3 Lessons Learned From A Career Hr Technologist
3 Lessons Learned from a Career HR Technologist
Anyone that’s been involved in observing, researching, or being a catalyst for workforce-related trends is likely amazed at the unprecedented technological advances percolating in this arena. I’ve been fortunate enough to build a career foundation from several opportunities to lead strategic HR/HCM initiatives on a global scale.
These were all focused on leveraging technology to optimize end-to-end recruiting, learning, compensation, performance management, payroll, on-boarding, and people analytics, in other words, most of what’s important in HR and HCM.
Additionally, in my final HR leader gig before segueing to senior Product Strategy and Industry Analyst roles, my team built (from the ground up) one of the first high-tech employee service centers. It was for Wayne Huizenga’s portfolio of 500+ companies and 50,000 employees, and it was chronicled in Employee Benefit News at the time. This was because the main focus of the center was enrolling newly acquired companies/employees into appropriate benefits plans and answering their pressing questions.
What have I learned these past three-plus decades? Quite a bit, although probably too much to condense into roughly seven hundred words. I’ll therefore go with the principle espoused by Malcolm Gladwell in his book, Blink, Humans tend to decide many complicated things (like selecting just three lessons learned from among hundreds) in the blink of an eye.
Ok, there are much more complicated and important decisions, but in that context, allow me to present my top three lessons learned in the HR technology and employee and manager services domains, or at least the first three that come to mind:
- Lesson 1
“ERP” is an acronym that stands for Enterprise Resource Planning and essentially refers to a suite of enterprise applications linked together with a common data model, set of business or processing rules, and ideally, a common user experience. That said, there’s another use of an ERP acronym that would arguably be more meaningful to most HR leaders. It is where ERP denotes engagement, retention, and productivity. And a nugget I learned years ago is that while the importance of employee retention and productivity cannot be overstated, it is employee engagement levels that dictate where an organization will fall out on the retention and productivity spectrums; and more often than not, productivity and profitability go hand-in-hand.
- Lesson 2
The second lesson I’ll highlight is that for me, the “employee engagement life cycle” begins during an employee’s first thirty days when they have questions that, unless answered with minimal to no friction, will frustrate and distract them, thus undermine productivity, etc. Some refer to these as “hygiene” questions” although they are nonetheless quite important to many employees. These are things like ‘when am I eligible for benefits or when do I get paid?” This dynamic of needing key questions answered surfaces again (actually on a recurring basis) during moments that matter for the person (e.g. new child) or the organization (e.g., understanding a policy or wondering how an M&A will affect them. All of this gets fairly revealing when one realizes that the size of the typical HR department’s staff is 1% or less of the total workforce; and that HR staff available for answering questions like this amounts to a much smaller fraction. The fact is that HR departments need major help in scaling to meet both the hygiene and “moments that matter” questions of both employees and managers; and fortunately, the advent of “conversational AI” will more than adequately deliver this critical help.
- Lesson 3
And rounding out this particular set of lessons learned is the realization that what sets an organization apart is its ability to be supremely agile, which I define as the ability to be out in front of workforce-related opportunities and risks. And this realization leads me to another one that took several years in HR technology roles before it was fully processed and applied: The degree of organizational agility is a direct function of innovative tools that allow workers to share relevant knowledge and learn – and do both of these very quickly … in micro or even nano experiences involving minutes not hours.
So, to my present, past, and future HR and HR Technology colleagues and friends, I’ll leave you with this thought: Reimagining how employees get serviced starts with some foundational principles about what affects employee engagement, how to augment the constrained reach of the typical HR department, and what technologies are not just demonstrably up to the task – but will fit seamlessly into your current ecosystem of tools and processes.