Q&A with HR tech influencer Jenny Payne


Jenny Payne
Manager of Talent Management and Engagement
Tops Markets


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

One of the biggest mistakes HR organizations can make when implementing HR technology is assuming that the technology can and will fix faulty processes. The technology has to be viewed as the tool or the enabler, not the cure-all. If you have a process that’s broken or ineffective, even the best technologies available are not going to fix it. Then we fall into the trap of blaming the technology for “not working” or the solution provider for “not understanding our organization” when in fact we never really examined how we’re trying to go about accomplishing the task.

Another mistake is going into the selection process viewing everything only through the lens of HR and not thinking about the end user. Who is your actual audience? Employees? Hiring Managers? We have to clarify that and define what their needs are related to how the technology will be used. A key part of a successful implementation is ensuring user adoption, and to effectively achieve that we have to thoroughly understand what’s going to work best for those end users.

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?

One of the most important strategies when it comes to getting your workforce to actually use new technology is involving key end users in the process right from the beginning, as early as the selection process. Those are the folks who are closest to the processes the new technology is intended to enable or enhance, and they are the ones who will bring to light questions and issues that HR may not even think of. So for instance, if you’re implementing a new ATS, you have to involve your recruiters and hiring managers. And don’t just involve them in the design process, but also make them the champions for the new technology with your larger user population; they’ll be able to relate back to other end users the key benefits, as well as serve as key trainers during your roll out process.

How is HR technology changing the way people work?

That’s a question that I think you have to look at from two sides – how is it changing the way people work, and how should it change the way people work. Ideally, HR technology (or any workplace technology, for that matter) should function in much the same way that the technologies we are accustomed to outside of work do; to make our lives easier, to streamline the things we need to do each day, to enhance our capabilities and make us more effective. They should be easy to use, intuitive, and readily available in the flow of our everyday lives. If that’s how technology works for us in our lives outside of work, it’s a reasonable expectation that our workplace technologies should mirror real life. However, I think in a lot of organizations there’s still a long way to go to get there. We take small steps and implement technologies to enhance a particular process, but may not look at workplace technology holistically and in the context of everything employees need to accomplish on a daily basis. It requires a little bit different mindset, and requires involvement beyond just HR departments.