Opportunities and risks of HR digitization
Opportunities and risks of HR digitization – The goal must be more than just increasing efficiency, it must bring real added value for HR customers.
We therefore advocate a comprehensive perspective in the discussion about digital personnel management, which comprises the following five dimensions (Appel / Wahler 2018) (Fig. 1). These are due to technological innovations on the one hand and the needs and expectations of HR customers on the other hand under constant pressure to change:
- First of all, the tools have to be called: for example, mobile devices, but also sensors with which performance can be measured in the commercial sector, as well as software such as cloud solutions.
- All HR processes will be affected by digitization to varying degrees. In the first place, the recruitment process is often mentioned, which could be done by automation, at least for standard profiles, in a few years without the involvement of a personnel manager. In the area of (initial) qualification and further training, the transition to “social learning” and learning is being carried out with automated learning recommendations and adaptive learning platforms (Spies 2019).
- Big data in digital human resources work means a huge increase in the amount, heterogeneity, rate of change and complexity of data and their relationships with one another. For example, email traffic in companies can be evaluated to see who the informal know-how bearers of the organization are.
- The structures of HR work will change. For example, the trend towards outsourcing through process standardization will increase sharply. Coupled with the increasing scarcity of personnel experts in the middle qualification segment, this will also greatly favor offshoring.
- Digitization will trigger a major change in leadership. Managers have to deal with the management of technically heterogeneous, decentralized and “virtual” teams even more than before, as well as with individual working methods and different working hours. This development must be flanked by cultural work to promote openness to agile structures and methods.
Acceptance of digitization also plays an important role in creating added value.
“Why do I have to enter data in the system as a manager? Isn’t that the job of an HR expert? ”, Executives often ask when self-services should be introduced. In the case of previous automation spurts from HR, the argument was made to relieve the managers. In fact, however, they experienced a consolidation of their activities with the simultaneous loss of support resources in service units. Many managers are therefore suspicious of the digitization campaigns in HR. In addition, employees and managers continue to perceive personal interaction with HR as the better form of communication, which is also more appropriate to the nature of HR work – and this often even with purely administrative concerns. Given the concerns about overload and the desire for personal communication, the digitization of HR processes seems to be primarily desired by HR – and less by the customers of the HR function.
In order to increase the acceptance of HR digitization, its advantages for employees and managers must be presented clearly and group-specifically. A comprehensive change approach should be used to support digitization. Added value must be worked out and communicated personally. The classic application training can be largely avoided by additional programs, so-called in-system guides such as Walkme or Userlane, which automatically guide the user through the application. Figure 3 shows the acceptance model of digitization for the target groups employees, managers and HR managers. “Behavior” means the willingness of employees and managers to work with the new applications, while “understanding” aims to understand the advantages and necessities for change. Skills for the correct use of the applications, which are described in the following section, as well as digital leadership round off the framework.
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