It sometimes seems that those in the HR world often find themselves in a world of extremes when it comes to technology. Or we may think of extremes as the choice we must make. But the reality is somewhere in the middle, finding ways to exploit the power of technology and analytics with the human side we can never lose sight of. For everyone worried that HR technology may drastically reduce the need for HR professionals, there is another side that often sees tech on its own as the cure all for all our challenges.

What The “Human-Only” Side Misses

By not giving technology its due and proper stature, those who stand firm in the belief that the obstacles or potential pitfalls of technology outweigh the potential benefits miss out on enhancing the human element they purport to embrace. In addition, this can lead to HR remaining bogged down in trying to justify its existence, or at least its high value, time and time again. This results in a self-perpetuating ongoing battle that detracts from HR’s ultimate mission, which includes attracting, nurturing and developing real people – the humans who are the heart of an organization.

Integrated into an organization properly, HR technology should and does enhance human relationships and the value of employees, from talent acquisition to onboarding and on through to retention, succession management and learning and development. Technology can bring insight and clarity to organizational challenges, such as early employee departure, for example.

The cost of poor retention, when fully itemized, often exceeds 50% of first-year compensation and can easily exceed 100% of compensation for critical managers and professionals (www.staffing.org). With talent analytics data providing insight into why employees leave, the value is clearly there. Implemented properly, technology can also enhance engagement, another key component of HR. With the cost of poor employee engagement so high, the benefits of technology to greatly enhance engagement, not detract from it, are clear.

Technology On Its Own Misses The Mark

On the flip side, an overreliance on technology can be detrimental. For example, as your talent acquisition activities move toward the hiring of a candidate, the human side becomes more important. Without the human element and more interaction at the later stage of the recruitment stage, key information will be missed. Similarly, technology can provide huge pieces of important information to highlight possible opportunities, such as who are the best fits for your succession planning, or risks, such as which employees are most in jeopardy of leaving the organization. Risks and rewards are all on display and available for maximizing potential and minimizing soft and hard costs, all through a seamless blend of technology and human elements.

The Right Mix Makes A Winning Formula

While not a black-and-white issue, the value of technology to an organization’s HR function is clear and demonstrable. Winning businesses and organizations around the globe have exploited technology to their advantage. A 2014 Harvard Business Review research report found that organizations that invest in workforce analytics to drive talent decisions and development see significantly better business results than those that do not. The key is not relying completely on technology nor completely ignoring it. A proper mix of these two critical components of talent management can help an organization succeed and outperform others in its class.

HR technology as a tool, not a crutch, is a winning strategy.

About the Author: Joe Abusamra is Vice President, Product Marketing at NGA.NET. Joe writes about talent management at www.nga.net/nga-blog.

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