Understanding and Overcoming Technology Challenges as an HR Leader
by Cat DiStasio
HR and IT can work together to form a strategy that uses technology to drive their organization forward.
Technology is no longer siloed in the IT department. Now, it's an integral concern for every team throughout an organization — especially human resources.
By developing a cohesive, strategy-based relationship with your IT department, together your teams can tackle one of the most important challenges of human resource management and one that affects the entire organization: digital transformation. Having a good rapport with IT can help you understand the digital transformation challenge, find solutions just around the corner and prepare for the future of your organization.
HR leaders have varying technology goals. Your organization's focus could be moving from legacy systems to next-gen solutions, or leveraging technology to make your workforce more productive, or improving the overall employee experience. Regardless of your goals, there are some universal technological challenges HR leaders face today, and with the right insights and a collaborative approach, you and your IT colleagues can conquer them.
Keeping Personnel Issues Personal
HR leaders understand that their work revolves around personal matters, and new HR technologies can help solve problems without removing the human element.
"ADP is a relationship-rich culture," says Sreeni Kutam, Chief Human Resources Officer at ADP. "A lot of our success is because of people. We don't want to lose that human connection that we have with each other. If we introduce a technology that completely takes people away from conversations with each other, we lose that essential element of work. Automation can alleviate some of the unnecessary communication people have and free up time and energy to prioritize meaningful interactions."
Finding the balance between helpful automation and protecting the human element is a major issue for HR leaders.
We keep thinking about the HR function and looking for ways to make the associate experience as easy as an Amazon order, where they don't even have to think about it.
- Sreeni Kutam, ADP CHRO
Communicating for Transformative Results
Perhaps one of the greatest challenges of human resource management is finding solutions that move the organization closer to achieving its goals instead of solving minor problems. Many HR leaders still think of their department's function as transaction-based. When they approach IT with an issue, they may not share enough information or enough of their vision for IT to respond with a holistic solution.
If HR staff can define the problem — and help IT understand that problem — their chances of finding the right technology solution will likely increase. HR leaders shouldn't hesitate to be bold with their vision for potential solutions and be specific about the problems they want technology to solve. HR leaders must define a holistic journey map instead of focusing only on functional issues if they want to see transformative results from their IT department.
Building Relationships to Serve Internal Customers
Communicating with IT colleagues on a regular basis can help HR leaders bridge the gap, understand common pain points and build connections between departments. HR's relationship with IT was traditionally limited to building and maintaining systems of record, but this has changed dramatically in recent years.
"HR is our primary customer as an IT department," says Sugi Venkatesh, Division Vice President - HR for Global Product and Technology at ADP. "Now the conversation is elevated to more of a system of engagement with our organization. It's a drastic step-change. IT must support HR by providing the same foundation it has for years — a system of record, compliance and data privacy — but now technology has also become essential for engagement. HR and IT leaders must work together to design the associate experience."
Keeping Up With Expectations
Today's workforce has high expectations for their workplace experience. They are accustomed to consumer-grade technology in their personal lives -- a world in which everything happens fast through technology -- and they expect to engage their employers in the same way. And as associates increasingly merge their personal and professional lives, finding more one-click solutions can improve the employee experience.
"Think about how Amazon or Google does it," says Kutam. "We keep thinking about the HR function and looking for ways to make the associate experience as easy as an Amazon order, where they don't even have to think about it."
Steering Organizational Culture Toward a High-tech Future
At ADP, workplace culture is a valuable asset, and IT plays a central role in that culture. HR leaders are constantly working to reduce the cognitive burden on associates and enhance their experience.
Kutam says technological enhancements can contribute significantly to an organization's culture. To do that, leaders from HR and IT need to work together to prioritize improvements and determine where they should come from.
"Then you can introduce technology to enhance productivity and performance as well as speed and agility of an organization, how people interact with each other and how you build products," says Kutam. "We are focused on serving our internal customers as well as we serve our external customers."
Other articles in this series
- What CIOs Need to Know About Their Relationship With HR
- How HR Can Use Technology to Impact Career Development
- How the HR and IT Partnership Can Build Employee Engagement
This article originally appeared on SPARK.