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HR’s blurred lines – the physical and the digital

Change is coming. In the war for talent a digital revolution is helping to unlock the true potential of the HR industry. That’s the good news, the bad news is that like the dinosaurs, those who don’t adapt to these impending trends are likely to become extinct.

So, what exactly is happening? In a nutshell, the economy, job-seekers and employees are going digital and the recruitment industry is following. The tsunami within HR is in full swing and the lines between its physical and digital worlds are blurring. Startup technologies and modern solutions are disrupting everything and nothing is going to be the same again. 

This new digitising of old processes is primarily aimed at helping its adherents to overcome the usual challenges of the HR ecosystem, namely, how to find, attract and retain talent. It’s doing this by replacing paper-based, repetitive and time-consuming duties with Artificial Intelligence, streamlined software and mobile apps. The ultimate aim being to improve candidate recruitment and achieve company success by greatly reducing the time, cost and complexity of doing things. 

Put simply, digitalisation uses technology to optimise existing processes to create a more efficient HR platform where recruiters spend less time on unproductive tasks and more on filling positions.

Historically, HR is only following the initial digitalisation of other company departments such as Sales, Finance, Marketing, Support and Security. Its time has come and is now happening. It’s a fast growing and unstoppable force that is going to change how Human Resource departments operate forever. Recruitment companies can either watch it happen or be part of it.

Surprisingly, in spite of everything that has occurred over the last few years, many people are still not sure what the digitalisation of HR actually means. This article aims to address this and explain the advantages of embracing it.

The recruiting process can be time-consuming, data intensive, high volume and complex. Whereas in the past companies risked being shackled by administration, overloaded with information and caught in a cycle of duplication. These-days, digitalisation offers them new ways of working, solving problems and engaging with people that didn’t exist before. It does this principally by leveraging social, mobile, analytic and cloud (SMAC) technologies to make processes standardized and smoother.

Applicant Tracking Systems are a good example of this new model. Not only can they offer powerful resume and candidate search functions, but they can also automate large parts of the candidate mining and hiring process. Work previously carried out by humans is now being done by computers.

To succeed it’s imperative that every aspect of a HR operation is reviewed before a forward strategy is crafted. Advocates should look at candidate relationship management (CRM), email campaigns, candidate communication, job posting methods and staff training requirements.

There are strong arguments for change, with many HR Managers concluding that their companies will lose out to competitors if they do not become more digitalised. They see an aging workforce being replaced by a younger more tech savvy one, with a corresponding shift in employee expectations. Now days staff want a personal work experience based on their needs, interests and skills. If these aren’t met it could lead to a brain drain of the best performers.  

Aside from helping employees to connect to their work, there are other advantages. In the future, its safe to say that many candidates will spend a considerable amount of time connected to social media and glued to their phones. What better way to build, manage and improve relationships with them than through digital channels.

It’s also important to remember that if done properly, successful change in a HR department can spur and spearhead the digital transformation of an entire business.

Now that we’ve seen the advantages, how do you plot a way forward to this new digital paradise.

When looking to implement IT changes in HR you must have a clear objective in mind. Too often, recruiters do something just for the sake of appearances. This is never a good idea, and can be damaging, costly and demoralising. Instead, it’s important you identify those upgrades that will improve daily activities, not add more complexity to them. 

How do you do digitalise?
One of the biggest challenges facing companies is pinpointing those precise areas that need changing. The simplest way to start of is to make a list of those back office support functions you currently spend time on. Prioritize these on two criteria, high impact and low effort. After this, select those which you think can be improved and note what can be achieved by tweaking them.

For instance, index the values you can expect and the return you will get from digitalising departments such as payroll, performance management, talent development, workforce planning and data management. Look for repetitive data-heavy processes where updates can result in less manhours, fewer errors and quicker results.

After this you have to decide on which system, tool or software to employ to digitalise these functions. This in itself can be complicated as there are so many different options out there, each with its own unique strengths and weaknesses. The market is getting crowded with suppliers offering seemingly identical functionality. Whatever you decide on, always consider things from a managers, employee and candidates viewpoint. Also contemplate the kind of reporting and analytics you require to make more informed decisions. Go for a resource that brings everything HR into one simple single environment. 

As the old saying goes, good things come to those who wait, but better things come to those who go out and get them. For success companies need to act now to re-imagine HR and work with technology not against it. In the past if you had good systems and good staff then good things would happen. Today, to be competitive this is not enough. Businesses have to adapt to this new era and take advantage of it.

As the labour pool becomes increasingly digitized, so must companies. If they don’t then there is a real possibility that some recruiters could end up looking for a job for themselves, and not for others.

Iejaz Uddin – Founder and CEO  – Dayjob.com

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