In 2021, AppLearn conducted research into how the pandemic enforced rapid change in areas of work such as employee experience, digitization, use of HR technology, and the structures of work itself.
The workplace software provider wanted to know what all of this change would mean for HR software implementation, continued technological transformation, the digital experience of work, as well as all the bumps, missteps and misalignments, and successes that go with it.
Their findings were published in The Digital Adoption Drive report, a write-up that included interviews with HR leaders to find out what all this change meant for them, giving them the chance to share insight from the front line.
Their answers shone a light on everything from whether the usual elements of an HR tech stack are robust enough for an ongoing VUCA (volatile, uncertain, changeable, ambiguous) world to where technology gaps might exist. They also talked about how digital adoption rates might be hampering the employee experience and whether slow takeup rates, when it came to digital, might be hitting overall performance.
These insights also underpinned an exclusive UNLEASH webinar with the same HR leaders, as they dove even deeper into issues digital transformation can cause them. That can be viewed here.
There’s been an explosion of HR technologies. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to identify the right thing to invest in that will provide the best value for the organization.
Ben Debnath, Global Head HR Operations, Syngenta
However, overall what the report fed back on was what the experience of work is like and how it is effected by the interplay of HR strategy, humans, and technology. It also laid out how this all plays out on a fast-changing business landscape, where the employee experience, engagement, data, AI, digital platforms and HR service delivery have increasing impact and are also increasingly center stage.
As the world is still dealing with massive uncertainty – and with HR leaders still under massive pressure to deliver on everything from driving value, leader-workforce alignment, better work experiences, and overall use and iteration of technology – this article is but one in a series that takes highlights from the report to showcase where HR can improve when it comes to digital practice in turbulent times.
Find out more by reading on.
[Digital adoption is our] number one HR goal.
Raju Vijay, Vice President Global People Services, Nissan
Without a doubt, HR technology took center stage during the first stages of the pandemic.
However, this software will only succeed in reshaping business across the globe for the better if HR can get its workforce to buy into digital transformation and use these new systems at every turn.
Although this might be difficult some form of digital transformation is necessary because, as was found during the pandemic, legacy HR tech stacks often weren’t up to the task when it came to providing first-class experiences for employees.
So, what to do? Leading HR practitioners suggest that the design of technology and the systems enable the need to be geared towards what employees need and want if they are to be adopted. They also advise not to get worried if perfection isn’t reached the first time round and advise HR teams to measure and iterate.
It’s this approach that should all underpin “giving employees what they want”, which is often a consumer-grade experience to keep them engaged and coming back to use that system, whether it improves their workflow or helps their learning.
Ways to do this will, of course, vary from firm to firm, but report findings advise doing the following to get buy-in: giving employees access to technology and platforms anytime, anywhere; getting leadership to model use; gamification; and building cultures where feedback is appreciated and used.
Turning rapid change into a sustainable experience
Over the past year we realized transformation is no longer just a point in time, a perfect revolution. Instead, it’s now a constant process of progress and adoption – because the HR ecosystem around us continuously changes.
Rudy Kelner, VP, Head of HR Transformation, Technology & Global Solutions, Verisk
As HR moves on from the initial stage of the pandemic, the focus will not just be on how well HR technology systems can cope with rapid pivoting but on how they provide a sustainable people-centric experience of work with flexibility and adaptability built into them.
As one HR leader said, the technology needs to be able to underpin a consumer-grade experience of work that works to service all of the employees’ needs.
Without a doubt, this sounds utopian and therefore will need HR, IT, and procurement teams to align on how to deliver this lofty goal. Any project to get towards this endpoint should also want to create fluidity and uniformity for employees wherever they are working, focussing on communication and connection.
Interaction and communication
Employees receive a huge amount of information, from accessing Teams to using learning apps.
Cat Lightfoot, Global HR Operations & Technology Director, Imperial Brands
Any focus on communication and connection, as the research found, should seek to readdress any interaction and information imbalances employees are experiencing as a result of new working structures.
In fact, HR should now be thinking about how technology can get the balance right, and informing and rather than overload employees with information. It should also seek to improve areas that rely on good comms, such as team collaboration, performance updates, and more administrative tasks like annual leave management.
With more than a quarter of employers feeling they now waste time each day on unnecessary communication, and many organizations trying to find ways to ensure communication doesn’t impinge on employees’ personal time, HR has a big task on its hand.
Especially as it has to also keep workers connected in new structures, optimize comms, keep communications in easy-to-access places, and reshape systems for the future of work.
Simplify, simplify, simplify
Let’s strip technology down to how it serves employees, not start with the sole ambition of sophistication.
Reza Moussavian, SVP HR Development, Tribe Lead Employee Journey, Digital Transformation People & Culture at Deutsche Telekom
With technology transformation now, largely, accepted as an ongoing process the pressure will always be on HR to ensure they are integrating applications with a view to improve the employee experience of work.
This should focus on the strategic deployment of platforms and clear instructions on how employees should use them.
How to overcome this is a vexed question. Some believe that it’s about ensuring HR understands that technology is not the goal but part of a process that works towards great business outcomes.
Others added that it’s about ensuring that the introduced software is intuitive, that employees understand its functionality and utility of it, and that works like consumer tech by doing simple things easily and brilliantly.
Yet, it’s a difficult area to get right. Often budgets in this area are flat, meaning HR might have to make better arguments about how technology is no longer just IT spend but experience spend, too. Additionally, there are different schools of thought around having one platform that does everything or adopting different platforms for different tasks.
At the core of this decision-making should be the bigger picture: looking at how to create processes that will be more useful for workers and boost productivity and not just adding tech elements for the sake of it.
Understanding the benefits of data
We’ve got six years of great historical talent, performance and retention data. We’ve spent the past 18 months looking at how to drive value from everything we’ve amassed. We’re doing it to deliver effiency and also drive decision-making.
Cat Lightfoot, Global HR Operations & Technology Director, Imperial Brands
To understand how to make the future of work brilliant, all of the report’s HR experts agree that better use of data is essential.
In fact, according to research into Fortune 1000 companies, a 10% increase in data visibility can increase to more than $65m in net income. Yet, this is only likely to be possible if digital adoption is widespread.
That’s because successful digital transformation and adoption creates huge volumes of data that can be captured, measured, and scrutinized – aiding HR’s understanding of productivity, engagement, and business outcomes.
This data will of course require sifting and analyzing, but the upshot of doing so is that it can drive efficiency and better decision-making. Doing this will also require moving to new platforms and improving the quality of data at HR’s disposal.
It might also require augmenting legacy systems with new apps, partnering with experts, and developing data-use frameworks.
To download the full report, please click here.