Transforming HR through technology

Transforming HR through technology

Nature of the HR work being mostly confidential; for a long time it continued to be paper based and kept in cabinets with lock & key. HR function was the last department of any enterprise that adopted technology. However, once the adoption started there has been no looking back. From the lock & key era, HR today does not hesitate to store personal information in the cloud, with the knowledge that the confidentiality and availability is intact.


Today ‘Employee Experience’ is the mantra and HR folks leave no stone unturned to engage employees so that they are not only players in the organisational arena but are fully immersed with their head, heart and hands into the game. And technology plays a key role in making this happen.


It starts with getting the right person in the right place. Document Management Systems help storing, indexing, sorting through the CVs and some enterprises recruiting in huge numbers find AI algorithms coming to their rescue. Social Media has emerged as an interesting alternate media for reaching out to the candidate pool. On-boarding portals help in engaging with the candidates even before they join the organisation. All the required forms are filled on-line, the candidate gets to know the manager, the team, the culture, and so on; so that on the first day the employee is quite prepared and hits the road running; almost.


In most organisations, HR policies & guidelines are available to employees on the intranet, giving visibility & transparency. Self-service is the way to go, seeking approvals only by exception. This builds a culture of trust and empowerment.


The HRIS systems are fundamental and form the foundation of employee database. Accurate and on-line information of all employee lifecycle events – joining, transfers, promotions, trainings, resignation, retirements, rehiring etc. are maintained in these systems and available not only to HR but to line managers too; to take decisions on the talent in their teams. Data Analytics makes this information available in the form of matrices that the managers wish to see and draw insights from.


Organisations are using technology to challenge the employees cognitively, to help them see how their careers would grow; what trainings or skill building would be required. Through On-line learning portals, courses are offered to supplement the classroom trainings; through mobile apps, bite-sized nuggets of knowledge are presented for employees to learn at their own pace or on-the-go respectively. Performance management tools, which could be governed by traditional bell-curve systems or peer group ratings or 360 degrees all are being driven by technology – making the process transparent & speedy.


Workflows, Process automation, Robots & Chatbots are making life easy with repetitive work being given to machines and freeing time for employees to do more creative work. This may mean up-skilling & reskilling of the workforce and HR is playing a pivotal role here in counselling such employees; else there could be a sense of nervousness that could creep in.


While it is counter-intuitive to say that technology is helping in connecting with employees at the emotional level; however there are many examples to prove it. Use of Knowledge management systems, portals to encourage bottom-up ideation, blogging platforms to share stories, employee recognition portals, wellness programs, pulse feedback & surveys and many such initiatives help in engaging the employees, in harnessing their creativity and also appreciating their contributions.


For communication, Video Conferencing is now a default medium used effectively by most organisations to disseminate top management’s message, to conduct open-house sessions with employees across geographies and to do one-o-one discussions for say an annual performance evaluation.


Many organisations are using technology based solutions for ascertaining employee safety. Traditional communication cascade methods have given way to SMS, WhatsApp or google-maps based systems to reach out to the employees in case of emergencies.


Finally, Technology is helping in getting employees do things together. Employees working remotely from any location including their homes, forming virtual teams and delivering projects together with passion and purpose, has been made possible.  


Today, the employees, especially the millennial is always on, lives life through the mobile handset and is used to getting personalised attention. By embracing technology and utilising it to customise their approach based on each employee’s unique need, HR is aiming to deliver delightful employee experience.






Ms Shikha Rai is presently spearheading the role of VP & Head-HR at Canon India. She has been a part of the Canon family since the past 18 years, having initially joined as Sr. Director IT and HR Operations. Since her association with the organization, she has been aligning IT strategies with the business as well as bringing excellence in HR. She has a deep understanding of different cultures and have worked with counterparts in different geographies.


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