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Role Of HR Technology In a Virtual World As organizations are yet to resume the 'work from office' model, HR technology has become key to navigating in a virtual world

By Prasad Rajappan

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The increasing penetration of the Internet, the emergence of smart devices and the rise of next-generation technologies has accelerated the process of digital transformation in organizations. The HR function has assumed significance in attracting and retaining talent, ensuring employee wellness and engagement, thereby acting as a driving force for organizations worldwide. Here are a few ways of how HR technology can transform the organization. As organizations are yet to resume the 'work from office' model, HR technology has become key to navigating in a virtual world.

Ease of access without geographical barriers: HR technology plays a pivotal role in facilitating access to information to a remote workforce, irrespective of geographical barriers. Tools such as emails, Dropbox, Google Sheets provide a cost-effective, convenient and reliable interface to exchange and store information.

Communication: The health, hygiene and wellness concerns have paved the way for virtual meetings through Zoom, Skype and Meet. Moreover, intranet and social media platforms serve as an interactive and real-time interface to stay abreast of the latest trends and developments relay feedback and voice opinion on pertinent issues. By enabling access to information at one click, also saves time and resources compared with conventional modes of communication. It allows employees to stay connected even if they may not be physically present to communicate and interact with each other.

Collaboration: Collaboration has emerged as a panacea to navigating through unprecedented time and mitigating uncertainty. Tools such as Asana, Jira and Basecamp, Microsoft Teams to devise, delegate and manage tasks. It also helps to improve efficiency thereby freeing employees from trivial tasks and allowing them to concentrate on core functions. The COVID-19 pandemic had rendered the traditional business continuity plan ineffective. But emerging technologies such as Desktop-as-a-service, virtual and augmented reality, Internet-of-Things and artificial intelligence have heralded a paradigm shift in future of work and facilitated the quick transition to the remote model.

Operational efficiency: The HR technology boosts the efficiency of not only employees but also HR personnel. By serving as a central repository and allowing access to information at one click, the HR technology saves time and resources if these tasks had to be done manually. Automating tasks such as the attendance leave application process and payroll computation allows HR personnel to concentrate on key functions.

Recruitment and on-boarding: Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, video interviews leverage algorithms that help in assessing candidates' personality traits and skill-set and determining their suitability with the organization. Technology has aided HR within the comfort of their homes to identify, shortlist, recruit and onboard employees at an accelerated pace and save the cost per hire without compromising on the quality of talent. However, the onus is on HR to remove biases based on stereotypes in the automation process. For instance, HR should try to overcome the limited description that AI can handle while sorting candidates' resumes for relevant skill-set.

Learning and development: The COVID-19 pandemic has reaffirmed the need for up-skilling and re-skilling to stay relevant amid Industry 4.0. Technologies such as the learning management systems (LMS) serve as a one-stop destination for enabling candidates to access and impact learning, track their progress as well as identify their key weakness areas and suggest course correction measures.

Peer-to-peer recognition: A survey estimates that about 43 per cent of workers admit lack of recognition as the factor for their unhappiness at the workplace. The interaction with our co-workers is over 40 hours per week. Hence, unless one has a formidable support network and mutually beneficial relationships, it is difficult to stay in the organization for long. Technology is an enabler to fostering a peer to peer recognition system. Technologies such as intranet, social media and even LMS provide a useful forum for employees for not only interaction but also learning about each other's achievements and staying motivated at the workplace.

Outcomation: The term "outcomation' refers to the process of influencing outcomes with the help of automation. The productivity of employees is intrinsically linked to organizational outcomes. The HR function plays a pivotal role in aligning the employees' goals with that of an organization. One cannot overlook the role of technology in improving outcomes through accelerating the speed, imparting efficiency, saving time and resources, upskilling employees and much more.

The COVID-19 pandemic has heralded a paradigm shift in the future of work. A hybrid model encompassing work from an office with flexible timings and work from home will be the way forward. Technology will be the centrepiece of this change. Leveraging the right technology mix along with a concerted strategy and meticulous planning make businesses agile, thereby helping them to evolve in tune with requirements over time.

Prasad Rajappan

CEO, Founder, ZingHR

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