Move HR beyond “tissues and issues” but do it strategically

Are you missing out on opportunities in recruiting, engagement and more because you spend all your time putting out fires? Do policies fill your days when you should be using analytics to give your organization a strategic edge?

According to experts, you’re not alone. Apparently,  human resources and talent management departments have been slow to embrace digital and social technology that could move them forward — and they are suffering for it.

An article titled “The Impact of Technology on HR” published on the Huffington Post blog declared, “With Millennials making up more than half of the current workforce — and predicted to make up 75 percent by 2020 — HR is going to have to embrace and build on technological advancements to meet both employee expectations and business requirements.”

But it’s not only Millennials who must be considered. All the generations currently in the workforce have embraced or at least accepted the digital revolution.

Surprisingly, reported that according to a 2015 report, 90% of Fortune 500 companies didn’t have mobile-friendly career sites. Hopefully that has changed by now but in the article called, “Social Recruiting — It’s Time to Get on Board,” the author wrote, “The way that companies attract qualified job applicants continues to evolve at lightning speed… Research indicates that most companies (especially the big ones) aren’t keeping up with this trend.”

And technology can offer human resources so much more than attracting talent. When used strategically, the possibilities truly are endless: recruiting, retention, employee development, performance improvement, compensation, learning management, knowledge transfer, collaboration, risk mitigation, workforce analysis, organizational planning, forecasting and more.

Deloitte University Press’s “Global Human Capital Trends 2016—The new organization: Different by design” stated, “HR is redesigning almost everything it does.” The 119-page report called went on to say… “our research suggests that HR must upgrade its skills to include the areas of design thinking, people analytics, and behavioral economics.”’s article “The Digital Black Hole” stated, “While there is, without question, a high interest in workforce technology, many HR ‘laggards’ have been sluggish in moving beyond curiosity and into taking action.” Reasons cited include that HR is still not seen as strategic, is spread too thin and doesn’t possess the right skills.

So what is a department that already feels overwhelmed to do? When it comes to social media and other technology innovations, experts say it’s best to come up with a strategy first and then tackle one thing at a time.

In other words, don’t spend a fortune on new technology or jump on every social band wagon at once because you feel like you need to catch up. The first step should be to analyze your needs. Where could your organization benefit from improvement: recruiting, retention, engagement, risk mitigation or something else?
The second step is to determine what opportunities exist to meet your needs. Do you need new skills, processes or tools? What kind of data can help you toward your goals? Once you have the answers to those questions you can move into the implementation stage.

Before you start looking to new technology to help you accomplish your goals, be sure you don’t already have tools that could do the job. This can be both a time saver and a money saver, obviously because you don’t need to buy them but also because your staff members are already trained (or should be) to use them.
Check your existing talent suite for unused functionality and information. Are you employing all the reports and analytics available to you from your learning suite? Is available data from performance management being utilized in organizational reviews and planning? A path to improvement might be hidden in plain sight or buried in paperwork (digital or otherwise).

Once you’ve exhausted existing tools, then you should look at new tools. But new tools don’t necessarily mean purchasing expensive new technology. Are there add-ons or upgrades to systems already in place that can meet your needs? Again, learning curves will be lower if new technology has some familiarity.

Chances are at some point you’ll need to consider which social media tools will be beneficial. The upside of these is that most are free. Of course, free doesn’t necessarily mean easy. To take advantage of social media sites, someone must be committed to fully learning their use and also to regular engagement.

Again, a strategy is what’s needed. There are many questions to ask before you jump onto the social bandwagon. Do you need to use all social media channels or will one or two be best? Which sites does you audience use and which have the most potential to achieve your goals? How will you engage — and how often? These questions should all be answered before you begin.

When developing a social media strategy, be sure you aren’t relying on one person or even one person per site. Many organizations or departments begin their foray into social media with one enthusiastic ‘player.’ This person is their social guru who sets up everything and can’t wait to go online every day to update Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and so on. But what happens when that person moves on or up? The whole system crashes and burns. Ever run across a Facebook page that had loads of posts for the first few months but nothing for more than a year? Have you seen Twitter accounts that have gone completely dormant? What about blogs with one introductory post and nothing more? Don’t be one of the social media failures. Social media is a team sport and you need multiple players in the field. In this case, it’s better to not engage than to start something and then neglect it. Your audience might not notice that you don’t have a blog but they will notice if you have a blog that hasn’t been updated in two years. If you can sustain the engagement for an extended period of time, then move on to another — but only if it will be beneficial.

There seems to be no question. The digital world is changing the way HR works, but the changes can be sustainable if done in manageable stages.

Moving forward from tissues and issues is a long-term commitment that according to Deloitte offers a “revolutionary opportunity.” The Global Human Capital Trends report stated “…there are real signs of change and progress: HR teams are learning to experiment with new ideas; they are making significant steps to upgrade skills; and a new generation of younger, more business-savvy and technology-empowered people is entering the profession.”


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