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Balancing HR tech and a human touch: 4 best practices

As technology continues to transform the way we recruit, onboard, engage, pay, develop, inform… employees, HR leaders should watch out for ‘over digitalisation’. Moreover, the HR tech you use needs to make your employees’ work easier, more productive and more meaningful. Indeed, effective HR tech doesn’t only serve the HR department but the whole organisation.


    European companies state that they’re increasingly focusing on digitalising all their HR processes, according to research by SD Worx.

      A brave new world

      It’s no secret that today, most HR functions are less “human” than before. Many tasks are being automated to boost efficiency. But while digital maturity is key to business success, the question that arises is: how much tech is too much tech? Because according to a survey by SD Worx, most young employees (under 25 years) still prefer human interaction over digital. So what can HR leaders do to humanise HR technologies?

        #1 Deliver enriching experiences to your people

        HR software design must obey the general rules of good app design. Whether feature-rich or rudimentary, they ought to be user-friendly to serve their primary objective, which ranges from improving productivity and holiday management to fostering a healthier workplace culture. Unfortunately, several digital transformation initiatives fail to meet expectations. In fact, reports by the same research show that 48% of European employees agree that there’s still room for improvement in digital workplace strategies.

        Therefore, when adopting new HR technologies, you must consider the experience of users – their problems, their needs, and what they want out of the experience. You may think you know what they want but listening to your employees is essential. After all, ‘users’ are our best co-creator. Once you’ve planned the transition from siloed and paper-based systems to an integrated HR technology suite, you must add the “human aspect” to deliver enriching experiences to your employees. But how?

          #2 Turn your people into ambassadors

          Although technology is speeding along, don’t let it turn into a service crutch and a barrier between your people. Instead, let it be a bridge to human connection. Don’t slap the latest tech on a problem and assume it’s fixed. Technology in HR should focus on improving human connection vs creating exclusion or separation. A vital first step to making the rollout is to have your people engaged and excited. Here are some ways you can get everyone involved in the process:

          • Explain and give a demo of the software well in advance.
          • Show your staff the benefits of how the new system will streamline their lives. You can do so through e-mails, posters in messrooms or even a dedicated after-work party.
          • Focus on addressing challenges your people encounter and make the tech relevant to them – for e.g., think of what challenges you’re trying to overcome and whether the HR application leads to that result.
          • Feedback is your friend – understand how technology is impacting people’s behaviour. Through surveys and action plans, ask your employees what they need to stay connected and assess the effectiveness and impact of any changes made.
          • Make sure your people trust the application and can access their data. Reassure them there won’t be any abuse of personal data.

            #3 Opt for an intelligently designed interface

            Doing so can bridge the gap between what your staff wants and what the HR technology system can do. For example, if you’re using an employee incentive program platform to help employees become more engaged and connected, it’s best to adopt a responsive and minimalist design aesthetic. Less is more - proper balance and contrast, with just enough white space, and correctly setting up margins and paddings can truly inspire and encourage your people to use your HR tech. You can add a picture or a funny gif to your bonus to spice things up.

            And to top it off, pay special attention to mobile. Make sure the tech is not limited to web but has a mobile app. You can either configure the application for mobile usage or have a separate mobile native solution. A mobile-friendly platform makes it easy to access and convenient for users.

              #4 Empower your employees with self-service programmes

              With more and more Gen Z entering the workplace, flexibility has become paramount for HR providers and business leaders. As a result, UX in new systems must account for self-service modules within the larger HR tech stack. Implementing features like information access, changing personal data, entering expenses, uploading sick notes, and absence requests will make things easier for employees and boost your adoption rates, leading to digital transformation success and better ROI.

                #5 Technology alone is not enough

                While it’s true that HR technology can support consistency, empower change, help automate redundant tasks, and do so much more, in most cases, technology alone is insufficient for true digital transformation - only YOU can bring a human dimension. Therefore, be sure to adopt a human-led and tech-powered approach and make sure there’s always human intervention and insights alongside the application to fully unleash the power of your HR tech.

                To achieve this, it’s vital to make your people even more digitally proficient, growing their competency with your company’s digital tools and assets to deliver deeper insight and greater efficiency- i.e., having people with the right skills and understanding of the technology to exploit the potential of new HR tools while mitigating the risks. For example, you can offer employees hands-on training sessions with quarterly workshops or webinars about the technology or even have someone from HR guide them in choosing the right course.

                By being human-led and tech-powered, you can exploit the full potential of AI, while understanding the critical role people must play to build trust and avoid bias

                  People are the bottom line

                  The trick is to digitalise the process and humanise the experience. The right mix of humans and machines will deepen human connection to technology. And one key factor to improving human interaction with technology is to remember that technology must never replace the human factor.

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                    Nazia Keenoo

                    Nazia Keenoo