HR Leaders: Staying High-Touch Through High-Tech

By Wendy Ryan, Founder & Principal, SJ Leadership Coach, LLC

Wendy Ryan, Founder & Principal, SJ Leadership Coach, LLC

As a leader in human resources, you’re charged with optimizing the employee experience and maximizing employee engagement in the organization, something that may be increasingly challenging in the digital age.

Technology brings efficiency into many areas of the organization, however it also reduces the need for human interaction when it comes to some of the day-to-day communication many of us are used to for transactional purposes. Instant messaging, online portals, intranets and email can make some in-person communication like roundtables, staff meetings and town halls seem obsolete.

Often it takes an extra effort for HR departments to be perceived as hands-on and high-touch while also embracing the online support and instant answers employees have come to enjoy. Rather than viewing technology as a strategy to reduce headcount in the most human of departments, what if HR leaders invested in technology with a goal to enhance the employee experience in new ways?

Reduce bias and cycle time for talent acquisition

According to a study by LinkedIn Talent Solutions, nearly half of HR departments struggle with sourcing and securing qualified candidates for hire in talent competitive markets. Technology like artificial intelligence-powered tools allow recruiters to contact and keep a higher number of prospects engaged throughout the process--keeping their interest high and experience positive.

In addition to increasing the number of qualified candidates in the pipeline technology can also help HR and hiring managers to make more bias-free hiring decisions while leveraging previously untapped talent pools.   

"Advances in automation and technology doesn’t need to mean a reduction in staff; it can mean better results for the HR department and leader-driven decisions that can positively impact the entire organization"

Connect the dots

Technology can generate significant amounts of data--on things such as financial performance, operational efficiency and your people. It’s easier to crunch numbers and monitor trends when you have the technology to do the heavy lifting for you. Using analytics to mine data sets - combining talent, financial and operational efficiency metrics enables HR leaders to make smarter investments at the program level for rewards, learning and development and employee engagement.  Most importantly, smart use of analytics can help HR leaders integrate “people first” thinking into enterprise-level strategy and decision making in more powerful and tangible ways. 

Increase effective communication

In large organizations with a distributed workforce, or in smaller organizations leveraging WFA (work from anywhere) approaches to attract and retain top talent, increasing the frequency and effectiveness of internal communication is often an imperative. Accomplishing this without adding HR or other staff is a huge upside from technology-enabled approaches. Today’s HRIS systems generate automatic push notifications to remind managers and employees about upcoming deadlines for payroll changes and benefits enrollment. This frees up HR staff time to focus on talent acquisition, employee relations or developmental program delivery. 

Outside of routine transactions, technology in organizations connects people to a wide array of different online and offline learning and career development resources.  And, they host platforms for real time collaboration on virtual teams. Everyone can be engaged at the touch of a button. 

Create more secure environment

Cybersecurity is a growing concern across all industries and sectors - from protecting intellectual property to employee information and sensitive customer data. A breach in one area can have a ripple effect that can cripple organizations. With security enhancements, human resources professionals can breathe a little easier knowing that appropriate measures have been put in place to protect all organizational stakeholders. Not only that, but secure digital files are easier to navigate when needed and can reduce physical storage requirements over time as the organization grows

Advances in automation and technology doesn’t need to mean a reduction in staff; it can mean better results for the HR department and leader-driven decisions that can positively impact the entire organization. It’s a matter of finding the solutions that work for the individual organization because, like talent, every organization has its own personality and culture.

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