August 6, 2020
How HR Will Help Guide Companies to Success in the New Normal
In just a few short months the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted decades of entrenched operating procedures—from working in an office environment and traveling for business to meeting face-to-face and relying on paperwork—across the business landscape.
Companies are still scrambling to adopt sustainable work-from-home policies and create new programs to help their employees stay connected and engaged as the world continues to change.
From this atmosphere of uncertainty, HR executives have emerged as key leaders and guides in organizations.
Perhaps no other job has expanded and changed more than the role of the HR leader. From their positions as the traditional monitors and providers of HR technology and company culture programs, HR leaders are being called on to set expectations on how remote work is done, playing a crucial role in all business decisions and serving as advisors and guides on getting us through this difficult time. Although most people are watching headlines, the HR team now must stay on top of the news so they can help guide the C-suite through important COVID-related decisions.
Helping companies succeed in the new normal will require HR leaders to reevaluate the company’s tech stack and find new ways to conduct their critical jobs from home. These changes will help the HR team continue expanding their focus on diversity, inclusion, and equity, making their companies a great place for all to work.
Freed from the burden of paper
We recently partnered with Harvard Business Review Analytic Services to dive deep into the current HR technology landscape and make sense of how companies are implementing new tools. We learned that technology is at the center of how companies are rebuilding for the future and these organizations are uncovering new benefits as they adopt tech better suited to remote work. But, at the same time, this transformation introduces significant challenges.
We launched this research project pre-COVID, which ultimately helped generate a unique perspective on the increased importance of HR departments using the right technology. The idea that companies will benefit by adopting tech tools is certainly not new, but the process is much more difficult when it is not embraced across the entire organization.
Having HR processes still reliant on paper presents obvious challenges as we require remote work and social distancing. Perhaps most significantly, it slows down processes across the entire organization. Only 31% of respondents indicated that technology was embraced on any level by the HR leadership at their organization. A minority of organizations rely on technology tools to facilitate telecommuting (38%), schedule interviews (36%), and rate new hire candidates (33%).
More importantly, people in leadership understand the value in evaluating and adopting new HR technology. Over 80% of respondents felt that HR technology was more efficient than humans in handling skills test assessments and 62% believed tech was more efficient in screening resumes.
Similarly, background checks are still heavily reliant on paperwork, with only 30% of respondents having adopted tech tools. Not only does excessive paperwork slow that process to sloth-level speeds for remote workers, but HR teams are missing a valuable opportunity to tap into a much broader and more diverse group of candidates. Adopting a powerful background check platform will streamline processes and help HR leaders reach for diversity, inclusion, and equity goals.
Most organizations have been moving toward digital transformation for several years now, but COVID-19 has drastically accelerated that process. HR leaders need to carefully consider their tech stack and determine where they can invest in new technology – their teams will benefit immediately from more powerful tools and greater connectivity.
An increased focus on diversity
The central challenge of adopting new technology in the HR department is that many responsibilities need a human touch. The idea that an HR professional is better than technology at conducting job interviews received near-universal acceptance (96%) in the study.
Likewise, building greater diversity, inclusion, and equity across an organization requires experience, empathy, judgment, and creativity. As now-familiar calls for greater diversity in all elements of society ring and redouble, HR leaders are finding it challenging to build programs to support initiatives in a remote work environment.
Company leaders should reaffirm their commitment to diversity initiatives and share it across the company. HR leaders will be instrumental in guiding the C-suite through these essential conversations. Staying focused on diversity, inclusion, and equity will help create a sense of inclusion and belonging in a digital setting.
Reaching out to team members in these culturally—and- politically—charged times will also help support folks who are struggling to stay connected. Driving inclusion and recreating the social environment of the workplace is vital for everyone and will support young employees, parents, and people in isolated departments.
HR leaders bringing in new technology tools will help this process, as well. Although tackling the challenges of diversity, inclusion, and equity will require humans to connect with other humans, the tech will free up hours that would otherwise be spent dealing with unnecessary paperwork.
The sudden shift to remote work has challenged everyone in a different way, and HR leaders have learned to use every tool at their disposal to help facilitate that change. HR is still helping direct the deployment of company technology, facilitating work-from-home policies, and maintaining a solid company culture.
Reevaluating their tech stacks will be vital for HR leaders in the new normal. The HR technology revolution is moving faster than ever before, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic driving the need to find new solutions. As more teams, leaders, and executives begin to see the benefits, limitations, and costs of adopting new tech tools, HR leaders will continue transforming into key advisors for the organization.