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The Digital HR Experience: The Importance of Treating Employees Like Customers

Feature Article | October 31, 2017 by Juan Albelo

As a Miami native, getting a shot of Café Cubano is a long-time ritual for me. For decades, I have ordered this energizing espresso shot sweetened with demerara sugar at cafes and diners on nearly every local street corner for as little as 50 cents. I was so spoiled by this convenience that going anywhere else was not an option if it meant spending more money.

But one day, it happened. I went to Starbucks with a colleague in New York and plunked down $2.50 for (that’s right) a Café Cubano. The beverage was quite tasty, but that was not the reason why I purchased it. It was the experience of belongingness and camaraderie – from the community-like feeling of waiting in line to hearing my name called when my order was ready.

After that visit, I have always wondered what would happen if every HR technology purchase decision was more about the employee experience and less about cost and basic HR processes. While capabilities such as recruiting, performance management, learning, and HR analytics are currently attractive investments, small and midsize businesses still need to provide a user experience that simplifies the work experience and magnifies the contributive value of every employee.

Digital HR: The Value of Delivering an Empowering Employee Experience

According to a statistic quoted in a Forbes Insight briefing report, employers globally are reporting the highest talent shortage since 2007. Giving employees the tools they need to onboard quickly, learn the skills they need, and become productive are even more important during times like these.

In the report, Nov Omana, CEO and founder of the HR technology consulting firm Collective HR Solutions, observes that small and midsize companies are investing in HR technology: “Startups with as few as 25 employees are adopting [HR] platforms. It’s more evidence of the importance digital HR will play as they grow.” But business leaders often forget to give employees a reason to use new technology to get work done.

Once digital HR initiatives focus more on turning work into a more engaging and productive experience for employees, businesses can finally get on the path to becoming a truly digital business. Take, for example, Teledirect Pte Ltd. The Singapore-based contact center outsourcing and consulting service provider recently implemented social business and collaboration tools to align performance objectives and maximize worker performance.

Now, Teledirect managers and employees can access HR tasks with a click on a mobile device, leading to higher efficiency and better user experiences. After realizing how one small step toward digitalized HR processes can impact work experiences, the company is adopting predictive reporting to further increase worker effectiveness and efficiency, which will likely add more value to the business.

No Business Is Too Small to Turn Work into an Enjoyable Employee Experience

From collaboration tools and predictive analytics to the cloud and machine learning, employees can achieve things typically thought impossible for any small and midsize business. It’s an exciting time as these technologies become more affordable and scalable to meet the needs of a growing company.

But it’s still important to remember that most digital innovations are focused on changing business processes, not augmenting people’s abilities. The more workers demand technology that reflect their digital experiences at home, the greater the expectation that newly deployed technology not only works, but is also worthy of their time and attention to adopt.


Find out how small and midsize businesses are digitalizing HR with cloud-based models to create a competitive edge in the digital economy. Read the Forbes Insights briefing report “Competing for Talent in the Digital Age” sponsored by SAP SuccessFactors.

Juan Albelo is senior vice president and head of Sales for SAP SuccessFactors, Latin America & Caribbean

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