• Barnett Waddingham
    Barnett Waddingham
  • Guest Blog: Prithvi Shergil: Enhancing experience by digitalising people practices

    Prithvi Shergil, the head of HR at $6 billion IT services company HCL Technologies, looks at the benefits of digitalisation and how HR teams can adopt technology to revolutionise talent acquisition and employee experience.

    In recent years HR as a function has had to change rapidly. With ‘jobs for life’ becoming a thing of the past, HR has evolved from performing a simple personnel function to being mission critical within a business. HR is now responsible for making sure that the need for talent is defined, the best talent is discovered, deployed, and most importantly, developed by an organisation.

    Finding and engaging talented employees at speed is a challenge, so increasingly HR is turning to reinvent the processes to engage with new and existing staff. This is particularly important as millennials become the dominant force in the workplace; with generation Y are estimated to make up 75 per cent of the workforce by 2025.

    Digitalisation is already a key strategy for organisations across the globe. For example, the UK Government aims to make the NHS ‘paperless’ by 2018, increasing transparency and efficiency of healthcare records and processes. Using new technologies as a way of working has become embedded in many company cultures.

    Internet based phone systems, cloud storage solutions and online collaborative working platforms are now embedded into modern office life. Organisations have also begun to utilise digital systems as a way of improving the relationship between themselves and their customers, exemplified by the implementation of digital systems in call centres to monitor caller responses.

    As technology becomes increasingly significant to businesses, both in terms of efficiency and customer satisfaction, it is important that HR professionals understand how to apply learnings from these experience and does not fall behind.

    That being said, technology is already changing the employee life cycle from recruitment and training to employee engagement. The use of digital systems in recruitment is not new, as online job boards and candidate tracking systems have been around for the best part of two decades, but with scarce talent and a deluge of applicants for every role, analytical insight for filtering candidates have never been more useful.

    The gamification of recruitment processes has also served to increase predictability in converting candidates from offer to joiner, using games to engage them whilst assessing if they are the right fit for an organisation’s culture and work-style. Twitter has also emerged as a great resource for sharply identifying tech-savvy candidates. I discovered this first hand when we ran the world’s first Twitter recruitment campaign, #CoolestInterviewEver, engaging 250,000 prospective employees from over 60 countries. It also cost less than the average cost of recruiting one employee!

    However, it is not enough to just use technology in creative ways to source candidates, it needs to be embedded in company culture. Digital strategies can help your staff to progress and learn, they can also empower, employees and encourage retention.

    This is especially the case with millennials; a PwC study showed 52 per cent of them seek learning opportunities for themselves. Systems that host training resources and documents and alert relevant individuals and teams to participate in training accelerates individuals’ performance in a specific role. HR can use the professional networks created within organizations to credibly share with employees the value and relevance of courses that have to be completed, especially if they are a necessary step to progression.

    Finally, digital can be used to engage existing employees through internal social collaboration platforms. Such platforms, such as our employee anchored social media platform MEME, encourages free flowing communication across roles or seniority and geographies, while remaining inherently more secure and private than public networks.

    Platforms like this are becoming much more relevant to use as companies have offices in many different markets and cities. Additionally, as more and more employees are working from home or remotely networks like MEME help these individuals still feel connected with their colleagues. Internal social networks mean everyone can be kept instantly up-to-date with all relevant news without ever needing to step inside the office.

    It should be noted that while the surge of digital has clearly led to a range of opportunities for HR teams, there are a number of risks involved. For example, companies need to ensure they have high levels of data security to prevent employee’s personal information being compromised by hackers. However, there is also the broader issue of technology taking away the human touch which makes ‘Human’ Resources what it is.

    If organisations go too far in their digitalisation, it’s possible for colleagues to feel isolated from each other as screens get in the way of meaningful interactions. Issues such like this suggest that digital can be something of a double-edged sword, which could explain caution in the uptake by HR teams.

    Nevertheless, it is clear that digital can support virtually every element of a modern HR operation to support the entire employee lifecycle, and so all teams need to develop a digital programme or risk being left behind more forward thinking companies. Look out for my next blog on the employee lifecycle, coming soon.


    Stuart O'Brien

    All stories by: Stuart O'Brien

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