The technology HR uses to onboard, manage, track and provide employee services is changing by the day and employee expectations around how they connect to and use these services has evolved to match what they expect from their experiences with the technology they use in their personal lives.
Research shows that the time for treating employees one way and customers another has gone. Employees expect the same type of experience at work as they get as consumers and doing so will help to keep them engaged, connected and productive. To get there, HR and IT have to work in concert with one another in creating a workplace experience that is consistent across a distributed workforce.
These days, there’s an app for everything, from tracking your calories to buying and selling stock. Now the HR function is using apps to perform a number of its core duties. What does this entail? It could range from an applicant tracking app that provides a complete view of the talent acquisition process to something as simple as managing time off requests.
In essence, IT teams are able to build apps that can help HR streamline performance management processes, manage org charts in real time and drive data-driven learning.
Customization is Key
The big thing on everyone’s minds these days is that organizations are different and as such, any solutions they seek out have to be tailored to their needs. Whether it’s structures, capabilities, goals or demands of their specific industry, every company has different needs when seeking out technology that can help it succeed.
The same goes for HR, but where HR and technology intersect isn’t something that HR professionals are necessarily prepared to own from a development standpoint. That will typically fall to IT functions, and this is an area where the two departments need to develop increased cross functionality and collaboration.
According to research from Salesforce, there’s a disconnect between worker expectations for technology and the reality. While 64% of IT leaders in Asia feel that technology maximizes employee engagement, employees ranked technology related issues as the top two factors that inhibit their engagement.
With this in mind, HR leaders and IT leaders need to bring their teams together around platforms that can help them customize their technology offerings. By building custom applications, businesses can create their own tools to drive success and gather the type of data they need to make informed decisions that impact employee engagement.
An example of how a business achieved this is Ranosys Technologies. The company started out with migrating from an outdated customer relationship management platform to Salesforce’s Sales Cloud. It wasn’t long before they realized that the platform was more than a typical CRM and could actually help them address longstanding issues with workflow management.
They went about building a series of apps including a recruitment management system, a workforce management system and a payroll management system. Analytics can be found via dashboards on a central platform that Ranosys built on Salesforce and named Ranosys Pulse. It’s now something at the heart of collaborative efforts within the company and has come to be known as their “single source of truth.”
The impact was significant. The company estimates that the recruitment management system increased HR efficiency by 30–40%, while the workforce management system improved resource allocation and reduced bench costs by almost 60%. Payroll was once a week-long process requiring three people to complete. Now, it takes a single person just one day to finish.
A Time for Flexibility
The current climate of the pandemic has meant that businesses have to be adaptable, flexible and capable of tackling the challenges that are inherent with employees having to work remotely. The flexibility piece is key to employee experience and engagement, and as a result, adoption of cloud based technology is a necessity rather than a luxury.
What cloud-based technology can do is vital for weathering the COVID-19 storm. A number of tools are now available that require limited coding expertise to create or maintain something like an application, meaning teams can work quickly in times of crisis.
Employees need to demonstrate flexibility as well in times of crisis. Apps that streamline skill assessment, talent acquisition, training exercises and performance management are all going to play a key role in the upcoming efforts to reskill and upskill the workforce. Their ability to be accessed with mobile technology, deliver a variety of content types and cultivate data that can show how these efforts plug into broader business goals, is critical.
Applications can serve a variety of purposes, but they are of little use unless they address the needs of their target audience and are used frequently. The research shows that employees want to engage most with apps that offer learning and development opportunities and collaboration with colleagues – two key areas that correlate with organizational adaptivity, resilience and helping employees achieve the flexibility that modern life requires.
Salesforce offers a low code environment so that people who aren’t software developers can create applications using reusable components which can be dragged, dropped and configured to create responsive apps. At the same time, Salesforce also offers development teams the opportunity to build custom applications from scratch using the Heroku platform. Either way, any applications developed can be integrated to share and use data from applications to improve the user experience.
The IT Challenge
As HR and IT explore new ways of working together, HR can support IT in the same way IT supports HR; by lending its expertise. While a majority of IT leaders believe that their teams are largely responsible for employee engagement, many feel disengaged or disconnected from the rest of the business.
According to IT leaders surveyed by Salesforce, two of the biggest challenges they face are IT being seen as a support function rather than a business partner and IT initiatives not being aligned with business goals. Few departments are better positioned than HR to help IT overcome these challenges, either directly or indirectly.
The biggest challenge they face, however, is a lack of staff with the right skills. Whether through recruitment or by connecting skill identification and assessment to learning and development opportunities, HR can help IT become more effective and efficient and thus, a better partner in developing solutions to HR’s biggest challenges.
As two functions that are vital to a positive employee experience, these two teams need to align with one another to create goals that center on improving the employee experience as a method of driving employee engagement. At a time when expectations are high, the influence of technology has never been greater and more substantial in keeping people connected. Through collaboration and the use of modern apps they can create, HR has the freedom and ability and to chart the organization’s path forward in ways that simply weren’t possible a decade ago.
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