How to Keep the “Human” in Human Resources Technology

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Last week the CultureIQ team attended the 17th Annual HR Technology Conference and Exposition, and it was fantastic. It’s inspiring not only to see the bigger companies make advancements, but also to watch smaller startups (like ourselves) propose “aha” solutions to problems we’ve all experienced. If you’re an HR professional or HR tech company like us, and you’re wondering whether you should attend next year, I say go for it.

I originally set out to write a synopsis of the most interesting innovations at the conference (you can find new product releases, including CultureIQ, here). Instead, a larger theme stood out stood out to me across the board: how do we keep the “human” in human resources considering all the technological advancements?

This theme was presented in the pre-conference session “Analytics, Analytics, Analytics– The Future of HR.” The question posed was: do analytics dehumanize the workforce? As a company that has set out to quantify company culture to help you manage and improve it, this is is a relevant and important consideration.

The panelists in this session concluded that analytics and big data don’t dehumanize the workforce. Instead, when used correctly, they can help you identify the right problems to address. This is our approach as well. Culture can be an intimidating factor to manage, but by surveying your employees regularly, you are able to use the data to better understand sentiment and identify pain points. Thus, like the panelists explained, analytics aren’t dehumanizing your workforce. Instead, they are a tool to help you organize and understand it better.

This concept also came up in a different context during New Belgium Brewing Company’s session about their company culture. How do you maintain the unique quality of your workforce while growing in quantity (or in their words, “scaling up with soul”)?  In this instance, New Belgium Brewing Company uses technology (Cornerstone OnDemand specifically) to help with their on-boarding process and to create a virtual community. This technology helps them connect new and remote employees to their mission, values, and headquarters. How do they ensure that they “scale up with soul?”  Jenny Briggs, the Director of HR at New Belgium Brewing Company, explained that every new tool implemented has clear intention behind it, and she looks for solutions that “keep the human in mind.”

These are just two examples, but this is an increasingly important consideration as companies turn to new technology to address their HR woes. As long as you have clear intention behind your choice and keep your employees in mind, big data and new software can solve your problems without distracting from the human element. I am able to rest easy knowing that the “human” can happily stay in human resources, even after attending a conference focused on technology in this space.

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