As the people function, does it make sense for HR to embrace digitisation?  

If you make a habit of picking up and reading the wrong publications, or taking some of the internet scare-mongering seriously, you’d be forgiven for concluding that the digital age spells only trouble for the average employee.

And as the people’s function, it’s only natural that there is sometimes a level of unwillingness to embrace advancing technology in our own function, as it represents the first step in to an unknown world.

At last check, there were around 10,000 firms across the globe that label themselves as ‘HR or Recruitment Tech’ companies. Each trying to solve a perceived problem in the world of people. And they’re growing in both numbers and size.

From small start-ups hedging their bets on the future of Facebook messenger in recruitment, to global players who are constantly evolving their HR systems and ATS’, both organically and via acquisitions, innovative firms are seeing the value in people, and devoting their lives to it.

But when there are so many theories around that robots and AI will trigger the greatest employment crisis the globe has even seen, with mass job losses, crumbling wages and a irreparable split in society between the rich and the poor (and the skilled and unskilled for that matter) why is the HR and Recruitment technology industry thriving?

Bridging the gap between ‘traditional’ and ‘new age’ HR

I’m searching for a famous saying here to help explore this further, but am struggling. So, instead, I’ll make up my own.

‘You can try pushing back against a 20-tonne truck of change that’s rolling down hill, but once it gains enough momentum, you’d better either get on board, or get out of the way.’.

Ok, so I’m never destined to be one of those famous people who’s quotes get shared on ‘Linked In’ next to a posed black and white image of someone in deep thought. But hopefully you see my point.

The growth in new technology at the moment is crazy. Only 10 years ago, the first iPhone was released. Only 5 years ago came the first tablet. Only a year ago AI assistants became mainstream. Today we have cloud based everything. Next year we’ll have AI that can accurately diagnose medical conditions. Not long after that we’ll have driverless cars and trucks.

We’re at a bit of a transition point in the world of HR at the moment. On one side, the advancing HR and Recruitment tech firms, all vying to be the next big thing. The vast majority of them struggling, though, to get companies to embrace their new tech.

On the other side, the huge army of HR professionals who have lived and breathed the world of HR for years, and have always delivered great results.

In the middle, some mediators trying to create workable links and common ground between the two, often unable to satisfy either sides.

But with the HR tech industry only growing in strength and size, the very industry that is HR is at threat of being disrupted if it doesn’t hop on and try to steer that 20-tonne truck of change.

Why should we not fear technological advancement in HR?

The onset of robots and AI does NOT mean that there is going to be mass job losses. Sure, there will be job disruption, with a number of roles being automated. But a number of new roles will be created that work in harmony with technology. Roles the scare-mongers often neglect to include in their projections of doom.

Some roles will go. Some new ones will be created. Others will adapt.

The role of Doctors will be somewhat different, with more time spent on patient care and less time on task and diagnosis. Better.

The role of office workers will change, with less reactive behaviour, more innovation and improved customer service. Better.

And the role of HR teams will evolve. Less administration and task. Less issue resolution. Extra focus on enabling people to achieve more by embracing tech themselves. Improved employee experience. Lower costs to hire and train staff. Improved communication reach. Just better.

Improving experience and happiness

The fact of the matter is, the vast majority of us work to live, not the other way around. A lot of us have found careers we love, which is great. But let’s face it, if we had the option of not working, we’d probably choose that.

So, helping to improve people’s experience in work is what technological advancement in HR is all about.

Consider what people want from their careers. It could be:

  1. Improved pay and reward achieved through fair compensation and/or career progression

  2. Recognition for the contribution they make, intrinsically and extrinsically

  3. Opportunities to achieve and contribute

  4. To feel valued

  5. To know they’re taken seriously and that any issues/needs are responded to

  6. To just plain enjoy themselves in work and not dread Mondays

And then consider how some of these 10,000 HR and Recruitment technology firms just may hold the key to achieving a happier, healthier, more productive and more efficient workplace. Each the pillars of why HR exists in the first place.

Be it chat bots that help to resolve 90% of employee queries immediately, taking workload away from HR teams.

Or AI recruitment aids that vet 50 applications, interviewing every candidate automatically, and then providing you with the best 5, ensuring the other 45 receive useful feedback.

VR/AR (Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality) aids for training and inductions, to immerse people in worlds where every eventuality can be played out to best prepare people for the challenges, decisions and circumstances they may face in their role.

Intuitive and interactive recognition platforms that combine peer to peer, manager and objective feedback on employees to ensure people are fairly and consistently recognised for their contributions.

Or technology that allows you to directly connect to schools and universities to aid apprentice, intern and grad programmes, creating a company presence with the next generation of talent, and helping you to find the best people, always.

The possibilities for improvement in the world of HR and Recruitment are endless. It sometimes just takes a bit of determination to see the positive things through the cloud of doomsday predictions.

And to reach for the steering wheel of that 20-tonne truck of change in order to drive it, rather than let it drive you.

Did you know that, as well as working directly with tech firms, we now help established HR teams to navigate their own digital journeys. From top level insight and advice on tech and cultural preparation, through to complete change support, TEAMango are here to help you embrace HR and Recruitment tech for the benefit of people.