Technology is Step One on the Road to a New Human Resources Management
If you have already chosen the convenience, cost savings, and other great benefits of a BambooHR web-based human resources software, well done! You know that working in the cloud is SO much better and faster than slogging through endless spreadsheets! And if you’re considering a SaaS system for your small or medium-sized business, good for you, too. You’re hot on the trail of improvements in efficiency, data management, lower costs, and all the other great plusses that BambooHR delivers.
Did you know that leveraging technology to streamline day-to-day transactional or administrative work is only the beginning of some companies’ plans for HR? When organizations implement online human resource systems, they may do so for a lot of different reasons. As an HR practitioner, can you even count the times that you hear or read about HR’s needing to become more strategic?
Yes, I know. First, what the heck does it mean to be strategic? Sounds good. Impressive even. But seriously, who in a small company has time to think about anything more than just getting the work done? Let the paychecks be late and see who cares about strategic, eh?
What It Means to Be Strategic
There are probably dozens of ways to define strategic, but when you toss the jargon aside, it translates to understanding the business you’re in, knowing what goals your CEO or owner wants the company to achieve, and thinking about the things you can do in your job to help make those goals a reality. On the floor of a manufacturing plant, that might mean figuring out how to use a new computer program to help improve the quality of your products so customers want to buy more of them.
In human resources, being strategic might involve something like providing training to a line manager to help him become more comfortable and accurate at doing performance appraisals.(Yuck, nobody likes doing those!) Or helping a manager identify incentives that will motivate workers more effectively. In both cases, you’d be helping those managers’ efforts to improve employees’ performance. Ultimately, that contributes to generating sales or other results that are key to overall business success. Voila, you’re strategic!
Fact is, there are lots of ways for HR to be strategic – those are just a couple of possibilities. The bigger the company, the more ways you’ll probably find. So what does that have to do with my HR system, you’re probably asking. BambooHR’s good, but it doesn’t train managers or find information on appropriate rewards to encourage their teams to work harder.
That’s true. Those are the kinds of things that a skilled HR professional has to do person-to-person. That’s why they pay us the big bucks, right? (I know, don’t get me started!).
An article on the website of the Harvard Business Review talks about this very issue. “In order to add significant value to a business, HR must be able to support and enable the execution of strategy through building organizational capability,” says author Brian Hults of Newell Rubbermaid. “This is a role that cannot be automated, shared as a service, offshored or outsourced.” He goes on to say that HR professionals are uniquely situated to contribute that kind of value because it’s an organization’s employees who execute strategy. By providing hands-on, person-to-person guidance, support, and insights, HR helps employees build that organizational capability Hults describes. In turn, that drives better performance – for individual workers and for your company as a whole.
My point – and I do have one! – is that it’s the constructive use of technology (implementing BambooHR’s easy-to-use system) that frees the time of HR professionals to identify those kinds of contributions they can make. When you don’t have to spend your days chasing down information that’s scattered across different departments – maybe even different locations – you can carve out the time you need to be strategic (or whatever else you may prefer to call it).
Technology can’t replace the human interactions that build competitive ability. But it makes powerful contributions of its own by giving us back the time we need to do the parts of our jobs that are most valuable. That’s the great thing about efficiency. It not only frees us to do more, it frees us to do more of what’s really important.