Technology is here to stay, but the HR function at most companies is still trying to understand the best way to leverage that opportunity.
The delegates at HR Tech Interactive 2014, the region's leading HR technology conference, voiced this thought as they shared best practices and experiences at the sold out one-day event.
When discussing user experience and adoption - in effect, how companies can drive technology for their organisations - the panellists said it comes down to engagement and seamless usability.
The panellists (pictured above) were Alysson Do, vice president, HR, APAC and emerging markets, Pitney Bowes; Jasmine Teo, senior HR business partner, global products and solutions, APMEA, MasterCard Worldwide; and, Nidhi Das, HR leader, shared services and delivery, APAC, Autodesk.
Das started out by saying how technology has made data more easily accessible, be it on appraisals, HRIS, or recruitment, making it simpler to work remotely. In addition, "it has changed the way employees interact with us."
Teo agreed: "Traditionally, HR is seen as a very good housekeeper, a custodian of policies. We are rated on how accurately we get back to the business on their requests.
"Technology is helping our role move up the spectrum to that of a doctor - someone who dispenses advice to the business, as a trusted advisor. We have managed to take a lot of administrative tasks out of the system, to be able to have a effective, consultative relationship."
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Driving the change
"For anything that touches our employees, we should be the touch points," opined Do, stressing on the need for HR to take ownership of driving new technologies on the organisation.
Teo said a mix of senior management, IT, and marketing ought to be brought on board, as "driving it on your own may not be sustainable" while Das said there's a need for the cause to be championed by non-HR folks who believe in the initiative's ROI.
Teo took the example of a recent self-service tool rolled out at MasterCard, crediting three success factors for its implementation.
"First, make your communication visible. You must sell what you are trying to achieve," she said. "We created competition among the business units about adopting the service, bringing in an element of gamification. When you publish a ranking, there is an element of recognition to it."
Her second point was the old adage about teaching a man to fish, as "you need to train employees on a new concept". Her final piece of advice was to "be ruthless", as she pointed out the need for persistence and determination to make the change.
"It is very easy for me to make a requisition on behalf of a manager, but when you do that, you encourage them to go back to the old ways."
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But what happens if the employee population is disengaged at the time of roll-out?
"You should never let your employees hold you hostage," said Do. "If the business needs technology, there is a reason for it. If employee morale is low, how do we look at this as an opportunity to engage?"
What are some the features that HR leaders would appreciate in their technologies? Das said quite simply: "Something I can understand without talking to an IT expert."
Teo agreed: "Keep it sweet and simple. The system should be easy enough to use that employees only need to make a few clicks to get the information they are looking for."
"When we think about adoption, we need to understand who our users are, what their behaviour patterns are, and the kind of look and feel they appreciate," added Do.
"If you need a handbook to use it, then it’s not working. Technology should not make it any more difficult for us to work."