Technology-Enablement + Business-Value Focus = HR Driving Change

I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at the Conference Board’s inaugural Technology-Enabled HR event a few weeks ago and five key points were repetitively made throughout the day.

  1. Happiness, engagement & recognition are worth it – literally
  2. Aging HR systems and poor access to data hampers progress and change in HR – big time!
  3. Moving forward, HR must look for cloud-based SaaS solutions with mobile capabilities
  4. There’s a new kid in town – he’s called the Workforce Analytics Pureplay
  5. Driving change in and thru HR is not only possible, but material – says the CHRO’s BFF, the CFO
Some more detailed and personal thoughts:

1. Happiness, engagement & recognition are worth it – literally

Simply put – happy and engaged employees, genuinely and consistently recognized for their contributions deliver better business outcomes. Stephen Parker from Achievers and Meredith Parker (no relation) from KPMG made this abundantly clear with facts and firsthand stories which makes this shift compelling for both shareholders (concerned with business outcomes) and, dare I say it, people. Yes, employees. Sally in Finance, your cube mate Pavel, you and I. Who wouldn’t want to be happy and actively engaged at work? I am, but I’m part of the minority. And when I’ve been through tough times in my career when I haven’t been happy or found my intrinsic motivation and engagement slipping, I’ve self-selected and moved on. Think about it please. Not for your company’s sake – for yours!

2. Aging HR systems and poor access to data hampers progress and change in HR – big time!

Kelly Allder, VP HR Programs from Ceridian Dayforce made the case why aging HR Systems are a serious impediment to HR from many angles – from cumbersome and inflexible processes to labyrinthian integration (if you’re lucky), to reporting, analytics and management information capabilities that would have been somewhat tolerated in a 1990s CRM. This complex infrastructure simply doesn’t fit the expectations that lines of business have for HR Service Delivery and Talent Management.

3. For those investing in HR Technology – Mobile, Cloud & SaaS are the key characteristics to look for.

Whether it be speed or total cost of deployment, having best-in-class HR Tech capabilities you could have never afforded in the past, or more comprehensive “suites” which cover all domains of HR in one single system, the future of HR Tech is all about cloud and software-as-a-service. Now select your vendor carefully because not all are equal. Especially when it comes to business model (do they just want to sell you a seat/license or ensure client success?), how they support you through the humps of implementation, stabilization, and broad-based adoption, how does their infrastructure and platform perform, and what’s their data security and privacy protection. Industry leaders Workday, Ultimate, Achievers, Dayforce, and Halogen spoke extensively about this.

4. There’s a new domain within HR Technology – it’s called the Workforce Analytics Pureplay.

This is when a People/Workforce/Talent Analytics capability simply overlays your current, frequently disconnected, HR Technology landscape. In the same way many companies have an ATS and core HRIS deployed, this is an additional layer which is system agnostic (i.e., it doesn’t matter what your HR Tech landscape looks like) – frees your data – and delivers incredibly strong ROI. It delivers the things HR’s business clients have been asking for, forever. Data-driven insight so smart people decisions can be made. The Workforce Analytics Pureplay has an HR data model in its heart – and is deployed at a fraction of the time and cost of traditional, far less capable generic BI platforms. It’s something we, at PeopleInsight, have pioneered for mid-market companies. Many executives I speak to tell me “I never knew a service like yours existed”. And they continue to tell me that there’s a “universal issue of people data locked away and not accessible for decision-making – which is what we need to deliver value for the business”, and that the Workforce Analytics Pureplay “just makes sense”. And one technology company we work with reduced turnover in one of their key roles by a staggering 25% in their first year of implementation – so the implications are material on many angles.

5. Driving change within and thru HR is not only possible, but material – says the CHRO’s BFF, the CFO

Russ Wong, ADP’s CFO talked extensively about numbers – which is what you’d kind of expect – but not about cash flow analysis or the balance sheet – but about things like the ROI of people investments and the importance of managing HR from its fact-base. In fact, he went as far to say that analytics is the sandbox where HR should be playing – to drive material change! Nice one Russ. Does that mean CFO + CHRO = BFFs?

So, Today’s HR Tech Has Purpose

And it’s ready to be unleashed by innovative, business savvy and forward-thinking HR & Talent Executives. And that’s the reason I love my job so much. We’re right in the middle of all of this – we have a purpose and we’re making a difference in helping HR drive change within HR and for their organizations. But, to come back to that initial equation and the whole purpose comment – while today’s HR technology is certainly playing a key role in making this happen – it’s all for naught unless HR and Talent Leadership is focused on using that technology to build business value and tomorrow’s people capabilities. Go on. Unlock the potential.