There’s a lot of buzz around closing the technology skills gap and ensuring that employees are up to speed with the continuous stream of new digital solutions that are changing the modern workplace. While HR pros are busy keeping employees up-to-date with new technology, upgrading HR’s own technology doesn’t always keep pace.
Digital transformation may seem like a daunting undertaking at first, but it’s a critical process that enables you to continuously improve HR operations and ultimately, deliver an exceptional employee experience that benefits your business and people.
In this article, we discuss what’s trending in the world of HR technology, break down the benefits and challenges of HR digital transformation and share tips for how to successfully navigate digitization within your own HR team.
Understanding HR digital transformation
HR digital transformation describes the process of updating, enhancing, adapting and strengthening human resources practices using accessible and modern technological solutions. The goal is to better meet the changing needs of your business and employees, specifically within the context of HR processes, talent management and learning and development.
The benefits of digital transformation for HR
Company-wide, all departments stand to benefit from technological advancements. HR is no exception.
Benefits for human resources include:
- Boost efficiency and productivity: From chatbots that engage with prospective job candidates to algorithms that make personalized learning recommendations, technology has the ability to lessen the load of HR departments spread thin, while saving money for the company and getting employees the info they need faster.
- Provide access to more data: Most modern HR solutions automatically collect, analyze and report on data, which can provide a treasure trove of information and drive better decision-making based on numbers you can trust. When it comes time to have budget discussions, this data can be instrumental in helping you make the case for your HR initiatives.
- Simplify recruitment and hiring processes: Recruitment technology allows you to reach wider populations, connect more easily with prospective job candidates and onboard them more smoothly once hired. Some tools even use AI to match candidates to available positions, expediting the screening process.
- Facilitate learning and development: With the help of technology, L&D has made the transition from in-person learning to self-paced online learning that gives employees the flexibility to learn on their own schedule. Other notable advancements include AI-powered solutions that make personalized learning recommendations based on individual employee needs, as well as the use of virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) for job-specific training.
- Enable DEI: Done right, technology can help ensure transparency and consistency for key touch points like recruiting, compensation and talent pipeline management, resulting in more equitable opportunities for growth and advancement throughout the organization.
- Improve performance management: Digital tools allow you to track employee goals and performance in real time, increasing visibility and enabling managers and direct reports to have more frequent and meaningful performance conversations.
Even with all these benefits, it’s important to remember that tech isn't a quick fix. It's meant to make your life easier, but it's not going to solve everything. As an HR leader, you have to be critical about what you invest in and when.
Challenges of HR digital transformation
While the end result of digital transformation is enticing, it does take some work to get there. Make note of these considerations:
- Promoting the adoption of new solutions: Prior to rolling out a new solution, take the time to analyze employee skills gaps and ensure you have a proper training plan in place. Without effective training and resources, employees may grow resistant to adopting new technologies.
- Establishing processes for continuous learning: Constant changes are difficult to keep up with, even for the most tech-savvy employees. Foster a learning culture within your workplace that facilitates and normalizes continual updates. This takes time, but it can make digital transformation smoother and more successful.
- Keeping track of performance: Make sure you have a strategy in place to review the impact and value of a new solution regularly and assess whether it’s serving its intended purpose. When the time comes to renew, take time to review competitors to ensure you're getting the best tool for your needs.
4 emerging trends in HR digital transformation
From AI-powered recruitment tools to virtual onboarding experiences, the realm of HR technology is experiencing a remarkable evolution. Here are a few emerging trends to be aware of:
A talent marketplace is a digital platform where employees can access internal development opportunities, such as job openings, skill-building courses, side projects, educational resources and more. This brings visibility to cross-departmental opportunities and arms employees with the tools they need to pursue them.
Gamification for employee engagement
Gamification integrates game-like elements such as friendly competition, scoreboards and rewards into various aspects of the employee lifecycle to motivate employees and promote engagement.
Using data for a better view of ROI
Determining the ROI of HR initiatives is notoriously difficult to measure, but it’s getting easier with the robust data analytics tools available today. From employee education platforms to talent management systems, most modern HR tools have the ability to collect, analyze and report on performance data.
Virtual and augmented reality (AR/VR) have opened the doors for complex training simulations like never before. These prepare employees for a variety of workplace scenarios, which can often be difficult or expensive to recreate in a classroom.
Key ingredients for successful HR digital transformation
When you’re evaluating potential third-party solutions, get very clear on the use case and expected impact of the tool. Decide early on your success metrics and use those as a guide in the decision-making process.
Taking a more critical approach will keep you from investing in potentially extraneous solutions. Choosing the wrong tool or investing in one that you don’t need has implications that go beyond just financing. Even if you have the budget, consider all of the time and effort that goes into the implementation and adoption of a tool.
Identify key stakeholders and outline responsibilities
There are a variety of stakeholders involved in buying, implementing and managing a solution successfully. This can include everyone from the sole decision-maker that signs off on the solution, the end users that actually use it, as well as the one or multiple administrators that manage it day-to-day. Responsibilities should be clearly defined to ensure that everyone is aware of the role they play.
Develop an adoption strategy
When identifying a new solution, consider how easily it can integrate with existing workflows and processes. If it’s too complicated, you may hit roadblocks in the roll-out or long-term adoption of the system.
Start by selling users on your solution — employees may be hesitant to adopt a new tool if they don't understand why it's necessary or what impact it will have on their work. Be sure to allocate sufficient resources for training for both admins and users on the system. Buy-in and training will go a long way toward company-wide adoption.
Keep a close eye on performance and functionality in the early days after launching a new solution. Encourage end users to share feedback and report bugs so that you can properly address issues and seek out technical support as needed. It may not be perfect the first time, but each new release will improve results and evolve with department needs.
Track and monitor progress
Using the success metrics you established at the onset, keep a close eye on program performance. Track results regularly and establish a protocol for addressing problems as they arise — and celebrating wins. Ramping up a new system takes time, and recognizing success builds confidence that the tool is performing as intended, helps you make the case for continued investment in the system and lets end users know their efforts are paying off.
Digital strategy for the future of HR
How HR uses technology matters. Your work touches every single employee, from their first interaction with the company to their last day on the job. It can bring productivity and efficiencies, deliver more effective training and faster responses, save substantial costs and time.
Stay informed on future technologies and innovations. You don’t have to be an early adopter, but you’ll want to stay on top of industry trends and how they could overhaul or improve the way you work. Digital transformation doesn’t happen overnight, and getting it right is a continual work in progress. But the horizon is big for HR technology. So, take advantage of it.