One way HR tech can help ‘cut through the noise’

Spring HR Tech keynoter Jason Averbook says technology’s ability to enable employee experience has never been more needed.
By: | March 3, 2021 • 3 min read

As employees are saddled with increasing pressures in a quickly changing business environment, the value of employee experience is paramount. An experience that relies on consumer-grade technology—supported by a deep commitment to digital transformation on the part of the employer—can make the difference for organizations looking to come out strong on the other side of the pandemic, says industry analyst Jason Averbook.

Averbook, co-founder and CEO of Leapgen and an HRE columnist, will explore these ideas in depth during a keynote address at Spring HR Tech, a free, virtual conference held March 16-19. “Changing Work for Good; A Whole Person Approach to Digital Transformation” will be held at 4:45 p.m. March 18.

Spring HR Tech: Register here for Averbook’s session and much more.

Before the conference, Averbook shared his outlook on HR trends shaping technology and digital transformation this year.

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HRE: How has your own thinking about the role of HR technology in addressing employee wellbeing evolved in the last year?

Averbook: It’s become more apparent to me how diversity, equity and inclusion strategies can be infused in workforce experience and employee wellbeing strategies. People can’t thrive if they don’t feel like they belong, if they don’t feel their voice matters and their contributions are important, and if they don’t feel a sense of safety in how they fully show up in the workplace. Until we can show care at an individual level that demonstrates we truly see each other, respect and value each other, and care about and understand what people need to be successful, we’re only addressing employee wellbeing at a superficial level. The other area that has changed for me is that of employee experience. To me, there are employee experiences based on user interfaces and there are employee experiences based on the whole-person feeling about that employer. The true understanding of employee experience will be key throughout 2021.

HRE: What are you most optimistic about when it comes to HR technology in 2021?

Averbook: When push came to shove in 2020, we cut through a lot of noise really fast and hopped into a time machine. HR technology has always been a saturated market, and it worsens when we decide what the next shiny object will be. We treat a product like the Holy Grail, like a magic bullet for whatever business problem is screaming the loudest for attention.

See also: These 6 start-ups will be in the ‘spotlight’ at Spring HR Tech

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Averbook: We’re cutting through some of that noise with a more compelling understanding of the business outcomes we truly need to see. It’s amazing how fast organizations were able to pivot, how fast they were able to get their technology partner to innovate with them when they needed to create a different workflow overnight and how fast we enabled features to do things never before intended. We’re truly understanding technology is not the experience, nor is it the solution. It was and has always been an enabler for your workforce experience vision. Change your vision, change the way technology supports it. Need a different approach to get a different business outcome? Get your technology to do something new. It starts with mindset and vision—always has. That allows us to think about the role of technology differently.

HRE: How will a digital mindset help prepare HR for a post-pandemic world of work?

Averbook: Digital transformation for the HR function is no longer optional. It’s mandatory, and every organization should be somewhere on a transformation journey if they are to compete and thrive in the new world of work. People will vote with their feet if they don’t feel their employer can deliver the flexibility, experience, opportunity and development they want. Any employment relationship that doesn’t recognize the new realities of work and what people care about and that doesn’t strive to meet people where they are will begin to look archaic, tone-deaf, even disrespectful.

We must do better for people, and HR is the steward of that experience. A digitally minded CHRO knows how to make the business case for people as business velocity, for their workforce experience as fuel and for their happiness as a business outcome. That’s the digital mindset for the now of work.

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Jen Colletta is managing editor at HRE. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees in writing from La Salle University in Philadelphia and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before joining HRE. She can be reached at hreletters@lrp.com.