I had the opportunity to deliver a keynote at FuelHR 2019 a couple of weeks ago at the Toronto Board of Trade. The title of my talk was, “The Impact of Technology on the Business of HR” (see the presentation below at the end of this post). I asked the audience a handful of key questions.
- What is the ultimate goal of the HR function?
- What’s the goal of using technology?
- What’s the connection between tech and HR?
We had a good discussion and many ideas and comments were provided by the audience. At the end of it all, everything that was said was correct… AND… they all connected to 1 thing. That thing is business productivity and results. The ultimate goal of HR is to improve business productivity and results. The goal of using technology is to improve business productivity and results. And the connection between HR and technology? You guessed it… the HR strategy informs the HR tech stack, which then translates into business productivity and results.
We tend to complicate things in life, and in this particular instance regarding HR and technology, it doesn’t need to be complicated. If you start implementing technology without having a clear HR strategy (or at least a decent understanding on what direction your HR group is taking) then you’ll likely have some challenges. We have all used software that impacts us more negatively than it does positively. Among other things, it’s likely a symptom of implementing the wrong solution for what your organization really needs.
I have said this over and over, which is that because there’s a positive correlation between employee engagement and business outcomes, it only makes sense that that you throw HR technology into that relationship. I like to use employee engagement data/insights to build an effective HR strategy. It allows you to better focus on things that really matter in the short term and long term. Once I have the HR strategy figured out I turn my attention to technology. What do I need that will maximize our ability to deliver and add value while working within the confines of our budget? With so many options at our disposal, this is a crucially important step. Take your time with it. Once you have the right HR tech stack and you’ve implemented, you’re well-positioned to be a major contributor to the organization’s business results. Measure it.
I received several comments from the audience about the discussion regarding HR, technology and business outcomes. It seemed like they were relieved because of how simple the connection truly is. Now that we’ve cut through the clutter and complications, HR practitioners should be able to move forward with maximizing the value and impact of technology. It’s exciting to see.