2020 was one of the most chaotic years on record for HR leaders. It was the year of firefighting, spinning plates and applying band-aid solutions wherever necessary. 

Now that the worst is behind us, 2021 is the year for HR to replace reactive panic with planful, morale-boosting innovation. 

Proactive tech strategy can make HR the hub of innovation  

Pandemic or not, the immediate pressures of business disruption should never obscure the fact that being proactive is a huge part of what makes HR so crucial to the trajectory of a business and its culture. Staying ahead of the curve is what ensures that your company’s hiring, onboarding, training and benefits systems remain competitive, productive and reflective of the evolving expectations of the business and the employees at the heart of it.  

Broadly speaking, the forward-thinking HR leader’s innovation journey that lies ahead can be illustrated by a three-point plan: 

1) Identifying and serving your vision 

First of all you need to identify what amazing could look like for your business and its specific set of circumstances. Technology should never be the starting point for these conversations; the way forward depends on your strategic ambitions as a company and tactics required to make these ambitions a reality. The technology involved should only ever be implemented to serve this vision.

2) Embedding the tools to implement your vision 

Once your strategic parameters are defined, the possibilities for HR are monumental with a wealth of tech-driven optimisation tactics that can support your business goals. For example: 

  • HR technology that provides daily recommendations and workforce insights based on AI and machine learning can be crucial to future-proofing your employee experience. By collecting and analyzing information across the wider company, gauging sentiment or eliciting anonymous feedback, HR tech can pinpoint and aggregate trends in morale and engagement and quickly formulate data-driven incentivisation tactics to tackle the problem areas. 
  • In recruitment, too, the latest sourcing technologies make it possible to proactively target the right people at the time they’re most likely to leave, instead of hoping to find the right candidates in a sea of applicants. 
  • The most forward-thinking HR leaders will be looking at process mining to identify which processes can be optimised with technology in order to streamline recruitment and maximise engagement. 

3) Ensuring buy-in across the business – for both the tools and the vision 

In the implementation phase (and thereafter), the onus is on talent management to make sure the workforce is properly incentivized and supported in their engagement with technology and with their business goals. A tech-enabled HR department will be key to monitoring how teams are responding to remote and hybrid work, identifying problems that are impeding employee well-being and productivity, and solving these challenges.   

It can be easy to lose sight of your people-focused goals amidst all the data you collect, particularly when HR leaders and employees are grappling with new apps and platforms. Rather than reducing employees to numbers, it’s important to find the right balance between data-driven incentivisation and human understanding. Encouraging open and honest communication about company strategy has always been HR’s remit; making sure technology supports rather than obstructs this strategic clarity and culture of openness is now a must.

Talent leaders can be the change champions of the business 

The prospect of hybrid working – with one foot in the virtual world – means that expectations for HR leaders are increasing; they must be the ones to champion and martial this sea change in a human way. 

From improving connectivity to tracking sentiment, emerging technology has huge potential – as long as HR directors maintain sight of its human impact never lose sight of the fact that an innovative business culture requires harmony between people and technology. 

Emergence provides fast, agile and human-centric consulting to help you cut through the noise, assess your current tech strategy and identify new opportunities for improvement. 

Get in touch to discuss what we can do to help. 

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