Technology and HR – Like C-3P0 and R2-D2… They Just Go Together

Over the last 20 years, through my work in various HR services companies, I have essentially worked for over 30,000 small and medium sized businesses. While I would like to think I provided them great service and value, there is no question that they provided me insight into their world, their challenges, and specifically how the people side of the business has evolved for the better. One of those evolutions is around the use of technology by the employee, the employer, and HR services companies that support them.

Gone are the days where we manually track payroll, time or attendance and hope that human error did not cause a mistake. Take it further to recruiting, hiring and employee onboarding where applicants’ only option was to come into the office and literally fill out paperwork by hand.

While there are many successful businesses out there that still rely on manual or analog methods to process and support HR functions, the fact is there are now options driving a shift in what HR can be to a business.

For many of us, HR was simply seen as “information keepers” and not an integral part of the organization. As we continue to automate more and more of the “mechanics” of HR through new technology, we have been able to reinvent HR to be the flag bearers for culture, employee development and the conscience of the business.

This migration does not happen overnight and it would be disingenuous to say it is an easy task; however, as the saying goes, “the juice is worth the squeeze”. Like many things in life, the first step is simply taking the first step.

In my experience, this means taking inventory of the types of information collected manually today. Starting with how you handle payroll, benefit enrollments and employee onboarding.

Ask yourself:

  • Do you have a “digital vault” of data and information that is both easy to use and easy to access?
  • Do your employees have a simple way to access their information that does not feel like they are trying to clean out a messy attic?
  • Do you and your employees dread open enrollment?
  • Is more than 50% of your time as an HR leader spent working in the business vs. working on the business?

With new technology platforms, you now have access to HR tools that can help you identify appropriate benefit packages for your employee profile. They can automate open enrollment so you move from manual paperwork to point, click, process. As the workforce changes, the need to provide access through mobile devices is not just a “nice to have”, it is a requirement to attract and retain the right talent. These new platforms and services use gamification to turn a once painful process of engaging with HR into a something that is as normal as checking Instagram or Facebook.

So, what is next? You have taken the first step, you have asked yourself the hard questions and you know there is opportunity to move the needle. You now have a couple of choices:

  • If you have a fully-staffed HR department that has the bandwidth to do the evaluation work that will not take you away from the most important things in the business, then dig in, buckle up and start submitting RFPs to HR technology companies.
  • If this does not sound like you, you can work with an HR consultant to help with due diligence on what is needed, the budget required and what level of effort it will take to make the change.
  • If you work with a PEO, they often have access to the latest technology platforms that can enable your business, without the capital investment.

Do you have a “digital vault” of data and information that is both easy to use and easy to access?

Do your employees have a simple way to access their information that does not feel like they are trying to clean out a messy attic?

Do you and your employees dread open enrollment?

Is more than 50% of your time as an HR leader spent working in the business vs. working on the business?

If you have a fully-staffed HR department that has the bandwidth to do the evaluation work that will not take you away from the most important things in the business, then dig in, buckle up and start submitting RFPs to HR technology companies.

If this does not sound like you, you can work with an HR consultant to help with due diligence on what is needed, the budget required and what level of effort it will take to make the change.

If you work with a PEO, they often have access to the latest technology platforms that can enable your business, without the capital investment.

However you decide to make the transition, the key is to be clear on your goals as you don’t want to get distracted from your core business operations.

Finally, as you embark on this change, engage your employees, get them excited, tell them what is coming. This will allow for more adoption and engagement as new features get rolled out.

As the wise Jedi Master, Yoda, once said… “always pass on what you have learned”. It will make all the difference in empowering insightful employees that can continue to transform your business for the better and prevent you from getting stuck. 

About Jordan Conley

As President of Obsidian HR, Jordan is responsible for the strategy, customer experience, culture and profitability of the business. Leveraging over 20 years of experience in the HR outsourcing industry, he brings a unique perspective to the evolving needs and definition of “HR” in the modern workplace. Prior to being appointed President of Obsidian HR, he was a founding member of ZeroChaos (now Workforce Logiq) and has held senior leadership roles at CoAdvantage (a large national HR outsourcing firm) and ProService (Obsidian HR’s parent company). As a natural entrepreneur, Jordan is passionate about seeing opportunities where businesses need help and partnering with leaders to protect their operations and make growth a reality. Jordan attended the University of Central Florida and Crummer School of Business at Rollins. He is married with three sons and currently resides in Denver, CO where he is an active car aficionado, an avid reader and connoisseur of Colorado beer.

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