First, let me introduce myself. I’m a career-long people geek (I love thinking about how people and organizations can be more successful), and I’m always looking for ways to make delivering a great workplace experience to employees easier, faster, cheaper and more meaningful. That’s why I’m so excited by the current innovation environment for HR.
A new crop of technology tools are easy to adopt and promise to move the needle on each of the most common human capital related bottlenecks. Now that e-commerce and search are completely mobile-ized, capital has flowed over the past few years (among other places) into HR technology. Venture investors are channeling more than $200M every month into companies that are making HR work better! If you are an HR leader, have you noticed how many salespeople there are seeking out your attention? And, how quickly they respond to the smallest of signs of interest? That’s all that venture capital at work.
First, what piece of the people puzzle do you want to transform? Is it the speed and accuracy of new hiring, or how well new people are assimilated? Is it how to organize and share knowledge? Are most of your employees’ issues have as their root cause the skill level of managers? You have to be able to create a solid answer to this fundamental question, and preferably one rooted in data.
Once you have identified that issue, then take a scan of the tech vendor environment so you can see what sorts of resources there are. One valuable tool in this pursuit is arguably the most insightful analyst of HR right now – Josh Bersin and his team. The Bersin.com website has articles that can help you quickly identify some of the companies playing in the space you want to pay more attention to. Then it’s a matter of researching these apps and having a sales dialogue with the most promising ones.
These new apps create the opportunity to create a series of quick wins for you as an HR leader – tools and systems that you can adopt that will show results broadly and unmistakably to your stakeholders.
If goal alignment is a big challenge, start with goal-setting and performance management. In one of the organizations that I served as HR director in, for example, goal alignment was a big pain point. Different parts of the organization had conflicting goals, and there was little transparency about who was doing what. There are dozens of HR 2.0 companies offering performance management tools: BetterWorks, Reflektive, HighGround, Impraise, and StandOut to name a few.
If motivation is an issue, start with a pulse survey to measure the issue and create a stream of data about what is happening inside the company.
If onboarding is an issue, do a bit of design thinking on the whole process from offer letter signing to hitting full productivity 3 months in. Get a handle on all the steps, and then look at some of the new SaaS resources out there focused on this very challenge.
I think you get the point.
So let’s look at an example. Getwell:)Network is a healthcare IT company and it had people challenges that are pretty common: a geographically dispersed workforce and an annual goal process that didn’t keep up with what employees were actually working on. It adopted a next generation goal setting and performance management tool called BetterWorks, which compels managers to enter in their goals and enter in updates over time. The goals of each manager became visible not only in the chain of command, but beyond to peers and other departments – making goal alignment easier to achieve and disconnects easier to find. Employees and managers can record notes and update goal progress on their phones.
You do have the challenge of selling the cost – both the subscription cost, since most of these resources are SaaS – and the implementation cost. And, I’m sure you don’t have to have me tell you that those are real. You have to get your exec team on board, explain what this means, lay out new processes. All these steps take real effort and scarce attention.
I hope my idea encourages you to start telling an entirely different story about what HR is for. HR is about creating an environment of simplicity and productivity, and the reality is that to do so we need to enable things to happen not only at the desktop but on the mobile screen. Rather than talking about what WE need as HR professionals (usually some variation of “rules compliance,” let’s admit it) and focus on what is going to make work happen better and faster. If HR becomes invisible, all the better.