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HR tech, the term used to describe technology tools that bring automation to human resources functions, is booming. In 2021, the HR tech market was valued at nearly $23 billion. By the end of 2022, it was expected to reach nearly $24 billion. Very few businesses have not implemented some level of HR tech. The problem, however, is that most of them have not implemented it well.
According to a recent survey, HR tech has become one of the top frustrations in workplaces across the US. Conducted by OnePoll in late 2020, the survey shows that 77%of U.S. workers are frustrated with the automated HR tools that they must use to engage with HR functions — enrolling in benefits and requesting time off, for example. Workers are so frustrated, in fact, that nearly 70% said they would be willing to take a pay cut if it resulted in getting new tech that was twice as effective.
A follow-up survey conducted in June 2022 reveals that almost half of U.S. business leaders are not aware of the frustrations that they are causing with HR tech. Only 54% of executives believe that their HR tech offerings are causing frustration with their employees.
Clearly, there is a disconnect. Companies are spending big on securing and deploying automated HR tools to make recruiting, onboarding and retaining employees more efficient and effective. What they are achieving, however, are software “solutions” that only cause more problems.
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Bridging the gap between HR insights and employee data
The PwC HR Tech Survey 2022 asked hundreds of U.S. HR leaders to weigh in. When asked about the biggest challenges they are facing, the top result was “HR insights and data analytics.” Nearly 40% of HR leaders cited it as a top concern. In response, many of those leaders will be seeking out systems designed to gather a wide range of data related to employee experiences and workplace behavior.
The effectiveness of those data systems will depend on three key factors — beginning with effective efforts to drive interaction. A lack of efficiency when it comes to HR platforms was one of the key frustrations cited by employees. Specifically, they cited “too many logins” as the top reason for their lack of interaction with their organization’s HR software.
For HR tech to become workplace tech, it must make work more frictionless. Access should be as seamless as possible, with mobile options available; it should be part of the everyday workflow. Platforms built with a focus on ease of use for employees, rather than solely for the HR department, will inspire employee interaction.
Applying HR data insights to company culture
The 2022 PwC HR Tech Survey provides some helpful insight on the keys to driving interaction with HR tech. Providing training, mobile access and incentives for usage were each cited by 85% of respondents as effective tools for driving adoption.
However, the survey also shows that organizations seemed reluctant to apply these methods. Only 54% offered training, 51% offered mobile access and 44% offered incentives for use. Organizations that expect employees to figure out HR tech on their own should not be surprised to find low levels of interaction
Culture is the second factor key to making this tech succeed. Organizations that hope to gain support for the systems must make it clear that the automation the tech is empowering is valuable to its overall operations, rather than an administrative add-on. It must be embedded in culture. Adoption will be a challenge if employees do not understand and appreciate the value of the system, the process it carries out, or the data it gathers.
Shifting from HR tech to workplace tech requires designing the deployment of the platform in a way that allows employees to see the value in it. It must be clear that the tech contributes to a better employee experience and builds a better overall workplace. This step in adoption is much easier in organizations that have already made a commitment to digital transformation.
Creating actionable change through key HR data
The third factor involves acting on gathered data. This can be thought of as hearing employees, rather than just listening to them. For example, let’s take an employee who is consistently late for meetings. HR tech will note it and, possibly, alert the employee that it is a problem. Workplace tech will automatically push a short online course to the employee that can help with time management.
With workplace tech, the problem is acknowledged and a solution is offered that makes the workplace and the workplace experience better.
Acting on data shows employees that the system is valuable and that their leaders care. Failing to act on the data says the opposite. In those types of workplaces, HR tech becomes another frustrating experience that reinforces the idea that the company is using tech and the data it gathers to count employees, rather than to show employees that they count.
Jason Averbook is cofounder and CEO of Leapgen.
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