How to Unlock HR’s Full Digital Potential


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A revolution is happening in the workplace: the digital transformation. This phenomenon impacts all industries and shows no signs of slowing down. Digital transformations have slowly emerged in every field of work, with the pandemic in particular accelerating the progress of workplaces adopting new technologies. With tech modernization improving workplace efficiency, the Human Resources (HR) department needs to understand the nuances of emerging tools and how they can be best used.

The adaptation of innovative tech has helped departments across the board become more agile and streamline everyday workflows. Most importantly, the digital transformation has shifted HR departments from the antiquated HR processes of the past into contemporary tech-driven workflows. Now HR departments have a countless number of new tools and services that improve operations and support greater oversight.

However, one hesitation many HR professionals face with incorporating new digital tools into their day-to-day workflow is the possibility of adoption failure.

Recent research from McKinsey shows that when transformations fail, it’s usually due to human error or culture misalignment. While human error is not something that can be fixed, doing plenty of research prior to adopting a new software tool can help mitigate a failure due to a cultural misalignment. Another way to almost guarantee success with new HR tools is to ensure employees understand the value the change will bring to their workday. HR professionals should pair tech changes with a fortified plan of how new tools or processes will work, including ample possibility for employee Q&A sessions to address stumbling blocks.

Now that the positives and negatives have been laid, out let’s dive into what HR teams need to modernize their department — along with best practices on how to streamline the transition.

Unlock the advantages of tech innovation

It has been 71 years since the LEO (Lyons Electronic Office) became the first computer to run a regular routine office job. Since then, technology in the office has drastically changed. During the following decades, new software implementations were slow and gradual. Many HR professionals used computers for standard research, emails and spreadsheets. And up until a few years ago, most HR departments were hesitant to transition over to using updated HR software.

Now, HR departments have been forced to adapt to new technology at a rapid pace. But many departments have yet to master the process of digital transformation. As the world has become accustomed to constant digital updates, the workplace must follow suit, appealing to younger generations entering the workforce and simplifying work functions for existing employees. According to PwC, 60% of executives state that digital transformation is vital for driving growth, making it more critical than ever to re-evaluate graying processes.

Assimilating newer technologies can enhance a company’s competitive advantage and bolster transparency while driving essential functions like benefits software to be more personalized or automated. Ditching legacy systems creates a better user experience and can raise the bottom line.

How does modernization affect employees? Digital transformation puts employees in charge of their work experience, and able to embrace things like Learning and Development (L&D). In today’s work environment, in-person L&D isn’t always an option. But L&D and even onboarding can be asynchronous and personalized through different platforms. With the right software, HR’s oversight remains steady while the employee or team can “choose their own adventure” to fit their unique needs. Through digital transformation, employees benefit from increased productivity and engagement while boosting their personal growth.

Map out your transformation

Implementing digital transformation in HR can seem daunting. Not only will it affect the HR department, but the change will affect the entire organization. In the early stages of transformation, all leaders need to be on the same page to identify what factors will make the plan successful.

Who will spearhead each aspect of the transformation? When adopting new HR technology, it’s crucial to designate HR team members to oversee various points of the plan. Formulating a strategy is critical as it will set the tone for the overall digital transformation and keep growth on track.

A potential side effect of digital change is cultural change, and with the right research, the change will be positive. Leaders overseeing their company’s digital transformation must anticipate this potential cultural shift and prepare employees with robust communication and resources to ease the transition. There will be a few employees who may move slower than others, and that’s okay. One way to help employees who are slower to adapt the new software is to offer more training and a forum where they can communicate with each other.

The feedback employees provide should never be overlooked. Leaders should gather data and promote employee feedback in conjunction with their digital transformation strategy to streamline the journey and determine what’s working or not. The results of any HR digital transformation rely on the preparation of the executive team. If businesses apply these strategies to support their digital shift, they can soon sit back and watch their results flourish.

Brian Anders
Brian Anders joined WorkSmart Systems in 2019 as director of human resources and has extensive experience in all aspects of HR within the service industry. His HR acumen includes employee relations, organizational training and development, project and talent management, payroll and recruitment. Brian is a graduate of Indiana University, and is SHRM-CP Certified with National SHRM and the Indiana State SHRM Chapter membership.


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