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Masha Masha is a content developer at IceHrm. You can contact her at masha[at]

Optimizing HR Technology: Strategies for Success

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When I talk to HR employees about HR technology a few years after it was adopted, one thing keeps repeating itself. "We have bought a fantastic system, but we have never put it to use or exploited its full potential".

So why do we find that after the first phase of system implementation we only use a fraction of what we have purchased?

I would think that it is usually due to one or more of the following reasons:

Lack of time - The daily tasks in the HR department simply become an obstacle to finding time to work on the development and improvement of the HR system.

Project Fatigue - After the initial implementation is completed, there is often no longer anyone who wants to continue working on system improvements, and we move on to other priorities.

Some technology platforms have limitations when it comes to adapting to needs - Older generations of systems usually require additional investments in time and money for system improvements just to stand still, not to mention offering new features. This inevitably means asking for more money to cover the need for software consultants, which is often hard to come by after an expensive system implementation. Legacy platforms developed with legacy technology do not have quite the flexibility of modern cloud-based SaaS platforms, and therefore "in-house" power users cannot further develop their systems without expensive consulting support.

Lack of vision and innovation - Lack of new thinking or a strategic vision of what we want our HR system to be will undoubtedly limit the added value that can be achieved by implementing a modern HR system. HRIS software is so much more versatile and powerful than many older generation systems that the only thing holding us back from getting the most out of the technology is our ability to rethink how we can use the opportunities. We HR employees are not necessarily the most innovative people, such as, for example, app developers in start-up technology companies. We tend to be more procedural and process oriented, which limits our ability to think creatively about how we can use technology in what we do, and how we can work in different ways to exploit the possibilities of technology.

But innovation must start from a vision of where we want to be, so that we can at least focus the innovation and channel it in the right direction. The vision starts with seeing the HR system as the digital platform to which all HR activities are linked, and having a strategic plan to achieve this. The HR system should be at the center of everything you do in HR, and not just be a system used to record and report data. The vision is more about the digital HR platform becoming your virtual HR assistant - fully integrated with the HR department's activities and employees - from line managers to employees throughout the organization.

It is "vision and innovation" that I will focus on in this article. With a strong and innovative vision for the HR software in place, you can get much more out of the HR technology. So let's start with "tip one".

Tip number one - challenge traditional HR process thinking

Technology gives us the opportunity to reorganize our HR processes and procedures and challenge the way we have always done things. Let me give you an example of what I mean.

Most absence reporting procedures start with something like "you must call your manager before 9:00 am to report your absence". I would like to think that such an approach to absence notices is due to two things:

Firstly, it is a practice that goes back a long way, long before there were mobile phones or e-mail. 30 years ago, this was the only way employees could communicate with their manager. It made sense at the time, but with today's modern methods of communication, is it still the best way?

At the end of the day, regardless of what our policies, manuals and procedures say, the reality is that texting, whatsapping and emailing may be the normal way to notify managers of absence.

Then we have the second reason. Our understanding of human nature is that getting someone to call in is more likely to get them out of bed and into work, and if we make it too easy for them to call in sick, absenteeism will skyrocket!

Put your judgment on hold for a moment and think about this. Why can't an employee report sick via an app to their manager?

Consider the benefits:

  • Firstly, it is a headache in itself for a line manager to answer a phone in a busy everyday life, and you don't have time to do anything other than receive the information anyway. Let's make life easier for line managers.
  • Secondly, it is easy to forget a phone call, text message, Whatsapp message or email, and the data capture is lost. By entering data via an app on the mobile phone, the absence is registered immediately, which leads to better absence registration.
  • Thirdly: Why should we think about the minority that we think will abuse it and have the most absences? We have our own methods for dealing with repeat customers through return meetings and trigger systems.
  • And finally, the advantage of reporting absence via an app is that it can be sent through the workflow to several recipients immediately. In some organisations, such as schools, where it is important to be able to change the timetables of an absent teacher quickly, faster communication is also a big advantage.

This is just one example of what I mean by challenging the traditional working methods in the HR department and realizing the potential that modern HR software can provide, both for managers and ourselves as HR employees.

Tip number two - let go of the paper!

We all know that's right. It's good for the environment, it's more efficient, it reduces storage costs, and yet most of us still have cupboards full of staff folders and a set of paper forms that can be downloaded from the intranet and which just fill those folders. Even where we have started scanning documents into document management systems, we often stick with the paper files "just in case". Why do we do it?

We shouldn't fall into the trap of worrying about data loss with modern backup systems. Scanned documents are more secure than paper documents in a filing cabinet.

Nor should we assume that digitally stored documents will disappear - password permissions can make it more difficult to remove documents digitally than from a paper file. All HR employees have experienced going to retrieve a signed contract in a paper folder and discovering that it is not there, or that the folder is gone. It's always the one you needed, that a senior manager has asked for, and that makes us immediately lose credibility.

Obviously, it takes time to scan files, but the value is huge, and the ability to access them remotely is also a big plus.

There are many advantages to storing documents digitally, and I will return to this later.

Tip number three - Take advantage of modern communication technology

When I started my HR career, I worked in a large company that had five HR administrators sitting outside my office doing HR administration. They had something called typewriters and printed out letters, put them in an envelope and made sure they were sent to the candidate. Then came the word processors, which replaced the typewriter, and then of course Microsoft "word". But despite all these technological advances, the same HR administrators still printed out documents, put them in envelopes and mailed them. For many people today, the mobile phone and the "app" is the most convenient way to communicate, and therefore it is important to make use of this communication medium. That is why mobile screens are getting bigger and bigger. If the employees are more inclined to communicate with us in this way, our records and data will be much more accurate, and therefore we should put the mobile phone at the center of our system design, providing not only an intuitive system, but also a user-friendly interface .

Some HR systems now have a built-in option to create letter templates, and the really good systems also have the option to send such letters automatically via e-mail with e-signature and tracking. This saves an enormous amount of time and, of course, saves on postage. But with the ability to track non-returnable documents, there's also an obvious opportunity to demonstrate improvements in HR compliance and credibility.

Tip number four - Make self-service mandatory!

How many times have we not had conversations about islands of personnel data and triplication of files that managers and others outside the HR department keep across the organization? I'm trying to avoid the term GDPR here, because we've all heard a lot about it! But a single HR database must be the sensible option, and opening up information collaboration with managers on what they need can only improve HR's reputation within the business and remove the need for duplicate filing systems as well as minimize the risk of breaches of data legislation. The added benefits of remote access anywhere, anytime speak for themselves.

However, self-service should not be limited to managers. There are also significant gains to be made through self-service for the employees. Systems with the possibility of electronic forms give us the opportunity to remove all paper forms we have, and to enter data at the source. Electronic form technology will reduce the number of errors, eliminate double typing and of course provide the opportunity for data field validation to ensure that typing errors are also minimized at the source.

You should not be afraid of self-service. Opening access to your data can improve accuracy (we all know how hard it is in practice to get accurate data when your employees don't think to tell you about changed conditions). Those who fear the risk of unauthorized access to the data should consider the risk of leaving documents on the copier, compared to the risk of the data being safely stored in an HR system that is logged out after a few minutes of inactivity.

Tip Number Five - Use technology to manage your HR compliance

The boring stuff is the important stuff. An overwhelming advantage of digital personnel files is the ability to easily carry out compliance checks. For example, how do I know that all 1,000 folders contain mandatory documents, such as proof of right to work, when they are all in a filing cabinet? Intelligent technology can give me real-time monitoring and legal security that what we think is in a folder, is also in a folder.

The demands on all organizations to ensure compliance with HR regulations increases every year, and so do the financial penalties for non-compliance. To mention a few...

  • ID checks in connection with immigration
  • Driving license checks for professional drivers and insurance checks for private drivers who drive for work.
  • The statutory requirement that all employees must have a written explanation of the most important terms of employment
  • Checking of confidentiality and character certificates for certain professions.

And then there is a requirement to be able to show that you have shared information with the employees about the company's "mandatory" guidelines. For example:

  • Privacy statement in accordance with GDPR
  • Bribery Act
  • Security - in certain sectors

A really good HR system will make these types of checks and balances a breeze thanks to its compliance monitoring features, and will also help you reduce the number of hard copies sent out.

Tip Number Six - Use Technology to Engage New Hires Before They've Even Started!

We've all experienced new hires not showing up, or candidates choosing to quit before they've even started. It has become a common problem as work values have changed, yet we engage very little with this "most vulnerable" group before they start. We spend a lot of time chasing the candidate up to the offer stage, and then it's like they disappear from the radar while they're working on their resignation at their current employer, and we cut off contact. How does it feel to them? With other job applications that they have applied for, and which may still be closed, it is important that we keep the relationship with the new employees alive.

Onboarding technology can play an important role in creating engagement and staying connected. Videos, information and frequent news updates about the company directly to the employee's most valuable and personal communication tool - the mobile phone - can be easily set up to maintain the relationship in the vacuum period between acceptance and "day one", while giving candidates a professional onboarding experience, which more and more new employees expect today.

In conclusion, maximizing the potential of IceHrm HR technology requires a shift in mindset, embracing innovation, and leveraging the capabilities of modern systems to streamline processes and enhance engagement within the workforce.

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