HR Management & Compliance, Technology

Q&A: How HR Tech Can Benefit Employees, Too

The goal of HR technology is to make HR tasks easier for the employer. But what about the employee? Just because software can make things easier for an HR manager doesn’t mean it’s actually going to benefit your workers—and that could be a real problem.

Source: Panchenko Vladimir / shutterstock

I recently had a chance to interview Deena Fox, CEO of Brightfox, to discuss this and other issues that consumers of HR technology face.

HR Daily Advisor: HR Technology is often designed for the employer, which may lead to less design being afforded toward how the actual employees will use the software. What are your thoughts on that?

Fox: The vast majority of HR solutions fail to take an employee-first approach to design and user experience, an oversight that leads to poor product adoption, confusion, and frustration for employees and HR alike. When you take, for example, a company of 10,000 people, there are only a handful of HR admins, and the other 9,990 or so users are the employees.

Companies often end up implementing an array of HR point solutions, which not only end up being costly to the business but also are confusing for the employee. HR technology must be designed to address the entire talent life cycle—from job candidates to company alums and every stage in between.

HR Daily Advisor: People who have harassment complaints often don’t report them for a simple reason: They are afraid of retaliation. Can you talk about how HR technology can address this issue?

Fox: HR technology, if thoughtfully designed, can create a supportive, safe, accessible, and more comfortable experience for reluctant employees to come forward with sensitive issues. Fear of retaliation can be minimized by offering multiple channels for reporting, in addition to allowing people to remain anonymous. Someone who has been subjected to harassment or discrimination may feel embarrassed appearing in person or even reporting over the phone. Technology provides a less confrontational channel for those who may otherwise not come forward at all.

In a digital world, there simply needs to be a digital alternative to enhance existing common reporting channels like ethics hotlines and HR. Offering multiple channels for sensitive concerns sends a strong message about the company’s desire for a “speak up” culture, facilitates early reporting so that issues occur for a shorter duration, and maximizes the number of issues being reported so that they can be investigated and resolved quickly.

HR Daily Advisor: To what degree can something like an HRIS (Human Resource Management System) protect the anonymity of the user?

Fox: HRIS systems are generally not designed to protect user anonymity. All information communicated and submitted by users within an HRIS system is accessible by company administrators, so employees should not and do not have any expectation of privacy. HR professionals need a trusted third-party solution specifically designed to receive and route reports containing sensitive information, while protecting the anonymity of users behind a privacy wall.

HR Daily Advisor: What are some features that HR tech companies have overlooked and are finally realizing are important?

Fox: The application of artificial intelligence (AI), specifically machine learning and natural language processing, is a current trend that continues to emerge as an important evolution to existing and new products in the HR tech space. These technologies can be leveraged to generate predictive analytics and correlate specific employee behaviors with more positive business outcomes.

HR Daily Advisor: What are some features that HR tech companies just seem unable to add?

Fox: The feature set available on the market today is pretty extensive, but what really stands out is the increasing state of fragmentation in the HR tech space. HR professionals are buying multiple products and duct-taping them together, spending a lot of money, increasing their admin burden, and unintentionally creating a confusing experience for employees.

It’s perhaps impractical to think that HR tech will ever achieve complete integration, but I think the key is for companies to have the right set of features available in a single platform to deliver a better, more unified talent experience. The focus on integration in the past has been to put the right features together for HR to streamline core processes, like managing employee information, performance reviews, talent and succession planning, and gathering feedback.

Unified technology platforms that create a better talent experience are the future of HR technology, enabling people to perform, grow, and connect without compromising the needs of HR professionals and their companies.