The Next Generation of HR Technology
The world of work is changing fast, and so too are employee expectations. The pandemic crisis has expedited shifts in working practices, and today’s remote, dispersed, and deskless workforces are looking to employers to support them through this change, provide the technology and training they need to adapt and thrive, and communicate clearly what lies ahead.
In a recent report by PM Insight, “Smart, Strategic, and Employee-Centric: The Next Generation of HR Technology”, the research industry group explores what capabilities modern organizations need to remain agile in a changing environment. Just how is digital transformation empowering HR “people professionals” to provide a greater overall employee experience? The report focuses on three key areas of improvement: performance, experience, and intelligence.
Please read on for a summary of this tech’s major benefits or check out the full report here.
If your teams seem to be spending a lot of time on routine admin, you’re not alone. According to research by G&A Partners, the average HR team spends nearly three-quarters (73.2%) of its time on administrative activities. Harnessing technology to alleviate some of this burden has the potential to reinvigorate or even transform the HR function—freeing people up to focus on more strategic work, such as improving organizational performance and long-term planning.
Most HR professionals’ days are spent moment to moment, putting out fires as they arise, with hardly any time left to consider long-term strategy—a far more profitable use of their time. But modern workforce management platforms can productively shift many of these lower-level responsibilities toward empowered workers and automation.
By introducing a scheduling and forecasting platform with “available anywhere” digital access for staff, participating businesses have reduced their admin burden, inefficiencies, and errors associated with the old manual processes.
A self-service mobile app allows managers and employees to access their schedules, amend shifts, and notify colleagues on the go. It also provides full visibility into what’s happening across the workforce, allowing the organization to accurately forecast labor demands.
These companies found that digital transformation has improved management’s oversight of the workforce and allowed them to make more informed business decisions around labor and staffing. In the report’s surveys, 77% of CEOs plan to increase investment in digital transformation, and those companies fared better during pandemic restrictions.
Organizations around the world are changing the way they look at the worker–workplace relationship, what is known as “employee experience.” The many small daily interactions with managers, HR, and other departments—little moments that matter in the aggregate—are incredibly important for companies who want to keep workers engaged, productive, and content.
According to recent research by global advisory firm Willis Towers Watson, we’re currently facing a “great employee experience awakening”—one that has 92% of organizations prioritizing experience enhancements over the next three years (up from 52% prior to the pandemic).
This shift in priority reflects employers’ views that positive experiences drive engagement (81%), well-being (80%), productivity (79%), and overall business performance (78%), thus creating value for both employees and the business.
A key factor in this transformation deals with the nature of the current crop of workers. By 2025, 75% of the workforce will be digital natives, people who grew up with the interconnectedness of computers, the internet, and cell phones. Currently, there are five distinct generations in the workforce, with the youngest three (Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z) having known this technology their entire adult lives, while their older cohorts (the Silent Generation and the Baby Boomers) have adapted and incorporated modern technology into their lives far more than their parents’ generations. These workers use technology every day to manage their personal lives and they expect the same convenience in their occupations as well.
The convenience of mobile tech permeates their personal lives—in communications, entertainment, banking, shopping, you name it—yet it’s often missing from the workplace. Consider the change in the last several decades: there was a time when computers were expensive, slow, and tied to a desk—and their use was limited to certain workers. Today nearly every worker carries a personal supercomputer in their pocket, yet this situation still goes unleveraged by their employers. A connected worker is more engaged, reports greater satisfaction with their role, and has a sense of independence and agency in their position that they greatly appreciate.
Digital workforce management tools can be leveraged in more ways than just user experience. They can also make great use of employee data.
Smart HR leaders are using technology such as artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to automate routine activities and make more informed real-time decisions about their people, leading to stronger business outcomes and boosting engagement and retention. But digitally under-evolved employers could be missing out on opportunities to identify and unlock hidden productivity gains.
CIPD research has highlighted significant demand for better use of people data within businesses, with 89% of organizations planning to make use of data and analytics. However, data management was identified as a significant area for skill development, with 37% of in-house HR professionals saying their organization only collects and uses very basic HR data and fewer than one in 10 (6%) drawing on more advanced analytics techniques.
Employee data can be used to generate more productive scheduling (e.g., “Worker X” is most skilled in a particular task; “Worker Y” has similar availability and could become more skilled by working under “Worker X”—let’s schedule them together). It can also be used to track late clock-ins or punch-outs, notifying managers of tardiness or overtime issues long before they become habitual problems.
Today’s digital employee platforms allow employers to carry out mini pulse surveys at strategic moments and deliver live results. For Joe Ross, Chief Product Officer at WorkForce Software, that real-time intelligence is the big shift in modern workforce management solutions. “Managers don’t have to comb through the data just to find out that they’ve already missed the mark.”
Make the most of technology by establishing a better communications system with your workers. We’re all tethered to the important aspects of our lives via phones and personal devices. Incorporating your organization into the same digital office keeps everyone in contact and on the same page.
Digital transformation is being used to enhance, not replace, human connections at work to positively impact every organization’s bottom line. Businesses that wish to compete must remain on pace with the technological advancements already being implemented by their rivals.
Read the full PM Insight report, “Smart, Strategic, and Employee-Centric: The Next Generation of HR Technology”, to get the hard data and findings on how workforce management programs can bring your organization to the next level.
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