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Three Ways to Give Your Digital HR Strategy a Human Touch

Feature Article | November 8, 2017 by Steven Hunt Hot Story

Tight deadlines, limited staff and resources, and high productivity goals are putting enormous amounts of pressure on the workforce. And no one is immune from it, even the most talented, even-tempered, and seasoned employees are teetering between being stressed and burned out.

According to years of Gallup polling, this atmosphere creates a workforce culture where, on average, two-thirds of workers are actively disengaged.

Unhappy, stressed out, tired people are not productive contributors to the bottom line, inspiring many well-meaning HR organizations to reconsider their human capital management processes. According to the IDC research report “HR Must Deliver on Transformation,” sponsored by SAP SuccessFactors, digital investments are enabling “continuous, ‘check-in’ style personal development, engaging HR processes for performance, learning/development, and more regular feedback from peers and supervisors.”

Yet digitalization by itself is not going to create engaged employees.

It’s Time to Bring Humanity Back Into HR

Human capital management technology works best when it enables people to act more human. The goal is not to replace people, but to allow people to spend more time on activities that drive engagement. They want to make a difference through their work, develop their capabilities, and connect with other people.

When done well, digital HR practices eliminate tasks that people never wanted to do in the first place and enables employees of all levels to engage in richer, evidence-based conversations. The goal of digitalization should not end with process automation. Automation is just the starting point. The real benefit comes when digitalization achieves the following things:

  • Balance the work people like and the tasks they hate: Who really wants to fill out expense reports, log time, or complete administrative forms? Most likely, no one. These activities are a necessary part of running a business, but there isn’t an incentive to do them well. However, if the experience of getting these tasks done is fast, simple, and efficient, then it won’t hamper the overall employee experience.
  • Get real work done: People are happiest when they feel like they are accomplishing things that matter to the company and its customers. When goals are meaningful and responsibilities reflect the best of their capabilities and talents, workers are more motivated to do work that should be done. The ability to access resources and collaboratively engage with subject-matter experts takes engagement up a notch by allowing employees to work more effectively and show their best selves every day.
  • Develop personal career paths and life goals: People are always highly motivated when they can associate work with moving forward in their professional development and attainment of their life goals. By matching existing talent to new job responsibilities, training opportunities, and potentially life-changing moments, HR organizations can open employees up to the excitement of doing new things, acquiring new skills, and seeing their growth and development consistently progress over time.

Let’s face it, no matter how digitalized HR becomes, relationships will always matter. Employees may interact with machines at work, but ultimately the real driver of innovation and creative problem-solving is people-to-people contact. Technologies that intensify the value of human interactions will be the ones that not only deliver tools that employees need, but also ignite a sense of continuous employee engagement that turns the company into an unstoppable force in the marketplace.


Find out the five key trends and actions that can help businesses of all sizes address the challenges of digital transformation. Read the IDC interactive report “HR Must Deliver on Transformation,” sponsored by SAP SuccessFactors

Steven Hunt is senior vice president of Human Capital Management Research for SAP SuccessFactors.

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