Progressing beyond a pre-digital age: Digital HR

Despite many recent years of growth and proliferation of HR solutions, not to mention the adoption of AI, analytics and automation within the HR department, it is amazing how many organisations we encounter which still operate in a pre-digital HR age.

It’s hard to imagine the world of HR without sophisticated technology in 2019, especially when you consider data regulation, the disparate and ever-evolving nature of today’s global workforce, and talent shortages becoming more critical.

Yet for so many HRs, a lack of automation is still a day-to-day reality, and administration an ongoing struggle. The digital adoption gap continues to widen with some organisations being left to suffer the misery of manual spreadsheets.

Mid-sized organisations, in particular, are still languishing in an HR pre-digital dark age. Perhaps it’s simply a case of time constraints or the shortage of digital skills, or even HR being the poor relation within the organisation? Regardless of the cause, it’s safe to say that managing people, processes and data without a digital ecosystem is a sure way to reduce productivity while also creating inconsistency, inaccuracy and poor employee experiences.

According to Gartner’s HR practice, CEOs in 2019 will be pushing HR to drive digital transformation and increase innovation throughout organisations, suggesting that innovation can increase annual revenue by as much as $8,800 per employee.

With precious time and even the salaries of each employee positively impacted by digitising HR processes, it’s more important than ever before to embrace automation. The cost argument is compelling, but here are a few other imperatives that should be high up on the list of reasons to drive digital HR transformation.

AI: the new frontier of the HR space

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the next big frontier and, although it’s too soon to predict its full potential, it is already transforming the way we work. Despite job loss fears, the reality is a different story

Crack HR compliance concerns

As the introduction of GDPR and other data regulations have come into effect in the past year or so, and as we find ourselves in uncertain times with Brexit, demands on HR in a compliance and security context have grown tenfold.

These developments have put HR teams at the forefront of compliance – and those that haven’t digitised their HR data, but rely on spreadsheets, paper files and digital forms, are most at risk. Spreadsheets can be shared with anyone in an organisation, either deliberately or accidentally, and high profile phishing cases demonstrate how vulnerable HR data can be.

In the advent of a data breach, when it comes to unsecured spreadsheets or paper-based files, it is unlikely that an organisation will be able to demonstrate that they have taken appropriate measures to protect their data – something that can result in significant fines and more. There is also a speed issue, with the ICO breathing heavily down the neck of organisations that fail to respond to requests for information on time.

Adopting a secure, role-based cloud HR solution will let you centralise all of your data in a single system, so you always know where it is, and have much greater control over data integrity. HR teams will be better positioned to record consent where required, delete or anonymise data in line with GDPR requirements, and respond to subject access requests. While the perception might be that digital transformation is a huge journey to undertake, a new breed of HR systems have emerged that are specifically designed so that any organisation can be up and running with a fully digital and GDPR-compliant system within a few weeks.

Better together: How to create a stronger bond between IT and HR

The impact of the fast-changing digital world is huge and digital innovation is disrupting everything; no organisation can afford to sit still

Manual is risky

Humans are, well, only human. Mistakes happen, but a mistake can have a huge impact on an organisation’s health and future success. Introducing technology to manage a range of processes can help to reduce and mitigate HR related risk by minimising all manner of issues from poor HR consistency and visibility, to data loss.

Manually updating changes in spreadsheets can be a cumbersome and ineffective process, especially when the data is being entered into multiple documents. Research from Salesforce shows that 88% of all spreadsheets have significant errors in them.

Applying intelligent automation will not only reduce the risk of human mistakes but also help to flag errors and data problems before they create a negative impact on the business.

The huge issue of risk and compliance aside, automation reduces the HR admin mountain and allows a focus on people strategies which are so critical when competing for talent and reducing churn. Intelligent automation, properly applied, has the potential to turn HR into a consistent, secure and people-focused function, creating operational fluidity instead of friction.

Cloud technology for HR: how big companies can benefit

For companies looking to save time, increase productivity and boost employee engagement, cloud-based HR solutions are an extremely worthwhile investment

Build the business case

The old saying that ‘time is money’ still rings very true, so be sure to profess the benefits of automation in this regard. But don’t stop there. All too often, when HRs are building their case for more modern, technology-assisted HR, they fail to lend sufficient focus to the wider organisational benefits that will be reaped as a result of them having more time to focus on what they do best – developing brilliant people strategies that increase employee engagement and experience, and boost business outcomes.

The parting message for business leaders? Digital transformation in HR can be a simple automated process that can provide HR teams with long-term benefits. In fact, the best modern HR systems should not even require HRs to understand the ‘how’, but instead simply enable them to achieve better outcomes, relaxed in the knowledge that their data is safe, accurate and consistent, and available in real-time from anywhere at any time.

Giving the HR department a digital overhaul will boost processes from mundane and time consuming to seamless and streamlined. When it comes to the impending changes of Brexit and existing risks of GDPR, HRs need a helping hand now more than ever.

Written by Sue Lingard, Director at Cezanne HR

Editor's Choice

Editor's Choice consists of the best articles written by third parties and selected by our editors. You can contact us at timothy.adler at