Digitalization is setting new standards in efficiency and thinking. It is something that HR can and should take advantage of today because, by digitizing routine activities, we give ourselves the creative freedom to take on future tasks.
If I had to decide on a career again today, HR would still be high on the list, given its importance in determining the future viability of today’s companies.
The world of work is changing as a result of digital transformation. As this advances, people today already require different qualifications than in the past. Employees have to be more creative, more communicative, and more team-oriented than only a decade ago. We integrate machines and artificial intelligence into our work processes and we design multi-national business processes. We HR professionals have two important tasks: to prepare an aging workforce for these changes and to make our jobs attractive to young ‘high potentials’. Unlike times gone by, candidates today want to be wooed with a working environment that is attractive to them.
Excel lists and printed e-mails
For all these future tasks, personnel need a degree of freedom. Digitalization could provide us with exactly that, and the daily routine blights many creative approaches. But in the field of HR – without passing any judgment – digitalization has not really arrived yet. Of course, every HR manager today has a personal laptop. But instead of the widespread digitization of routine administrative activities, one medium has replaced the other. Instead of filling out paper forms, employees now send e-mail notification of an absence. Colleagues in subsidiaries send HR data in Excel lists. This creates more work rather than less. Added to the documents piling up on desks, we now also have overflowing e-mail inboxes. The HR representative usually prints these out and enters the data into the system manually.
An HR overhaul
It would be easy to universally automate and harmonize routine administrative HR activities, such as absence requests, employee information, new joiners/leavers or transfers, and the application and representation process, across locations and countries. Smart digital solutions and user-friendly apps already exist for all of these standard processes. The strange thing is that we have become used to a wide variety of apps in our private lives. We visit Amazon of a Sunday morning to buy a phone case or raincoat online. Our banking apps allow us to view our real-time account balances, whether we are on a train or on the sofa at home. And if you are plagued by sore throats at half past eleven at night, you can arrange a GP appointment for the next morning via Doctolip. It couldn’t be easier.
By the same measure, you and your team could perform your routine HR administrative tasks just as easily. Imagine an employee requesting leave in the evening for the following day and then informing his boss about tomorrow’s absence on the appropriate company app. The information is sent automatically to HR and the colleagues affected, substitute rules are activated, and the employee’s Out of Office is turned on. These simple routine apps are incredibly user friendly. There’s no need to do anything by hand anymore, but everyone is informed. And your specialists and managers no longer have to deal with the day-to-day admin, and can devote their time and energy on more demanding tasks. The example may seem trivial, but it can be applied to other routine processes.
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Keep it Simple!
Apps to support scenarios such as the absence option described above are available for many routine activities and manual processes in HR, including onboarding, offboarding, target setting and continuous assessment, remuneration, and bonuses. The entire employee life cycle can be mapped using digital platforms and underpinned with small, smart apps. All it takes is a few clicks. These solutions are available on the personal digital devices of the employees, which they always have with them anyway.
Conclusion: The true potential of HR goes digital lies in radical simplification: by reducing to the max or ensuring that everything is connected wherever possible. With the right tools, HR today has an opportunity to position itself as a strategic partner within the company.