How technology can help HR move from admin to strategy
WHILE most employees don’t engage with human resources (HR) staffers beyond their appointment, onboarding, leave requests and payroll, there’s a whole bunch of functions that HR professionals perform.
Technically speaking, HR people have their tasks split into three buckets — administrative, operational, and strategic.
Although trained similarly, HR professionals have traditionally branched into one of these areas as part of their career progression, headed the function, and reported to the Chief HR Officer (CHRO).
With technology — that’s about to change — allowing all HR personnel to make a larger contribution to the organization’s people strategy.
Administrative tasks need to be allocated to machines
Those currently engaging in administrative tasks, for example, can immediately see technology making an impact on their everyday lives.
Some of the administrative tasks such as managing leave requests and answering payroll questions can actually be delegated to a chatbot that is online and available 24-hours a day, delighting the new generation of workers.
Other administrative tasks, such as reimbursements and updating employee records can be automated using robotic process automation (RPA).
Since RPA is usually affordable, quick and easy to implement, and eliminates human error almost immediately, it can be a boon to HR teams as well as their wider organizations.
Once most of the administrative HR tasks are automated, it might make sense to have an HR professional assigned as the governance or audit manager of all the automation to ensure that deviations from standards are spotted and remedied early on, and new efficiencies are brought in as more task automation data is collected.
Use technology to drive operational efficiencies
Operational tasks of the average HR professional include recruitment and selection, training, and reporting and analysis.
Although it’s nearly impossible to entirely automate any one of these tasks or functions — at least with the technology available in the market today — there are parts of these tasks that technology can make simpler, smoother, and more efficient.
As HR people aim to free up more of their time to help their organization with human capital demands for digital transformation goals, they must explore how technology can lend a hand with operational tasks.
# 1 | Recruitment and selection
Technology can help HR people with recruitment and selection. We’ve been seeing interesting solutions that help review CVs using artificial intelligence (AI), interview candidates using virtual reality (VR), and even analyze video interviews via machine learning (ML).
While people sometimes seem concerned that technology could bring in biases, they’re essentially biases that recruiters have anyway (and have taught to machines) — so experts argue that till biases can be done away with completely, proceeding with technology-based recruitment and selection solutions is a good idea.
Over time, as data is collected, machines could learn from it and get rid of the bias, slowly.
# 2 | Training
In the modern era, training is often delivered on e-learning platforms, on desktops and mobile.
Recruiters, therefore, must also shift their focus to scheduling, delivering, and reporting on training via technology platforms.
Truth be told, modern e-learning platforms do much of the job that HR professionals are operationally required to do with regards to training, even flagging candidates that don’t take exams themselves (tracking keystrokes and cursor speeds to profile users).
# 3 | Reporting and analysis
HR professionals create dozens of reports every quarter and provide many kinds of analysis to different kinds of managers.
Some of the reporting is bound by regulations and hence, bringing in technology to automate its compilation is a good idea as it can remove human errors which could prove costly to revise in the future.
Other forms of reporting and analysis are to help managers gauge performance — which is something that is definitely seen as high value and is a good use of HR people’s time.
Getting strategic with HR
When machines support HR people with administrative and operational tasks, human professionals will have time and energy to better empathize with employees, think out of the box, and provide better overall support to the CHRO and the board in their journey to digital.
In terms of strategic HR functions, professionals must explore new workflows and business models for the digital age, think out of the box in order to attract better technology and non-technology talent, and engage with employees and stakeholders in more meaningful ways.
At some companies, for example, HR teams are exploring the use of new workspaces to fuel creativity and collaboration among teams.
HR teams are also studying how traditional companies could tap into talent in other parts of the world for short-term projects but work remotely instead of sponsoring a visa (remote teams can be formed instantly, while visas often take months or even years).
Overall, it’s not that HR teams should explore the use of technology. They must. If they want to help their business drive into the new era of capabilities and possibilities, HR must leverage technology to be strategically focused.
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