By now, the business case for providing an excellent employee experience is well-documented. Organizations that get it right benefit from greater productivity and retention. In one recent study, the companies that scored in the top quartile on employee engagement beat the lowest performers on innovation—and attracted twice the revenue of their competitors.
As your own organization adopts tools and processes that strengthen your employee experience, make sure you don’t overlook one key player that might be hiding in plain sight: human resources.
Organizations often see employee experience as an HR responsibility. Yet for many HR professionals themselves, that experience might fall short of what they need to achieve their full potential and to help their organizations do the same.
In today’s remote-work environment, common HR challenges—inefficient recruiting and onboarding processes, inadequate file-management systems, and even literal paperwork—can become overwhelming. And any resources your HR team devotes to administrative maintenance are resources they can’t devote to your overall innovation, creativity, and growth.
The Digital Divide
Even enterprises that embrace digital transformation—adopting sophisticated tools like artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and data and analytics—may not apply this strategy to their HR departments with the same urgency. It’s still common for HR operations to process and store physical documents bearing employees’ handwritten signatures.
But a digital HR infrastructure can help you resolve efficiency, accessibility, and privacy and compliance challenges. When Teva Pharmaceuticals, with 40,000 employees across 60 countries, prepared to consolidate seven shared-service centers down to two, it upgraded to a cloud-based HR platform to sidestep any logistical headaches of shipping entire storage rooms’ worth of paper files internationally. Going digital also now helps Teva’s HR professionals process audits within hours rather than days.
And in environments vulnerable to external risks, digital systems are essential for remote access and continuity. In a worst-case scenario, a paper-based system can threaten not just the loss of the documents’ data but employees’ physical safety as well. During a recent major hurricane, one company’s payroll administrator retrieved and transferred more than a thousand files from the office to her own home for safe-keeping. The company immediately afterward adopted a cloud-based file-management system, to avoid ever repeating such a well-intentioned but risky decision.
If your organization is upgrading HR operations to a digital infrastructure, it might seem tempting to duplicate or retrofit the IT platform you already have in the cloud.
But one size does not fit all. IT and HR teams encounter and resolve different types of issues, and they have different case-management needs. Your IT system is built to support individual incidents—but your HR system needs to support individual people.
While IT can apply a ticket system and AI to troubleshoot repeatable errors at scale, employee matters typically involve sensitive, nuanced, and confidential issues, such as work relationships, ethical concerns, and mental and physical health.
And an HR case-management system must incorporate robust security and privacy measures beyond what IT requires. It needs to protect personal data like account information and Social Security numbers, and it must adapt easily to business goals and regulations that vary by industry and geography and evolve in real time.
The employee experience begins before the first day on the job. It starts with recruiting and continues through onboarding, all the way to retention. If your organization uses cumbersome processes for completing and submitting paperwork, or scatters knowledge across a fragmented network, your employees start off on the wrong foot.
Groupe Rocher recognized that its traditional hiring practices, involving physical folders, mail, and signatures, were creating bureaucratic inefficiency that made hiring a weeks-long process. Rocher switched to an entirely digital onboarding system and can now process documentation in 15 minutes. With recruiting now centralized, Rocher’s departments also saw valuable gains in productivity and reaction time.
A consolidated HR infrastructure is especially critical to efficient hiring for organizations with complex or variable staffing needs. “In the summer months, we may hire 7,000 employees,” said Sherry Knaszak, vice president of HR transformation and human resource information systems at Avis Budget Group. But when it shifted its pre-hiring process out of the business units and into an HR shared-services center, she said, “That absolutely made a difference.”
Today’s business environment makes the employee experience a matter of intense focus for many organizations. As you strive to build on the success of your improved digital employee experience, make sure to consider HR’s needs so you can offer a superior experience from the start.
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