COVID-19 is quite possibly the most unprecedented crisis in the world and, among other functions, it has disrupted the work of senior HR professionals. The majority of respondents to a survey by Raven Intel in association with the International Human Resources Information Management Association and the Oracle Human Resources Users Group revealed the following:
- The pandemic has impacted HR projects
- Work from home has made HR projects more productive, as per 64 percent of respondents
- 11 percent felt there would be a return to the traditional work environment after the pandemic subsides
Preparedness and resilience are the two most important attributes for survival, both from employees and corporates. Toward this end, HR technology has helped firms immensely across all HR functions – from recruitment to coordination and performance measurement. Technology has also been used to regulate social distancing in the office through video analytics!
This is why there has been a steady fast-tracking of investment in such technology. According to TeamLease, as of mid-May 2020, the demand for these technologies had grown by 30 percent in just 30-40 days. Here are the top pluses of HR technology tools:
- Boost the efficiency of HR work
- Create more accurate outcomes
- Enhance engagement of employees at work
- Enable management of remote work or work from home
- Minimize loss in productivity
- Enable outcome-based collaboration
Contrary to what might have been expected in a crisis, the pandemic has not made organizations hold back on their investment in technology tools for HR. The investments may have been paused in some cases, but others have taken this time as an occasion to grow productivity by updating old systems as well as implementing new tools. This has helped senior HR professionals to create new process efficiencies.
Previously there was a focus only on the experience and process of work. However, the HR tech market will now also look at driving organizational culture and strategy. In addition, there is a focus on safety and on following the required safety protocols. Here are some examples of how technology has been implemented for HR tasks:
- A rise in demand for prerecorded training sessions or for live sessions that are accessible on mobile devices
- Growth in the usage of chatbots to tackle employee queries related to the pandemic
- Chatbots nudging employees toward completing their assigned tasks on time
- Receiving requests and messages from employees directly on WhatsApp and approving their leave, reimbursement, or attendance regularization requests without needing to visit the HRMS platform
The top focus areas for HR technology are hiring, downsizing, compliance, optimization. Here are some common purposes and examples of technology implementation:
- Recognizing hard work through geofencing-based mobile punch-in/-out
- Announcing updates and dos-don’ts via announcement forums and other internal communication channels
- Timely payments through tools for faster salary processing
- New courses and learning on different domains through learning management systems
- Tools to enhance productivity and collaboration, based on the cloud
- Workforce management tools to handle the huge numbers of remote workers
The process is not all smooth, though, presenting a number of challenges for senior HR professionals. There is a pressing need to ensure that remote workers working from home or other locations have the requisite technology and support to get their work done properly. HR employees have access to a mass of sensitive HR data, which must be kept safe in the homework environment.
The biggest challenge for technology in HR is its adoption. The adoption by users largely is yet to meet the targets set by leaders. This has become tougher with the move to remote work and the resultant pressure on organizations to get their employees to use collaboration, messaging, and learning tools for dealing with the distance issue. PwC conducted a survey in 2020 on the effectiveness of investments in technology for HR, according to which more than 80 percent of respondents admitted to struggling with challenges in adopting the technology. This was traced back to the need for asking the right people the relevant questions at the planning phase, to better understand the top priorities for technology change at scale. Interestingly, leadership communication and training were the most ineffective at increasing adoption, despite being the most relied upon. Gamification and incentives, typically getting much lesser emphasis, were in fact the most effective at getting people to adopt the technology.