How did technology impact HR in 2015?

HC chats to a technology and software expert about how his field of expertise affected the working lives of HR professionals this year

How did technology impact HR in 2015?
Every year, companies around the globe are embracing technology in their workplaces – but just how did this affect HR in 2015? HRD spoke to Kevin Brooks, national sales and marketing manager at Frontier, about the impact tech had on human capital and HR this year.

HRD: What’s been on HR agenda this past 12 months?

KB: Clearly employee engagement has always been of great interest to HR teams, the typical approach over the past decade has been for organisations to ask most, or all of their people, on an annual or half yearly basis about what they value and what is being offered, whether that’s pay and benefits, work-life balance or the opportunities their work offers them.

Unlike traditional engagement surveys which are based on a set of static questions these predictive platforms tailor the questions to the employee in real time based on their evolving preference profile. A real time approach supports the production of personalised communications for each participant based on their preferences and also enhances data analysis capabilities for the employer as HR/line managers are able to see the relative importance of different value proposition dimensions – eliminating the need for time-consuming standalone analysis and reports. 

HRD: What is the most interesting development you’ve been involved in this year? 

KB: Reducing administrative work for HR (HR impact opportunity). Many HR functions have a role that is a liaison between the HR function and business leaders. The specifics of this role vary widely. HR-focused organisations use it to advise senior business leaders, focusing on decision support, workforce planning, leadership development and executive coaching.

By enlisting the right person, HR can improve its credibility across the enterprise, improve working relationships with business leaders, cultivate mutual understanding and gain influence. When this role is implemented poorly, with more focus on administrative duties and taking orders, our research found that it can actually reduce an HR function’s ability to work effectively and efficiently.

HRD: What’s the most interesting development you’ve heard about this year?

KB: Organisations developing advanced workforce planning capabilities in HR including sophisticated forecasting and workforce analytics into their processes. This enables organisations to translate company-wide talent, business data and external workforce segment data into workable insights that they can use and share with business leaders.

HRD: What has been the biggest cause for concern for HR in relation to technology this year?

KB: Employees desire to maintain a balance between their work and personal lives. It is increasingly important that organisations address these issues as a key HR concern.
One of the most structural changes to ease work and family conflict is flexible working hours. Increased access to rapidly changing technology may ease some of the stress and pressure that individual’s face when trying to balance work and personal lives.

The challenge from an employee perspective is knowing when to start or stop work if working from home.
HRD: Have you noticed any technological advancements that have had a significant impact on workplaces this year?

KB: Workers are increasingly mobile, and a majority of organisations are focused on supporting the growing number of employees who use mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to do their work at the office, at home, and while traveling.

Mobile applications and services companies are broadening their solutions to address the needs of line-of-business workers in particular in roles such as sales, marketing, customer service, and support.  Workers have access to smartphones and tablets include accessing the employee intranet or portal and using email and/or calendar applications. However, there are also variances, depending on the type of device used. For example, smartphones are primarily used to read or view documents while tablets are more likely to be used to edit documents, access a web meeting, or perform processor-intensive activities such as analytics.

The key benefits business units achieve from these mobility applications include increased employee responsiveness and decision-making speed, resolving internal issues faster, and increasing worker productivity.
HRD: What is the one tech item employers should not be without in 2016?

KB: Social media in the workplace can be utilised as a public relations tool for companies. It allows a measure of transparency to the company through posts, blogs and pictures and makes the company easier to relate to for the average consumer. Companies can use social media to gather mailing lists, distribute sale and special offer information, showcase product pictures and post positive media reviews. Use of social media for work is a very inexpensive, often free, way to promote the business to a wide audience.

HRD: What are your thoughts on what might be on the global workplace tech development agenda for 2016?

KB: Communication is instantaneous, simple and cheap. We can transmit documents, videos and images anywhere in the world, instantly and at no cost. You need never be out of reach (unless you want to be, of course).

The world of work has changed profoundly in the last 30 years and it will continue to change over the next 30.

Augmented reality will become much more significant as network bandwidth increases. Developments such as the smart watch (Apple and Samsung), Fit bits and even the Microsoft HoloLens are already seeing experiments with hologram-like technology in the entertainment business and this will spread into office life, allowing us to send replicas of ourselves into virtual business meetings.
Related stories:
10 industry-changing tech disruptions for HR in 2016
How this bank is way ahead of the pack with HR and digital disruption
Four reasons why robots won’t take the human out of HR

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