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HR digitisation: Reaching for the clouds



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Since its introduction, HRMS and HR cloud systems have been one of the biggest game changers in the HR industry. However implementing and getting employees to adopt new systems is always an uphill battle. 

Jerene Ang examines best-practice case studies from Singapore Land Authority, Maxis and AmBank Group to explore how HR can successfully implement HRMS and HR cloud and reap its benefits.

An increasing focus on technology in the HR function has been the hallmark of the function’s evolution in recent times. Many HR professionals are today claiming that the use of HR cloud and HRMS systems have positively impacted the way companies recruit as well as their engagement, retention and productivity levels.

In fact, according to PwC’s latest HR Technology survey, 59% see benefits of performance management on mobile device, 54% see benefits of reviewing and approving employee time/ absences/ expenses on mobile, and 52% felt that being able to see a talent dashboard that shows key gaps is beneficial.

However, this is easier said than done and to reap these benefits, HR must ensure that employees make use of the system implemented. Afterall, a system that no one uses is unlikely to be beneficial in any way.

Hence, this feature analyses the ways in which HR can implement these systems, and ensure that employees make the most of them through best practice case studies from the Singapore Land Authority, Maxis and AmBank Group.

Case 1: Singapore Land Authority

The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) believes that people are the most important asset and a highly-engaged workforce has a direct impact on the productivity and performance levels of an organisation.

“With the entry of the millennials into the workforce, we have to manage a diverse workforce of four generations of employees in the same workplace today,” Er Chye Har, HR director at Singapore Land Authority says.

Er notes that the Millennials in SLA generally have relatively lower engagement scores and that their engagement drivers differ from that of the other generations.

“This means that we have to go beyond the traditional employee engagement platforms and initiatives to reach out to them and touch their hearts.”

“With the rapid proliferation of technology, we recognise embracing digital technologies is absolutely necessary to help employees stay engaged and productive.”

With an ambition to innovate and move HR’s role from merely transactional to transformational and manage talent more effectively to meet the strategic objectives of the organisation, SLA’s HR team implemented an integrated HR and finance system developed on the SAP platform to perform the transactional and administrative HR functions.

“Apart from focusing on the day-to-day HR operations, we also make it a point to continuously seek out new and emerging technologies to transform talent management practices and improve the employee experience.”

“In implementing HR technology solutions, it is important to bear in mind the need to strike a balance between achieving operational efficiencies and maintaining the personal touch,” Er points out.”

Apart from improving SLA’s biennial Employee Engagement Survey (EES) – conducted once in every two years –  to be in the band of the top 12 Highly-Engaged public sector agencies in 2014, the system also improved HR indicators such as voluntary staff turnover and absenteeism rates over the years – well below the Statutory Board median.

Additionally, it won SLA the Leading HR Practices in E-Human Resource Management at the Singapore HR Awards organised by SHRI.

“This award serves as a strong affirmation of our HR team’s efforts in leveraging on technology to improve our employee experience and prepare the SLA workforce to be future-ready. We also hope to inspire more HR professionals and organisations to transform HR practices using technology,” Er says.

“In implementing HR technology solutions, it is important to bear in mind the need to strike a balance between achieving operational efficiencies and maintaining the personal touch.”

 

– Er Chye Har, HR director at Singapore Land Authority

She notes that in order for any HR initiative to be effective and successful, the CEO and senior management team have to understand the business need driving it and the impact of the initiatives before they take ownership.

“In SLA, we make use of multiple communication channels such as management meetings, staff town hall sessions, CEO’s tea sessions with staff and CEO’s blog hosted on our Intranet to announce and explain HR initiatives.”

Despite that, SLA still faced two types of challenges – technical and non-technical.

“The primary technical challenge is that of data security.”

“This is a big hurdle for almost every organisation but we are determined not to let this deter us.”

To overcome this challenge, SLA’s HR team worked hand-in-hand with the IT Division to devise alternative solutions to mitigate the data security risks involved in the implementation of every project.

“The non-technical challenge is about gaining wide acceptance from our users on the digital HR solutions.”

To overcome this, SLA engaged the users and stakeholders at the very early stage of the project.

“By helping them understand the project objectives and intended benefits, they are more likely to support the project as well as give meaningful feedback for improvement.”

Er highlights that this engagement process cannot be just once-off.

“You have to make it an iterative process. Address and work on feedback received so that when the project is launched, they will accept it.”

“The key to successful implementation of a new project is to take small steps at the start, for instance start with a proof-of-concept or pilot project, and once it is successful, take a bigger step forward.

She emphasises that not giving up and trying new ideas is key to preparing the workforce to be future-ready.

Case 2: Maxis

As a digital enabler for both enterprises and consumers in Malaysia, Maxis has a very clear digital strategy – to help Malaysians do as much as possible digitally and especially through smartphones.

On the HR side, Monir Azzouzi, head of performance and development at Maxis reveals: “We want to create the best employee experience possible. We want HR services and employee information to be accessible anywhere you are and anytime you need it.”

“Your mobile phone is with you all the time. Therefore, mobile first solutions are the way to create a seamless and the greatest employee experience,” he explains.

As such, Maxis’ HR team worked with its sourcing, legal and IT departments to implement mobile and cloud solutions in areas of HR including recruitment, on-boarding, performance management, learning and development, and talent review.

In recruitment, Maxis developed its own mobile apps, and partners with a digital interview solutions provider, HireVue, to make the recruitment process mobile and seamless. This move has shortened the recruitment processing time, removing much of the administrative work. At the same time, it acts as a filter to recruit only those who are comfortable with technology, allowing for a higher quality selection of candidates. Apart from its digital capabilities, the tool is also based on some strong, highly validated psychological understanding of how to get the best and most honest inputs during the interview process.

“That said, we still meet candidates face to face for final interviews to ensure a holistic experience for all candidates, and to show them what the Maxis culture is all about and see if they would be a good fit.”

In terms of learning and development, Maxis believes in the philosophy “learn anytime, anywhere”, especially in an age where new apps and micro-learning are taking L&D to a new level as part of the employee experience. As such, Maxis has made several L&D programmes available to its employees. These include online learning through partnerships with Lynda, HMM, SmartUp as well as sending employees for training through Coursera, Udacity and other online venues; monthly talks conducted by experts from all over the world at physical premises and through webinars; as well as classroom trainings.

“I strongly believe in blended learning and self-learning. We therefore always do our utmost to create an environment that encourages growth in the way our employees find most suitable –  especially online/mobile,” Azzouzi says.

“We can no longer just look at price and technical specifications. We always put ourselves in our employees shoes and ask ourselves how easy the system is to use and how the employees will experience the tools.”
– Monir Azzouzi, head of performance and development at Maxis

With a digital, paperless culture prevalent in Maxis, gaining the buy-in of stakeholders wasn’t difficult. The one challenge the firm faced was to ensure that its employees used them.

“The innovators and early adopters are always the easiest to convince to jump on the digital bandwagon. The rest requires a little more convincing and marketing effort,” Azzouzi says.

The solution? Having a good user experience and user interface. “Many of the old HR solutions don’t have a compelling user interface, let alone user experience, which makes employees want to log off before they even start looking for information,” he explains.

“We can no longer just look at price and technical specifications. We always put ourselves in our employees shoes and ask ourselves how easy the system is to use and how the employees will experience the tools,” Azzouzi adds.

Maxis also has an internal marketing plan on marketing its HR products to make sure all employees hear about the new HR tools be it by the company intranet, Yammer, town halls or management meetings.

While the initial cost of digitisation might be high, Azzouzi believes that more will be saved than spent by having more satisfied, engaged and efficient employees in the long run. “We are the leading digital enabler in Malaysia, and it’s important we’re perceived the same way by our own employees.”

Case 3: AmBank Group

The introduction of HRMS in the HR world is a game changer for the HR industry and its professionals, however constant upgrading is crucial to stay relevant for the future.

Despite having a HRMS that serves well for the automation of processes in HR functions such as payroll, claims, leave administration and benefits administration, AmBank Group is looking to upgrade and expand its current system offerings online to take the organisation to the next level.

On the current system, Azaharin Abd Latiff, senior vice-president of group HR operations and projects at AmBank Group says: “despite having served its purpose to consolidate data with the ability to generate reports for analytics research and studies, the limited deployment of HR processes and transactions for employees and people managers is hindering the future progress of HR.”

He explains that when implementing the previous system, they took the business needs at that time into consideration where the focus was to automate the more transactional people manager functions.

However, as AmBank analysed the needs of today and in anticipation of future, they realised that the current system they have adopted may not allow for deployment to the prescribed users.

Due to the need for further analytics for better decision making, AmBank has decided to embark on an upgrade of their current system, to a more versatile, mobile and accessible HRMS, to take them to the next level – the HR cloud level.

This campaign, owned by HR Operations and Projects for Group HR, will take the approach of visualising the end-result AmBank wishes to achieve and conceptualise the approach to materialise it.

“It takes the standard project management approach where we diagnose and define the situation, measure the extent of improvement required, analyse the best approach, initiate the improvement and control the execution for sustainability,” Azaharin explains.

“Parties involved are invited to participate from the idea inception stage. This is strategically done as to promote team synergy and co-ownership of the campaign.”

“In today’s HR technology, it is about sustaining the HR relevance in an organisation and positioning HR as a strategic partner in making business decisions.”
– Azaharin Abd Latiff, senior vice-president of group HR operations and projects at AmBank Group

In order to gain buy-in from stakeholders, AmBank’s HR team measures the ROI in terms of tangible benefits such as productivity gain.

“In today’s HR technology, it is about sustaining the HR relevance in an organisation and positioning HR as a strategic partner in making business decisions,” Azaharin says.

One of the ways in which HR can be a strategic partner is in terms of talent acquisition and generating employment branding via social media.

“Easy access to the organisation value propositions and creating followings via online content marketing is now the way forward, alongside the gamification of HR sciences.

“A platform that allows for effective management of these advancements is more crucial than ever now, especially in keeping to the latest in technology whilst manoeuvring around the noise.”

Azaharin expects timeline, resources capacity at execution stage and post adoption to be the primary challenges expected during the implementation of the campaign.

The key to mitigate these challenges – consistent and regular communications.

“Communicate for the audience or users to understand the need and what are the changes, when and how it will affect them positively and what do they gain in return.”

Azaharin notes that the small results achieved so far are just milestone achievements of the larger end-result AmBank expects.

“We are on a journey and we need to keep the pace going. Currently, the team morale is high and positive.”

“Team members are motivated to be a part of the changes, and this is evident across the team. Productivity has increased significantly alongside high team engagement level.”

He adds that talent acquisitions processes utilising HR technological advancements such as HR cloud is expected to deliver a minimum return of 25% cost savings in comparison to the traditional talent acquisitions platform.

“These cost savings are derived from monetising the talent acquisitions cost such as less dependence of third party cost for candidates sourcing, higher productivity in hiring, longer retention of new hires and availability and continuous resources supply.”

Key takeaways

After having a look at these best practice case studies, here are some key takeaways.

Ensure that your HRMS is easily scalable
When deciding on a system, ensure that it is scalable. What is relevant for business today might not be relevant for it in the future.

Constant communication is key
In order to gain buy-in from stakeholders and employees, communication is key. Ensure that stakeholders and users understand the need of the system and how it will affect them positively. It is also important to note that communication has to be an iterative process.

Address and work on feedback received from pilot projects
This ensures that when the project is launched, employees will accept it.

User interface (UI) and user experience (UX) can impact adoption rates
Bad UI and UX are likely to make staff feel like logging off before they even start. Hence, a system with good UI and UX is essential for good adoption rates.

Take small steps and never give up
Remember that implementing a new system is a journey and not a one-off thing.

Image: 123RF

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