There has never been a more challenging or important time than now to be a HR manager. The current climate not only offers a large number of vacancies but also presents labour issues resulting from the ongoing competition for skilled professionals. At the same time the economic downturn continues to force companies to consider layoffs.
In order to navigate this maelstrom, HR professionals need tools that support the modern workplace with resilient and agile technology. The core principle of HR tools is to eliminate the complexities of HR processes and turn it into a user-friendly process that touches every employee across the business.
HR tools are like gear shifters in a car, which makes them not just necessary but also essential. To really understand the role of HR tools in a workplace, it is important to understand the HR tech stack first.
HR tech: what is it and importance
HR tech or human resources technology is a broad term that refers to the use of hardware and software solutions to automate essential HR functions. The HR tech helps HR professionals to streamline time-consuming tasks and is thus responsible for key activities such as talent acquisition, workforce planning, compensation and performance management, and communications services, to name a few.
The real use of HR tech comes in the form of managing the entire employee lifecycle. With such a tool at their disposal, HR professionals can focus on improving recruitment practices, supporting managers, and boosting retention and productivity.
For HR leaders, there is also focus on new tech trends gaining traction. The most prominent change being HR tech tools becoming self-service technology, shift towards remote work becoming common, and work-life balance gaining priority for many professionals. HR tech tools are being designed with all these factors in mind and they help HR professionals not only automate functions but also improve company culture at large.
“Today’s workplaces are dynamic and digital, with change happening faster than ever before. In order to succeed in contemporary modern settings, companies are increasingly realising that they need to have a more powerful real-time understanding of their employees,” says Ronni Zehavi, CEO and co-founder of HiBob.
Zehavi adds, “When you talk about people, you’re really describing a company’s culture and there are very few factors that contribute more to business success than culture. This is not something that can be built overnight. Managing and retaining productive employees constitutes one of the most important imperatives for businesses that want to remain resilient, grow or manage workforces through difficult times or periods of high growth. This requires intuitive HR tech to provide people data that can be easily analysed. In this way, HR can support businesses as they adapt and scale according to market conditions – particularly important for mid-sized, multinational or multi-site companies.”
HR tech tools and their role in workplace
HR tech tools play an indispensable role at workplaces and they also come in different shapes and sizes. Looking at all these tools though, they can be broadly classified across areas where they are deployed. Here is a look at some of the utilities.
- Recruitment: Recruitment is arguably the biggest challenge facing HR managers and thus, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the vast majority of HR tech tools are designed for recruitment. These tools are designed to support activities like sourcing, optimising job advertisements, pre-employment assessments, and onboarding tools.
- Workforce management: Workforce management (WFM) tools were initially used for tracking work hours and scheduling time off. They are now being used to automate and streamline HR processes to create highly efficient, precise, and reliable results. If human resource management looks at the entire employee lifecycle, the workforce management tool focuses on productivity. With WFM tools, companies can improve communication, resource use, and work products to enhance productivity while also boosting employee engagement.
- Employee engagement: Employee engagement tools also play a critical role in HR tech stack and they allow organisations to proactively improve the workplace. These tools are used to create new communication channels and enhance employee collaboration. Employee engagement tools can also be used to send out periodic surveys and track the progress of initiatives. Every employer aims to make their employees look forward to work and feel fulfilled and these HR tech tools play a vital role in achieving those goals.
- Learning and development: Another core function within the HR tech tools domain is supporting learning and development (L&D) process. This process enables employees to upskill themselves and obtain necessary skills to assume new roles and responsibilities. The HR tech tools under L&D category essentially empower people to thrive in an evolving world. A 2019 Human Capital Trends Survey by Deloitte showed that candidates ranked “opportunity to learn” as one of the major attractions of a job.
Role of HR tech in a modern workspace
Technology is integral to the success of an employee in a modern workspace and by extension a company’s overall success in the market. Whether it’s drafting a document or analysing data, tech is not only required but necessary to add value to those actions. With HR tech, HR professionals only gain a tool to build a strategy that promotes a company’s mission and business goals.
With automation set to disrupt every industry in the coming years, the role of HR tech will also evolve. As companies around the world adopt digital transformation, the HR functions are also getting a much needed upgrade.
There is now an increased focus on cloud based HR tech platforms to support payroll, recruitment, and other management services. With adoption of cloud-based technology, HR tech is also evolving to adopt gamification and virtual reality to drive effective talent engagement.
“HR is now a key stakeholder in the strategic decision-making process of a business providing visibility and understanding of the key issues, trends, and people challenges within the organisation. It increasingly plays a more central role in supporting businesses as they adapt to employee expectations borne out of the digital era. For many the digital realm is the primary context for experiencing their organisations, teams and work. Providing a pleasant user experience accessed through a well-designed user interface makes all the difference. Having a flexible organisational model is the cornerstone for the future of work and a robust next generation HR tech system is the foundation,” Zehavi explains.
Last but not the least, HR tech will continue to evolve to support the people. The new tools allow for building a comprehensive wellbeing program whether it is in the form of leveraging fitness wearable tech or retrieving physiological data.
State of HR Tech Tools in the Netherlands and Europe
According to a comprehensive study conducted by HiBob, the HR tech tools are extensively used to automate some or all parts of recruitment. The study shows that 50 per cent of the companies surveyed in the Netherlands use HR analytics solutions, which is higher than 44 per cent using the solution in Europe.
At 49 per cent, the Netherlands also leads Europe (40 per cent) when it comes to the use of sourcing/talent pools. The Netherlands is also ahead of Europe in using employee engagement platforms, video interviewing, and tools for goal setting/OKRs and tied at 40 per cent for use of employee surveys or pulse surveys.
Europe leads the Netherlands in performance management with 50 per cent of the survey respondents in Europe confirming use of HR tech solutions compared to 45 per cent in the Netherlands. With 48 per cent of the survey participants confirming use of the HRIS/HR platform in Europe, the Netherlands lags behind at only 42 per cent.
When it comes to use of HR tech tools such as compensation management, LMS/Learning and Development, and ATS/Recruiting, Europe leads the Netherlands. The biggest difference is in payroll where only 15 per cent of the companies surveyed in the Netherlands confirmed use of this tool while the number is 34 per cent in Europe.
The study by HiBob makes it clear that companies in the Netherlands and Europe are deploying HR tech tools at a faster pace. Their use of these tools could bring refined process development and allow recruiters to focus on important tasks.
HR tech and the road ahead
It is evident that HR tech tools play a pivotal role in the modern workplace. In its current iteration, HR tech tools are able to help HR managers automate a number of functions but HR tech is set to become even more important in the coming years.
The study by HiBob found that HR and recruitment managers in both Europe and the Netherlands are now prioritising compensation management, performance management, and recruitment/talent acquisition as the key use cases for HR tech. HR is key to any successful businesses and quality HR tech is key to success of HR managers.