Technology is constantly changing and, because of that, so are our daily lives. As new technology bleeds into our workspaces, it has also slowly trickled into the public-sector human resource (HR) experience.
“The way in which [HR] training happens has changed so much in the last 15 to 20 years because of technology,” said Meg Gavin Bowman, Project Manager at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
At a recent GovLoop online training, Bowman joined Cornerstone’s Principal Consultant for Talent Management Steve Dobberowsky and Director of the Indiana State Personnel Department Britni Saunders to discuss new HR approaches in the face of rapid technological advances. One of these areas? Shared services.
“Shared services for us primarily means have a centralized group of HR experts in different functions that provide services to all of the business units within the executive branch,” Saunders said.“We’re able to be nimble and, quite literally, share those services at some level to cover all the different changing needs at any given time.”
At the national level, Bowman uses the Federal HR Institute to facilitate practices across agencies. They provide classes, often designed in hand with subject matter experts and professionals from multiple agencies, to standardize the HR framework. Bowman said that they’ve been able to create educational programs that are right for every employee at every level in the training process.
New technology can also be a great way to collect data from constituents. In Indiana, Saunders said that they monitor social media to gather information about how the public is interacting with their agency and then work towards improving those aspects.
Technological innovations may even be used to take over some traditional HR functions. Tools like robotic process automation (RPA) are able to perform tasks based on data with little to no human help. “RPAs are going to have a bigger impact automating the stuff that doesn’t need human intervention every time,” Dobberowsky explained.
He also disclosed that while technology can be a great asset, certain practices are not entirely reliable. “[Artificial Intelligence (AI)] and machine-learning make decisions based on data,” Dobberowsky added. “It’s important that you know what decisions are being made based on what data.”
While the technological evolution of HR is obvious, it won’t fall into place without proper training. Interpersonal values and skills are still the main asset that HR professionals should utilize while bringing employees up to speed about the new tech.
“We didn’t want to just transform our software and processes, we also needed to enhance the capabilities of our HR staff in that process so that they add new and different value,” Saunders said. “The world has changed, and we need to keep up with that.”
Bowman discussed the importance of community practices and mentoring that’s integrated into the HR systems so that new employees will have experienced people guiding them along the way. A trusted advisor, in combination with training practices, relieves onboarding hiccups and creates better employees.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to address the shifting HR landscape, but relying on the skills that already contribute to your success in the field is a good place to start. While new technology is useful, keeping the human aspect in HR is vital.
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