May 10, 2016


Using HR technology to address insight challenges

Human resources technology is an ever-changing thing. There’s no rest for the up-to-date. This year, the central discussion in HR technology is over the the long-awaited implementation of big data and analytics in the workplace. It seems that at long last, many companies will finally invest in software that changes the way they look at their own employees and organizational structures.

Tower Watson’s most recent HR Service Delivery and Technology survey – administered to nearly 800 organizations across 37 countries – found that investment in IT systems was set to skyrocket this year. The report stated that 30 percent of firms have set plans to completely replace their legacy HR systems, while 40 percent will move their operations to cloud-based solutions. A further 12 percent said their HR technology budgets will marginally increase.

New insights, old challenges
This widespread adoption of analytics-driven IT platforms is sure to offer profound insights at speeds never seen before. No doubt many organizations will be improved by their implementation. But there are limits to what human capital management systems can do. They are not an end-all, be-all solution to the challenges HR teams have faced for decades.

HR Zone, citing research from Gartner, reported that although these systems will experience incredible growth in 2016, a stunning 50 to 75 percent of all HR initiatives fail to deliver on the results so enthusiastically promised at the start. The technology itself isn’t to blame, at least not most of the time. Rather, it is because the intended employee visibility never comes to fruition.

Simply put, some of the technology that organizations invest in for insight into the condition of employee engagement or structural effectiveness lack the proper infrastructure to be useful. A determined focus on the technology means there’s lots of data, but no clear way of interpreting it.

“Having a system that tells [human resource directors] everything they need to know is the most important decision HR faces,” Jeff Fox, head of strategic benefits for AON, told HR Zone. “This will define how successful the future of HR function will ultimately be, but it actually means the first thing HRDs need to do is step away from the hype.”

Without the proper instruments for approaching big data, there’s no real way to enact change in HR management. Steve Hearsum, a development consultant for Roffey Park Institute, suggested to the website that all this path leads to is deep anxiety within the organization itself. Needless to say, uncertainty and confusion aren’t pillars of sustainability. Experts are required to maintain balance.

“HR departments need people analysts – expertise that can convert the information they need into making the right recruitment, retention, training and promotion interventions,” said Hearsum.

Recruiting these analytical experts is essential for any company in flux. Once in place, they can begin to put in place people-based interventions. In the meantime, however, there needs to be some kind of engagement strategy to maintain communication with employees through the transition. Organizational anxiety will only be heightened without it.

Video offers a bridge solution for HR tech
Until human capital management systems – and their analysts – are up and running, companies must have a solution for bridging the insights gap. Broadcast video is one way of doing it. In the last several years, workplace video has taken the professional world by storm – not just because video is perfectly adapted to the flexible work arrangements so popular today, but because it improves employee productivity by cutting down on emails and miscommunication.

Executives that reach out to their workforce through video find that they can easily increase engagement. The visual medium of video is immediate and personable, an authentic communication between company leaders and workers that encourages and facilitates honest communication.

Video can provide what analytics do not – a human-level assessment of employee engagement, learning and productivity. While IT solutions are built up – and even after they’ve been completed – broadcast video lets executives find those corners of their workforce that had remained previously untouched.

Combine video with analytics and you have a powerful platform for both insight and action. Data reveals those parts of the organization that need attention. Video provides the power to properly address them by overcoming old challenges to engagement. This is the future of HR technology. Now is the time to embrace it.