Your HR tech may be missing its most important component: purpose

There’s no question technology is vital in the workplace and in the HR space. It can help automate and simplify tasks, connect workers, onboard employees and much more.

- Advertisement -

But its most important job? Freeing up time so companies can focus on the human aspects of their work.

“You’ve got to automate to humanate,” Jason Averbook, CEO and co-founder of Leapgen, told attendees during a passionate live presentation Thursday at HRE’s HR Tech Virtual Conference. (The free online event runs through Friday; register here.) “Why is that so important? So we as humans can do the heart’s work.”

Related: Think purpose is a Great Resignation fad? Stacia Garr says think again

It all comes down to the importance of purpose in the workplace. Although purpose, values and culture are frequently planned for and talked about in the boardroom, in reality, efforts can fall through the cracks or miss the mark. That is the often case in the world of HR and HR technology, in particular, Averbook told attendees.

Now, more than ever, that needs to change—because everything has changed. The world, the workforce and people have evolved significantly in the last two years, spurred by the global, ongoing health pandemic, racial and uncivil unrest and now a war in Europe. Employees want harmony in their work-life integration. They want to understand the meaning of their work and their lives. They want to work for a company that has a purpose. They want certain demands met by their employer. Employees are looking for purpose—and their organizations, and HR and company leaders, need to deliver.

Related: Want to create a high-performance culture? Be intentional

For instance, millennials rank social responsibility higher than any other attribute when it comes to the workplace, Averbook said, but not enough organizations are prioritizing that.

“We need to do our darnedest to try to meet people more where they are,” he said.

Meanwhile, it’s obvious that unless priorities shift and evolve, employees will leave. Scores of employees are no longer engaged in their work and record numbers of workers are walking out the door. And low engagement costs employers billions of dollars.

- Advertisement -

Bottom line: Change needs to happen, and HR leaders cannot stay the same. “Don’t throw away the opportunity,” he said. “The thing that should be surprising to you is why we keep going back to doing [work] the way we’ve always done it. That’s what should be surprising to you. That’s what should be embarrassing to you.

So what does all this have to do with HR technology—with the cloud, with AI, with machine learning, with choosing vendors?

“The answer to that question is everything,” Averbook said. “We spend time focused on the forum, focused on features, focused on functions. We go live, we implement. And we wonder why organizations can’t get behind all of this time and effort and money we spend. The No. 1 reason why is because we don’t tie it back to the purpose.”

Also see Combining people and purpose: An insider’s guide

When you think about any investment you’re making, he said, you need to ask, are you doing this with purpose? HR leaders need to ask why are they doing something, why are they implementing certain technologies, and why it matters to the organization and to its employees.

“At the end of the day, nothing will change if you don’t change,” he said. “The most important thing we can do is build on purpose.”

Registered attendees can watch the full session here.

Avatar photo
Kathryn Mayer
Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s former benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver.