3 ways HR is using tech to be more strategic

And why there's still plenty of room for improvement, according to speakers at this week's Health & Benefits Leadership Conference.
By: | May 13, 2021 • 3 min read

Maximizing the value of HR technology is much more complex than it used to be, but that’s no reason it should impede success, said Ed Barry and Rhonda Marcucci, practice leaders for Gallagher’s HR Technology Consulting Group, in their presentation at the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference, being held virtually through May 13.

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The reason? That increased complexity is necessary to meet today’s more complex challenges, Barry and Marcucci said. While greater HR technology complexity enables more robust capabilities, Marcucci said, it does require HR leaders to be sharp in choosing HR tech solutions. Why? Because optimizing HR and benefits technology is doubly critical when you’re faced with reduced revenues or limited resources. For instance, research from Gallagher finds that only 5% of employers optimize above a 90% level, while 40% optimize at or below 50%.

Despite the limited investment, one thing HR has been doing right is choosing recruiting software that supports creating a more diverse, inclusive organization, in keeping with the evolution of the HR role from a transactional/compliance focus to a more strategic one.

“Study after study has shown that diversity increases innovation, productivity and performance, all of which leads to a better bottom line,” Marcucci said. She cited one example of D&I technology: job posting software that allows employers to actively target specific demographics, such as students at historically Black college and universities.

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See also: Why recruiters must put AI and its strategies to work—now

Organizations are also effectively using tech to improve the onboarding process, according to Barry.

“Employers are happy to embrace solutions that will help them onboard faster, which helps with retention in early-stage productivity,” he said. For example, technology exists that enables new hires to complete all employment paperwork online before day one, which makes for a more productive first day on the job.

Benefits design is another area that is receiving a more focused effort, with Marcucci explaining that benefits must be designed with the employee in mind so that they know how to get the most from their benefit offerings—and tech is helping to provide those insights.

“It can mean the difference between attracting and keeping good talent versus incurring both the hard and soft costs associated with high turnover rates,” she said.

What are some other ways HR can keep moving from the transactional to strategic role through HR technology? One is being consistently “mindful” of your HR tech strategy.

“Once you have a strategy in place, don’t just file it away,” Barry said. “Your HR tech strategy should be a living document, something you periodically review every time you think about expanding or buying new technology.” He added that this information will also help when it comes time to getting buy-in from the CEO and CFO for investing in new technologies.

Leaders should also continue “listening to your gut” when it comes to HR technology solutions, Marcucci said.

“Our experience with HR leaders is that they know when something works and when it doesn’t,” she said. “So, you should continue to question the fit of the tools you’re using, especially if they don’t feel right. Ask yourself: Is each helping advance the people strategy?”

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All sessions will be available through June 11. Click here to view this entire session.

Tom Starner is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia who has been covering the human resource space and all of its component processes for over two decades. He can be reached at hreletters@lrp.com.