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What does the HR tech landscape look like from your view?

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13th Jun 2014
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When you look in the mirror, what do you see? If you’re anything like the hundreds of HR pros at small and medium-sized businesses that I’ve talked to over the years, you feel fulfilled in your job because you love working with great people.

In fact, you get to be your people’s biggest fan in a sense. A big part of your job is making sure everyone is doing meaningful work and celebrating their successes and work anniversaries. You’re also involved in your company’s culture, which is important and fun.

You’re comfortable in that role. The softer side of HR is why you come to work each morning, and why you chose HR in the first place. But amidst the more gratifying aspects of HR, there are still the more tedious tasks you have to do to keep the company running smoothly. Tasks like maintaining the details of payroll and updating everyone’s information, tracking your people’s paid time off (PTO) and filing all those mandatory government forms.

But even though these might be the least fun aspect of your job, it doesn’t mean they have to be the most difficult. There’s a vast landscape of HR technology that could help make your job easier. It may feel strange to consider trusting a system to handle all the data you’ve been overseeing for years, but it just may be time to consider what’s available in the growing offerings of HR tech.

The reward is worth more than the effort

Perhaps technology isn’t your strong suit. After all, you started a career in HR because you are a people person, not a computer person. You might feel overwhelmed when starting to research which HR software to use. There are many options to chose from, and it can be hard to pinpoint which of the choices will best suit you and your company.

Here’s a good place to start: the central foundation that keeps your employee data.

Where is your data now? Is that where it should be? Is it making good use of your time? Of everything else you do, you need to make sure your core system of record is done right. Find out which HR software can ultimately make you more efficient. Technology has been helping so many HR departments around the world that you can’t just ignore it.

When is it time?

Think about what percentage of your day is spent managing data. HR technology has opened the door to streamlining your HR strategy by automating so many things. If you’re keeping resumes in email, it’s nearly impossible to stay organised. If you’re babysitting data in information silos, you’re having to make updates each time something changes. If you’re not letting your employees make changes to their own personal information, it’s time to delegate. If you’re doing PTO with post-it notes, it will never be accurate.

Automating so many of these things will allow you to be more efficient and focus on strategic HR that will make a huge difference for the entire company.

Who has time for that?

You’re busy. I get that. You have so many things to keep on top of — making sure reports are accurate, dealing with compliance issues and fielding those persistent employee questions about taking time off. HR software will free up your time by automating many of these.

It’s the famous catch-22 of working in HR: You need the software because you’re so busy, but you don’t have the time to research it because you’re so busy!

Still, you must find the core HR system that fits your company. Be careful with 'best practices'. What’s good for company X doesn’t mean it’s good for your company. That’s why you’ve got to weigh and measure a little. Some HR systems are customizable to offer you just what you need. It’s important to identify your company’s unique needs and find the best solution.

It’s an investment of your time now, but it’s worth it in all the time you’ll get back in the future. So turn off your email, lock your office door and get it done.

What’s out there?

HR solutions exist for pretty much anything you’re looking for. You need the functionality your company will actually use. Paper’s out, and cloud is in. HR tech is staying on top of fast-moving business by keeping employee data in one central database, in the cloud and accessible anytime from any type of device. Start with the perfect fit for core HR and then work outward, trying to find solutions that can help if you have additional needs in these areas:

  • Talent management. Developing people is another crucial HR function. Using technology to remove redundant training and teaching processes just makes sense. HR software can help monitor performance reviews and track training to help you develop talent and avoid turnover.
  • Benefits management. HR spends a lot of time building a benefits plan to provide employees with the great benefits. Software that tracks benefit plans and providers keeps HR on top of enrollment deadlines and aware of any plan changes.
  • Payroll. Payroll accuracy, timeliness and completeness are three of the largest challenges SMBs encounter. HR can pass some responsibilities — providing payroll data and updating tax-withholding information — to the employee.
  • E-signatures. Possibly one of the greatest time and paper savers ever invented is the e-signature. HR sees lower costs, faster transaction times and increased productivity and compliance. And all forms are stored securely in the cloud — the icing on the cake!
  • Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Keeping applicants and resumes organised and sorted in one central location, an ATS can be essential for your company. Resumes do not belong in email. An ATS lets you streamline the hiring process and collaborate with decision makers.
  • Mobile and social recruiting. Recruiting has been thrown on its head recently with social media recruiting. Research shows that 92% of companies use social media for recruiting. Technology has made recruiting lightning-fast and easier to connect.

How do you know what’s right for you?

The HR tech landscape includes many expensive systems with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) functionality for the small businesses and enterprises, but should you take it? The trick is to find systems that offer what you really need, not what you may or may not need in the future. There are core HR systems that are customizable and designed to grow as your company grows, and offers the functionality you need only when you need it. That’s what you need to look for.

Life is too complicated. The software you choose has got to be easy to use and make your job easier. A lot of HR software providers offer a way for you to try it out first. It’s important to click around a little and make sure the functionality is going to make HR simpler.

What’s next?

It’s hard to predict what the future holds for HR, but I have a hunch it will have to do with strategic thinking. Now that you’ll have all your data in one database with an efficient core HR system, the software will soon be able to tell you what’s trending within your company’s data and help you determine what it means and what you should do next.

We all want to do the very best job we can. To do that, we need to know which technology is impacting our industry. Be smart when deciding what’s right for your company and find out if HR tech can add long-term, strategic value to your company.

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