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4 Ways HR Technology Can Boost Performance in High Ed

June 16, 2017 by Josh Hrala

Over the last decade, HR technology has massively improved, allowing organizations to dramatically reduce operating costs while improving the quality and efficiency of the services they provide.

And it isn’t just HR departments that are feeling these increases, either. The organization, as a whole, operates more smoothly when technology improves HR processes and workflows, which foster better employee engagement with the department, recruitment and retention of staff members, and automated systems that help ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion.

To better help you understand how technology is rapidly changing the way higher education human resource departments are performing their day-to-day tasks, we teamed with the folks over at SkillSurvey to give you a succinct overview.

So, without further ado, here are 4 ways you can can utilize technology to give your department, and organization at large, a major productivity boost.

 1. Overall Process Improvement

HR departments are riddled with processes that once relied heavily on paper. Onboarding, offboarding, benefits tracking, systems of record, and countless others required skilled HR professionals to personally touch each document, keep them safe, and have them ready at a moment’s notice.

Those days are over. With technology, all of these processes can be safely performed without all of the page-turning work, allowing for the continuous processing of reports along the way.

What does that mean? Well, to put it simply, continuous processing is the ability to run reports in real-time. Instead of looking through paperwork or digital files to see trends happening inside your organization, you can simply pull up a piece of software that houses all of the pertinent data, making it easy to see and act on trends as they happen instead of long after when the moment has passed.

Crunching all of this data by hand would take weeks, which is why reports in the past have only reflected actions that were taken long ago instead of in the moment. If you can see things happen right before your eyes, you can correct them and solve the problem long before they cause damage or focus your attention more quickly on trends that are working in your favor to really hit them home.

This reporting style also fixes the issue of performance reviews. Have you ever been working hard at a task you were assigned, possibly one that stretched over months, only to have a negative review because you started doing something wrong at the beginning and had no way to know about it? It’s infuriating. It also causes a riff in the organization because, even though your employees are giving it all they got, it still failed because of something a report could have easily corrected.

In fact, according to an article by Heather R. Huhman in Entrepreneur, a survey of HR professionals found that annual employee reviews are wrong nearly 50 percent of the time. This is largely because employees cannot correct the mistakes they are making if they do not know they are making the mistakes, which is just pure logic.

With automated, real-time reporting, these employees would be able to see their errors alongside their successes to get an accurate picture of the quality of their work.

It’s not just reporting and continuous processing, though, it’s about all HR systems working synergistically, which brings us to our next point:

2. Automating HR Systems

Like we mentioned above, there are many systems used in higher ed HR departments. You have one for your admin staff, one that manages faculty, one that handles onboarding, one that handles benefits, and the list goes on.

One of the biggest improvements an HR department can make is to unify these systems as much as possible so all of the data can be in a single place where it is easily and safely stored yet quickly accessible.

Cloud technology (which you can read more about over at SkillSurvey) has really improved this area by allowing data to be easily retrievable. Systems can then utilize the cloud to make all of the other systems run smoother.

According to BetterBuys, the typical HR department has 10 systems that keep track of a variety of things for employees. That’s a lot of systems that, usually, don’t talk to one another. The good news is that there are two specific ways to squash system bloat.

One is to choose a piece of software that is the “Best-of-Breed,” meaning that it is the best system to use for one specific task. The other is a “unified solution,” which is a single, all-in-one system that may not be the very best at every given thing but at least it handles everything.

So how do you know which fix to use? Well, the common advice is to switch to a unified solution that brings all of the systems together. Then, if needed, use Best-of-Breed software to fill the gaps you see with the unified solution. You may not need any outside software when using a unified solution, which would be great, but it’s always good to keep options open to find the exact mix of software your department needs.

3. Service Delivery Improvements

Sometimes, your department may need help from an outside vendor to perform certain tasks, such as outplacement services, payroll or others.

Technology allows these outside vendors to easily integrate into your department, making the processes they are helping out with run more smoothly instead of causing excess work, which is, after all, exactly what hiring a vendor should do.

By upping the accessibility of service integration, you can get outside audits on how your department and organization is running in real-time just like you can with in-house reporting like we discussed earlier.

Last year, Forbes examined some of the HR tech startups that were nominated by Human Resources Executive Magazine to see what trends were happening in the marketplace. As it turns out, HR tech firms are attempting to stand somewhere between unified software and Best-of-Breed software by patching holes left by both systems.

For example, the winner of the aforementioned competition was LifeWorks, a company that focuses on employee wellness, engagement, and perks. Traditionally, these social aspects of HR were handled in-house but tech is making it easier than ever to load that work off to someone else, freeing up HR to handle bigger things.

4. Business Intelligence

Business metrics are a great way for your company to grow in all areas because keeping proper records allows you to make better decisions in the future. The best way to handle this is to start utilizing the analytical powers of technology.

With analytics software, you can track employee workflow, see how many people visit your website, what they found the most interesting, and, most importantly for higher education, retain your talent.

For example, by using software to analyze who you onboard, you can better understand if that employee will stay with the company, allowing you to hire the proper person for the job. Talent management, which SkillSurvey goes into more detail about [here], is a huge focus for HR departments.

These metrics and insights are available in real-time, allowing for quick adjustments and evaluation, making just about any area of HR and business, in general, run more efficiently. To learn more about how technology can dramatically improve your HR department, check out SkillSurvey’s blog here.

Josh Hrala

Josh Hrala

Josh is an HR journalist and ghostwriter who's been covering outplacement and offboarding for over six years. Before pivoting to the HR world, he was a science journalist whose work can be found in Popular Science, ScienceAlert, The Huffington Post, Cracked, Modern Notion, and more.

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