The Website and Blog of HR Author and Speaker Lori Kleiman

Technology: Can’t Live With It, Can’t Live Without It!

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Technology is the wave of the present and the future and has to be supported by the HR function. Implementing technology in any area of the organization can be a daunting task but one that typically pays for itself in the end. HR technology should be used, at a minimum, in your organization as a part of the payroll and/or benefit function. The ability to maintain programs and data “in the cloud” can often make the implementation of human resource software much easier, frequently as simple as turning on a switch. The short-term effort of implementation should never trump the long-term benefit of moving to a technological solution for administrative tasks.

In most organizations, technology should be used for payroll, employee files, benefit administration, and performance management at the most basic level. HR leaders often say, “We are too small for technology” or “There is no room in our budget.” There are systems that enhance the automation of applicant and attendance tracking which are available in sizes and shapes that fit all organizations. Incorporating technology may run the spectrum from using Excel spreadsheets to robust human resources information systems but should be utilized in a way that fits the organizational culture, budget, and administrative needs. Anything that reduces the time spent on administration and increases the data quality is a positive step forward.

HR departments constantly insist that they cannot trust people to mange HR programs and input data themselves. HR Managers love to cry: “They will never be able to enter a new address, change a benefit level, or enter time properly into the systems. It will take me twice as long to clean it up than if I just do it myself.” If that were the case, they would have been fired a long time ago! The truth is these employees are using ATMs, smartphones, and email on a regular basis. If employees cannot figure out how to get through an open enrollment process online, would they really be trusted to use the computer-driven equipment in operations or the accounting system they need every day to input charges to your customers? If you think your system really is too complicated for your employees, consider a new system!

Of course, there are those employees in the basic functions within your organization that may not have the ability to handle technology. Solutions can, and should, be created to meet the needs of this small group. Don’t fall into a trap that would negate technology for the masses to accommodate the exceptions necessary for a few. HR has a reputation of always seeing what can’t be done and telling managers what they can’t do. As a group, we have to overcome this perception and be problem solvers for the business, just as is expected from every other functional area.

Embrace technology as a way to increase the efficiencies of your department and improve the experience for your internal customers. Managers want to pull data and run reports from anywhere in the country. Employees want benefit questions answered at 3 a.m. Applicants want to know the status of their application without bothering the recruiter. A simple human resources information system can make all of this happen with little ongoing effort by the HR department. The implementation may take some time, but the long-term advantages of resources that are available around the clock for meaningful strategic project management is enormous.

As with any change, there will be pushback from users and glitches in the initial phases of the project. Implementation of a new project is never fun, and no one ever thinks they have enough time to get it done. It may mean some late nights and weekends, but that’s what leaders do. HR will have to be deliberate in their communication and training efforts as the change occurs and expect buy-in from the rest of the leadership team. The long-term advantage is that you will have a function that can run 24/7 and your involvement in administration will be greatly reduced. Knowing that after implementation you’ll be able to focus on meaningful projects that will create an HR organization that you are proud to lead is the home run you can expect when you hit the project out of the park.

The preceding blog post is excerpted from Lori Kleiman’s upcoming book, Taking Your SEAT at the Table, soon to be released. For more information, or to pre-order your copy click here!

Photo by Johan Larsson used under the following license.

3 Comments
  1. In today’s environment, this perspective is spot on. I find it ironic that leaders who constantly talk about change and shaping the future to their workforce are often resistant to change themselves! This can be due to lack of new knowledge of systems out there, confidence in the ability of their workforce to adapt, and perceptions that is easier to do things the old way because that’s how they’ve always done it. Having more forward-thinking is what earns HR a spot in the boardroom, so there must be a long-tern strategy and technology has to be part of that in today’s world. Oh, and next time someone thinks their workforce won’t adapt to self-service tools, mobility, or web portals because they are “blue-collar” and “don’t have a PC”….take a stroll through the lunchroom sometime and notice all the smartphones! Great article Lori.

    Brendan Nicholls
    Paychex