Overcoming Barriers to HR Software Adoption

This blog post is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent guide “How to Effectively Communicate Government Workforce Reforms.” In it, we provide an overview of key workforce reforms happening at all levels of government. Download the full guide here.

There’s a growing appetite among the government human resources community for technology that automates manual processes and empowers employees to make data-driven decisions.

But these aren’t the only demands driving software purchases across government HR departments. In a recent interview with GovLoop, Jonathan Wiersma, General Manager of HR Solutions at CivicPlus, an integrated technology platform for local government, shared key drivers that are influencing tech adoption among HR professionals.

In terms of key drivers that are influencing software adoption in the HR community, the first and most impactful is a change in leadership. Whether it’s a new city council member or county administrator, their priorities weigh heavily on tech investments geared toward personnel issues. Specifically, Wiersma has noticed an increased focus by government leadership on organizational effectiveness, which in turn in uences HR software purchases and ultimately rank-and-file employees.

“We’re seeing some of those leadership shifts that are more focused on performance and goals,” he said. Those performance goals impact overall organizational effectiveness and affect how leaders manage their employees.

Leaders aren’t just talking about performance, they’re working with HR professionals to develop measurable goals for tracking progress across the workforce. Compared with years past, more local governments are requiring employees to undergo performance evaluations, Wiersma said.

Some states are taking performance a step further and tying it to employee pay, marking a distinct shift for government agencies. This change requires that HR has the technology and data in place to properly track employee performance in a transparent and consistent manner.

The final driver shaping HR software purchases is the need to replace aging tools, some of which are decades old. Maintaining these resource-intensive systems hinders HR departments from embracing all that new and emerging technologies have to offer. They’ve had to delay investments in new software to keep existing operations running, but that arrangement has proven costly for agencies struggling to attract tech-savvy employees.

After years of waiting, HR departments are finally taking the leap to modernize their back-office systems, thanks to lower-cost technology options that allow agencies to make investments gradually rather than ripping out old technology and replacing it all at once. Migrating from a paper-based talent management system to an automated, cloud-based solution is one way that budget-strapped municipalities are able to quickly realize a positive ROI based on incremental improvements to their day-to-day HR processes.

But no technology transformation is immune to challenges. As HR departments adopt these new solutions, they’re also grappling with generational gaps, as well as time and resource constraints.

“We see generational gaps where the folks who are doing the work are less interested in change than the folks who are making the decisions at the top of the organization,” Wiersma said. Employees who have worked at the agency for decades are used to doing business a specific way with certain tools.

“Meanwhile, you have new employees coming on who are shocked that they have to fill out a paper job application and can’t believe they need to write their Social Security number a dozen times on different forms,” Wiersma said.

To bridge this generational gap, Wiersma and his team at CivicPlus, promote a collaborative approach to technology adoption. “Our approach to make government work better is not by offering just the tools, but by offering professional guidance,” he said. “Our project managers are trained to ask what steps in a particular process are needed before building a solution for the staff.”

As part of CivicPlus, CivicHR provides easy-to-use HR solutions for local government that streamline hiring and onboarding. CivicHR provides agencies with seamless implementation and integration and customized training for all users. The city of Marble Falls, Texas is one example.

Using CivicHR, the city’s Human Resources Director, Angel Alvarado, cut the resume review process from weeks to days. The system automatically routes qualified applicants to the appropriate department manager for review. That meant Alvarado no longer had to make multiple copies of qualified resumes, deliver them to the appropriate people for review, and follow up with them for feedback. Since moving to an online system with CivicHR, Alvarado has seen an increase in total applications and higher quality applicants for most positions. Going digital not only accelerated the hiring process but also improved the user experience for job applicants.

When agencies invest in intuitive HR software, it creates a win-win for hiring managers and potential employees.

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