Many business leaders argue that technology is taking the "human" aspect out of human resources. However, from recruiting to hiring to connecting teams worldwide, the argument can be made that technology is greatly improving the human experience.
Consider the case of Sarah Wilson, director of talent acquisition and principal staff officer at the Toronto bookstore, Indigo: Wilson has been using AI recruiting software to help personalize the hiring process.
"We started using Ideal.com last year, and we saw results within the first week," Wilson told me. "I think some people dismiss AI because they think it will hurt their candidate experience. We saw it as an opportunity to further improve ours."
The HR director said she didn't want hiring scenarios for her company that resembled those of most large retailers, where candidates hear no response. Instead, AI technology helped her team cut out many time-consuming administrative tasks. This decreased the response time for getting back to applicants and helped her team spend more time with candidates they wanted to meet in person.
While Wilson was able to effectively use HR tech to improve the candidate experience, in general a balance between tech and human interaction can be hard to achieve. Here are four ways companies can use technology to improve the human experience:
1. Automation leaves time for human connection.
Human connection is the end goal for business leaders, and HR tech is providing them the time to grow meaningful relationships.
"Both HR and recruiting professionals get caught up in the monotonous tasks associated with their jobs," Mahe Bayireddi, CEO of Phenom People, a talent-relationship marketing platform in Horsham, Pa., explained via email. "Where many people view HR tech as a human replacement, I view it as a bridge to a very apparent gap between HR and recruiting technology and the human element the industry has lost sight of in the past."
Bayireddi said he believes HR pros get overwhelmed with mundane tasks, making it impossible for recruiters to be more personal in their communications. By using automated technology, they're able to focus on building relationships and bringing on the best talent for their teams.
Tip: Help employees be more productive and motivated in their relationships by first understanding what tasks are holding them back. Before signing up for automation software, ask team members what tasks are preventing them from honing-in on the human element of recruiting and HR. Then, research which software can take care of these tasks and free up their time to target the best job candidates.
2. Provides more information
There's no doubt that things move fast in a startup. So, leaders often forget to stop and ask employees for feedback.
Steffen Maier, co-founder of Impraise, a performance-management software company in New York City, said he believes that letting feedback slip out of view can be detrimental to an entire organization.
"The emergence of feedback apps helped to change this by encouraging employees to ask for feedback when they need it, instead of waiting for an annual review," Maier said via email. "Creating an environment in which it's okay to ask for feedback, whether from your manager, reports or colleagues, means that information flows more freely throughout the organization."
Enhancing feedback, especially by offering the option of anonymity, gives managers the information they need to have a more meaningful dialogue with their employees.
Tip: Use a feedback or communication platform to perform a company-wide anonymous survey on employee or organizational matters. From pay and benefits to after-work activities, Maier has improved employees' performance and work experience by using their feedback.
3. Connects employees worldwide
The immersion of video in HR tech is fast evolving how leaders do business worldwide. Gayle Wiley, chief people officer at Lifesize, a video, audio and web-conferencing company based in Austin, puts her company to the test by using video conferencing for her recruiting needs.
"Externally, I use video-conferencing for interviewing candidates who are not located nearby," Wiley explained. "Internally, it is my main communications vehicle for conducting productive meetings with our entire global workforce -- for performance reviews, town hall meetings, onboarding of new employees, training and development and more."
With today's increasingly dispersed workforce, one-click face-to-face interactions are crucial in building the human experience. Co-workers who were once able to connect only over the phone or via email are now able to see one another and interact as though they were in the same room.
Tip: If possible, try the following exercise: Spend a few days communicating with people in your office via phone, email and on messaging platforms. Then, after a day or two of limited facial contact, connect with people via video.
Take notice of the deeper connection with co-workers that's restored through your return to face-to-face discussion. Now, imagine the connections being missed due to the absence of these personalized interactions.
4. Improves personalization
With evolving tools, employers are able to take what were once limited standard procedures and create improved, more expansive experiences for their teams. Such experiences are especially relevant for employee perks and benefits.
Tip: With tools like Maestro Health, an employee health and benefits platform, employers are able to offer complete solutions in a personalized and simpler format. The platform allows users to be shown and to choose from a variety of health benefits to find the ones that are right for them.
Whether in the health and benefits arena or as part of the overarching employee experience, employees want perks that meet their individualized needs -- not everyone else's. With HR tech, they now have the tools to do this through improved, personalized human experiences.