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We now live in a world where technology drives everything – from automation to machine learning every industry is trying to make their organisation more tech-driven. Traditionally, HR is not the first area of an organisation that is slated for digitalisation or technology upgradation. The perception of HR is it’s the area where salary decisions are made, people get hired or fired and where team building sessions are organised. But with the times, HR is also becoming more and more technology-enabled. But the integration of technology surely doesn’t mean that it replaces manpower. The whole challenge, in fact — both for the organisation and HR team — is how to ensure technology doesn’t replace people indiscriminately.

Most companies today offer web-based access to process intensive HR services like payroll, leave management, attendance tracking, HR policies and so on. The Covid pandemic has necessitated HR to move beyond simple automation to adopt more technology tools suitable to remote working and systemise it. Organisations must determine how to use technology to transform their HR practices. The goal is to optimise time, ensure a better quality of output rather than focusing only on the speed of delivery. Often, HR technology integration fails because there is no organised coordination; technology teams are unfamiliar with HR functions, and HR teams know how to deal with people matters but are not sure how technology can help. Therefore the right collaboration is key.

Here are some of the areas in technology that can boost HR functions:

Automation and HR:

HR has the reputation of having highly manual processes. But automation increasingly affects workforce strategy. Organisations have always feared that automation will make people redundant. However, it drives advancement not by eliminating jobs but by eliminating particular job functions which may be time-consuming or which may be prone to mistakes, involves data collection and management or where there is high exposure to risk. If envisioned and implemented through this approach, it will reduce the number of generalist employees conducting mundane tasks, including HR generalists. One example of automation is the increasing use of chatbots for communication. Using this, HR teams are freed up to focus their time on catering to the more sophisticated needs of employees like employee development or career management.

Benefits of automation:

-Automation generates a lot of savings as it eliminates errors, reduces the time to perform a certain task and reduces the need for a large number of employees to perform the same function.
-Correct automation allows you to easily identify inefficiency points and delays, which can be corrected immediately.
-It will also help HR expand the potential and use of analytics to improve employee engagement that will in turn reduce attrition.

IOT (Internet of Things) and HR functions:

HR managers traditionally monitored employee activities through observation by using feedback forms, or by integrating monitoring software in computers. But, such methods of monitoring cannot provide an accurate and objective assessment, which can lead to miscommunication and reduced employee engagement. These days they can track employees’ work, behaviour, activities and comfort almost in real-time, to make an accurate assessment. Shifting towards the use of IoT in HR management can provide more precise information. HR needs to understand and leverage the mine of data on people that comes from IoT, which will help management take strategic decisions.

Benefits of IoT:

-IoT would enable HR to create a flexible workspace, and manage work through mobile and wearable devices.
-Employee wellness has become even more critical now and this can be monitored and measured on an ongoing basis through the same technology.
-Better connectivity with IoT devices helps in fostering a digital culture where managers and employees can connect frequently, offer feedback and improve skills.

Gamification & HR:

As far as HR is concerned, some of the most common applications of gamification is in recruitment and employee engagement. Specially designed games to assess job candidates, and quizzes or game-based activities to support internal talent development and team building are some areas where gamification is gaining traction. Several high-profile organisations like Cisco, Google, KPMG have embraced gamification to improve their hiring and people management. The key to the successful execution of workplace gamification is to first understand the need and objective. Gamification doesn’t mean simply turn the workplace into a game, but understanding the psychology of employees to motivate them, drive engagement and improve the business results, whether it is to attract new talent, educate employees, optimise workflows and even retain employees.

Benefits of Gamification:

-Gamification helps employers transform business in a healthy and more engaged way.
-Gamification can be used to promote a positive organisational culture by rewarding employees for cross-departmental collaboration, providing process or product improvement suggestions, or participating in volunteer programmes.
-Adding a gamification experience to the online learning programmes can spur action and drive change in behaviour through action. Employees who earn rewards and receive recognition for having completed tasks are far more likely to make it a priority.

Artificial Intelligence & HR:

AI provides HR departments with an opportunity to improve the candidate and employee experience by automating repetitive, low-value tasks and freeing up time to focus on the more strategic, creative work that HR teams need and want to get done. For instance, instead of spending time overseeing every step of the new employee onboarding process, those steps can be intelligently automated. The future of learning and development departments using AI will increase tremendously over the next couple of years. AI promotes new learning models that support individual learning versus providing broad-based solutions for the organisation as a whole while still catering to individual needs.

Benefits of AI for HR:

-Making use of AI technology in the recruitment process helps the human resource team to get deep insights into candidates behavioural traits and motivators.
-Artificial intelligence can make complex training modules interesting and improve employee skills. It makes training sessions relevant, enjoyable and engaging.

Cloud Technology & HR:

It’s not a relatively new concept for the world, but for HR, the benefits of cloud technology are still catching on. It can boost performance, help recruit the best talent, increase employee engagement, improve innovation and organise data. When it comes to bridging the gap between management and the rest of the team, cloud technology has been credited with eliminating the communication gap. Information flow has become instant, and this has made data analysis much easier. Overall, HR teams can now make better management decisions.

Benefits of cloud technology:

-In a lot of ways, the cloud outdates email or other forms of instant communication. Employees can share ideas through the cloud community.
-With cloud technology, many of the HR processes that include a lot of data can be automated like performance reviews or vacation requests. Employees can even update their employee data forms.
-One of the benefits of cloud computing is the ability to share knowledge especially in the form of learning or training.

Recent research shows organisations that successfully adopt sophisticated HR technology tools outperform those that do not. But because most organisations already have automated basic HR administration, the simple technology up-gradation of HR processes can no longer assure a competitive advantage. The bottom line for HR teams is to cut costs and improve services. While technology enhancement may seem costly if implemented right it promises big savings.

At the end of the day, technology is expensive, and any integration must be done thoroughly in the right way. It goes without saying then, that the cost of setting up the technology, and if things don’t work out, the cost of failure is very high for the company. Therefore technology integration needs to be done with a full understanding, and clarity with a pointed focus on enhancing the employee experience. This is when it’ll be a smooth run. In the light of technological changes, HR skills need to be re-developed in areas such as data analysis, AI and other technology-related skills to meet an advanced tech-driven environment if businesses want to take full advantage of their investment in this space.

At Yellow Spark, we can help your HR team keep up with the digital transformation, re-work job roles and team structures and help you create an environment that integrates change quickly. To know more write to us at contact@yellowspark.in,

Author Profile: Aparna Joshi Khandwala is a passionate HR professional. She co-founded Yellow Spark to work with like-minded people who believe in the power of leadership, which is the only business differentiator in today’s time.