There can be no doubt that over the last two decades, technology has entirely changed the way that most companies do business. Indeed, most firms would struggle to continue operating if their technology was suddenly to become unavailable.
Some aspects of commerce such as accounting are quite obviously synergistic with technology. But when it comes to the less rigid, softer business processes, especially those that rely on handling people and the workforce, technology has taken longer to make a transformational change within the enterprise. In this article, we address some of the many ways in which modern tech can simplify and streamline a whole host of HR-related business processes.
Better Recruitment and Onboarding
One of the major areas where technology can significantly improve HR processes is in the recruitment and onboarding stage. Traditionally, even just a handful of years ago, companies would advertise job openings in wide distribution print publications. Alternatively, they would use an external recruitment form, with a narrow candidate view.
The growth in popularity of online job boards has given every business a simple, cost-effective platform for recruiting from a National, and in some cases International pool of top talent.
Internet-related technology in the form of company Intranet sites, and web-driven training applications can also be leveraged, to turn the company onboarding process into an interactive technology driven solution, which requires far fewer resources to action than the traditional form of “hand holding” induction processes we would use a decade or two ago.
Workforce Training and Skill Nurturing
Anyone who has been working in a commercial environment for the last twenty or thirty years, will no doubt remember the days when if you needed some additional training, your employer would send you on an external course. This was expensive, and often ineffective, as these were group courses, not one on one sessions.
Now, we have a whole range of excellent online learning tools at our disposal. These tools are designed to teach specific skillsets and to work as a replacement for one on one learning. The person taking the course is evaluated at every stage, and the training does not move forward until it is clear that they have understood the concepts presented in previous sections.
This type of training is more effective, and it is also a lot less costly than sending people to external, sometimes residential courses.
Centralized HR Records
Traditionally, HR has been a paper-intensive department. Consider for a moment that job applications were made on paper using an application form, and the follow-up communication was also paper-based. Technology offers a much better way to action this process. Using digital replacements for paper-based documents, HR records are instantly made digital.
This means that they are centralized, and always available. No more having to store tons of paper, and individual files on each and every employee. Centralized, digital HR records will contain everything from the initial job application, through to employment termination, in entirely digital form.
Easier Performance Monitoring
Following on from the concept of centralized digital HR records above, technology makes it far easier to monitor the performance of employees. In the past, each line manager would be expected to write a paper based performance appraisal of every member of staff they are responsible for each year, or sometimes more frequently.
Technology provides a much better way of actioning this task, using standardized, data-driven forms, often comprising predominantly of simple multiple-choice questions and answers. This turns what used to be a major annual management headache, into a quick to action, easily tracked and managed process.
Simplified HR Compliance
As more enterprises come under the remit of one governing body or another and find they have to comply with legislation with regards to how they manage their business across many touchpoints, technology offers an easier route to full compliance.
HR is one of the departments that traditionally had many problems with compliance. This is due to the fact that the HR department keeps highly personal records of its employees past and present. This was predominantly paper-based and needed to be kept securely for a number of years before it became aged, and could be destroyed.
Technology solves this problem, by removing the requirement to keep physical records secure for many years. Instead, as long as company data is secured (under its own compliance requirements), then the HR department can grandfather much of its compliance overhead on the back of this.
Streamlined Payroll Process
Finally, payroll is one of the major tasks that can be significantly streamlined using technology. Indeed, payroll management was the first set of HR processes that became computerized several decades ago. Modern payroll systems integrate with other business applications, to extended functionality. For example, employee costs can now be easily incorporated into job costings in real-time.
And of course, payroll feeds back into the whole compliance loop outlined above. Employee pay records are one of the most heavily legislated types of data that a company will need to keep. Technology can make the payroll processes more streamlined, and also achieve full data privacy compliance much more simply.
Increased Levels of Employee Engagement
If payroll is one of the first technological solutions which HR embraced, then the idea of using technology to engage with the workforce is probably the latest.
Many companies now run their own internal company social networks, simply to give employees a platform for discussion. Company newsletters are more usually delivered as an email these days, rather than a hard copy.
More importantly, using tech such as employee feedback surveys enables the enterprise to quickly and efficiently gauge the opinion of the workforce on any issue. A highly valuable business tool.
The ways that technology can help with HR that have been outlined above, are just a handful of the ways that tech can be leveraged to streamline HR processes and built a more robust yet cost-effective HR platform.