By Gabby Burlacu
Sep. 12, 2018
In most jobs, employees are likely responsible for a lot of different things, no matter what the job description says.
They must communicate certain information and manage certain tasks and resources. Workers definitely have to manage their time and stress levels and measure their responses to requests.
Their job is not to complete a goal plan or fill out a self-evaluation of their performance, engage in learning and development courses, complete an engagement survey or any of the other HR-type tasks employees are frequently asked to do. But to many employees it probably feels like HR thinks that is their job.
And the frustration of being taken out of productivity to complete these tasks is just part of the workload.
The truth is, human resources has struggled for a long time to figure out how to embed these kinds of tasks in day-to-day work of employees so that productivity is uninterrupted. But they have a mountain directly in their way in the form of the HR technology used by many of today’s organizations.
This technology may comprehensively meet the needs of HR, giving them one automated place to track employee goals, completion rates of performance forms and report on employee data. But when it comes to meeting the needs of the people using the technology to get things done, it almost always falls short.
Here’s a secret human resources technology vendors won’t typically tell you: It’s because we purposely built it that way. For a long time, human resources technology was designed to automate processes, enabling users to get from point A to point B. It was designed to be deployed across an entire workforce, driving consistency and scale across departments and teams. And it was designed to meet the needs of one group: human resources.
So, what happened? Over time the workforce changed, the nature of work changed, and the role of technology in our lives became unrecognizable from one year to the next.
Now solutions that focus on processes instead of people, force consistency instead of choice and meet the needs of one stakeholder while remaining disconnected from the rest of the business are quickly becoming obsolete. Consider today’s employee who can get directions from their phone just by asking, or use a voice command to learn about the weather.
Then they come to work and break away from job-related tasks to edit a performance goal in a clunky, outdated system through a series of clicks and menu options that get them there — but without much of a sense as to how or why. Is this sounding familiar?
The focus of enterprise technology is going from business process automation to delivering exceptional employee experiences that connect them to the business in new and meaningful ways. Where the human resources technology of the past was process-centric, rigid and disconnected, it must now become people-centric, flexible and holistic.
As the owners of employee experience and the ultimate stakeholders in whether the workforce is engaged, performing and thriving, business leaders must give their people tools that help not only processes, but people in doing their jobs — wherever their jobs take them, and whatever it is they’re working on.
This is the guiding principle influencing how human resources technology should be designed. An efficient tool must be built to be people-centric, focused on supporting and enhancing how people think, work, and connect. Solutions should also be flexible, with intelligent, adaptable tools that know who individual people are and what they need most in order to be successful.
Above all, they must be holistic and connected, with multiple channels of access, embedded analytics and emerging technologies like machine learning. By creating a comprehensive ecosystem of business solutions and extensions, organizations can ensure alignment with, and visibility to, the business.
The days of human resources as a hindrance to doing great work are over. The new era of HR technology and tools in the hands of employees and leaders is here.
If HR solutions are designed to be truly people-centric, flexible and holistic, businesses can ensure their employees are getting superior experiences and are connected with the business in meaningful ways.
Gabby Burlacu is a human capital management researcher at human resources technology firm SAP SuccessFactors. Comment below or email editors@ workforce.com.
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