The 2020s have been marked by significant disruptions that forced HR leaders to push themselves beyond their comfort zones, and to reimagine the art of the possible. First, the pandemic, during which WFH mandates impeded collaboration and innovation, followed by layoffs, and then, the Great Resignation, which turned people into a scarce resource. Layoffs are back as businesses enter 2023 with persisting economic uncertainty, and employee behaviour continues to evolve.
Each of these events have reshaped the nature of work and workplaces, and will continue to, down the line. For HR, this chain of events has led to the inevitable epiphany – that it’s high time to move beyond digital HR operations, and to acknowledge the looming EX gap in the HR technology strategy. This was the consensus at the Digital First HR mega session at SHRM India Annual Conference and Expo 2022, where moderator Nishith Upadhyaya invited HROne Founder Karan Jain, Sulbha Rai, Chief People Officer: RenewBuy, Aseem Nath Tripathi, VP – HRD: Vestige Marketing, and Amrita Pandey, Senior VP and Global Head – HR: Tenon Group to share their perspectives on how HR technology is being shaped by the future of work.
A common thread that emerged through the discussion was that HR technology needs an employee experience (EX) layer, and consequently, HR technology will drive EX instead of merely digitising business processes.
Here are four key trends that were underlined by the speakers in the session.
1: More power to HR users with low/no-code platforms
With the proliferation of technology throughout the business landscape, employees are getting used to click-through processes. Inefficient processes turn them off, and HR users no longer have the time to wait in the IT queue or hire expensive consultants for building each use case.
This is where no/low-code platforms, which democratise digital on a gradual learning curve, will empower HR employees to implement their ideas rapidly. These agile platforms will turn each employee into a power-user, and enable them to weed out hiccups from the employee journey.
At the same time, organisations must also reimagine their relationship with technology to find success with low/no-code. As Amrita said, “Bringing in technology is not proportional to reducing the headcount. It’s about imbibing a digital mindset.” This will be crucial to realise the dream of democratising technology to steer EX in HR.
2: Consumer grade UX will gain momentum at the workplace
With the growing strategic value of UX in today’s markets, consumer companies have simplified their apps with seamless interfaces. While consumer-grade UX is setting the baseline of expectations in the market, these expectations are also trickling into the workplace.
That’s why, digital employee experience will be shaped by the entry of consumer-grade UX in enterprise applications, and this in turn, will elevate employee satisfaction levels. Workplace apps will become as seamless as the frontends of digital native companies, and enable HR to achieve meaningful employee engagement.
This is a vital shift that will enable organisations to supercharge their people strategy, which is growing increasingly important in the overall business strategy. In Sulbha’s words, “To win at the marketplace, you first need to win at the workplace.”
3: Integrated platforms will replace point solutions
The term platform fatigue was in use in 2019, but the pandemic and the subsequent digitization of the workplace only served to turn it into a real issue. Why? Because most business continuity plans sought to resume business activity, and this drove the adoption of point solutions, each of which solved a singular problem (interview scheduling, hiring, or performance tracking, for example) – until there were too many of these solutions.
As Aseem mentioned, “Technology, individuals, businesses and policies – every organisation needs to understand this dynamic.” The suitability of a solution cannot be determined simply on the grounds that it solves a problem – it must fare well on each of the dimensions.
In addition, familiarity with an interface reduces the cognitive load that is required to shift to a new task, and this strongly determines the ease and speed of doing work. This has sent HR leaders hunting for integrated platforms which can mitigate the platform fatigue of HR teams and end users alike.
4: Self-service HR will complement effortless EX
Over the last 5-6 years, everything has tended towards the self-service model, driven by a change in consumer behaviour. Clearly, consumers want to be self-reliant, and would rather solve their problems themselves instead of waiting on conventional service channels.
There is a parallel trend that has been brewing in the organisational context: and that’s why, self-serve is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. Employees don’t want to wait on HR hotlines and undergo complex processes. But the fact is, “Enterprises are complex. Their processes are complex”, says Karan.
“But that complexity should not translate to the end user. For them, things need to be done in a click.” That’s why self-service must be effortless for the end user. This will drive the adoption of self-service capabilities which are powered by chatbots.
Self-serve HR will be a win-win for both employees and HR teams, as it will reduce the operational overheads for the latter, while making HR shared services more accessible and convenient for the employees.
To sum it up…
HR technology is thirsty for an employee experience layer as people strategy becomes central to the success of the overall business strategy. This will drive the democratisation of digital in HR teams, whereas platform fatigue, brought about by growing adoption of point solutions will lead to a preference for integrated solutions. Finally, consumer-grade UX will find its way into workplace apps as digital experiences influence employee expectations, and the customer self-service paradigm has led to the emergence of self-serve HR.