Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, many HR teams reinvented and renewed themselves in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic placed serious challenges squarely in front of HR leaders.
Challenges included furloughs and layoffs, the need to upskill and motivate remaining good workers to stay on, vaccination and social distancing policies, new digital literacy requirements, and the need to improve digital systems quickly to work with remote workforces.
The pandemic drove a need to cut costs, improve efficiencies, and develop innovative work methods. Automation and technology became vital factors in these efforts. HR departments took up the challenge and revisited the whole notion of optimization applied to their work.
What is HR optimization?
Human resource optimization means realizing the best value (i.e., workforce capability, productivity, and efficiency) from your technology.
To realize that value, you can use many tactics. For example, you can choose to optimize the following:
- Organizational Communication. Build better collaboration, communication, and a healthy internal culture.
- Training Programs. Enhance employee skills and capabilities.
- Feedback. Help manage employee performance.
- Employee Experience. Increase job satisfaction, wellness, engagement, and talent retention.
- Technology. Eliminate inefficiencies, reduce costs, and enable innovation. Start by striving to make the best use of your current tech stack.
- People-related data. Make data more accessible, timely, and actionable. Today’s HR functions rely on intelligent deployment and digitized data.
Optimizing your HR tech is critical because there is no all-inclusive system to meet all your needs. HR teams use multiple apps to do their work. So, they need intelligent, reliable, accurate, and well-integrated tools to manage their data flows.
Where should optimization start?
How do you improve an HR system—especially an imperfect one—to operate at its best? How do you optimize what you have and selectively add what you need? Where do you start?
For some firms, the starting point may be obvious: you fix what’s broken or what’s outdated and becoming obsolete. For example, if you use a manual punch-card or spreadsheet-based time-tracking system to clock employee working hours, those won’t work for remote or hybrid workforces during a pandemic. You may need to subscribe to an online time tracking service.
Good integration helps manage many apps.
Perhaps, though, you have a more systemic challenge. You may use fifteen, twenty, or more HR apps to get it all done.
Apps are constantly multiplying as innovative new unicorns, software developers, and vendors emerge. Cloud-based HR apps are part of the global $145 billion software-as-a-service (SaaS) market. Gartner predicts the value of this market will rise to almost $172 billion this year.
To optimize your app use, you’d need to capture diverse data sets in a simple, unified way. You’d need planned, well-governed data integration.
Benefits of HR integration
Integration improves access to data and accelerates its speed of transfer.
Integration enables more prompt data analysis, too, so you can see trends emerging from your data harvesting sooner.
Spotting trends or relationships help transform raw data into useful information. This enables better decision-making.
For example, your HR data may show hidden truths or interesting insights into your employees’ skills and training needs, or promotional potential. Some data sets might illuminate general workforce trends, such as absenteeism.
Integration also helps get facts right. It automates a single, verifiable source of employee identity information shared with people across all your HR workflows. This eliminates duplicated manual data entry mistakes of employee names, addresses, and other details.
Perhaps one of the best benefits of HR integration is data analytics. Integration makes possible the collection of many people metrics that may be useful to the business.
People analytics collects and analyzes talent data to improve talent and business outcomes. As the Gartner glossary explains, people analytics enables evidence-based insights to guide wiser talent decisions and improve workforce processes.
HR integration enables other integrations.
Once you integrate your HR departmental systems and apps, you have a sound basis for building helpful integrations with other parts of the business.
For example, you need performance data to analyze the impact of programs and policies on productivity, and the business needs workforce availability projections to plan business initiatives.
Convergence of HR & work tech
Industry expert Josh Bersin reminds us in his HR Predictions for 2022 report that since the 2010s, there’s been an explosion of applicant tracking systems, learning experience platforms, and other HR-related software. Just about everything done in HR is now mediated by technology.
Bersin has also observed a “massive spread of HR applications into areas beyond payroll and employee administration.” He predicts a major convergence between HR tech and work tech to unfold this year.
Remote collaboration technologies (like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or LinkedIn video job interviews), online learning platforms, and e-commerce business models have exploded since 2020.
The push for digital transformation has further boosted the invention, improvement, and use of HR apps, especially for mobile devices.
There are now so many vendors and options for HR tech, it can get overwhelming. However, Bersin predicts some of these vendors will merge, and companies will need to re-architect their technology.
Integration is the first step.
Why is integration the first step to optimize your HR?
We hope we’ve helped you answer this question. We believe it’s because:
- There’s no one perfect app or tool for all your HR work. You’ll need integration to organize your many apps, which may be in disparate formats and unconnected.
- By first integrating the internal systems of your HR department, you’ll streamline workflows and develop stable, efficient systems from now on.
- Integration creates one source of verifiable truth for all your data, rather than multiple sources that can confuse you.
- It’s easier to clean your data and ensure its accuracy systematically.
- Integration enables better access to data, more timely receipt of data, and faster data analysis.
- It will enable people analytics to inform better business decision-making.
Whether you’re managing an extensive stable of apps or just planning to survive the unpredictable world and market changes, HR data integration is a necessary and prudent first step in optimizing your human resources systems now and in the future.
Pixentia is a full-service technology company dedicated to helping clients solve business problems, improve the capability of their people, and achieve better results.