HR is not an area that has traditionally lent itself to tech. HR has normally been people-centric, the emphasis always being on soft skills and emotional intelligence, communication and problem-solving.
But as we move into an era where compliance and accountability are gaining greater traction, could there be a place for technology within the sphere of HR? And what benefits can it bring?
Where and how could tech best support HR professionals?
In recent years, technology’s role has moved far beyond the speed and efficiency gains it is customarily valued for. With the development of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), its scope has broadened significantly, giving tech a far wider remit in a magnitude of applications. Amongst those applications are HR, and in particular, recruitment.
The value of tech in recruitment
Recruitment has always been a long process involving multiple paper trails. With technology, including AI, that process can be truncated. With digital applications, all submissions are stored in one place, while shortlisting can be automated through the use of AI keyword searches, ensuring that only candidates with the relevant skillset proceed through to the next round without wasting valuable resources.
AI can also simplify and fast-track the interview process. The first round interview, which would have traditionally taken place over the phone, is now managed online. Candidates can now work through a Q&A portal, again removing the need for HR or management to screen out unsuitable applicants. At least until you reach the final stage, and the benefits of this are clear.
What are the key benefits of using tech in HR?
Cost and time – As already stated, the traditional recruitment process is time and resources hungry. Some estimates put the cost of recruitment at between 20-30% of the role’s final salary. By using tech to automate many of the initial stages of recruitment, you can reduce that drain.
Bias reduction – Unfortunately, discrimination is still rife in business. These are enormous issues that businesses need to confront. However, even when you remove these serious ethical considerations, personal bias still presents problems, because recruiters will almost unavoidably veer towards the candidates they like and relate to. Technology, particularly AI, can help to prevent that from happening. Removing all forms of bias from the recruitment process, so the best-qualified person always gets the job.
Connectivity – In contemporary business, there is also the issue of the disconnected workforce. One of the most common reasons for employee churn is that workers feel isolated and undervalued. This is not only a phenomenon of the hybrid workforce. Technology can help to foster inclusivity by providing direct communication channels and allowing support to be sought and grievances to be raised – either personally or anonymously. Thus simplifying conflict resolution.
Are there any drawbacks to using tech in HR?
The primary barrier to HR tech is the perception of facelessness that it brings. Diversity and integration are important issues, and technology can help resolve them. But right now, those previously mentioned softer skills are in demand amongst employees. Company culture is more important than ever. Many employees value company cultures over higher pay and they want to see and be seen. Technology does not fit into that equation. And in what remains an unambiguous employee market, thanks to the global skills shortage, if businesses wish to secure the right talent, they need to take into account employees’ perceptions and demands.
It’s all about balance
The sphere of HR has changed dramatically in the last five years. With evolving tech and changing employee needs. But while technology has the potential to remove many of the stumbling blocks that have historically strewed the path of HR, its adoption should be judicious. Employers need to find out what their employees – and would-be employees – need from them. And while tech might supply the answer, particularly in the form of communication tools – it will rarely provide the full solution. While a more balanced approach, where tech solutions are used alongside more traditional methods may bear more fruit.
Jenna Bayuk is the Founder of Kinship Kollective.
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