· Features

Cafcass HRD: Is HR using technology efficiently?

Have you noticed technology has pervaded (or should that be invaded?) every aspect of your life? So how are we, as HR professionals, capitalising on this and ensuring we use technology to support our service and our organisations?

The Towers Watson 2013 HR Service Delivery and Technology Survey says 74% of HR departments are looking to change their structure to drive organisational efficiencies. Technology must be the primary enabler of this, offering HR an opportunity to save money and add value in innovative ways.

Technology can be scalable to suit the size and context of an organisation. It is used to support recruitment, selection, learning, performance management, compensation and benefits, and workforce administration. The recent development of people analytics allows us to be proactive rather than reactive to issues. We can now identify workforce and organisational trends that were invisible before, and act on them for the benefit of the organisation and its people.

Introducing an integrated HR data and information management system has allowed Cafcass, like many organisations, to increase the level of automation of transactional activity. Gone is the need to threaten half a forest to administer expense claims, annual leave requests and recruitment campaigns. This can all now be processed by the individual and recorded electronically, saving time and money, as well as improving the efficiency of the employee experience.

Moreover, technology allows us to present a range of relevant and extant information to employees relating to their activity and impact. We have done this at Cafcass by introducing myWork, an individual electronic tool that allows all our social workers to review key comparable data about, for example, their casework, throughput and efficiency, health and wellbeing, learning and development, via the intranet.

Through myWork, staff can see a direct comparison of their own key data against local and national averages, and managers can swiftly identify where additional support is required. With this technology, we are guiding our people along a path towards self-regulation and self-transformation.

More intelligent management information enables HR to measure its own performance and clearly demonstrate the impact it has in identifying and driving necessary change for the business, which the profession has traditionally struggled to do.

Then there are the social media developments that enable organisations to continuously and effectively communicate with their internal and external stakeholders from anywhere in the world. In the HR arena, this has become a successful method of attracting talent.

However, there is a health warning, as there so often is. Too great a reliance on technology and data, or a failure to ensure managers and staff understand the meaning and relevance of data for development purposes, can undermine staff engagement and the chance to effectively add value to the business.

Our role in HR is to ensure technology and the use of data do not lead to a misalignment of artificial over emotional intelligence. The increased availability of real-time, accurate data simply provides HR, managers and now staff with the ability to ask the right questions and have more productive conversations.

So the questions for us are: How do we harness technology to make its contribution as relevant as it can be while having the greatest impact possible within our organisations? And what does this mean in terms of the existing skillsets of our HR teams, our managers and our workforce?