As organisations around the world embark on their digital transformation journeys, strong human capital management is increasingly recognised as essential for success. After all, people are what makes the cogs turn in every business.
It was not always like this.
A few decades ago, HR executives were administrative staff and HR was seen as a support function that merely focused on hiring, payment and turnover. Today, HR specialists are highly strategic advisors who serve as architects of business transformation and employee experiences.
Organisations, including small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), recognise that they need to have a strong HR capital management process to unleash the full potential of their people.
Human Capital Management in a Multi-generational Workforce
Today, the employee landscape has changed with the emergence of a multi-generational workforce.
It is not uncommon to have organisations hemmed in, on one side by workers in their 40s and beyond, and on the other, by millennials and the Generation Z. Older workers are concerned about becoming obsolete because of technology automating their job functions. Digitally native millennials and Generation Z assimilate technology readily for it has always been part and parcel of their work and daily lives.
Managing a multi-generational workforce can therefore be challenging. Employees of all ages demand relevant and modern technologies that can help them do their jobs quickly, accurately and confidently.
Imagine a workforce that is used to getting around by using on-demand ride-hailing mobile apps like Grab and Gojek, ordering on-demand food deliveries using Deliveroo or foodpanda, and watching the latest programs on-demand on Netflix. Then, there is the 24×7 connectivity on their mobile devices that they are used to. In the eyes of millennial and Generation Z talent, these digital experiences are no longer nice-to-have. These experiences are fundamental in their lives as consumers and they fully expect their employers to provide digital workspace tools that let them complete their job-related tasks on-demand.
On the other hand, older workers are less familiar with technology. They are gradually learning these technologies, but perhaps not fast enough. There is therefore a greater urgency to help them become familiar with the digital experiences enjoyed by their younger colleagues and consumers, realise the benefits, and not be left behind.
HR specialists can turn to digital and change management strategies to enable all employees to behave and benefit equally in step with the company’s use of technology. Leveraging digital will also help them better understand and manage the expectations of all employees. Overall, digital HR strategies help organisations not only attract, train, deploy, and manage a capable workforce, but through them, significantly improve revenue growth, profit margins, and customer satisfaction.
To be impactful, HR specialists should consider introducing HR software at the same time as their organisations begin their digital transformation journeys. HR will then be aligned to organisational goals. On top of this, HR specialists will be able to refresh their workflows and reimagine the development of human capital management.
Technology That Turns HR Generalists into HR Specialists
A HR specialist’s work is never done. Every day, there is a new round of recruiting, interviewing, onboarding, hiring, appraisals, and an endless list of other relevant processes.
HR software can help in each of these processes. Such software has evolved into a centralised source of rich, up-to-date employee data that organisations can easily reference to make strategic talent decisions and improve overall business efficiency and performance. It even injects automation to aid what are otherwise mundane, time-consuming and labour-intensive tasks. It also looks at the entire HR workflow from start to finish, identifying where there should be intervention by people and where automation can do a better job.
Technology also allows HR to have a finger on the pulse of employees, to get a better feel of how employees feel about a range of topics. Regular anonymised surveys among the workforce, coupled with analytics, will help derive insights that can inform business leaders on what their employees are thinking.
Using technology, HR specialists can offer a host of wellness-related benefits to employees, such as apps that can be used to help employees track their fitness goals, or to help them manage diabetes. The adoption rates of these solutions and the feedback loop provided are incredibly useful for understanding employees’ mindsets and well-being. At the same time, HR specialists are served the insights and intelligence they need to best meet the needs of today’s diverse workforce.
Embedded in a lot of today’s software solutions for HR are artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies, which are used to supercharge the functionalities described above. Their potential impact is enormous. Machine learning can serve as a “digital coach”, for example, to increase the effectiveness of employees in a specific area in real-time and in a targeted and research-based way.
AI can also be used to recruit new hires in hours, rather than weeks. Once the “Open for Application” notice for a new position is created, it can aggregate all the incoming applications and automate the shortlisting process. This is especially useful when there are hundreds of applications, thereby freeing managers and recruiters to closely assess a smaller number of worthwhile applications.
HR Software: The Benefits and Considerations
The manifold benefits of HR software include:
- Less paperwork: HR software automates many tedious administrative tasks, freeing HR specialists to focus on activities that support and coach employees and line managers.
- Faster and more reliable HR data: At a touch of a button, HR specialists can run reports to get data on employees in specific areas in real-time.
- Increase in accuracy: With automation, HR processes follow predetermined workflows and rules. The result is fewer errors compared to manual processes. More accuracy and timeliness, for example, within the payroll process could lead to fewer staff complaints. Fewer errors generally mean lower costs in correcting them.
- Improvement in staff morale: Fewer errors also mean a smoother and more streamlined process that will have a demonstrable impact on staff morale. Overall, staff will likely feel more motivated in their work. Workers will also have faith that the company they work for can process their overtime payments or expenses quickly and correctly, offer them a structured and transparent performance appraisal process, and allow them to easily request for annual leave.
The key consideration for HR specialists is that the HR software must have functionalities that can be added on gradually. In terms of maintaining the ability to effectively manage human capital, this lets the HR team grow in tandem with the business.
But here is the issue – these benefits are best enjoyed when the HR software is deployed at the same time as organisations begin their digital transformation journeys. To re-model an existing system with new HR software requires dismantling many old structures and bolting on new ones. Ultimately, it will not be a streamlined process.
The primary consideration for a HR team in software selection should be a system that advances HR capital management. The following factors must also be considered:
- Does the system meet the budget for both ongoing costs and set up costs?
- Does the system offer the key functionalities that are needed to fix problems or improve efficiencies in the HR department?
- Can the HR software grow with my business, offering extra add-on features and scalable functions?
- Does the HR software provider offer comprehensive and easily accessible customer support so I can resolve issues quickly and ensure that I am getting the most from my investment?
- Are there good enough options for employee and manager self-service within the system?
Use of Cloud-based Software A Key Success Factor
For SMEs embarking on HR capital management software for the first time, it is pragmatic to consider cloud-based software. Based on a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model, cloud-based software costs are lower. It also allows organisations to add new HR features in step with their business growth.
For SMEs that have about a 500-strong workforce or less, SAP SuccessFactors is one option worth considering.
It is a cloud-based software with functionalities spanning everything from recruiting, learning and development, to performance management and compensation management. It automates much of the backend routine, administrative and traditional aspects of HR, allowing the focus to shift to more meaningful interactions with employees. Its analytics and data visualisation capabilities also let HR specialists gather insights that can be used to improve their programmes and the well-being of the workforce.
Since it is deployed in the cloud, SAP SuccessFactors is easy to set up and offers built-in best practices to manage the entire employee lifecycle.
Self-service is also a key feature. As an employee, I always feel that being able to apply for leave, check bonuses and other benefits when I want to, without having to ask my boss or HR, is itself a perk. SAP SuccessFactors has this feature, among others, allowing users to make inquiries and changes that they are given the authority to make, without assistance from the HR department.
Bringing Your Workforce with You on Digital Transformation
Talent building and management is crucial today. As organisations pursue their digital transformation journeys, HR specialists must seriously consider “bringing” their workforce with them. HR software is a step in this direction. Deployed at the start of any digital transformation journey, it can offer dramatic benefits.
HR specialists will enjoy the benefits of HR software. Apart from saving time and resources, HR software also positively contributes toward wider business success, by providing meaningful data to managers to address strengths and weaknesses in the company’s workforce.