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High-Touch Strategy as HR Moves to High-Tech Platform

May Sunega, Head of Human Resources, Sun Life

30 years ago, when we computerized our processes, we have started the digital transformation and never slowed down since then. Robotics, big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), block chain, augmented reality and social media are driving industries globally in their pursuit to give the best customer engagement, efficient services, high-performing products and now, great employee experience. It was predicted that the Digital Transformation spending from 2020-2023 will reach US$ 6.8 trillion. Upping the ante is the Covid-19 which accelerated at a blinding speed the need to go to the next level.

Hence, the tech-rush is pushed to accelerate faster than we could have predicted. It has redefined in a matter of months the Human Resources function. The adaptability displayed by the community much like any other aspect of our previous life was unprecedented. It has accepted the challenge and we never looked back.

Planning for the year ahead meant we need to go live with the tools that would have taken us years to execute, like using robotics in the Talent Acquisition space. These bots will be deployed in three different platforms, and will be the first interaction our potential talent will have. Their presence will be felt through the platforms that we have come to lean on when we were forced to be “socially distanced”: FB, LinkedIn and our website. It will increase hiring efficiency, save the time for the talent and the recruiter by providing a quicker and real time analysis between job requirement and talent profile with the aim to increase job compatibility. Onboarding and orientation are virtual. Employee engagement, employee check in, mood analysis is done through a ChatBot called Amber, our virtual assistant checking on the milestones of each employee. It collects feedback and data on one’s journey in the organization. Gamification is also fast becoming an initial source of data points for our performance management for our Contact Center Operations, allowing an otherwise boring administrative process to appear fun and interactive.

“Technology will never replace human beings. Instead, technology will be there to better the lives of the human beings”

These technological advancements that is seeing adaptation at a rate that we have not anticipated will continue to be a permanent, essential tool for the HR Function, and perhaps will completely alter the way we define “interaction”. But it should not in any shape or form, alter the soul and essence of Human Resources. Because Technology should not be seen as a substitute. It is a compliment, a tool that enhances the human interaction.  Only when we keep in mind that Human Resources is first and foremost a function that brings the warmth and humanity of the business, can we truly master the technology that is constantly evolving. 

The equation must remain to be in perfect balance and in harmony, employees at the center, and these technological changes are complimentary tools to better understand how to attract and retain today’s talent. A data-driven approach can yield information on the entire employment lifecycle. Insights culled can help the organization better focus on the needs of the employees, what are the challenges in the workforce. It can provide anticipated solutions to damaging situations such as poor performance, conflicts or even resignations. It presents preventive actions. You can push for adevelopment and training plan to increase productivity or tackle the attrition level. It also gives you the possibility of filling the gaps between employee and business performance.

Data, along with its people, can shape the organization’s culture. Sentiment analysis will always be your organization’s temperament check on what is happening inside the company. Do you still have the shared beliefs? Values and focus were understood? Are you still working toward the same goals? All these can be captured and studied to form a strong culture cognizant of what the enterprise stands for. Artificial Intelligence can also push for employee engagement, setting aside the usual emails or messaging and elevating employee experience through real-time and unique interaction per individual.

Robotics, streamlined processes and cloud-based tools free up recruiters and give them more time to check on the candidates' non-technical skills that relate to how they work, how they interact with their colleagues and check on that elusive culture fit. It cuts distance and opens whole universe of potential candidates through the various hiring platforms available. It frees up anHR professional from repetitive tasks and allows them to be more strategic. To be in the forefront of employer branding and the guardian of employee value proposition. HR will take center stage and help stir businesses with its effective employee management. They will shape business decisions to improve business performance.

In this time of accelerated digital transformation, not riding the waves is making your function or organization extinct, or may render you obsolete. But substituting the “human”in the interaction will render any tech innovation useless. Whichever way we look at it, technology will never replace human beings. Instead, technology will be there to better the lives of the human beings.

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