Is HR becoming the IT of the 21st Century?
As the HR profession changes, becoming high-tech and advanced, professionals must keep up by becoming technologically savvy—perhaps even with a hint of IT expertise.
Analytical skills and software competence are becoming an essential proficiency. Talent acquirement, recruiting, onboarding and development are increasingly moving online, evidenced by the sharp increase of cloud-based software, and apps for mobile devices.
These new tools are rapidly taking the lead in HR services— companies like Jobvite, Ovation Technologies and HR Concepts. They are affordable, easy to implement, and require a level of computer literacy.
In response, the successful HR professional cannot go by human management—or soft skills—alone. The new HR specialist needs to be able to incorporate the new tools of the trade, such as job posting software, applicant tracking, software-as-a-service and hiring management systems.
New advances assure that companies that rely solely on the old ways of recruiting, training, hiring and onboarding will be left in the dust—as forward-thinking companies take control. These new tools will ensure even the smallest of businesses can compete with the big players for all the best qualified talent.
It has become a matter of change, or perish. Perhaps not so dramatic, but the key point is the same.
The future of HR can look forward to the ability to provide an integrated workforce experience—combining information, data metrics, collaboration and execution into a personalized employee experience. This individualized relationship with employees—especially during onboarding—will secure the goodwill of the corporate culture by starting the new hire on a positive note.
As opposed to travelling to an employer when applying for a job, applicants have the ability to begin the process online. This one revolution exponentially expands the pool of potential candidates. No more physically arriving at a location just to fill out an onsite application.
The old ways were time-consuming, especially for hiring managers responsible for several units, chains restaurants or convenience stores. Often they would spend days traveling to locations, just to pick up applications.
By employing Web-based talent management solutions, hiring kiosks and company employment pages, the process of collecting resumes, generating assessments and evaluating skills needed for the job become productive and streamlined. In addition, candidates appreciate the opportunity to apply comfortably at home, resulting in a larger, higher-quality set of possible applicants.
According to Cisco’s “Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update,” mobile data traffic more than doubled in 2011; the latest in a four year course of exponential growth. Cisco estimated that by 2016, the total number of mobile devices per capita will reach 1.4 —more than 10 billion units. Ironically, the number of mobile devices will exceed the global population, estimated to reach 7.3 billion.
It is clear that with mobile HR management technology, spreadsheets, ledgers, burdensome reporting methods—even pen and paper—will become curious anachronisms. Routine tasks and reports can be completed from anywhere. Scheduling, vacation and time-off requests are approved—or denied—within moments.
This requires managers and human resources staff to have more than traditional soft skills—like personal interactions and negotiations. They have to have the ability to analyze larger numbers of data—more than was even possible in the past—to arrive at better, more insightful, decisions about legal issues and workplace problems.
As technologies like social media surface in the workplace, new challenges pop up; issues like compliance, employee ethics, behavior and more. This does not mean the old norms of workplace performance will go by the wayside; it simply means that the breadth of topics falling under the umbrella of HR substantially expands.
One thing may be true from all this; when viewing the big picture, Human Resources has become the potential to be the new IT of the 21st Century.
This trend also requires the most fundamental choice for HR professionals—adapt, or perish!