Digitalisation is transforming how companies work in ways that were previously unimaginable. With the presence of COVID-19 multiplying unpredictable challenges and opportunities, businesses have shown that mass remote working can succeed and new ways of doing businesses have taken hold at challenging times. Companies are trying to make the most of the benefits of digitalisation across all their functions and HR is no expectation.
Digitalising HR is a critical level that companies need to get right in order to achieve goals, such as retention, developing better leaders, and enhancing overall employee experiences. PwC on Digital HR Survey 2020 found that more than half (55 percent) of 608 executives and HR professionals believe HR’s biggest contribution to digital transformation is digitalising HR processes. Going forward, 48 percent believe that C-level executives and line managers will expect the HR function to support the digital transformation of the whole organisation by driving changes in company culture and mindset.
Further, the survey revealed HR activities that will be most affected by digital disruption include recruiting, employer branding, and training and development. However, during the crisis, there was a shift in perception of which HR activities will be most affected. It turns out that training and development become the most popular choice, followed by performance management, recruiting, and employer branding.
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Routine back-office HR functions and services, which are often carried out using manual processes, are now most likely to be automated using digital tools. HR functions are also at the stage of using technology for efficiency and automation, rather than innovation. This implies that HR teams might not be fully contributing to the digital transformation of the organisation as a whole. Yet, greater automation is still a positive change.
PwC survey respondents believe the future focus of HR functions should be developing and coaching talent (33 percent), followed by promoting organisational change (31 percent). Only 10 percent of respondents believe the focus should be on acting as a provider of HR services. Moreover, using digital tools to carry out repetitive administrative tasks helps shift the focus of HR in a more strategic direction. It drives upskilling and allows for a reduction of manpower and changes the skill set required.
Although digitisation is necessary as it benefits organisations to help develop human capacity, HR managers and board members should not forget the most important part of having a digital workforce: smarter, tech-savvy employees. Thus, training and development is at its vital importance.
When asked how executive and HR professionals plan to train and develop employees, the top-rated choices were e-learning, blended learning (a combination of virtual and traditional training), and on-the-job learning. It is striking that whereas e-learning was selected as the top training method, micro-learning was selected as the second last.
Here is advice for HR leaders seeking to make digitalisation of HR a priority for leaders:
The biggest obstacle to digital transformation is changing deeply-rooted organisational mindsets that might regard digitalisation as a means to cut jobs, where many company stakeholders, especially employees, are often unsure of how to implement digitalisation and unaware of all the potential benefits. Leaders expect HR departments to help address these cultural barriers. Doing so will require all their expertise in managing the human aspect of organisational change, through incentives that motivate employees to change their behaviours to ensure that digital transformation succeeds.
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