Human Resource Specialists are not specialists in Information Technology. Yet, today HR has a difficult time recruiting, engaging with employees, providing benefits, conducting training or capturing performance feedback without the intervention of technology. In fact, without technology, I can emphatically say that these functions are impossible.
Why? Because heightened expectations for anywhere, anytime access to information, regulations calling for increased transparency and collaboration and the advent of ubiquitous channels make technology an imperative for HR organizations. After years of downsizing, federal agencies are now challenged to hire and manage more people, faster and better than ever before. From telework and cloud computing, to social media and branding, technology provides the impetus to make it happen.
Are HR organizations interested in:
- Maximizing efficiencies and doing more with less?
- Improving the alignment of resources with agency missions?
- Capturing knowledge centrally to provide consistent information to citizens and employees?
- Measuring, tracking and reporting on performance?
- Providing stakeholders with self-service access to information that frees up staff for more complex inquiries and research?
- Streamlining the delivery of information?
- Measuring and tracking employee satisfaction by soliciting feedback and acting on it?
These challenges are not unique to HR. Other departments are faced with similar issues and information technology is a key tool to managing and improving processes.
Sure, HR organizations have unique functions and responsibilities from personnel and benefits management to recruitment and hiring, but the overall challenges that stand in the way of HR departments achieving their missions are not that different from the broader organizational and cross functional challenges that many departments face.
RightNow had the opportunity to exhibit at the recent HR Technology in the Federal Workplace Conference, held April 4-5 in Washington, DC, where the topic of leveraging technology to enhance agency HR missions was the feature. It was interesting and refreshing to see the conference highlight the ability to take universal technologies, channels and processes and extend them to meet HR requirements and challenges such as:
Agencies are using technology, like RightNow CX for Facebook, to extend reach and offer customer support to recruits, constituents, employees and other key stakeholders directly within Facebook—the social network. There are 600 million people on Facebook, 50% of these people log in once daily, 25% log in once weekly, so organizations are taking advantage of this channel to interact and offer support to improve engagement, share information and provide superior service to recruits and citizens.
Knowledge is at the core of every interaction and the bulk of inquiries are not unique, but rather are similar issues raised on a recurring basis. Knowledge Management allows HR organizations to provide self-service resolution to common concerns quickly. By having a knowledge management strategy and solution in place, organizations can foster collaboration and deliver timely, consistent and relevant knowledge across all interactions.
Communities of Practice
Imagine a virtual world where federal agencies work on goals and missions and collaborate in real time. This world is not imaginary, it actually exists. Human Resource organizations can take advantage of building online communities of practice to allow employees and stakeholders to collaborate on projects, policies and to share ideas and best practices. Additionally, support communities allow employees and citizens to ask and answer questions amongst themselves. This allows you to build community experts and generate reusable content for your knowledge base.
As cloud computing has emerged as a prominent way for the government to save money, triggering mandates to implement cloud based solutions, how can HR organizations do their part? With the adoption of cloud computing security standards for government, more organizations are likely to become comfortable with moving mission critical applications to the cloud. There is no reason why HR functions and systems cannot be a part of this migration process. Rapid deployment, flexibility, consistent service, increased effectiveness, energy efficiency and reduced costs, just a few of the benefits that HR organizations can help their agencies realize by adopting a cloud based solution.
Web Self Service
Help employees help themselves. Most people just want answers, and therefore being empowered to find those answers quickly, without engaging a live person, will make employees and citizens very happy. The pay-off for moving to web self-service can also be substantial. Agencies that implement self-service functionality have experienced reductions in email workloads of 30-50 percent and reductions in contact center workloads of 10-30 percent.
According to IDC Research, the numbers of mobile web users worldwide will more than double from 450 million in 2009 to over a billion by the end of 2013. Citizens and employees are no longer held hostage to their laptops and Gartner Research agrees, predicting that by 2013, mobile will become the primary method of connecting to the internet.
An employee may need to check on a benefit while at the doctor’s office, a student may look for government employment opportunities while out studying or an employee may check a policy while in a meeting—all in real-time. Mobile allows each of these interactions to occur seamlessly.
The good news is that Human Resource Specialists do not need to be IT Specialists. Instead, HR just needs to communicate its needs to IT. More than likely, the robust technology systems that can help agencies develop, plan for, carry out their current HR missions, and anticipate future HR needs already exists. Human Resource folks just need to seek them out.