People & Leadership

5 ways HR leaders can use technology to accelerate change

2020 was a transformative year for HR, helping to prove the value of tech investment. Here’s five ways HR can build on that value in 2021.

There’s no other way to put it – 2020 was a challenging year for many, and most certainly for HR.

Having polled more than 1,500 HR leaders, C-suite executives and employees from around the world, we created our latest research report, HR in the moment: The changing expectations and perceptions of HR.

It explores how HR leaders fared during the pandemic, how recent events have impacted their role, and what the perceptions and expectations are from the organisation now.

One of the most surprising things we learned was that, despite many workforces moving to a digital-first way of working, less than half (45%) of HR leaders feel they have the tools they need for the future.

This highlights the need for urgent investment in technology to make sure HR departments can keep up with the pace of change.

To get the most out of HR tech now and for the future, here are five revealing findings from our latest research to support you in accelerating your digital transformation journey, with ways you can get ahead.

Here’s what we cover in this article:

1. Use tech to support business resilience

2. Reduce the admin burden with automation

3. Elevate internal relationships with data

4. Drive employee experiences forward

5. Find tech that future-proofs your People strategy

Set your organisation up for success today

Of all the skills HR leaders had to learn in 2020, resilience was near top of the list.

In fact, 65% of HR leaders say their teams have had a vital role to play in the pandemic, driving change, enabling remote working and supporting wellbeing.

From being able to bounce back, to facing challenges head-on, HR became more resilient than ever at the height of the pandemic.

Of course, technology has a huge part to play in enabling resilience not just for the HR team but for the organisation as a whole.

However, now’s not the time to step back but to continue finding ways to enable resilience, with technology there to support you.

HR leaders for a while now have been eager to focus more on driving strategy – and over the past year they have.

In fact, 59% of HR leaders believe they’re now more strategic.

The bad news is that, while they’ve said their workload on strategic tasks have increased – such as driving the People strategy and developing company culture – their admin tasks have too.

Thankfully, there’s a way for HR to reduce the admin workload: automation.

With HR technology growing ever-more sophisticated, automation could help to ease pressure by removing cumbersome admin tasks, freeing up HR’s time to focus on more strategic responsibilities.

This even extends to small businesses with HR systems designed for small business.

We found that 87% of C-suite executives feel HR developed greater influence during 2020. However, 52% of them feel this growth will be temporary.

To maintain the status you’ve worked so hard to build in 2020, it’s vital to leverage your position to influence key stakeholders.

One way to start doing this is by using HR tech to gather and provide analysis on as much data as you can get your hands on that you know the C-suite will want to see.

It’ll surely prove the ongoing benefit of having a robust HR function within the organisation.

Perhaps the most important benchmark of your HR technology investment will be whether it can help you deliver the change you’ve always strived for in your organisation.

In 2020, HR leaders said they worked harder than ever on many of the areas they’ve focused on for years: company culture (60%), employee experiences (57%) and employee engagement (53%), to name just a few.

While these factors depend upon HR to drive them forward, HR in turn depends upon technology to make sure they can be implemented effectively.

And with 31% of HR leaders saying a lack of tech is holding their organisation back, it needs urgently addressing.

HR tech isn’t about giving your HR team a new toy to play with. It’s about giving them the right tools to do the job they’ve been doing for years, so they can elevate the work they do even further and make a bigger impact.

Don’t settle for ‘fine’ when it comes to HR tech. It’s not just about getting new HR tech initiatives off the ground but giving them the means to soar.

It seems HR leaders have an appetite and drive more than ever for getting the technology they need.

Our research found that 75% of HR leaders are already using some form of HR tech, while 67% plan to invest even more.

However, with more than a third (36%) of HR leaders saying a lack of investment stops them achieving the success they would like to see, there’s a strong argument to suggest HR needs to start chasing a greater level of investment – and not settle for anything less than the best for your business.

In many cases, the thing that gets in the way of HR is the lack of a buy-in from the business.

It’s important to make a stellar business case to the C-suite. And don’t just think about what level of investment you need now but what you need for the future.

It would be an underestimation to say HR has been through a lot in 2020, but HR and People teams have an opportunity like never before to become champions of change in their organisation and showcase exactly the impact they make the business.

So, now is not a time to step back, it’s time to move forward.

It’s time to accelerate the change you want to see, to show the C-suite exactly what HR can do, and to help your people to thrive.

And the right HR tech can help you to do that.

HR in the moment: Changing expectations and perceptions of HR

What are the changing perceptions and expectations of HR? Find out what 1,500+ professionals and what they said about how HR is changing.

Download the report