimal effort
Not only does this make organisations more efficient but it also gives managers added accountability and HR the insight to identify issues and provide support. The result is a comprehensive data picture of the organisation and technology that makes it easier for people to connect and complete key HR processes.
3. Connected Employees
Digital has transformed the way we communicate socially and it’s also having an impact on internal communications. Enterprise social, like Teams, Yammer and Facebook Workplace, have democratised internal communications by enabling employees to share their views at an organisational level.
This is a brave - and for some - slightly scary new world where staff have more of a say. Two-way public communication enables employees to share both positive and negative workplace experiences. Which could pose a problem for organisations if left unchecked.
Firms that employ social media effectively assign somebody to stay on top of social media comments, tackling issues head on. Communicating in this way presents opportunities for the organisation to better understand and deal with employee concerns. And by being open and transparent, it’s a chance to build trust and connection.
The Digital HR Stats You Need to Know
Research from Deloitte shows that:
Only 29% of employees believe HR helps them perform better - digital monitoring, for example through pulse surveys or monitoring social platforms like Yammer, Jabber and Chatter, can help HR stay in touch and respond.
The average number of direct reports a manager has to look after has increased by 50% in a decade. Managers have reduced visibility leading 18% of employees to say their manager does not understand what their day-to-day work looks like. Digital technology that connects staff at all levels can improve communication and connectivity.
Wherever your organisation is on its digital transformation journey, taking a strategic approach to digital HR will power your people plans. Aligning and integrating platforms that help you work more effectively and efficiently as well as generating solid insights can only enhance HR operations. Bringing organisations and their people closer together through the power of technology.