As an industry and as HR professionals, we need to find more time, where time doesn’t exist. But let us give you a little spoiler. You can find the answer through your approach to HR Transformation.
For those of us working in HR, there’s always a careful balance of priorities. But there’s just never enough hours in the day to do everything we need to or want to do. Our list of priorities feels never-ending, right?
I want to let you in on a little secret… It doesn’t have to be this way. Automation technology is becoming more accessible, and this means it’s ready and waiting to be used by you too. So, you have the potential to get some of your time back and instead focus on higher-level HR priorities. The question is, are you ready to take the leap into the somewhat unknown.
What challenges are those in HR currently facing?
Now before we rush off to start automating everything we can get our hands on, let’s take a second to really think about what we do. We need to assess the challenges we face in our roles and our organisation – both internally and externally. This is the first step to transforming your HR.
Internally, what’s HR there for? You could say we’re the backbone of the organisation. Our role is to support and give advice to all the various teams within an organisation, a true business partner.
At a wider level, HR are the ones responsible for setting strategy for behavioural and organisational changes. We are also the ones defining all those great new ways of working. However, this work, as we know, comes in ebbs and flows. Some days you can get the headspace to plan out a new initiative. But other days a tricky disciplinary can throw your calendar out the window.
When we look at the external pressures, there are so many things happening in society and the world that can impact our approach to HR within our business. Recently, areas such as Covid, Black Lives Matter and the gender pay gap have all understandably demanded the attention and quick action of HR professionals the world over.
For our profession though, one of the biggest challenges when it comes to external pressures is that we rarely know what societal issue is going to become headline news and rise to the top of the public consciousness. However, this is one reason why we should always work towards being an organisation that’s already forward-thinking and inclusive.
Thinking about all this as a pyramid has always helped me focus my work and the pressures of it into distinctive categories. The higher on the pyramid a piece of work goes, the less time I’m probably able to spend on it.
Naturally, we’d all like to be focusing on the top part of that pyramid, all day every day. I don’t know many HR professionals who got into the game because they had a burning desire to chase managers to sign a new starter contract! But the issue with these top tier HR projects is, how often do we actually have the time to work on them and make them a reality? Or even have the time to really start thinking about them at all?
For most of us, the idea of ‘spare’ time is just that – an idea. What on earth is ‘spare time’? It’s something that’s only getting more difficult to find.
Our days can simply be just overflowing. We’re overrun by common operational tasks, the paperwork, the operational must do’s at the bottom of that HR pyramid. There are countless compliance related actions that are constantly repeated, service requests that are repetitive and detail driven. But, all together, these tasks are extremely important to keep a business running smoothly.
But what if there was a way to free up more of your time spent on these administrative tasks? What if there was a way to find you some of that elusive ‘spare time’?
How you can start your HR transformation journey
Whilst I can’t speak for your HR environment, I can share a story of how I came to realize that I could flip that HR pyramid on its head. All it took was a bit of creative thinking, a dash of technology and a stubbornness for a better way of achieving my goals.
This story takes you and I on a flashback to an idle Tuesday a number of years ago. It was after a long day of too much work and not enough time.
I was replying to a recent hire who’d been unable to get to a printer to print and sign their contract, which would delay the whole onboarding process. I finished the email, pressed send, thought about how the hiring manager would react and then silently whispered to the HR gods above – “there must be a better way”.
And perhaps the HR gods were listening, or maybe I’d actually just gone a bit crazy… But from that moment forward I started critically analysing every task that passed my desk. No more did I just mindlessly complete a task. For each task, I spent a couple of seconds analysing it a bit closer, thinking ‘this is taking more time than it should, would there be a better way if I changed the approach?’.
As a result, this turned into a list of troublesome tasks. And that list soon turned into chats with IT buddies and HR friends in different organisations. And, of course, Google searches on the bus ride home; ‘Can people sign contracts online?’, ‘Is an online signed contract legal?’.
All of this became business cases for change and change we did! The concept was simple. Small, incremental changes in process combined with the better use of technology that we already owned. This saved time by improving the efficiency of the operational HR work across the business. Meanwhile this granted the team and I more time and headspace to focus on the top-tier HR work.
How can the right technology help HR transformation?
Now that you’ve spent the time analysing your processes, it’s time to meet the Bonnie to your Clyde.
Technology is the other half of HR transformation that you’ve been looking for. In short, it’s not just about having any old tech, it’s about finding the right technology. Firstly, you need a centralised solution that’ll meet all your needs, automate those manual tasks, and free up your time. We can start to transform our HR world and set ourselves free with spare time to work on those dream projects.
When analysing my daily tasks, I realised efficiency gains could be achieved using Microsoft technology that we already had as a business but was not yet being utilised.
The good news for you is that if your organisation has Microsoft 365, then you’ll likely already have access to some of that handy Microsoft technology to help with your HR transformation.
All those regular and repetitive tasks you have can be automated through this tool. And then certain actions can automatically triggered based on other actions. For example, if you were to receive a specific email, you could use an automation through Power Automate to automatically forward that email to a department or colleague who needs to take action. Or you could automatically generate certain reminders for contract signings.
If you’ve never used Power Automate, there’s nothing to be nervous about. You don’t need a tech background to use Power Automate. One of the best things about it is that it’s a straightforward and intuitive tool to use. There’s even a section dedicated to ready-made templates for HR tasks! Human Resources Collection | Microsoft Power Automate.
Once you get going and understand the concepts, you can then customise the automations to suit exactly what you need it to do if the templates don’t quite match. There’s even a new feature that assesses your current processes for you and helps find ways to automate processes or save you time. As you can tell, I find Power Automate very exciting for the opportunities it provides the HR profession. And I’m sure you will too!
But it’s not just Power Automate that can be useful for HR transformation. Another part of the Power Platform you want to know about is Power BI.
This app can take in all your data from as many different sources as you are collecting it and bring it together in one central location. You can then view all your data and create customisable dashboards in Power BI to help you identify HR trends and gain actionable insights. The options here are literally only limited by your imagination.
What do you need to be mindful of when it comes to your HR transformation?
While we are all excited about the possibilities that HR transformation brings, let me take off my rose-coloured glasses for a second. Let’s analyse some realities of digital transformation for HR.
You need to think about making sure you’re taking the right approach with the right technology. However, this doesn’t need to be anything that you lose sleep over or takes up more of your time with worries. But there are a few things to bear in mind to make sure any changes really will improve how you work and how your business operates as a whole.
- How much you automate: Automating too much at once can create hesitancy amongst your team members. Moving towards a new way of working needs strong communication. Make sure you have an adoption strategy that utilises internal communications to keep everyone in the loop. You want them to understand why the changes are good and how they benefit them. For example, automating their repetitive tasks gives them more time to focus on the important ones.
- Revisiting your automation: When you automate a process, it’s easy to tuck it to the back of your mind and never think about it again. However, you should still check-in every so often to see if there’s improvements that could be made. Likewise it’s particularly important to revisit an automation if a process has changed at all. You could even send out an automated reminder through Power Automate to give you a nudge to revisit your automation.
- Look for quick wins: When you see an opportunity to automate, it can be tempting to try and create one giant automation that includes all the little automations within it. But trust me, this can mean trouble. You could find if you need to change something on one of the minor automations, then you need to change the whole automation instead. As a result, this can all just become a big headache. Therefore, rather than focusing on a large automation that can take a lot of time, consultation and testing to get done, you can create smaller automations for individual tasks as necessary.
What’s next for the HR industry?
As HR professionals, given time and energy, we can do so much more than just the unyielding administrative tasks that are all too often associated with our industry. We are here for the people we work with. And we really want to make a difference for the people in our organisation. But to do this, we need the time available to create meaningful change with the business.
The way forward for our industry is to automate the administrative workload where we can by embracing the right technology. This lets us show our value far beyond admin.
But now, as part of Pi Digital, my worlds of HR and technology have collided. Here I get to help HR teams with their digital transformations so they can see the benefits I once found. And as a result, I can help you find the time that I got back. With digital HR transformation we can work together to flip that HR pyramid on its head and create time for you to work on all those dream HR projects.
At Pi Digital we know what can help and can work with you to find the right technology solutions for you and your business to get you the results you want to see. You won’t need to spend your time desperately Googling for new ways of working on your bus ride home. And with the expertise we have in-house, we may even already know what’s on your list of priorities right now.
To discover how we can help you make your HR transformation a reality, get in touch with us now.