How Much Easier Things Would Be With an HR Siri

When is the last time you had to go searching for something — a file, or a document perhaps — in order to do your job? How long did it take you? What could you have been doing instead?

In our increasingly digital world, we’ve managed to automate everything that once lived in filing cabinets and on pieces of paper, but we didn’t necessarily make it easier to locate what we need. According to one study, employees in the UK spend 21 days each year fumbling with outdated technology, and 23 minutes per day trying to locate important files on servers due to poor search capabilities. With over half of the global population now online and data being generated faster and in larger volume than ever before, this problem is unlikely to go away.

Your company’s outdated technology is not just costing time. It’s costing talent. The employee experience has emerged as a critical driver of workforce engagement and productivity, with employees who report a positive overall experience being more likely to perform well, go above and beyond, and stay with their organization. 30% of employee experience is attributed directly to the technological tools that are provided for them. 80% of millennials say workplace technology influences where they choose to work. Just about every organization is providing some form of technology. But only 15% of workers report high levels of engagement globally. Where is the disconnect?

The importance of technology

It turns out, it’s not just technology, but tech that makes it easier to perform job-relevant tasks and connect to others that matters the most. Technology that requires lengthy, complex enablement and know-how is frustrating. Intuitive, well-designed tools that help people get things done (rather than add yet another step to the process) are engaging. 71% of employees say they expect their workplace technology to be on par with the tech they use at home. These same employees use tools like Siri, Google Home, Apple Maps, and Cortana to instantly find what they need in their non-work lives. What if we offered them the same at work?

This is the thinking behind emerging tools like chatbots and conversational interfaces within HCM solutions, which can help solve some of the human resources challenges employees face. On the one hand, these tasks are critically important and typically time-sensitive. On the other hand, they can be information-rich and a burdensome addition to someone’s day-to-day work. As a hiring manager, where do you find all the information you need in order to open up a job requisition? To provide your new hire with onboarding materials? To ensure you’re assigning the right training and development?

HCM solutions have come a long way in terms of making this information and these workflows intuitive, but as a manager you still need to know where to go, and exactly what you’re looking for. You’re still spending time on the search. And you’re still dependent on HR — a team that is notoriously short on time and resources — to give you the training and enablement you need on how to properly do this with the technology they’ve provided for you.

Talk to your HR technology

Here is another way to approach this: just tell your HCM solution what you need. In the same way you would ask Siri or Alexa a question, you can interact with some HCM tools directly to get information or take action. The outcome is almost like having a designated HR resource for every single person in your company. Or rather, a personal assistant, but in digital form.

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For HR, this goes beyond automating administrative tasks. Not only do HR professionals save time by being able to push out information through this kind of tool, but also by significantly reducing the time and effort spent training people on the HR solution. After all, everyone already knows how to utilize a conversational interface — something familiar to them because it has been a part of their non-work technology for years.

What would it mean for your employees and managers if the cumulative hours they spent on frustrating, outdated technology suddenly reappeared in the form of time? Time to do what matters most for their work. Time to strategize and innovate. Time to create the future. Digital assistants in HR technology and beyond have the power to enable people to achieve tomorrow’s aspirations faster than ever before, giving them the exceptional employee experience that drives them to do it.

Gabby Burlacu

SAP's Dr. Gabriela (Gabby) Burlacu is a Human Capital Management Researcher at SAP, conducting research to better understand, identify and communicate how companies can leverage HCM technology to drive real business change in an ever-changing world.

She received her doctorate in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Portland State University, where she studied the motivational, attitudinal, and behavioral impacts of performance feedback. Although Gabby’s role at SAP involves engaging with companies broadly on issues and challenges related to managing their workforces, often this involves directly addressing the design and implementation of performance management systems that meet the needs of employees and managers. When Gabby is not on the frontline of strategic talent management, she can be found boating, kayaking, and hiking in her hometown of Portland, Oregon.