HR departments are the last thing fast growing companies pay attention to.
In the race to become lean, hyper-growth machines, many executives in the tech industry see HR simply as a nice to have at best, if not a symbol of the corporate culture they want to avoid.
While it’s become common to start off without an HR department, now we’re seeing fast growing companies reach past the 50 person mark without any formal HR in sight.
With the onslaught of HR tech tools many companies are opting instead to buy solutions that will take care of everything from recruitment and onboarding to payroll and L&D.
This is not only a trend affecting startups, bigger companies are now beginning to use HR tools to decentralize many processes, placing them into the hands of managers and the users themselves.
Is this the end of the HR profession? Are we moving toward an age when HR can be completely replaced by tech?
HR now, more than ever
The answer is no, and now, no, more than ever.
The millennial workforce is much more demanding than any other generation. What’s more, they’re much less likely to stick around if their wants aren’t met.
Gallup says millennials are the generation that’s least engaged in the workplace and most likely to switch jobs, with 6 in 10 saying they would be open to new job opportunities.
This means that employers need to create a more hands on unique experience to keep young talent engaged starting the day they come in the door. This includes curating and integrating tools into customized processes to make them more efficient, employee focused and reflect a company’s unique employer brand.
Ultimately, tech tools are facilitators, not solutions.
It’s now HR’s job to design a new type of organization that caters to the needs of its employees.
Here are four ways the role of HR will change due to the rise of HR tech:
1. Creating the employee experience
Creating the ultimate employee experience has been recognized in Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends Reports for the past few years as the key to attracting, retaining and engaging talent.
No employee experience program should be the same.
To not only attract talent but to attract the right talent, it’s essential to create a unique employer brand.
With the rise of websites like Glassdoor, the more time HR spends creating a great experience for current employees, the more likely they’ll become brand ambassadors for the company.
Likewise, your people are different, give them options — but not too many. One of the most important roles Deloitte foresaw in its 2016 report was the need for HR to become a curator for the organization, selecting the right tools and apps to promote productivity and collaboration, while also providing a positive user experience.
2. Organizational architect
Another key aspect of creating the ultimate employee experience is to reinvent and rehabilitate decades old processes that employees distrust or even hate.
The annual performance appraisal is one of the most disliked and the one now most commonly being reinvented by organizations large and small.
Today many HR departments are starting the process of rehabilitating performance management by getting rid of or reinventing the process to make it more focused on employee growth and development.
Annual reviews are being replaced with frequent employee-manager feedback interaction, more frequent coaching conversations and even the opportunity for upward feedback.
Each company has its own unique culture. Whether it reflects what executives envisioned is another question.
It’s not necessarily the job of HR to create the company’s culture, but it is to take the values and mission and infuse them throughout the organization.
A company’s core values are often described as its moral compass. As many recent cases show, this should not be taken lightly.
What must be remembered is that words and reality can be two different things.
Your top leadership may profess a company’s values, but you need a constant reinforcement of those values at every level of the organization to ensure they’ll really be followed.
As the architect behind all people processes, putting HR in charge of strengthening and infusing values (with full support from top leadership) is the best way to ensure they’re fully integrated into your culture.
4. People data
Employee experience is not something that can be designed and put in place for life.
Just like companies that aren’t constantly innovating their product, those which are not innovating their employee experience will lose out in the talent market.
That’s why HR must create an always on engagement culture by frequently measuring and analyzing.
Surveys can tell you when engagement levels are low but they can’t tell you what the root of the problem is. This is where HR can leverage the people data to identify the causes and then develop solutions.
Equally as important, people analytics will propel HR into a much more strategic role, enabling it to identify future problems and take action before productivity is impacted.
The great thing about the rise of HR tech is that it takes away more of the administrative tasks HR has had to deal with in the past and leaves professionals with more time to transform their organizations into great places to work.
The challenge HR will face is adopting a new way of thinking about the profession its role, and arming themselves with the tools they’ll need to bring their department and company forward in the future.