Is Technology Making HR More Innovative?

Most people don’t associate HR with innovation. They’d associate HR with the things that traditionally we have been good at — rules, policies, administration.

And they they’d be wrong. The first wave of innovation centered around a more business-focused HR function, in which HR developed as a business partner. This was something of a revolution, although its application rarely worked as well as was hoped (except in larger organizations) — in theory, it aligned HR to business needs.

And, eventually, business outcomes. However, it was needs that were at the heart of the discussion. What’s the business strategy? Are we looking for growth? New markets? How will we deliver the right form of HR: the right people, the right support?

This second wave of innovation is technological. After initial HR solutions delivered solutions around which HR could work, we’ve moved more into bespoke cloud-based HR software, which has resulted in HR demanding more technology.

And that has uncovered limitless potential for HR to inform and even shape the business. The cloud has made HR more innovative. Here are some real-world examples:

Resourcing & allocation of resources

Imagine a world where CRM and HR data are combined — giving the company a double vision. On the one hand, you have customer data — buying patterns, be they geographic or time-based — and on the other, you have people data.

Match the two up, and you can start allocating your people resources better. Starbucks has this down to a tee — matching its staffing levels to when each store is at its busiest. The same applies for talent acquisition — getting in the right resources, for the right times, in the right places — and it’s evidence-based.

Now that HR has this data on the cloud, it’s readily available and, with a little development, can be integrated with other systems.

Talent management

Advanced HR analytics can tell you more about your talent than perhaps you previously thought. From hire to onboarding and talent pipelines, the knowledge is available. And here’s where the Ulrich model blends seamlessly into technology — a knowledge of the business and how each department functions is essential for understanding business requirements.

However, a knowledge of the potential behind the technology is what really underpins talent management.

For instance, technology can do the sifting through CVs for you. It can guide employees through the onboarding process, and can be the foundation for performance management. Advanced analytics can then pinpoint potential future leaders, and map their career progression.

Keeping your best people

Predictive analytics is the Next. Big. Thing. If you believe everything you read. Knowing when people are ready to leave you, therefore, could give you a competitive advantage, especially if you are in a talent marketplace that is particularly competitive.

By analyzing the past and mapping that out into a predicted future model, you’ll be able to foresee which key employees are most likely to leave the business — and introduce a proactive retention program. Equally, you will be able to give the business a better idea of what level of recruitment spend it’ll need over the next 12 months, which helps with budgeting.

But remember…

My old colleague Sean Dunphy says of HR software – “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got” – and he’s right. The technology is meant to be an enabler, not a solution to your problems. It’s meant to deliver business-wide success, not internal departmental success.

Therefore, remember that you’re not working around technology, you’re getting technology that meets your business requirements. It’s a key consideration, and one that many businesses tend to forget over time.

You can do so much with technology in HR – but only if you first consider the potential, before scoping it out. From predictive people analytics to better resourcing & staffing, there’s so much that can be done.

photo credit: “Caveman Chuck” Coker via photopin cc