retaining employeesThe last five years have seen significant power reside in the hands of employers as the supply of workers has far outpaced the demand. 2014, however, looks like the balance may shift and employees will gain the upper hand.

There are several reasons for this shift – a tipping point, actually – and the ramifications will be with us for years. To start, the financial meltdown of 2008-2009 has finally reversed its course. Companies as diverse as Starbucks and Proctor & Gamble no longer see millions of applicants for thousands of jobs. In addition, the Federal Reserve Board has seen fit to scale back on quantitative easing while the Federal government is once again hiring in significant numbers. Both situations portend a more employee-centric job market.

At the same time, many, large American corporations – sitting on more cash and liquid assets than ever before – are looking to expand their operations and capitalize on the ready labor market. Finally, the first wave of baby boomers have started to retire, as many as 10,000 per day according to some government estimates.

For this reason, many corporations are looking to our southern neighbor to increase the available work force but that strategy will only work for a certain number of skills. More educated and easily trained employees will start to see higher demand. The question that corporations need to ask is whether their retention strategy is sufficient to keep their best employees in place.

Simply put, a solid retention plan is key to the future success of any company. With a rapidly diminishing trained work force, a company will no longer be able to have its so-called “pick of the litter” when it comes to employees. Even worse, they can no longer rely on minimal training and hope for the best. Instead, a development plan must be instituted to keep employees motivated and committed.

Development and retention plans do not normally come fully formed but HRIS systems and Professional Employer Organizations can help jump start your efforts. Consider them when reevaluating your strategy for dealing with the “new normal” in the shrinking labor market. The real risk is not that you will run out of employees, just that you will have to deal with all the problems associated with sub-par ones.

For more information on HRIS systems and PEO companies see the following resources:
compareHRIS.com
 
PEOcompare.com

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The Benefits of Flex Scheduling

by Carolyn Sokol on October 10, 2014

Flex scheduleAlbeit reluctantly, business owners, CEOs, and VPs of HR have finally come to the realization that flexible work schedules are a great boon to the non-work life of their employees. They allow employees to schedule around doctor’s appointments, sick children and all manner of life’s other inopportune emergencies.   It is important that the HCM technologist understands the benefits as they are the ones that must ensure the HCM technology maintains compliance with the various government mandates surrounding wage and hour.

What is Flexible Work Schedule?
In its broadest sense, a flexible schedule is any plan that allows an employee to work hours that differ from the normal company start and stop time. While an employee sees this flexibility as a great bonus, it can be a logistical problem for the HR department.

In the process, employee morale and loyalty is often improved and productivity from most employees will actually increase. Still, there are doubts from those who are tasked with managing the procedure but, nevertheless, the flex schedule seems here to stay for the immediate future.

The Next Wave

The newest generation of workers has embraced the concept like no other and, in many instances, they demand that a flex-schedule option be available as a condition of their employment. While many owners are loathe to yield their autonomy in making a schedule, a flex schedule actually gives them quite a toolbox to work with in meeting a wide variety of unusual scheduling issues. Here are a few flex-schedule options that may change your mind about the whole issue:

Telecommuting – The protestations of Yahoo’s CEO aside, telecommuting is a fact of life and the newest generation of workers is demanding it. The sensible business owner will embrace the concept and enact procedures that ensure that the company is getting its so called money’s worth from the employee.

While it may seem like there is an extra layer of oversight needed in this situation, monitoring the activities of off-site employees is really no different than doing so for in-house ones, especially if most of their activity is on line or reported after the fact. In addition, the company does not lose employee time to such minor difficulties as cable installation, doctor’s appointments or inclement weather.

Job Sharing – Another interesting flex schedule benefit that can support both the employee and the employer is a job-sharing arrangement. Job sharing is ideal for on-call positions where more than one employee can be assigned in an emergency. However, it should not be used in situations where delegator powers or important responsibilities are held as there will inevitably be miscommunications with subordinates and important tasks can fall through the cracks.

Alternative Shift Schedules  – For businesses that operate on a 24 hour, 7 day schedule, shift work is often the answer for covering those “hard to fill” shifts. Many employees are not enamored with this relationship but there are plenty of working couples who would relish the possibility of eliminating child care costs for a portion of the month. In addition, there are part-time business owners who will benefit from being able to communicate with the customers during the day and at night.

Temporary Employees – While temporary employees have been the mainstay of many a company looking to keep the costs of benefits down, recent rulings by the U.S. Department of Justice has cooled this idea. No longer can employees be simply declared as “temporary” but must meet certain government guidelines to be classified as such. Still, there are many employees who seek out temporary assignments and revel in the freedom it allows.


The Bottom Line

Regardless of the reasons for and the types of flex scheduling, both companies and their employees can benefit if a reasonable effort is made to balance the wants and needs of both parties.

For the HCM administrator, capturing time appropriately and ensuring that all wage and hour laws are adhered to is important.  Does your HCM solution help you stay in compliance to local and federal guidelines or do you have to do this manually?  A good HCM does it for you.

To compare HRMS Solutions for your business see www.compareHRIS.com.

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HR Technology and the Employee Appraisal Process

by Carolyn Sokol on October 3, 2014

performance appraisalIt doesn’t take much to minimize Human Resources as a system of processes and outcomes. The fact that people are the “commodity” involved adds a significant and complex character to the mix. When employers distance themselves from their employees – intentionally or not, solutions for the damage done can be found in those core processes and outcomes. The common problems created by the employee appraisal process have an easy and cost-efficient solution in HR talent management technology.

An early adapter

Brian Spence is Vice President of Human Resources at Staffing Plus, a staffing provider for healthcare employers. In a speech before the 2014 SHRM Conference, Brian described himself as an “early adapter.” He has found a niche in small company transformation and start-up environments helping them transition to HR technology platforms to support them in finding, developing, and serving talented employees. Brian envisions a mission, in his words, that charts the way to a world-class workforce performance.

All employers want a premier, highly qualified, and committed workforce. We all want a workplace culture of high integrity, dedicated customer service, and employee engagement. And, business leadership can be persuaded that the expense of securing, developing, and retaining top notch talent justifies itself.

Legacy performance appraisal

Most organizations strive to have a world class workforce – aligned, inspired, and focused on delivering exceptional results. However, when put to the test, employers have not done well in providing timely, aligned, and productive performance appraisals.

According to Brian Spence and his SHRM audience, the appraisal system has been an annoying, awkward, and worrisome process. It is time-consuming, generic in form and practice, and inconsistent in timing and alignment with income. Legacy performance appraisals have had no apparent or meaningful tie to organization goals, no formal connection between pay and performance, and no clear alignment with employee peer and self-perception.

Web-based performance appraisal

Speaker Spence’s work has been in the design and practical implementation of web-based performance appraisal.  At its simplest, this HR technology changes what has been a paper bound and tedious process. At the minimum, automation talent management should speed any process. It will then increase employee and management satisfaction as speed and efficiency engage the players.

Automation enhances and refines an established employee appraisal system and provides the structure for the introduction or expansion of one. Specific enhancements are as follows:

  • Enhanced and refined look and format
  • 360-degree input and feedback
  • Performance maintenance journals
  • Links with HR big data
  • Culture of communication and engagement

Automated appraisal tools

Preferred outcomes follow the integration and strategic implementation of HR technology options.

One approach created a system that, for starters, separated the workforce into three distinct groups. The system could then trigger a performance appraisal on the anniversary date for the non-revenue producers, interval dates, like quarterly or semi-annually, for revenue producers, and 10 days prior to the end of a 90-day probationary period. HR automation then administered the calendar with speed, efficiency, and no paperwork.

However, the automation technology affords many more opportunities than “mere” process scheduling and administration. For example, it can enable multi-source feedback and 360-degree input by linking comments to portal emails or archived journals. Managers, peers, and customers can share and assess performance. Supervisors and employees can keep journals on performance praise, discipline, and databases on time, attendance, and the like.

Automation can easily and reliably link performance and job description, track role transitions and status changes, and on-boarding and off-boarding process checklists. It will trigger action plans and eLearning options.  And, automated talent management assess whether the employee performance is or is not aligned with corporate goals and best practices.

HR automation links process and outcomes

We have confidence in a system that will make appraisals more relevant. In doing this, it will define and strengthen the corporate culture as one that is concerned and supportive. It reduces the personal bias as it values the performances that service corporate goals. It facilitates succession planning and encourages a consistent and continuous appraisal mind-set. And, it is likely that a business that encourages, enables, and engages employee assessment will have a real world leg-up in attracting, hiring, and retaining quality performers.

Other articles of interest
Linking Pay to Performance: Cascading Goals
4 Reasons you Suck at Performance Management

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HRM Systems 101: Interfaced or Integrated

by Carolyn Sokol on September 26, 2014

Interfaced HR SoftwareIt may strike some as patronizing, but many times the Human Resources folks do not come from a tech culture and have not experienced any tech education based curriculum. Even when they pick up the lingo of HRM systems, they are still learning a foreign language. However, the key to at least a basic understanding is critical because the HR team is a key decision maker in any new HRM system selection. In this article, we review the differences between two commonly misinterpreted terms: Interface and Integrate. While the functions are very similar the differences can be nuanced.

Interfaced
Software systems interface when disparate applications connect at a surface level. By surface level we mean that while each application will share information, only one system is sending it, while the other system receives it. To use a common metaphor, picture moving file folders via USB stick and taking it over to a friend’s house to share those files. Then your friend makes changes to those files on that USB. The only way to get that update is to bring the USB back to your house. Likewise, HRM systems interface with Payroll systems when the HR Manager and the staff access and handle employee information and send that required information to the payroll team for processing payroll, 401k, etc.

In HRM systems, the difficulty in the process exists because ‘one’ system must be the ‘keeper of all data’ or, the owner of the information, while the other system (Payroll in the above example) is the subordinate. In many organizations, individuals may decide that their team is the owner and conflict arises simply due to the ‘interfaces’ that exist. To be successful, the parties involved must negotiate on ownership between their systems and define who is the ‘system of record’.

Integrated
Systems integrate when IT, software, and software vendors develop automated ways to share information across software modules. This allows for real time information to be shared. Using the USB example, now imagine that you and your friend put the files on a USB that you share, allowing you to each view and update at any time. There is not one ‘system of record’ because the USB is keeping everything together and updated at all times. One HRM example: time clocks gather time and attendance information on a daily basis and that information is immediately available to the payroll team.

Although the politics of organizations still occur in this instance, all teams have ‘ownership’ of the information. The main difference here is that the HRM provider or ‘IT’ is the central player in the process and may dictate certain processes.

Recommendations on Interfaced or Integrated?
As you can see, there are similarities between an interfaced and an integrated approach. We believe the choice could be simple enough just based on the size of your organization:

HRM Interfaced Best for SMB:
To try to simplify this, as a truly small business, you can pretty much assemble your own interfaced system. With average-to-better desktop skills, you can put together your reporting needs. Between Excel, Access, and payroll/accounting software, you have all you need. How much you share is an interface issue and easy to do because there are few ‘stakeholders’. An interface could be a manual process and not even leverage technology.

Once you’ve increased your workforce however, you’ll need to look at HRM vendors who have unified solutions. Software that will relieve you of maintenance, reduce your time and guarantee accuracy which is ever more important the larger you get.

HRM Integrated for Larger Organizations:
At some point in organizational growth, you need more. You need integration to stream data, create and publish reports from across all functions. From HR’s view, it will track employees from pre-hire to post-retire. From Operations’ position, it will integrate employee recordkeeping with performance data. For the CFO, it links performance with labor burden. And, all integration points give the CEO detailed performance and cost forecasts along with an analysis of talent placement and management. In other words, integration is about supporting decision making and strategy – to the point where integration swallows any interface that previously existed.

The good news is that many HRM vendors have fully integrated solutions to reduce the burden of getting internal resources directly involved in ensuring information is complete and up to date. Ultimately, integration means ‘unification’ – and when you have unified systems, human capital decision making is done with everyone using the same information in real time.

So when considering HRM software, assess your needs, seek trusted help and know that you can leverage either interfaced or integrated – it just comes down to the size of your organization, and your capacity to leverage the information each solution provides.

Sources:
Integrating a Human Resource Information System: A Module with Integrated Case
Human Resource Management Systems: Strong to the Core

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HR’s Future is at the Center of Things

by Carolyn Sokol on September 18, 2014

5 capitals of business modelAccording to the Forum for the Future, we will improve the quality of our lives when we derive goods and services from five types of sustainable capital. The Forum’s focus is on energy and environmental sustainability, but you can see – in their five capitals model – a structure for the Human Resources function of the future.

The five capitals future
Enough has been said, even on this site, about the demise of legacy HR. Saying any more is beating a dead horse. Whatever HR will be called in the future, the human capital will need some integrating principle and function. It will evolve out of legacy HR, but it will succeed only if it derives from the five types of sustainable capital.

The office plan
There have been many obituaries for HR management. Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS) will certainly bring a paradigm shift in HR functioning in any size company. PEOs and other functional models will move HR tasks off premises. Employees will realize more self-empowerment in their own assessments, training, and benefits. And, HR Specialists and clerical duties will take place in virtual worlds.

However, at some core level, business organizations need a center. Someone has to feed and audit the HRIS, network with the PEO, or cultivate a culture of engagement. Depending on the size of the employee base, this HR control center will grow as a team of better-educated and redirected strategists.

The five capitals
Visualizing models always simplifies things. And, this illustration suggests that the capital areas are distinct and bordered. But in fact, these borders will be permeable, and osmosis will blend these capital forces, giving and taking depending on fluctuating strengths.

  1. Natural capital includes the energy, materials, resources, and environment required to produce products and deliver services.
  2. Social capital refers to the value added to the organization by human relationships, partnerships, and co-operation.
  3. Human capital consists of the health, knowledge, skills, abilities, motivation, and intellectual property of the individuals employed.
  4. Manufactured capital covers the business’s material goods, tools, technology, machines, buildings, and all forms of physical infrastructure.
  5. Financial capital is evidence – in the form of currency – of the enterprise’s assets, productive power, and value of the other four types of capital.

The intent of the Five Capitals model is to persuade corporations that sustainability initiatives are good for the business as a whole.

HR has a place at the center.
To achieve and sustain this business model, you need a focus of activity, strategy, application, and administration. The shift in culture needs a place to operate and a decision-maker in charge of the evolving culture. This new role for Human Resources leadership takes a new education and a deep familiarity with all aspects of the business. It is not enough to know the vocabulary of finance or the terminology of operations. It is not a subject matter of study so much as it is an immersion in process and technique.

The HR office of the future will draw people from non-traditional sources. Staff will migrate to HR from process specialties because they are drawn to the model’s mission. HR personnel will organize around new principles of accountability and productivity. HR leadership will integrate and not administrate. It will intellectually have to integrate information, policy, and process across silos and operations that HRIS can only do digitally. Long story short, there will always be a need for someone to feed and read HRIS as well as someone to put its analytics into play if the five capital assets are to grow.

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6 Steps for Finding the Right HR Technology Solution

by Carolyn Sokol on September 12, 2014

HR TechnologyI recently attended the Society for Human Resource Management 2014 Conference in June of this year and one of the great takeaways for me as an HR and tech advocate was Mr. Joe Rotella‘s insights on the the six steps for finding the right HR solution. While I can’t possibly fill my article with the same verve and panache that Mr. Rotella brings to the stage, I can certainly enthusiastically reiterate his more salient points. Here goes:

  1. Complete a Self-assessment and Internal Needs Analysis – Always the starting point for any major project, determining your needs is key. While you do want to efficiently transfer as many processes as possible ( and leave no important one behind) there is no need to go overboard either. To paraphrase Joe, functionality, versatility and customization are key.
  1. Rank Requirements Based on Organizational Impact – This is where the “rubber meets the road” if you do not have an unlimited budget. The key point is that you must prioritize the components that will have the most immediate and dramatic results – read that as the bottom line – within your projected budget. If there is some room left afterwards, then you can add a few bells and whistles.
  1. Identify Potential Solutions—Narrow the Field – In addition to attending trade shows like SHRM2014, there is plenty of information on the Internet as well as an extensive dealer network for the more popular solutions. Joe’s point (I think) is that there are a plethora of software vendors out there who will promise you the world but it is up to you to discriminate between the wheat and the chaff.
  1. “Get Real” with Providers – Once you have identified a half dozen vendors that seem to suit your needs, it is time to ask the “tough” questions that will narrow them down to the top two contenders. As Joe points out, this is not the time to hide any of your needs and hope to fit them in later. Complete transparency with the vendor about your needs is the only way to go.
  1. View Demos From Promising Providers – Now that you have two or three vendors who are firing on all cylinders when it comes to understanding your HCM technology needs, it is time to get serious and invite the two most promising to give a live demo. This process is far more effective than reading written proposals and should definitely include some of the people who will actually be using the software and not just the “decision makers.”
  1. Score Solutions Based on Requirements – While almost everyone will be excited about their particular favorite HCM software and its advantages, it is imperative for everyone involved to take a second, more objective look. This process is most effectively accomplished by using a score-based system. Each person on the committee – as well as those who field-tested the software – should be allowed to grade the software. Then when the results are in, an informed decision can be made.
  1. Request a Written Proposal – Finally, you’re almost home. Now it’s a matter of asking for a written proposal that memorializes all of the agreed upon details. This process will avoid any misunderstandings in the future once the contract is accepted and smooth the implementation of your HCM software package.

Of course, this is just a cursory look at what Mr. Rotella had to say and doesn’t even touch on the concrete questions that he offered for anyone already involved in the task. For more information on this topic, please visit the SHRM.org site or contact us at CompareHRIS.com.

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HR technologyThe latest statistics show that over one-quarter of the U.S. workforce is now classified by their employers as “contract” or “contingent” and the new burdens imposed by the PPACA is likely to see that percentage  increase significantly over the next few years. For this reason, it is essential that companies develop tools and techniques to properly manage this segment of their workforce.

The Issue
It may seem that many of the issues inherent in this process can be ignored as these workers are acquired through the use of staffing agencies or hired on a “contract” basis. In fact, companies may feel that these employees are merely an ad hoc addition to their workforce. Instead, companies must realize that it is the government that will eventually rule on whether these employees are, in fact, on contract. To make matters worse, the government does not seem to have settled on a final definition of the word.

The Downside
While the prevailing HR mantra is that all workers should be treated the same in all business circumstances, this is an impractical ideal that is all but impossible to maintain. The simple fact of the matter is that it is extremely risky from a legal standpoint to treat contract workers like full-time employees. Instead, new procedures, techniques and tracking methods must be implemented to not only maximize productivity for the company’s own ends but also guarantee compliance with government mandates.

A New Paradigm
Many companies from the behemoth, CVS-Caremark, to the icon of high-tech, Microsoft, have been caught short by the meandering policies of government agencies and the socialist leanings of District Court judges. These companies and many others have been forced to re-categorize employees, pay them back wages and also ante up to the Federal government a substantial fine. If these titans of industry cannot navigate these uncharted waters, smaller companies should certainly beware.

The Solution
Many small to mid-sized companies attempt to integrate the process of managing contingent workers in with their regular payroll and systems. Unfortunately, since these systems are not integrated with each other, this usually leads to a host of errors that can take many man-hours and weeks of actual time to unravel and fix – even if dealing with a relatively simple problem like missed hours.

The use of another HRIS, such as an integrated vendor management system (VMS), can proactively forestall many of these problems and also allow your company to track a variety of other productivity and compliance metrics.  Not only will you keep the government off your back – now and for the foreseeable future – you will also be able to track the time and deliverables of the most under-managed part of your staff.

In short, if you are spending more time managing the management of your employees rather than their tasks themselves, it’s time to take a look at an HRIS system.

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Strategic HRSuccessfully completing the day-to-day, administrative tasks of the department is an integral part of HR. While important, these tasks are really just a support mechanism for the rest of the company. It is in the strategic arena where human resource or, more accurately, human capital management can really have an impact on the overall success of a business.

The HR professional who can hurdle the transition from administrative to strategic HR thinking will better serve his company’s employees, enhance his own professional reputation and provide far more value to the company.

Be Involved in the Big Picture – While it is important to fully grasp the fundamentals of HR encompassed by the administrative side, the real value of HCM only reveals itself when HR is integrated into the company’s overall strategic plan. Similarly, being the expert on the administrative aspects will make you the “go to” person on HCM matters, especially when they involve challenges and assignments that go beyond the merely administrative.

Understand the Needs of Your Colleagues – HR is often treated as an outsider or kept in a support role. HR can be so much more on a strategic level if you understand the needs of the other departments. You need to establish yourself and your department as a partner in the business and not just ancillary support. Start by asking the most important question, “How can HCM help each department fulfill its mission?”

Delegate the Administrative Details – Even a small or mid-sized company can benefit from the integration of HCM into their strategic plan. Unfortunately, these smaller companies do not always have the resources to accomplish the task. Consider outsourcing the administrative HR tasks to a professional employer organization so that your HCM team can focus on the more important strategic aspects.

Leverage Your Outside Contacts – There is no reason to reinvent the wheel when there are perfectly good solutions already present. Look for parallels in other industries. You might see a solution in an out of the way place. Similarly, trade associations may have answers or tools to help you implement the strategic view.

The Great Leap Forward
Making the transition from an administrative HR perspective to one with a strategic view can seem a Herculean task. Still, it is the most effective way to leverage your company’s most valuable asset, its people. Start by delegating the least strategic task like payroll to an automated HRIS or outsourcing the task completely. Next, attend as many strategic meetings as possible to determine where your efforts will most likely produce results. Lastly, take that great leap and integrate the HR strategy into the overall company one.

To read more about online HR software. download our complimentary white paper, Web-Based Online Open Enrollment: How a Paperless Process Saves Time, Eliminates Errors and Increases Employee Satisfaction

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Elements of Human Capital Management

by Carolyn Sokol on August 22, 2014

HCMThe theory of Human Capital Management (HCM) tries to explain and process the role of human beings in the workplace.   However, there are limitations to the theory because people, in all the diversity of their traditions, talents, and treasures, often differ from what is expected of them. HCM would like to consider humans as assets, but this has several flaws:

  • You cannot count people as if they were physical assets. While the value of physical assets do appreciate or depreciate, you cannot accurately measure the appreciation or depreciation in people.
  • You cannot treat people as financial capital. Finding financial capital is harder than finding people.
  • You cannot identify people as capital assets the same way you list machines. Machines are useful in themselves when efficiency rules, however, people can innovate and adapt where quality is king.

The best practice of Human Capital Management steps up where it can – and where the nature of the work invites – to (1) manage the hiring of the right employees, (2) upgrade their skills, (3) utilize their knowledge to the fullest, (4) motivate performance, and (5) evaluate how they benefit the organization.

Human Capital Management includes the following:

  • Recruiting the best talent available
  • Developing career plans for employees
  • Coaching and mentoring employees
  • Motivating employees to deliver their best
  • Developing performance management strategies

Using HCM software to do the job

One bad hire can ruin the bunch. Today’s employers are long past the day when one body could simply replace another, when one pair of hands was as good as any other, and when all job seekers appeared the same. When hires are made soundly and intelligently, managers spend less time training and re-training. When an organization knows what it needs, Human Capital Management can recruit the right talent, suited and ready for the system. Orientation, then, moves beyond the static review of policies towards a dynamic introduction to the performance already underway.

  1. Human Capital Management software facilitates corporate communication vertically and horizontally. Senior management can access and monitor hiring needs and process. Employees can communicate with peers and teammates and track their training and performance. HCM software thereby reduces misunderstanding among interested functions and stakeholders.
  2. Training builds quality. Well-trained workers perform better than the untrained. Increasing skills and abilities of employees – at all levels – improves the performance and quality of their work. And, because HCM tracks skills, training, experience, and ability, it helps employees become self-sufficient, agile, and adaptable.
  3. HCM software tracks employee assessments and performance evaluations. It requires management’s full buy-in to regular, consistent, and constructive performance feedback. By making reporting systems available to leadership, they can monitor and value their workforce accomplishments, status, and needs.

Human Capital Management software is a tool that makes Human Capital Management more than theory. It pays respect to employees, clarifies what is expected of them, and raises the bar on their performance.

Strategic HMC
Human Capital Management systems become a strategic reality when they align human capital strategies with the business mission by providing, integrating, and reporting the data required for the planning, analysis, and management of human capital assets.

To compare HCM software systems try our Quick Product Search Tool.

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HRIS: Technology and Organizational Complexity

by Carolyn Sokol on August 14, 2014

HR technologyGoogle “office automation” dates back to the 70s and 80s. Before the vocabulary switched to “chips” and “processors,” futurists predicted a world of technology created leisure. The assumption was that, once you made work faster, it would become easier. Noted human resources technology expert Naomi Bloom describes this as extrapolative thinking.


Technology must do more than expedite work.

However, there is no evidence that office technology has fundamentally eased labor, quickened work, or improved productivity. For example, despite the fact that human resources technology makes information instantaneously accessible, the workload may have actually increased because human resources personnel are now multi-tasked and salaried exempt. The value of HRIS does not lie only in its ability to expedite work.

You see, the evolution the futurists predicted as occurring on a straight line has happened in the context of other forces operating synergistically and independently. So much has happened – socially, economically, and managerially – during this 20 to 30-year evolution that technology meant to promise simplicity presents itself as complexity.

It’s all in how you use it

The true value of HRIS lies in how it is strategically implemented and utilized. To paraphrase Naomi Bloom:

  1. Would a business benefit from doing the work of Human Resources within the organization or buying the results from a third party?
  2. What are the best mechanisms, sources, terms, and conditions for purchasing the same work done by a third party?

The value of HRIS technology lies not in what it can do so much as in how you use it. In the face of complexity, writes John Hagel III, “we need to expand our focus on innovation beyond the narrow frame of technology and product innovation. If we are to successfully adapt to the escalating complexity of our environment, we need to invest time and energy in exploring institutional innovation [across the organizational silos].”

Strategically used, Human Resources technology – in its management of information, talent, human capital, and performance – can be the central key to managing and exploiting the new and always evolving complexity. And, to play that role, HRIS must contribute to the often unarticulated shift in management culture. It can and must contribute to institutional innovation on a sustaining basis:

  • Organizations must decentralize by deferring power and authority to employees. This innovation requires the ability of the organization to view people as performance assets, human capital able to expand growth instead of as a labor burden meant to be eliminated.
  • Lifelong learning needs to be put in place, designed and measured to influence aligned performance outcomes, it requires tracking, communication, and facilitation.
  • Core strengths must drive all organizational behaviors, so the key performance metric for HR technology lies in its ability to free management to focus on the institutional innovation that matters.
  • As business economies and operation processes become socialized and collaborative, the Human Resources technology must facilitate  support to the institutional innovation dynamic.
  • Human Resources management must dump the traditional models that may have defined and proscribed its clerical behavior for ages.

Grooming HR professionals for institutional innovation

Bill Roberts wrote in SHRM Magazine (2008), “The heart of the HR teaching profession is in the right place, but most professors do not have the knowledge to teach the courses [in HRIS]. Like the HR profession, the HR academic profession has historically attracted people with varying degrees of technophobia.”

Accepting this as a given demands a new focus on the academic and practical preparation of Human Resources personnel.

  • Community college experience can prepare entry-level candidates with a thorough background in the core Human Resources issues of compliance and risk management.
  • Human Resources Bachelor’s programs should deepen that core knowledge and expand it with practicums in interviewing, crisis management, and problem solving. The academic discipline should be standardized and reflect input from professional standard-bearers such as SHRM.
  • Disciplines, such as organizational development, knowledge management, training & development, performance management, strategic HR management, and more, require graduate education that focuses on the discipline as a career path beyond Human Resources generalist positions.
  • The assessment and implementation of HRIS and related HR technology will be best served by laser-focused training offered by providers.

Only after HR end-users are trained and experts in technology (systems and operation as well as utilization and potential) will those users be able to find time and resources to contribute to strategic solutions in organization complexity.

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