Digitalization of HR: what’s the real picture in the context of COVID?

Well known HR journalist Siân Harrington, editorial director and co-founder of The People Space and its newly launched Tech Space channel, recently sat down with EASY’s Michael Reiserer, managing director of content and experience management in Germany. Here, we summarise key points out of their extremely interesting conversation on topics ranging from why so many HR professionals still use paper to how to overcome the barriers to digitalisation.

Why do you think there is still so much paper in HR, Michael? What barriers are there when it comes to digitalization in HR?

The case for digitalization is compelling. Employees should be able to serve themselves with information, and complete routine tasks without waiting for someone. All this should be done from a mobile device at home, and I think you need to empower individuals to fulfill these tasks so that they can focus on important things. We carried out a survey at the beginning of this year, right before the pandemic, where respondents said that not doing this presents some significant risks: 47% worried about reduced efficiency, 42% cited lack of business agility and 36% see a less than optimal relationship with their employees and stakeholders. A very big 24% see a problem with talent retention, acknowledging that organizations that are not providing a frictionless workplace experience, hampers the ability to hang on to good people. But as you say, why isn’t this happening faster? Why is there still so much paper? I think the good news is that companies are really making steady, if slow, progress here. I think the pandemic really blew this up and has increased the HR digitalization pace significantly.

Could you give me a couple of examples on how digitalizing HR processes brings benefits to the business?

A great EASY UK example is The Cooperative Group, the country’s largest mutual retailer. Its dedicated internal scanning team scans and indexes thousands of HR documents each day. But Co-Op says use of EASY technology has made a complete difference to staff productivity and efficiency. Staff have now all the information they need at the touch of a button, time utilization has improved tremendously and a retrieval process that could take hours months ago has been reduced to seconds. From a corporate compliance point of view, HR documents also now contain full audit trails. This is a critical position for documents with such a legal value. There are actually many use cases that show how HR digitalization helps to drive governance and compliance.

That brings us nicely to your new Easy employee app: can you give me a bit of information about why you’ve gone to an app?

For one, it’s the device we all use every day, but the app really aligns with how companies are handling this health crisis: how you keep employees updated, how you support them, and how you secure their health. It helps with fighting COVID a lot, actually, so if someone tests positive, it informs HR and also helps you to see who was in the same building at the same place so that you can automatically see the context of every bit of COVID data in the company. That empowers you to inform people, warn them, help decide if they should stay at home. It’s very important to be clear that the data is not stored in the app, but is strictly confidential and delivered to the HR department in a safe way. It’s really helping HR teams protect the workspace.

And we use it too! For us, it was about getting more efficiency, because not everyone wants or even can work from home every day. We wanted to ensure that people that need to work from the office are able to get into the office. On the other hand, we also want to make sure there are not too many people in the workplace or sitting together. With the app, we can inform and assure everyone’s safety; that’s the ultimate reason we built this app.

thedmcollaborators editors

The People Space website says it’s for curious people leaders who want to continually reinvent themselves and their teams to deliver modern working practices and high impact, sustainable value–enabling their organisations and people to flourish in today’s fast moving digital environment, where increasingly humans will work alongside machines

Go here to watch Siâns full conversation with Michael, which has been slightly edited here for clarity and length

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