Digital transformation in HR

It’s 2023. Why are we still talking about digital transformation?

“According to a recent study by BCG, only about 30% of companies in India have successfully navigated digital transformation in HR. So, it's crucial for organizations to embrace these changes to stay competitive and meet the evolving needs of their workforce.” said Wristy.

It’s important to remember that a company or workplace is never fully digitally transformed. Digital transformation is not an end-to-end strategy that is “done and dusted” once implemented. It is a continuously evolving strategy and process that includes keeping up with the latest trends in technology.

We talked to Wristy, an HR Consultant and Sapna Madaan, Head of HR at Exotic India, to explore how digital transformation has impacted the HR function.

How the role of HR has changed with digital transformation

"Over the course of my 15-year career, I have observed the evolution of human resources, from its traditional roots to the era of digital revolution. While the fundamental role of HR remains the same, the exposure and impact have grown significantly," said Sapna.

In the past, the role of HR was largely focused on administrative tasks and file management. Over time, the HR function shifted its focus to recruitment, becoming instrumental in acquiring talent for the organization. In today’s digital era, the HR function goes beyond recruitment and administration, playing a crucial role in ensuring employees feel valued and supported and creating a positive work environment. HR professionals today actively work on employee engagement strategies, design learning and development programs, and provide opportunities for career advancement.

With changing workforce dynamics and employees seeking a higher quality of life, HR has stepped up to address these needs and expectations. Organizations today recognize that providing a quality workplace and fostering a positive work environment are crucial for retaining top talent. HR has become the guardian of an organization's long-term capital by ensuring employee satisfaction and preventing turnover.

In essence, HR has become a strategic partner for the organization, connecting its objectives with the broader goals of the company. The digital transformation era has opened up new possibilities for HR to make a more significant impact on the overall success and growth of the organization.

Most prevalent HR trends in the digital era

  1. Remote work enablement

Wristy said that digital transformation contributed significantly to remote work enablement, which was accelerated by the pandemic. Platforms like Slack evolved to become more than just communication tools, they became collaborative platforms with features facilitating seamless asynchronous communication. The platform's capabilities allowed for real-time discussions, document sharing, and project management, all in one place.

With the adoption of such platforms, remote teams have experienced increased engagement, a shared purpose, and a sense of connectedness, fostering a successful work environment. The focus on remote work enablement through digital means has also redefined work-life balance and opened up new possibilities for businesses to thrive in today's digital world.

  1. Digitization of pulse surveys

Sapna states that leveraging technology to collect employee feedback has been instrumental in improving the HR function. Digitizing pulse surveys has changed the way organizations collect and analyze employee feedback.

From traditional paper questionnaires to Google Forms, organizations today use powerful pulse surveys that also offer in-depth data and insights. This data-driven approach allows HR professionals to identify specific areas for improvement and gain a comprehensive understanding of employee sentiments and needs. This not only fosters a culture of open communication but also enables HR professionals to respond promptly to emerging issues and take proactive measures to enhance the overall employee experience.

  1. AI and Machine learning

Without a doubt, AI and Machine learning have played a crucial role in transforming HR practices. Wristy states, “AI and ML have revolutionized workforce analytics, enabling HR professionals to gain deeper insights into overall employee experience. By analyzing vast amounts of data, AI-powered tools can identify patterns, trends, and correlations, helping organizations gain insights and make data-driven decisions.”

Some examples of how AI has helped HR:

  • Recruitment - Rather than manually scanning through thousands of applications, AI-powered ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) enable HR teams to shortlist candidates based on specific criteria in a much faster and more efficient way.

  • Chatbots - Employees can now find 90% of their queries resolved by chatbots which saves a lot of time for HR professionals who generally have to respond to each query manually. Albus is one such tool that is trained to give answers from internal company documents.

  • Promoting diversity and inclusion - These advancements in technology are particularly advantageous in promoting diversity and inclusivity (D&I) within the organization. “By analyzing data on pay equity and diversity, HR professionals can identify areas that require improvement and implement strategies to foster an inclusive and equitable work environment.” said Wristy.

Overall, the integration of AI and ML technologies in HR has significantly transformed the way HR professionals approach talent management, data analysis, employee engagement, and learning and development. Embracing these advancements allows HR teams to be more strategic, data-driven, and proactive in addressing the evolving needs of the workforce.

  1. Virtual reality

This technology has existed for many years but only recently has started being used in HR. Virtual Reality (VR) brings a gamified approach to training, offering interactive settings to employees. Sapna said, “By using virtual reality for remote employee meetings, you can recreate a lifelike office experience. It's surprisingly easy to set up and greatly improves our connectivity. There are platforms like Attensi, which offer gamified training simulations.”

According to a survey by PwC, 51% of companies are either in the process of integrating VR into strategy, and 34% foresee this as a more effective way to develop and train people.

Data privacy and security in the digital age

In today’s digital landscape, data security and privacy are critical aspects of HR operations. Wristy has shared some things that can be kept in mind while handling confidential information:

  • Collect only relevant data from employees and ensure that it is stored securely.

  • HR professionals also need to have a comprehensive understanding of the required data security measures to take. This knowledge empowers them to handle employee data responsibly and effectively.

  • Being well-versed with the terms and conditions of contracts related to HR tools and data management is important. HR professionals should be able to read and understand these contracts to ensure compliance with data privacy regulations and to safeguard employee data. Take help from consultants if needed.

  • Properly labeling and organizing the collected data is another vital measure. When data is correctly labeled, HR professionals can quickly access the required information without generating excessive logs, which can enhance data security and reduce the risk of unauthorized access.

  • Collaboration with different teams, including IT, Compliance, Legal, etc. can also help in staying proactive against potential threats.

“Collaboration among different teams, including IT, HR, and security, is essential to ensure the highest level of data security and to stay proactive against potential threats. While 100% prevention of data breaches may be challenging, taking proactive measures and implementing AI and ML-powered security solutions can significantly reduce the risk of cyberattacks and data breaches.” said Wristy.

By adopting these practices and staying proactive in data security measures, HR teams can significantly mitigate data-related risks and build a robust and secure HR system. This, in turn, fosters trust and confidence among employees, contributing to a positive and secure work environment.

Upskilling as an HR professional in the digital era

In the digital era, upskilling as an HR professional is crucial. Embracing digital transformation allows HR to leverage technology for data-driven insights, while also valuing the human touch.

"We need to learn that even with a shift of focus to data-driven insights, the human touch should not be forgotten," said Sapna.

HR teams can lead digital transformation. To succeed, continuous upskilling is essential. Wristy and Sapna share a few tips on how to upskill yourselves as an HR professional.

  1. Continuous Learning:

  • Attend webinars and conferences for tailored learning.

  • Collaboration and networking during events offer practical insights and knowledge sharing.

  • Online platforms like Udemy, Coursera, and LinkedIn Learning offer convenient skill enhancement.

  • Mentorship and coaching are also a good option to foster both a positive learning environment, while also transferring knowledge effectively.

  1. Take Initiative: “One area where HR professionals can improve is by taking the initiative to engage in self-study and self-learning.” says Wristy. Utilize LinkedIn and social media for updates on relevant events.

  2. Find your niche: Understand your personal preferences and interests within HR. By leveraging your passion and skills in your chosen vertical, HR professionals can deliver significant value to your organizations and find success in your HR career.

Looking Ahead

By addressing these aspects, organizations can increase their success rate in digital transformation initiatives and maximize the return on their investments in time and resources. A successful digital transformation will not only enhance operational efficiency but also lead to a more engaged and empowered workforce.

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