Empower HR: Call to Action for HR Technology Providers

HR Complexity at an All-Time High

HR bears the responsibility of recruiting, training and engaging their organization’s most important asset of all: people. Even the loftiest of missions or the most clever business plans won’t succeed without great people to execute. Yet with increasing corporate complexity, a dynamic regulatory landscape, and a tightening corporate budget, HR has had little choice but to spend its limited time administering process first, and engaging people second. For example, consider the administration that stems from the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Wage Theft Prevention Act, Civil Rights Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, Affordable Care Act … oh my! The fields of law and human resources have officially collided, leaving HR complexity at an all-time high.

A Call to Action for Solution Providers

HR technology solution providers must be focused on providing tools that free HR from routine administration, while helping them keep their organization compliant. Ultimately, it’s about empowering them to deliver a more productive and engaged workforce.  To evaluate whether a particular offering fulfills this promise, look closely. Many solutions tout their ability to handle electronic forms, but relatively few collect a compliant and secure electronic signature. Similarly, many software packages can route tasks according to a workflow, but few have the intelligence to support compliance with federal and state laws. Some software packages will integrate with services like background screening and employment eligibility (Form I-9), but rarely will they deliver it out of the box and backed by a single Service Level Agreement.  Bottom line: the features and benefits of a technology solution may seem like a cure-all, but they often fall short, leaving HR with little more than a digital checklist and an electronic document store.

HR and the lines of business they support need more from technology suppliers. They need comprehensive solutions that address the end to end process, remain considerate of compliance, and deliver positive outcomes. They need solutions that solve problems in accordance with best practices, an intuitive interface that requires little touch, and a deployment process that is free of costly or time-consuming configuration or integration.

Navigating the maze of regulations and associated paperwork is just part of the story. Consider the opportunity cost of this HR complexity as well. What could or should HR be doing with time otherwise consumed by administration? Spurred in large part by healthy capital markets and a global marketplace, competition is fierce.  Businesses are compelled to invest in only those areas that create differentiation; everything else is a candidate for outsourcing, to be more efficiently and effectively serviced by a provider that is similarly focused.  Solution providers must look beyond bits and bytes of workflow and forms automation, and fully embrace compliance and the service that goes along with it. By doing so, they can move beyond being a toolset provider and instead help business thrive in a dynamic and competitive marketplace.

Case in Point: The Hiring Process

As a technology supplier to HR, TalentWise is uniquely focused on the hiring process, a fairly routine process that creates an exceptional amount of pain for HR and their candidates.  We seek to master the process, and all of its crazy compliance, so that our clients don’t have to. We streamline it from end to end on a single cloud-based platform, allowing the candidate to quickly and painlessly move from offer letter, through background and drug screening, to onboard complete – essentially ready to go on day one. We have gone to great lengths to embed compliance in the software itself, so that our HR users need not worry. To complement our technology, we invested heavily in a U.S.-based support team and have developed them as experts on the hiring process and associated compliance. You see, we believe that HR has better things to do than administer a hiring process. We take on the complexity of hiring for them, and manage for the ultimate outcome – a productive and engaging day one for the candidate, and a stronger, more competitive business for the shareholder.

Strategic HR

HR is the beating heart of an organization. No one signs up for HR because they dream of endless paperwork or driving the controls of fancy software. What drives them is finding great people and engaging them, for the long term benefit of the business. They know that their organizations are depending on them to move the HR department to a more strategic role – to help craft the organization’s strategy for the next 10, 20 or 50 years. That’s the future of HR – getting out of “administrivia” and focusing on the big picture of organizational success in a highly competitive world. There has been much talk about how to disrupt the traditional HR model, which isn’t always scaling to current conditions or meeting C-suite demands. We think the answer is to empower HR to focus on people. With well-defined and supported technology, we can empower HR to stay focused on what they do best. If they can do this, it will elevate their profession to an even higher value within the organization.

(About the Author: Todd Owens is CEO at TalentWise and has been with the company since 2006. Previously he held senior Product Management and Business Development roles at Wind River Systems and Siebel Systems. A former United States Navy submarine officer, Todd has twice been recognized as a “Superstar for outsourcing innovation in support of HR organizations” by HRO Today magazine. Todd holds a BS degree from the United States Naval Academy and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.)