Digital transformation has become something of a habit in the region. Rapid deployment is often one of the hallmarks of a change project.
Across the region, we see a similar challenge in every business. Talent shortage. According to a LinkedIn study, the average hiring process, from advertisement to onboarding, took 25 days in 2014 but today it is almost double that. Vetting and negotiation stretch out to 47 days — a long time in the life of an understaffed team. And assuming you can get the right person on board, how do you keep them? At the very least, you must accommodate the expectations of remote work, which brings its own challenges.
All the while, businesses must live up to their ESG commitments, demonstrating they are sustainable organisations that care for their communities. This demonstration very often lands on the shoulders of already overwhelmed HR personnel.
As with many modern challenges, a dose of automation can make all the difference. When everyday critical tasks are handed to technology, this alleviates workloads and leads to greater speed and accuracy. Payroll, leave requests, task scheduling, data input, resume sifting, and much more can be left to machine intelligence while human intelligence is put to work doing the things humans prefer to do. Greater morale and higher retention rates soon follow.
Time, training, and wellbeing
In the business case for HR software, the preamble will prominently mention its capacity to save time. When HR professionals focus on the pressing matters that only the human touch can resolve, not only are they more fulfilled in their roles, but efficiency spreads across the business. HRMS software, for example, can automate everything from leave calculations to expenses approval, leaving human agents to focus on things like recruitment or enhancement of the employee experience. Expensive errors become a thing of the past, as software agents are not susceptible to misplaced keystrokes. This accuracy is particularly beneficial when it comes to regulatory compliance.
HR systems have become useful in the area of professional development. Employee learning programs are of great benefit to the long-term prosperity of the business because they boost the talent of individuals but also contribute positively to job satisfaction. Meanwhile, as HR systems find themselves more and more in cloud environments, they can play a pivotal role in data protection. Digitisation allows important documents (previously held as paper) to be protected against fire and other kinds of physical damage. And given the right cybersecurity, they will also be protected from unauthorised eyes.
But perhaps of the greatest importance — especially given the spotlight that shone on issues such as mental health during the pandemic — HR software can play a role in employee wellbeing. It can monitor and facilitate the set-up of high-quality health insurance systems and flag employees who are taking too little or too much leave.
The ideal platform
HR software is at the heart of the modern enterprise, which is now digital by nature. While, as you have just seen, the benefits speak for themselves, delivering those benefits is a function of the HR platform that the business selects. To be effective, it must play well with your existing technology — information sharing is not a given when procuring an HR platform. Also, of significant benefit would be if it incorporates a modular approach. This would mean that from the onset your organisation is set up with a single platform for which new features and functionalities can be easily unlocked as your HR needs mature.
Digital transformation has become something of a habit in the region. Rapid deployment is often one of the hallmarks of a change project. So, it is vital that stakeholders consider how easy it will be to roll out and bed down any new HR software. Also, how long will it take users to learn its features? Representatives of HR should sit on the procurement panel and feedback should be sought from every HR staff member.
Anyone who works in the HR function of a global enterprise will confirm that “location, location, location” is as true of their job as it is of the real estate market. Compliance occupies the HR department as it does any other. Regional issues in labour laws, payroll, and taxation can vary wildly. The EU’s introduction of GDPR brings up considerations of where and how personal data is stored. If the business is global, everything is more complicated. International HR software brands may appear to be the obvious choice today, but they may fall drastically short on UAE compliance standards.
When all the options have been evaluated, procurement teams will be in a position to look beyond price tags. Having done their homework, decision makers will see where value is coming from. Price alone is a poor indicator of cost. HR software is an investment — and strangely, not so much an investment in technology as an investment in people. Automation and ease of use will very soon come together to deliver real value — we’re already seeing practical, impactful use cases such as intelligent bots streaming the arduous but essential task of sifting through CVs, or AI-powered nutritionists guiding employees towards a healthier lifestyle. Recruitment software will help save money by ensuring the right talent is hired and retained. When you start adding up all the time savings and the reduction in talent acquisition costs (because employees stay for longer periods), upfront costs should be greatly diminished as a deciding factor.
Human resource management software is not a whimsical luxury. Given the particular challenges faced by the region — talent dearth, compliance, and the rest — organisations that act to procure an HRMS will be arming themselves with one of the most important tools out there. Digital transformation is sometimes criticised for digitising everything but transforming nothing. However, the HRMS can, as shown here, lead to a higher-functioning business with more loyal employees. And that is the only transformation that matters.