At the recent book launch for 'Human Resources Changes The World', written by Glenn G Jones, one of the big topics of the evening was asking what the "north star" was for HR and what direction it should be heading. Naturally this got me thinking about how it applies to my own line of work, and specifically how it should apply to digital HR technology.
Whilst this comment was primarily aimed at HR as a function (not necessarily digital HR), I started to draw parallels to my own world. A key point made by Tim Wakefield, who leads the HR Reinvention practice at IBM, was that companies need to start demonstrating the value added from HR. They need to get out of the role of being an "admin" function and allow more room to add value to the business - however that may be. In my own role as a recruiter I can completely appreciate this, on a daily basis I see more and more customers opt for MSP models to automate the mundane, administrative parts of the recruitment process. As the industry changes and the demand from customers evolves, the way I add more value now is through my candidate relationships, my ability to sell an opportunity or the company to candidates, and of course my in-depth knowledge of an ever changing market. The "Polaris" of any profession is always evolving with time.
I then came across Adrian Bridgwater's article, which caught my attention straight away due to the title: "SAP SuccessFactors Gets Human Over Digital HR". This excited me as I strongly agreed with a lot of the points he makes in this article. I'm a big believer that digitalization, automation, machine learning - or any new and innovative technology disrupting the status-quo in business - should tick two boxes:
- Automate repetitive processes that take a lot of time and little skill
- Give employees a platform to spend more time on new and more complex every day challenges
So when Adrian asked the question "does digital Human Resources force firms to become more digital, or does it in fact give them the opportunity to become more human?", my answer was simple: it should do both.
Reading about SAP's announcement of creating a new "'open community' intended to create purpose-built HR applications", it's clear SAP aren't satisfied with the existing functionality in SuccessFactors to solve the challenges faced in the HR department. What's exciting is that the solution has come in the form of a community style development platform. Can you think of anything more suited for HR? Equal opportunity for big and small enterprises alike, openly collaborating and sharing feedback, and in doing so helping to tackle specific problems in the HR function. If there is one way to help move HR away from being an "admin function", this type of initiative is a great way not only to involve HR in wider business transformation, but also make sure they can add "value" the way a company needs.
It's interesting to see the six pillars SAP has organised the community applications into, they fall into the following categories:
- pay equity
- real-time feedback
- unbiased recruiting
- predicted performance
- internal mobility
When I last wrote about "How human should HR be?" a lot of these topics came up as ones that artificial intelligence could assist with in the HR process. Things like well-being, pay equity, feedback, and performance are all areas you want to be unbiased, hence developing applications to help with these areas can only help. At the same time, some of these topics will be very challenging to remove the people element. How do you quantify well-being? What part of performance can not be shown in the number? The areas SAP has outlined are either 1. a no-brainer that this HR process could be improved with technology or 2. an area that will need a significant investment of time to improve with technology.
That's a conscious, human effort towards helping companies who want to be more digital, continue to be more human. Good work, SAP.
The answer lies in the fact that digital HR 'should' make companies more human if it is embraced and implemented correctly in a holistically connected way with multiple channels of access. If we apply it carefully, digital HR can help us identify bias, inequality in the workplace and also help us focus on human well-being, because we'll know more about what people are actually doing in the roles they are assigned to.