Transforming HR through Technology

July 26, 2017

Transforming HR through Technology

While standing in line the other day, I heard the question, “How do you like working in HR these days?” Her response? She was enjoying her job more than ever because her company had invested in technology that enabled her team to automate most of their administrative work and reduce a large percentage of employee questions that they could now find themselves using their new service delivery program. She and her colleagues could now focus on more strategic work and drive business goals. In short, she felt like she was now working for a modern company rather than one stuck in the dark ages.

HR leaders must think about their technology landscape in a whole new way and go beyond the traditional core HR systems.

I’d heard enough to confirm that I am on the right track. From my experience working as an HR leader and heading a significant HR service delivery transformation, I know what the right technology can mean to an HR team and the careers of those in HR. I’ve also seen first-hand what it means to move HR from the backroom to the boardroom. This conversation was more evidence that HR is still burdened with repetitive admin work—work that perpetuates its state as that of a cost center rather than a value center.

The lights-on manual work that so many HR teams continue to spend their days managing will not allow their organizations to keep pace and remain competitive for talent. In fact, this work serves to keep HR in the backroom. HR should be focusing on building the workplaces of the future, but when they are spending 60 percent or more of their work week answering emails, responding to the same questions, or manually processing forms, there simply isn’t enough time to dedicate to innovation. As a result, HR leaders are often forced to seek approval to increase their own talent acquisition to keep up with the workload. Those unable to get approval to hire end up with significant employee burnout. In both cases, these organizations are left with a less than optimal employee service experience.

HR leaders must think about their technology landscape in a whole new way and go beyond the traditional core HR systems and consider new ways of managing work across the enterprise. The good news is that HR can move from the backroom to the boardroom to influence the future of work. Here are the top three things they need to focus on as a priority:

  • Improve service levels. HR leaders should spend time with their HR teams especially those on the frontline talking to employees and responding to their emails every day. For a few weeks, have them track the employee questions they answer and then ask yourself if there is a better and faster way to get accurate and reliable answers to employees. Must these questions be answered by someone in HR or would it be more efficient and a better experience if employees could get their own answers and not be dependent on HR?
  • Invest in technology. Do your research and look for the technology solutions that will help eliminate or significantly reduce email as the primary way for HR to interact with employees. Ensure you select a solution with a well-developed knowledgebase workflow as this is the key to ensuring employees have more direct access to information and HR isn’t stuck responding to the same questions over and over again.
  • Look beyond HR. Focus your attention on the enterprise and not just HR as you select a solution that will enable you to automate workflows and minimize manual busy work not only in HR but also in departments beyond HR. One of the most common mistakes HR leaders make is selecting technology with a limited scope rather than a platform that extends across an enterprise and automates end-to-end employee processes like onboarding and employee transitions.

There is a way for HR to move to a value center that is responsible for creating an innovative, modern workplace of the future—if it is ready to meet the challenge that will help to elevate the profile of its team.

The Authors: 

Jen Stroud is ServiceNow's HR evangelist, helping customers simplify and improve their HR services. Previously, she was the executive director of Human Capital Services at TeleTech. In that role, Jen led an enterprise HR transformation initiative for its more than 45,000 employees, transitioning the company from a decentralized HR support model to a shared services operating model. You can reach her on Twitter @Stroud_Jen.