HR professionals have always been treated as laggards when it comes to understanding business or Technology. While things have been changing in the last decade, however, it is still not even. It might have happened in pockets and in so-called progressive companies, but many companies are still comfortable working on stand-alone systems, good-old excel files, manual personal files and paper forms.
On the contrary, forces at play in the environment today have been continuously transforming the world as we know it. We are no longer living in a stable and consistent environment. Change is the only ‘constant’ and the ‘new normal’! Wealth and power are being redistributed and stability and economic certainty now seem like long lost relatives. The business landscape and the ‘rules of the game’ are being rewritten by intense competition, disruptive technologies and new entrants with surprising business models.
Rising life expectancy is increasing generational diversity in the workplace and forcing us to rethink how we manage across multiple age groups. Rapidly evolving social behaviours and attitudes also mean the needs and expectations of an increasingly global talent pool are constantly changing. Some of the traits that define today’s Millennial generation (those born between 1980-1999) are:
- “Millennials are more caring, community oriented, promote self-branding and are politically engaged than previous generations”- This generation has mastered self-expression, with majority creating a profile on a social networking site, or posting a video of themselves online, or having one to six tattoos, or piercing in some place other than an earlobe.
- “Computers are not technology for them” –Computers, Mobiles, the Internet, and the ‘www’ are as much a part of Millennials’ lives as telephones and television were to previous generations.
- “Doing is more important that knowing”- Knowledge is no longer perceived to be the ultimate goal (the shelf-life of information is so short). Results and actions are considered more important than the accumulation of facts.
- “Multitasking is a way of life” – Millennials are comfortable engaging in several activities simultaneously. Working on their assignments with music in the background while talking or texting on their cell phone is typical of how Millennials get through the day.
- “They want changes to happen real time”- Millennials were raised in a just-in-time, service-oriented culture. They expect and demand quick turn-around in today’s 24×7 culture and do not easily accept delays.
Despite these evident expectations of the new age workforce, still if some HR professional like to dig their head in the ground like an ostrich and ask the Question-“Why at all we need to focus on Technology?, then only they will be responsible for their own decline. Comments like “The huge investment might not be worth it and our organization at this juncture might not be able to afford” shows a short-term myopic mind-set.
There could several reasons for their apathy and neglect of Technology. Either the HR professional does not care, or he/she has tried but failed and resigned to the fate. While former could be a mind-set issue, however, latter could be more of competency issue, rather than the often-repeated excuse of the readiness of the organization or it CEOs to adopt HR technology. Latter could be primarily because the proposal may not have been taken up appropriately with ROI and the numerous tangible and intangible benefits that follow on adoption of the new Technology.
Gone are the days when big budgets and huge investments in Technology used to be the main issue and its affordability the main concern. Enter the World of “Cloud” and “Software as a Service” (SAAS) models, where, you pay for a service and not invest your precious resources in purchase of hardware and software.
Adopting technology in HR helps the organization immensely in several areas, including improving employee experience, democratization of the workplace, making things transparent and “real-time”, integrating data from disparate systems, reducing HR administrative time, helping HR to become a strategic business partner and most importantly, REDUCE COST!
Some of the trends that are shaping the workplace of today are as follows:
- Workplaces of all types are becoming increasingly defined and differentiated, and their outcomes determined by technology.
- HR is becoming a Data-driven discipline
- Social recruiting is evolving
- Modern recruiting has become more like modern marketing
- Technology is enabling communication and reinforcement of company culture
- Increasing use of analytics into Talent decision processes
- Movement to cloud for Core HR/Payroll continues
- Seamless workflow enabled performance management, reward and recognition systems, onboarding, training and assessments
- Big Data working to predict attrition, candidate success, and more
If we look at the Workplace 2020 predictions, then at least 3 things are very clear-
- Routine and transactional HR activities will downsize and get outsourced
- Strategic thinking and partnering with the business will be the order of the day
- Managing and working through virtual and remote workforce will be the new norm.
Looking at the above, even a novice can figure out that technology is becoming one of the most influential enabler of HR in the future. With the new age population and their new emerging needs, adoption of Technology is no longer an option; rather, it is a business imperative to attract, develop and retain talent. Without it, we will soon lose our relevance and our jobs too!