Over the last 10 years, new technology has practically made the concept of “traditional workspace” a thing of the past.
Today’s employees can work from anywhere, on any platform, at any time.
Web-based software, SaaS, and social media have allowed employers to recruit talent in locations once considered completely inaccessible. And today’s new hires sign off on employee handbooks that never actually touch anyone’s hands!
It’s not always easy for HR to prove its strategic value in business, but with the recent advances in new technology, HR is become more relevant, streamlined, and effective than ever before. However, with all this progress comes new responsibilities in ensuring compliance and employee privacy.
Here are four (4) ways new technology is changing HR, and how to make the most of these developments:
1. Social media
So your marketing department loves social media.
Of course, they do! It lets them engage directly with your business’s customers in real time, and that kind of instant feedback/communication is great for growing awareness and sales.
However, your employees are likely on social media away from work, and they could be broadcasting opinions and viewpoints that may run contrary to your company’s values. This can create tricky situations that HR will be asked to manage.
When it comes to how your employees will use social media, you will need a policy that protects your company, but does not infringe on your employee’s’ rights.
Some sources suggest that companies include a “savings clause” in their stated policy. Essentially, a savings clause states that “Nothing in this policy is intended to interfere with the employee’s rights under the labor relations act.”
The savings clause might offer some protection when dealing with liability, but Findlaw disagrees. You may want to consult with your own legal professional regarding this delicate issue.
It’s important to understand that any company can have a policy regarding social media; however, if you do not support your policy with training and clarification, then it’s just words on paper. At Patriot, we’ve included our policy in our handbook and review it during new hire orientation (NHO) as part of our new employee onboarding process.
Don’t be afraid of social media. If you treat it like a nuclear bomb waiting to go off, it will be exactly that. Instead, support it. With all of the potential that social media offers for collaboration, it is a tool that more companies should be utilizing.
HR’s role is not to stop innovation, but to support it. In order to do so, HR needs to ensure that your company, employees, and customers are able to use these tools effectively.
So, have a strong policy, implement an effective employee training program, and ensure that the resources are used correctly. The sky’s the limit!
2. Apps and Software as a Service (SaaS)
Apps are everywhere these days, including the Human Resources department. There is a veritable cornucopia of apps to choose from for assisting HR, be they web apps or native apps.
Here are some examples from our own HR department
- LinkedIn’s new recruiting service is providing our hiring department with the resources needed to find and recruit passive candidates; allowing us to find the top candidates with or without a resume in hand.
- Another app making a big impression is Lucidchart. Lucidchart is a SaaS that allows users to make diagrams and flowcharts. Our company used it to create our organizational chart and for mind-mapping.
- Google Docs have enabled us to share information across our business with ease. The suite has helped us streamline our processes and made collecting data much simpler. A great example is when HR combined Google Docs, Forms, and Sheets for our six-month performance evaluations this year, making them completely electronic.
- Through Google Forms, we sent every employee a question-and-response form with performance review questions. When the employees submitted their responses, the results were dropped into a Google Doc template (using Form Publisher). Then the Google document was emailed automatically to the respective supervisor. The supervisors completed their portion of the reviews and met with their employees to discuss. This resulted in a good performance review process process that was efficient and paperless. Better yet, HR is the owner on each of the docs, so every employee’s completed results were automatically captured in a digital format, making analytics even easier!
These are just a few examples of streamlining HR through apps. There are thousands of other options. We even use our own SaaS, a fully web-based time and attendance software for small business which allows our employees to log their time and attendance wherever they are, with no downloads.
Some apps are free; others require a purchase. However, before making any major purchases, be sure to do your due diligence.
Depending on how the provider stores data, their cloud storage products may not be a good fit if you work in a profession that has specific HIPAA compliance constraints. Also, some apps “opt in” your company to share data with third parties or other data aggregators.
What HR professionals need to keep in mind are the risks and potential legal issues that can arise from these products before purchasing. Some key questions to ask may be: Who owns the data? Is the data secure? Do we have to purchase a license? How frequently will we need to upgrade? What are the long-term costs associated with the product?
Our product development department LOVES using the new toys, and we love the innovation it can bring to our products. We let our product development team choose what product they use — Mac, Windows, or Linux. We also encourage our employees to bring in their own tech if they feel more comfortable working on those mobile devices.
Many companies are embracing their employees’ passion for the newest tech and encouraging them to use their own computers, phones, or tablets at work. This offers employees more freedom to work whenever, wherever — which encourages new thinking and increases productivity.
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However, there are some pitfalls that HR should be aware of. Most importantly, there are the security concerns for employees and customers. Companies that encourage BYOT should ensure that their policies include guidelines for personal tech use, how to lockdown confidential data, and what to do if a device is lost or stolen.
4. Wearable technology
This is likely to be the next big topic.
Companies like Google, Microsoft, and Apple have already begun introducing wearable tech from watches to glasses to motion-sensing devices (e.g., Fitbit). These devices can help your employees be more active, connected, and even improve time management.
However, with these items also comes uncharted waters for HR. In the coming months, companies will need to begin thinking about how these devices can impact their organization and their employees’ privacy. It will be key for HR to begin identifying these potential risks and create strategies to address them.
Tracking the health-related data of employees is a blurry area. Any HR department that chooses to adopt wearable tech will have to be cognizant of what type of information those devices can track and be clear about compliance.
Keeping up with business evolution
The software and technology field is constantly changing and evolving.
Most people think this relates purely to new coding language, gadgets, or microchips. But HR is a strategic piece of the tech evolution pie.
HR is involved from sourcing tech talent, to instituting training, to tracking and managing the people who are responsible for the tech innovation. One side of the business feeds the other, and for HR to do its job it needs to to have a place at the forefront of tech innovation.