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Here’s How to Get Employees to Use New HR Tech

Experts from Cornerstone OnDemand, Oracle and others share their thoughts.
By: | August 6, 2019 • 5 min read

Influence in HR technology comes from many places, takes many forms and continues to evolve over time. When the HRE/HR Tech Conference team met over the winter to work on this Influencers list, we knew it would be important to consider all aspects of influence. Some have more of a direct and immediate effect on products, while others have a more subtle yet longer-term impact. It’s safe to say all, however, are having an important and noticeable impact on where HR technology has been, where it is today and, perhaps most importantly, where it is heading. And that, above all else, informed the decision-making that went into compiling this list, which presents those being recognized in alphabetical order. Click here to see the Top 100 HR Tech Influencers.

Elvis Ha
Director of Product Management
Cornerstone OnDemand


In acquiring and implementing new technologies, what’s the one or two most common mistakes HR organizations make?

Any time you add a brand new element to an organization, it requires alignment on shared and measurable goals, and out of all your goals, there should be one goal to rule them all. In product management, we commonly refer to this as a North Star Metric. Leaders must ask themselves what they are trying to improve and outline how they will measure that within a certain timeframe. The pursuit of a North Star Metric provides accountability across all those involved on an initiative. Two potential North Star Metrics you could choose are Productivity and Engagement; choose one to rule over the other in every strategic decision you make, and figure out how to measure it. If your team can’t agree on one, can’t measure it, or forget to drive all decisions in pursuit of it, then your results are going to be less impactful than they could be.

Are there certain strategies that are more effective than others when it comes to getting your workforce to use new HR technologies being put in place?

HR organizations should approach the adoption of technology similar to how one would host a great party. Make sure you prep and plan for a magical experience, so that when your guests start to arrive, they are welcomed warmly and provide them with compelling and relevant content so they immediately get why they’re there. Just like a party, no one wants to be the first person to arrive, so this is really important for them to feel like they’ve already arrived to a happening party. With dozens of technologies at an employee’s disposal, we should be creating captivating and useful programs that are worth the time investment. And in terms of implementation strategies, interoperability allows new technologies to be successful, especially in the workplace. Rather than taking on the challenge of inviting people to an unfamiliar party, consider bringing your valuable new technology to where the party already is happening!

How is HR technology changing the way people work?

We’ve made great strides in creating better work environments and people-first talent strategies, and have empowered HR leaders with data and tools to give them a voice at the table. Now, it’s all about the harmonious alignment between what the organization needs and what the employee desires, which is evolving in an increasingly dynamic world. As adaptability becomes more valued than ever, throughout their careers employees want to continuously check in on where they stand, how they’re progressively realizing their career aspirations, and what their options are. Across the board, technology in the HR space provides leaders and employees with the definition of success within the specific context of the organization. That’s something that you can’t typically get from Google, YouTube or Wikipedia, and something that HR is best-suited to provide, but only in partnership with business leaders and employees. Everyone is beginning to understand that realizing your talent’s career goals by proactively adopting new technologies is not only good for your people, but will make a lasting impact on the business’s culture and bottom line.

Jon Ingham
Consultant and author


What area of the HR function will be most impacted by emerging technologies, and why?

Technology can absolutely be a game changer but the biggest shifts are generally down to new strategic opportunities, enabled by technology. So I’d point to the move from human to social capital, or individuals to groups, teams and networks which I think is the biggest shift in how organizations work. The emerging technology aspect of this is embedding HR into collaborative technologies (especially Slack, Workplace, etc) and embedding collaboration into HR systems. I know this isn’t that new, but both are increasingly being enabled by AI and new (for most organizations) tools like organization network analysis (ONA) too.

How can HR leaders best make the business case for HR technology investment?

I’d encourage organisations to focus on making a strategic case rather than trying to estimate a potential ROI. Technology is becoming so important that it is often about what the business needs to do strategically, not just about financial results. Also ROI tends to miss the most important aspects of both technology and people management. And thirdly, technology often has the greatest benefit from its integration into business and people management strategy, not just through its independent impact. The strategic case is about linking technology investments to HR activities, the people outcomes of these, and then to planned business results.

How is HR technology changing the way people work?

versa, and it is often difficult to distinguish the direction of causation between these. By making people the central focus of business, people management has been moving from basic levels of value, supporting the business, to becoming a real contributor to strategic success. Linked to this, technology has been moving from providing information for line management and HR to including tools like apps, platforms, chatbots, and AI augmentation. These liberate people (and groups), helping them develop their own effectiveness and having a better working life.

Emily He
Senior Vice President of Human Capital Management, Cloud Business Group


What is the single most dramatic shift you see happening in the HR tech space today?

The most significant shift in today’s workplace is changing mindsets. Desiring to bring their whole selves to work, people expect to use the technology they’re familiar with in their lives, such as conversational user interface and AI-driven recommendations, when they come to work. Both employees and employers are moving away from being afraid of AI to realizing the positive impact of emerging technologies and its ability to actually make work more human.

The traditional uneasiness and fear of AI is subsiding as HR teams are getting used to using this technology to improve the employee experience, make more strategic data-based decisions, and free up significant time by automating administrative tasks. And employees are on board too: We’ve found that 93% of employees are actually ready to embrace AI at work.

Are there certain strategies that are more effective than others when it comes to getting your workforce to use new HR technologies being put in place?

The key is having a people-centered approach. Be sensitive to the challenges for your employees and remember that each employee or department may have a different level of familiarity with new technologies such as digital assistant or AI.

In order to achieve a successful implementation for your workforce, personalize your approach. Take the time to understand the concerns, challenges and opportunities specific to each team or department and tailor the onboarding to fit their needs. This way they will immediately see the benefits to them specifically and will be more interested in working it into their workflow.

How can HR leaders best make the business case for HR technology investment?

HR leaders must make the case for technology investments by showcasing the benefits that matter most to C-level executives—meaning to the business as a whole, rather than just the HR department.

At Oracle, we’ve found that cloud technology delivers value in two major ways that resonate well with C-level decision-makers: operational excellence/agility and HR modernization. One retail brand was able to save $1M by utilizing technology to avoid risks and meet compliance standards. Another saw an 80% improvement in their training process by reducing total time and spend needed. Highlighting metrics that matter to the overarching business and the bottom-line are instrumental in making the case for HR technology investment.

Al Smith
Chief Technology Officer


What’s the single most dramatic shift you see happening in the HR tech space today?

During my career, Google for Jobs has served as one of the largest disruptors in HR. The tech giant has successfully leveraged artificial intelligence and machine learning to simplify the multi-layered job search experience. Now, after just a quick Google search, job seekers are served up opportunities tailored to their specific interests, location, etc. After optimizing their job descriptions for Google, employers benefit from higher application rates. Meanwhile, job seekers are being matched with better-suited roles, faster.

We’ve been partnering with Google for nearly two years. Consequently, from January 2018 until January 2019, traffic from Google for Jobs directly to iCIMS’ clients’ career portals more than doubled, seeing a 2.5x traffic increase.

In acquiring and implementing new technologies, what’s the one or two most common mistakes HR organizations make?

When vetting new technologies, it’s easy to get caught up in what your business needs today versus what your business will need in the future, such as the technology’s ability to integrate to existing/future third-party solutions or its overall scalability. My advice to HR and IT decision makers would be this—don’t lock yourself into a contract for a solution that only makes sense for “right now.” The only constant in business is change, and we owe it to ourselves and our respective organizations to account for that when implementing new technologies.

How can HR leaders best make the business case for HR technology investment?

Be sure to highlight what the technology has the potential to address today and in the near future—and do so by focusing on ROI. Identify your pain points and find a solution that will solve these pain points and save your business, both in terms of cost and in time and resources. Will your proposed investment streamline manual processes? Perhaps it will decrease time-to-fill or empower your recruiters to connect with more job candidates, faster. These changes will translate into monetary savings and strong hires—both of which will positively impact your businesses’ bottom line. Lead with the ROI and support your claim with tangible use cases, and your leadership will have what it needs to evaluate the proposed investment.

Steve Boese
Co-founder and HR Tech Conference Co-chair
H3 HR Advisors Inc.


What’s the single most dramatic shift you see happening in the HR tech space today?

I think it is the continued growth and development of HR technology solutions that incorporate Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities that have the potential to dramatically increase and enhance the impact of HR tech in the organization. We are seeing AI technology being introduced by HR technology providers at just about every point and process in the employee life cycle. Whether it is used to help organizations select the best candidates, assist managers in their 1-1 employee coaching sessions, help employees make the best career development decisions—AI continues to grow in impact and influence in HR and HR Tech.

In acquiring and implementing new technologies, what’s the one or two most common mistakes HR organizations make?

A common mistake is not involving the appropriate stakeholders and understanding the potential impacts and disruptions to these stakeholders that are typically introduced with the implementation of new workplace technologies. Often new HR technologies are designed to be used by almost every person in the organization, say a new time and attendance solution or an updated benefits enrollment technology, but project teams and implementers sometimes fail to include representatives from across the organization, and having different and diverse roles, when planning for and deploying new tech. This can lead to dissatisfaction and low adoption rates over time.

How is HR technology changing the way people work?

Modern HR technology that increasingly automates and streamlines routine HR processes is creating more time and space for HR leaders to focus on more high value and high impact activities, rather than spending all of their time on lower value, administrative activities. These powerful HR technologies are also providing all employees in the organization with tools designed to help them be more successful and productive at work. From easier access to just in time learning and development content, to dynamic career planning, to better understanding and insight into their total rewards—HR tech increasingly enables and empowers people to be more successful, better engaged, and excited about your organization as a place to work.

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