Digital technologies and applications being adopted in the personal space are invading the professional work space thus making it imperative for organisations to rethink the role and interfaces of HR function with the employees. Unlike in the past when the enterprises were the sole owners of expensive technologies and knowhow to use them, consumers today are empowered due the focus of innovation in technology and applications around their needs. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to draw a clear boundary between personal and enterprise functioning with cloud and collaborative spaces making these boundaries blurred.
Consumerisation of IT is enabling a fundamental shift from organisation-oriented offerings where the principle of engagement with employees was command and control to employee-centric and participative approach. The shift is being facilitated not only on account of democratisation of technology with powerful yet inexpensive tools and devices being accessible to employees as much in the personal space as at work space, but also due to the opportunity available to organisations to build a strategy to unbundle their technology solutions and pick and choose appropriate tools and applications to enhance employee engagement.
In most organisations the technologies deployed today in the HR function have been aimed at helping HR function carry out its traditional activities. Existing processes to support recruitment, employee lifecycle management, payroll, learning management and performance management have received the attention of automation, reporting and data management. The purpose of technology interventions in all of these HR functions has largely been to enable the enterprise in compliance management with respect to statutory requirements, reduction in costs and increased efficiency with HR processes and less to do with the developmental needs or engagement with and between employees. Even the collaborative platforms or employee services applications that enterprises have created are only facilitating communications and exchanges or shifting the onus of providing data in the system to the employees.
Consumerisation in the context of HR services means organisations have to go beyond the supportive role of technologies managing HR services and think of employee centric organisation framework. This would mean taking customer like approach to employees and using the large amounts of data that is accessible to come up with solutions that are dynamic and as per their needs. Facilitation of learning for instance, has to be seamless and more adaptive and personalised based on individual needs.
Organisations have to recognise the learning that takes place both in the controlled and uncontrolled, informal environments and find ways to provide pathways and linkages for both. Learning effectiveness and the outcomes could be enhanced with the analysis of the data that is available.
Most organisations have built leave, attendance and performance management systems with inbuilt processes. Currently employees have to access these systems either at workplace or through their personal devices if the organisations permit them to do so. In the consumerised scheme of the world, employees shun rigidity of these systems and would welcome methods that capture their simple text messages of leave of absence or feedbacks given to employees spontaneously as and when they are provided. Thus HR managers have to think about weaving consumer friendly communication tools and other apps into their systems and make it an enjoyable and useful experience for them.
Choice of devices and the user interfaces would be another area where personal preferences would give way to a common and centralised approach. It is not just about the look and feel of the applications but it is about gaining more attention of the employees and increasing the interest levels of the employees to engage with the organisation and other employees. It is also about having effective tools to gather better insights of the profiles of employees than what is available in the HR database currently such that these insights could be used to customise the services for the employees better. The data that would be available could help put in place well informed career paths that would be mutually beneficial.
If the organisations are cognisant of building customer centric business propositions and are increasingly relying on the analytics of the entire value chain leading to enhanced customer experience, the same approach should be brought into the HR domain as well. Analytics therefore is not only critical to making consumerisation in HR deliver to its promise but it is important to expand the horizon of analytics from the boundaries of HR to that which impacts the business. In other words, learning effectiveness or effectiveness of recruitment should not be assessed merely as the outcome of the specific process alone but as the impact on the business and thus redefine the scope of analytics concerning HR.
Sharing and gathering more and more data and opening up of the systems poses a nightmare for IT security planners and for those concerned with protection of intellectual property. As organisations have taken into their stride these challenges and have started to build systems that deliver services to customers retaining the positive experience in their transactions, enterprises would have to think of creating safe and secure environments for employees on the cyber front too without reducing the impact of consumerisation in their functioning.
In this context, education and awareness of the new realities of managing the HR function and the requisite change management for HR personnel is the necessary first step towards readying the organisation for consumerisation of HR.
The writer is CEO, Global Talent Track, a corporate training solutions company