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Three lessons on using HR technology to take back control

How can HR utilise technology to regain control of an ever changing working world? We asked a panel of experts during our latest HR Lunchtime Debate.

Here are three key lessons we learned from yesterday's session:


1. It's no longer up for debate whether HR has a seat at the table

One positive for the HR industry coming out of the pandemic is that the profession is now seen as a vital part of any business.

Marcus Downing, partner at organisational and workforce transformation team Mercer, said HR should embrace this fact and look at how they can add value to a business as a whole, rather than solely improving HR functions. 

He said: "The pandemic has elevated HR from something that provided background operational support to something which is now front of house and actually adds really important initiatives into the business.

"The challenge now with a potential recession coming is, do we actually package what we do in a way that helps us solve business issues? For example, how is it helping us retain and attract the best? For me it's about storytelling, productivity and positioning everything we do in business terms, rather than just HR plumbing."

Jo Regan-Iles, chief people officer at customer services firm Ventrica, said having the right senior leadership is crucial to getting the best out of an HR team.

She said: "Sometimes it depends on the CEO or the COO with regards to the value they see in HR, and the benefits they that they feel that HR can bring to the table."

The importance of HR:

HR professionals more confident in job prospects post pandemic

HR in demand in scramble for talent

HR one of the happiest jobs in the UK


2. Start with the work, not the tech

When it comes to introducing new technology into a business, Downing said companies should take a more measured approach that assesses what work needs to be done first.

He said: "The trap that organisations get themselves into is they see a new piece of technology that perhaps all the other organisations are investing in, they go and get it, and everyone expects results immediately.

"You don't start with the tech, what you start with is the work. What is the work that needs to be done now and in the future? And what skills are required to do it? Look at the work, then look at the technology and see how it replaces or augments human performance."

When using AI in HR processes Adrian Boruz, senior global product manager at Vodafone, said it should be a case of when and not if.

He said: "It's about how we work with AI, making sure the right standards are set. Applying the right thought to AI makes all the difference."


3. Automation can support more human HR

When polled, 45% of the audience said that recruitment was the HR function that was most overstretched in their company.

While new technology could be beneficial for HR teams, Regan-Iles highlighted the importance of keeping the personal touches in the recruitment process. 

She said: "A human interaction and that personal touch on recruitment is a big driver for us that we want to keep going, especially as people have so much choice these days about where they can work."

Boruz added technology in recruitment should be used to help candidates and employers find helpful information more efficiently

He added: "What we should never replace is the interaction between candidates or internal employees and the manager. It's one interaction that carries multiple important elements for both parties – maybe conversations about coaching, performance, or maybe feedback.

"If we want to intervene with with technology in that space, we should help people to find the information better to get where they need to be, so they can spend more time in meaningful conversation and less time searching for information."


Learn more by catching this webinar on demand here