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Six HR Initiatives That Are Taking the Gold in 2018

Julie-Fernandez-sq
by Julie Fernandez
Six HR Initiatives
Automation Summit 2018
 
Automation, AI and Cognitive Technologies: Explore the Opportunities, Build the Business Case and Begin the Process.

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If you thought 2017 was a year of the fast and the furious, hold onto your hats as Human Resources (HR) organizations around the world accelerate the pace of change in 2018. Investment and focus in HR is up again this year, so what is the best use of time and energy to gain significant HR ground? Below are six initiatives that will get you to the winner’s circle.

  1. Race to HR cloud technology. Many companies have opened the floodgates for spending on HR technology, but in the back-office, HR budget dollars are cyclical – and now is the time to target those dollars for maximum impact. If your HR budget has not budged for some time, lack of funding approval likely is the number one stumbling block. Companies that are not planning to evaluate or deploy a cloud-based human capital management (HCM) solution should focus on smaller investments – an HR portal, customer relationship management software, social media apps or automation tools – that will help them improve user experience or enable HR shared services.
  2. Skate gracefully through data security. Employee data (not just personally identifiable information, but all employee data) is private and requires caution to keep you off of thin ice. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) effective May 1 of this year will put HR in the spotlight for any organization doing business with European customers. For many companies, a designated Data Privacy Officer may be on the hook to ensure compliance, but HR should prepare for basic questions about the data it collects and stores. Few HR organizations have processes for removing employee data if requested to do so or for reporting a data breach within the timeframe new legislation will require. Use data mapping to help articulate data sources, flows and integrations in a consolidated easy-to-share document. And watch for erratic decision-making as unknown risks will cause some leaders to freeze access to stored data or delay HR decisions while others will rush to outsourcing or systems replacement as a “quick fix” for known vulnerabilities.
  3. Dive in to automation. HR operations that are determined to make use of the latest performance enhancements will embrace automation, beginning with simple chatbots and robotic process automation (RPA). But, because end-to-end processes in HR are difficult to harmonize and contain repetitive activities, some companies struggle to find a natural entry point for RPA or to make a solid business case due to lack of scale and concentration in HR, payroll and benefits. However, HR leaders need to find a way to embrace automation by selecting internal processes and then expanding incrementally to other process pain-points.  Make 2018 the year to take the plunge by building on small successes to  get traction for a larger, more-formal program.
  4. Think of HR service delivery as a team sport. In any great team, players know their positions and leverage their specialized talents. For HR leaders, it is time to clarify and redefine HR positions, sharpening organizational roles and the HR operating model. Rolling out new technology alone does not change the way HR delivers services – or the way employees and managers access and consume them. If you have struggled to realize a more strategic HR and stronger ROI despite new technology or shared services, you have left the most difficult transformation for last. But don’t despair: most companies do! User experience improves when HR business partners, Centers of Excellence, shared services and third parties play out of the same playbook.
  5. Go from a technology sprint to distance training. If standing up your cloud-based HCM felt more like the luge or a freestyle ski jump, now is the time to introduce persistence, diligence and refinement to go the distance with your investment. Several areas are at the top of the list, starting with the care and feeding of your core HR components. For starters, take a careful look at your application maintenance support (AMS) resources and skills. Also focus on your global payroll integrations and spend some energy consolidating your provider landscape. Revisit features and functionality that were cut when you deployed your new HCM to make sure you have what you need to handle compensation, talent and recruiting for the long haul. Fine tune business rules and configurations for optimal performance, and drive adoption with targeted change-management efforts.
  6. Pick up the pace in reporting and analytics. When it comes to developing a culture of analytics, you’ll have to walk before you run. Deploying cloud tools with great user experience goes a long way to replacing old-school reports, but self-service adoption requires a practical way to access information and determine what it means. Shifting the mindset of employees and managers from passive recipients of data to proactive consumers who update, contribute and use data to answer their own questions does not happen on its own. Teaching a dashboard-and-drill-down mentality may require dedicated effort for managing change in the organization. Ultimately, your aim is to compel employees and managers to interact with your HR systems as often and as easily as they do Amazon.com or their favorite social media apps. 

ISG helps HR organizations get in shape for the workplace of the future. Contact me to discuss.

About the author

With more than 25 years of industry and consulting experience, Julie is an invaluable advisor for enterprises needing to evaluate and assess alternatives for multi-process HR service delivery, including workforce administration, payroll, benefits, compensation, recruiting, technology, learning, and talent management. Julie leads complex global HR assessments and transactions around the world. Prior to joining ISG, Julie worked for nearly a decade as an independent consultant, providing market research, vendor assessments, systems testing and implementation consulting to a broad community of benefits administration vendors and human resources departments. Julie started her career in human resources outsourcing, establishing shared service centers for a national benefits consulting and administration firm. She is a well-published thought leader in her field.