Make HR Cool (Again)
…because “has it ever been?” Provocative joke aside, HR – just like any other service-oriented business unit – is under an increasing pressure to deliver a better service with less and to adapt to new technologies and digitalization. HR are dealing with people – like IT, Customer Service, Finance, etc. do – but in an even more emotional context. Nothing is forgiven to them and we know that “people” are, nowadays, demanding custom…erm employees.
But who could blame them? They can rent a beach house at the other side of the planet in 5 clicks (Airbnb), get a cab in 2 clicks (Uber) or acquire a company for 13.5 billion just by speaking to a loudspeaker. Wait? You don’t know about this story that took Twitter by storm:
Bezos: “Alexa, buy me something from Whole Foods”
Alexa: “Buying Whole Foods”
— Jeff Lewis (@ChicagoPhotoSho) June 16, 2017
A different story in the professional world
In a private world of (almost) frictionless interactions with technology, how can we expect employees to “understand” cumbersome processes with no transparency at all? Let’s take as an example the following scenario that can still be experienced in the corporate world (yes, in 2017):
HR: “Can you please print this form, fill it in, scan it and send it back to me ASAP?” or in worst cases “…fax it back to me ASAP?”
Employee: “Do we have a printer in the office?” or “Can I take a picture with my smartphone instead of scanning?”
At best, employees will just laugh at you and gossip around about those impossible processes and procedures and then ask their nearest colleague “Do you know how to use a fax?”. Worst case, they will work around the process with all the consequences we know (loss of data, lack of control, etc.). But how to avoid that? How to make HR cool? How to improve the employee’s Service Experience? And last but not least, how can we give HR people a better toolset?
Daring HR professionals trying to break their administrative chains
Ten years ago, in Switzerland, I’ve seen some daring, adventurous, pioneering (and geek) HR start to develop MS-Access forms and databases. Of course, they would do it in the pure tradition of Shadow IT, without asking their IT department for advice or help as they would regard them as “the dudes that tell me to restart my computer when I have a problem” and certainly not as solution providers. To the HR defence, at that point in time, the IT department hadn’t transitioned from the world of No to the world of Now and those HR loved the thrill of risk (aka risk of losing your entire database because it is saved on a local drive). But and most importantly, the objective was the same as it is today: They were trying to find a more employee friendly solution.
The difference between 10 years ago and today is that technology has made tremendous progress. Scalable cloud solutions and platforms as a service that allow applications development (even guided application development for which almost no coding skills are required) while ensuring that data are shared and recorded in a “single system of record” are now available. The concept of Single System of Engagement has emerged and is becoming mainstream as well. Simplified, System of Engagements are tools that “engage” employees, meaning they use them to get something done or to get information (email is one, even if not the most efficient, a collaboration system like Sharepoint is another one). The idea of a “single” system of engagement relies on the fact that whatever the need: get a new computer, fill a HR form, request something from Finance, etc. It all happens on one single system, usually a self-service portal.
All this brought together means that there are now more opportunities than ever to streamline HR processes and to do it well. In cooperation with the IT department and all the other business units of the enterprise. But let’s take a concrete example to see how this can apply to HR: an HR Self-Service Portal.
HR Self-Service Portal
A flexible and intuitive HR portal would provide employees with the ability to find HR information and request HR services whenever and wherever they want to. This self-service approach gives employees access to HR services around the clock, from a desktop or mobile device, offering the same simplicity they have come to expect from banking online, shopping online or – as already mentioned – ordering a cab. Employees get complete transparency on their requests as they can see their status, which is constantly updated as the system tracks the request through the fulfillment process. Instead of employee requests pouring into HR through various channels (you know: emails, phone calls, personal visits, …), the portal is their one-stop shop that answers, directs, and follows requests while HR professionals can focus on other high value activities.
As part of its LIFT accelerator for ServiceNow, Fruition Partners has developed a turn-key HR portal that can easily be customised. It is part of a broader portal that can accommodate multiple “towers” (e.g. per business units) and act as a single system of engagement.
There are many other activities that could be automated and made more efficient like the onboarding process for example. Onboarding is said to take at least five departments and 10 interactions to get ready for an employee’s first day with a lot of friction along the way due to inadequate communication and management channels. Yes, here comes the finger-pointing at emails again: it seems we hate them as much as we love them. Email is a great communication tool but it is just not made to manage processes.
Bottom line, HR could save a lot of their time and spend it on people instead of processes if they were given the appropriate tools. Freed from the time consuming administrative tasks, HR would become a high value business service that hires the best talent, drives employee engagement and strengthens the organization’s competitive advantage.
If you are an HR professional – or an IT department that likes to help HR – and would like to know how you can streamline your processes, get in touch with us. We’d be happy to further discuss your challenge and advise you on the best approach.