The HR Technology Report

Together with People Management magazine, in November 2019 we surveyed 179 HR professionals from a wide range of industries and different sized organisations. We wanted to understand more about their challenges, and how HR technology is affecting the way they work today.

Introduction


In today’s competitive and technology-rich world of work, employers are starting to think differently about the way they recruit, nurture and retain their people. As we live and work longer, there is a multi-generational workforce with increasingly complex needs including the demand for flexible working and a positive work/life balance. Add to this a gig economy and the fact employees are becoming choosier about who they work for – and for how long – and this presents a number of challenges for UK employers.

To remain competitive, agile and innovative, organisations need to provide what workers want, so their people can add more human value and to ensure they don’t lose this talent to competitors. To do this, they need to tune into what their people are telling them, and explore digital transformation options to help bring about the necessary change.

We surveyed HR professionals across the UK to better understand the issues they are facing, and to see what tools such as Artificial Intelligence, automation, Cloud environments and intelligent analytics are bringing to their HR department and wider business.


“We need to ensure our technology is intuitive, effective and supports all our employees’ needs.”
- Survey respondent

“Our biggest challenge is feeding the data we collect into a single portal that can create meaningful reports and useful analytics."

 

 

- Survey respondent

 

The biggest challenges


When asked to share the biggest challenges they are currently facing, respondents regularly mentioned issues such as misspent time (such as on admin), hard-to-find data, outdated systems and inadequate technology. One respondent disclosed their HR department had been using the same technology since 2002.

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– Most common phrases fed back by respondents in open questions

These technology limitations, which represent universal challenges across business, are affecting how easy it is for HR professionals to retrieve and analyse vital information. We asked respondents to mark on a scale (where zero represented ‘not very easy’ and 10 represented ‘very easy’) how simple it was for them to get access to this key data for insightful reporting. Less than a fifth of respondents selected numbers seven and over. One in 20 circled zero, demonstrating how constrained these HR professionals are by their current systems.

How easy is it for your HR team to retrieve and analyse vital information?

How easy is it for your HR team to retrieve and analyse vital information.jpg


“Our biggest challenge is feeding the data we collect into a single portal that can create meaningful reports and useful analytics, rather than having data in different places with limited processing use.”
- Survey respondent

“We need to make sure the technology employees use at work is in line with the technology they see in the rest of their life.”

 

 

- Survey respondent

 

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An inter-generational and diverse workforce


Our changing workforce now includes Generation Z – digital natives who expect innovative technology to be offered to them at work, mirroring the level of technology they see at home. These employees – born between 1995 and 2010 – are entering the workplace and have higher expectations for technology use in their day-to-day roles. They have been familiar with the internet and technology from a young age, so demand the transformational tools that the Cloud can provide which give them greater flexibility and control, and also help to drive productivity. They are well placed to encourage and support older colleagues who are resistant to change or lacking confidence to try new tools. The HR professionals we spoke to feel fairly confident they have the tools to welcome Generation Z into the workplace.

How ready are you to accommodate an inter-generational workforce with the emergence of Generation Z?

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“We need to make sure the technology employees use at work is in line with the technology they see in the rest of their life.”
- Survey respondent

So how best to get the most from this changing workforce? Certainly ensuring they feel positive about their role and the work they do is key. 92 per cent of HR professionals we spoke to said the best route to a contented workforce is to ask, listen and act on their concerns. 87 per cent agreed it was important to invest in employee wellbeing, and 75 per cent said you should treat your people as you would your customers. 70 per cent replied you need to ensure a diverse workplace.

The latest Cloud technology can allow HR teams to listen and act on employee concerns quickly and effectively, by giving easy access to information and workflows anytime, anywhere. Automating repetitive tasks frees up HR professionals’ time to invest in employee wellbeing, while flexible workflows can ensure HR teams are able to react quickly to employee feedback. Asking for but then not acting on employee feedback can leave employees even more demotivated.

In what ways can an HR department ensure a high quality employee experience?

In what ways can an HR department ensure a high-quality employee experience.jpg

Diversity is an important focus - success revolves around recognising and celebrating differences, ensuring everyone has the opportunity to thrive in a meritocratic workplace. A diverse range of talent at leadership level, as well as across the workforce, creates richer perspectives and a wider frame of reference. More and more candidates are now actively looking for the D&I policies and commitments when researching a potential employer.


“Our biggest challenge is finding and keeping talented people.”
- Survey respondent

“Our biggest challenge is that we have a poor IT infrastructure. Old systems are in place which take up too much time and aren’t integrated with modern technology.”

 

 

- Survey respondent

 

How technology can help


In this rapidly changing landscape, the HR professionals we spoke to believe that technology can help solve their issues. 88 per cent think better analytics will improve how HR operates, 71 per cent think Cloud will do the same. Cloud technology can streamline and centralise everything from talent acquisition and on-boarding, to storing and organising personal and sensitive information. It can also remove potentially dangerous General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) violations inherent in paper-based workflows.

How important is adopting Cloud technology to your HR department?

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Respondents suggested Cloud will also be important in the future, as flexible and mobile working increasingly becomes part of working life. According to the CIPD, presenteeism hit a record high in 2018, and stress and mental ill-health at work are on the rise. One of the ways employers can help combat this is by offering flexible and remote working to promote a better work/life balance. Shifting an organisation’s culture to encourage this, and providing the technology to support it, will be crucial in ensuring the wellbeing of staff.

Does your HR team have the right tools to ensure your employees have a good work/life balance?

Does your HR team have the right tools to ensure employees have a good work-life balance.jpg

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According to our survey, 60 per cent of respondents think AI will have a positive impact on how HR operates. AI is no longer the preserve of science fiction movies; it’s in your house, it’s probably on your wrist or in your pocket and it will be entering your business soon if it hasn’t already. But what will it do for HR? According to 92 per cent of our respondents, AI’s most important task will be reducing the time spent on repetitive admin tasks. 76 per cent believe it will help measure return on investment and cost savings, and 74 per cent think it will assist with recruitment of new staff. Just over half of HR professionals asked thought it would help in reducing bias in HR decision-making – maybe the rest are yet to see the potential of AI, or believe reducing recruitment bias isn’t an issue in their workplace.

What technologies do you see changing HR in the near future?

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“Our biggest challenge is that we have a poor IT infrastructure. Old systems are in place which take up too much time and aren’t integrated with modern technology.”
- Survey respondent
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“We don’t have enough time to focus on moving forward, as we are bogged down in the day-to-day.”

 

 

- Survey respondent

 

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Are organisations ready to embrace technology innovation in HR?


Technology, such as automation in HR, creates positive disruption, helps deal with legislative compliance and increases HR productivity. It can free up valuable time for HR professionals to focus on analysis, invest in the acceleration of people strategies and provide key strategic insight to the rest of the organisation. By reducing time spent on manual tasks and paperwork, technology enables employees to self-serve, driving employee engagement and experience, and freeing up the HR team to work on higher-value activities. The right infrastructure and tools help organisations attract, nurture and retain talent, while managing the entire lifecycle of employees from candidate to retiree.


“The breadth of responsibilities and accountabilities have grown significantly, but resources made to the HR teams in the industry seem not to be a priority.”
- Survey respondent

Conclusion


Many HR professionals we spoke to feel they are operating without sufficient technologies and systems to allow them to conduct their roles in the most timely and accurate manner. For example, two thirds of respondents had not renewed their talent acquisition strategy over the past two years. Perhaps the changing expectations and demands of the younger workforce will help force the issue when it comes to HR teams and organisations adopting game-changing technology. If not, organisations risk losing talent to new start-ups that are promoting this approach and being proactive.

It’s no surprise, then, that decisions are generally made far more quickly among SMEs. They don’t face the same barriers that large organisations typically do. It therefore makes smaller organisations more nimble and better prepared to take advantage of technologies with little disruption or delay. The key element is selecting the solution that provides future scalability.


“We don’t have enough time to focus on moving forward, as we are bogged down in the day-to-day.”
- Survey respondent

Employers need to understand what technology is available, and what it can do for their HR department and the wider business. Then they need to commit to provide what their workers need. This may involve redefining how they think, and changing how and where they act throughout the entire employee lifecycle. But it will result in more engaged, loyal and productive people - and a workforce that adds more human value to the organisation. And this can only lead to an increase in competitiveness, agility and innovation.

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About Advanced


Advanced is the third largest British software and services company in the UK. We help HR departments create the right digital foundations that drive productivity, insight and innovation – all while remaining safe, secure and compliant.

Our solutions simplify business and HR challenges and deliver immediate value, positively impacting millions of people's lives. We enable UK HR teams to make a difference by helping them to increase productivity, engage your people and recruit and retain top talent. Every day, we help HR teams who focus too much on repetitive and manual tasks, freeing time and energy up to gain insight into their people and deliver effective change across the business.

We have a strong track record in helping our customers’ journey to the Cloud, and are certified partners with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft, and have achieved the highest levels of accreditations. Our HR solutions are used by organisations of all shapes and sizes including Superdry, Bibby and Kwik Fit.


www.oneadvanced.com/solutions/cloud-hr


Methodology

Research for Advanced’s HR Technology Report 2019/20 was carried out online with CIPD between September 2019 and November 2019. The sample comprised of 179 HR leaders and professionals working in organisations of all shapes and sizes in the UK.