Boosting HR's Evolution with Digital Transformation
Updated: May 7
By: The QuickReach Digital Transformation Team
From cost center to profit center, this evolution of human resources (HR) predicted several years ago is now unfolding and technological advancement is redefining almost all aspects of its function.
Automation serves as an integral part of the transformation and has become required and unavoidable like dribbling in basketball or kicking in football. In fact, according to Deloitte’s 2019 Human Capital Trends report which analyzes developments in global regions such as North America, Latin America, China, Japan, Asia Pacific, and India, what's happening is metamorphosis that involves organizations as a whole since it’s about HR teams taking up the dual challenge of transforming HR operations on the one hand, and transforming the workforce and the way work is done on the other.
How technology is changing HR's role into a value-added partner stems from automating its processes, streamlining administrative paperwork that gives HR managers more opportunities to focus on the department's core functions or higher value tasks like strategic HR processes which involve planning, HR-controlling, and reporting. Then there is recruiting, onboarding, competence and performance management, succession and development, learning management, and compensation/variable pay.
Insights in the survey called The State of HR Automation conducted in 2018 by HR.com and Iron Mountain, as published by B2C Marketing Insider, showed the top HR operations automated by the respondents across 397 enterprise organizations were payroll management (62 percent), benefits (58 percent), and time and attendance (56 percent).
Respondents reported that the most likely functions to be automated soon are onboarding (46 percent) followed by records management. Their organizations reported automation advantages such as above-average productivity, increased time for strategic planning, business initiatives, and internal consulting, ability to provide faster HR services, and reduction in the cost of providing HR services.
Respondents also preferred more automation (96 percent) to outsourcing operations (41 percent) to boost efficiency levels.
Acclaimed Global Industry Analyst Josh Bersin, in his talk at TechHR 2019, identified three seismic shifts in HR: first, during the year 2000, in the form of automating all the paper forms and bringing processes in a single integrated platform. The second shift is all about moving towards "cloud platform" where things got little better and faster (though HR got rid of some legacy systems, it still didn’t improve the employee experience). The third shift is mostly about elevating employee experience and it asks if we can buy technology that improves employee experience and engages them.
Best-selling author and Futurist Jacob Morgan noted that today's HR is relying heavily on technology to expand its role.
"Using new tools like big data and analytics, HR can better understand employees and make more strategic decisions, as opposed to the old role of using emotion and tradition to make decisions. Internal data is available on just about everything, from how employees are performing to how often they visit certain areas of the office. HR representatives use this data to find trends and create the best possible strategy and employee environment," Morgan wrote.
Morgan listed a few other ways HR is evolving, like:
- From hiring and firing to enabling, empowering, and creating experiences
- From the "police" of the organization to the coaches, mentors, and thought leaders
- From payroll, compensation, and benefits to employee experience
- From not defining strategy to shaping and leading strategy
- From no seat at the table to a key seat at the table
Below are details of some streamlined business operations in the HR department:
Automated Forms and Processing
Latest innovations in HR automation software help streamline time-consuming and laborious tasks such as timesheet tracking and performance management, and reducing risks of errors and inaccuracy by doing away with paper templates and forms.
There are cloud-based apps that can be integrated into the existing HR processes which provide HR forms and templates meant to help manage processes better. They even come with default features that allow users to design forms in accordance with their desired functions like adding formulas, produce monthly reports to scale process performance, among others.
Several companies even provide human resources information systems (HRIS) that send employee information and data directly into appropriate benefits and payroll systems.
Document management solutions have graduated from a fixed electronic form to a customizable one allowing companies to create their own document and self-serve portal very affordably. It is used for onboarding, applications or post-hire management.
The document management technology can comprehensively handle everything in a single solution. One can do training videos and even push policies and procedures out to people who work from home, with the self-serve portal allowing employees and/or managers to access certain information and make changes remotely.
Talent Management Software is also suggested to streamline a company's hiring process since it can post job advertisements, organize applications, and manage candidates. Rather than manually managing the process, the software can simplify the hiring process, as the information will be available in one place.
The use of anonymous online forms is likewise recommended in order to receive honest feedback from employees since many might be reluctant to discuss their thoughts and feelings with members of the HR department, fearing their comments will reach their boss. HR teams can use many free programs, such as Google Forms, which can anonymously compile feedback regarding the workplace, the company policy or a specific department.
Instead of just instinct and intuition, modern human resources specialists now do HR Analytics, or the use of data and algorithms to drive business solutions. Also known as talent analytics, the techniques involved are aimed to provide insight into how to best manage employees and reach business goals.
According to Visier People Analytics, HR analytics can help businesses make smarter decisions in areas such as the following:
- Using data enables HR teams to predict the risk of turnover by function, location, and position. Also, trained analytics professionals can use HR analytics as a method of “modeling the scenarios in advance to reduce the losses.”
- HR analytics can identify where the highest risk of turnover is, along with which individual employees are at risk. This information is useful because it arms HR professionals with knowledge related to resource allocation and training.
- Analyzing data can aid in building profiles concerning “which candidates are at risk for leaving prematurely and when” as well as the likelihood of decreased performance. In terms of new hires, HR analytics can identify which new hires will be high performers. This information helps determine “if they should be shifted into fast-track programs.”
- Among the most valuable applications of HR, analytics is modeling the changes that may be in the company’s future. HR teams can identify “what the impact of talent hiring, retention, and engagement could be.”
In fact, in a recent report published on HR technology news site HR Technologist, revealed healthcare executives see value in predictive analytics.
The use of predictive analytics within healthcare organizations is growing at a steady pace, and nearly two-thirds of executives say they are using the technology within their organizations, according to a recent survey from the Society of Actuaries.
Jackie Larson, president of health tech software company Avantas, reported that predictive analytics grew 13 percent from 2018, the survey of 200 providers and payer executives found. An additional 29 percent of executives, who say their organizations don’t currently use predictive analytics, plan to do so in the next one to five years. Reducing costs and improving patient satisfaction are the two reasons due to which most executives are using predictive analytics in their facilities. A whopping 92 percent of healthcare executives agree that predictive analytics tools are important to the future of their business, up 10 percent from the previous year.
Larson pointed out that staffing and scheduling is an area in which predictive analytics can have a dramatic effect.
"Thanks to advances in machine learning and related technologies, it has become possible to automate certain management functions in order to drive efficiencies and allow healthcare managers to focus on core competencies. Using predictive analytics, many healthcare organizations can now better forecast staffing needs well in advance of the shift. Creating more accurate schedules sooner results in a much more efficient and effective workforce with less expense and a lot less frustration for managers and staff," Larson explained.
Employees as Customers
Many experts agree that the best way to boost employee performance, to attract and retain them is to value them as customers -- a strategy known as "employee experience" (EX) and this can be done well by using technology as talent analysis tools.
Global industry analyst Josh Bersin said there has been an emergence of new technology and experience tools created for new-age companies that are digital savvy, innovative, creative and practice continuous learning. These tools are people analytics tools that can do organization-level network analysis, the well-being tool that can give you direct coaching and feedback, then there's the social recognition tools, goal sharing and KRs tools, and agile ongoing learning tools.
"These are much more than mere applications and should be seen as an important way to understand more about the employee experience. By using principles of design thinking and segmenting workforce to determine what are the important experiences that matter to them in their role," Bersin said.
Executives of global analytics and advice company Gallup taught HR can improve EX by becoming more agile. This means replicating the process of agility, as applied to customers wherein the customer is placed at the center of design and co-creating solutions based on customer input.
As HR well knows, according to Gallup advisers, the employee experience needs mapping, analysis, and optimization just as much as the customer experience does. Then, with the addition of principles from design thinking, a human-centered problem-solving method that involves creativity, experimentation and empathy -- HR can use the data gleaned from employees just as scrum teams do for customers.
Preparing HR for the Future
Amid all the rapid disruptions happening in the labor market, there is "a need for HR to be more strategic and analytical, leading the business with evidence-based decisions," according to Cathy Acratopulo, co-founder of UK-based consultancy firm LACE Partners.
She suggested that HR professionals must develop effective leaders who can manage in an increasingly agile, networked way and connect with people to create an engaging workplace, while also dealing with increasing complexity. This can be facilitated by building a culture that involves meaningful work, helping people develop and grow their skills, especially in the fields of increasing regulation, growth or cost reduction.
In its new report, LACE Partners delves into how the HR function must change with the times:
- Stop navel-gazing, pandering to line managers, reacting to business whims and working in silos
- Start strategically acting on how businesses need to compete. This is more than having a people plan aligned with business strategy. Real impact comes from understanding who the critical drivers of business value are and measuring HR's return on investment through data and insight.
- Continue being curious and challenging the status quo, really partnering with the business and supporting commercial change.
While data and the use of innovation can be a catalyst for all this, however, Acratopulo warned that firms should not assume technology will solve everything. Ultimately, she concluded, it is a matter of culture, stating professionals must “become the catalyst of change and stop focusing on your comfort zone.”
QuickReach takes HR to greater heights
QuickReach can help you to boost productivity and efficiency in the HR department that ultimately improves satisfaction among employees. Not only does it revamp ways of doing business in HR, but in finance, office admin, and IT, too. QuickReach's built-in templates and easy-to-configure drag-and-drop visual interface allow you to deploy the first digital process in a matter of minutes!