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Radioactive: HR Technology Relevance and Assessment
How is it possible that The Simpsons is about to start Season 35? I remember when it first began as a short on The Tracy Ullman Show (a phenomenal show in its own right), and now, with hundreds of millions of dollars earned, The Simpsons is an institution.
Do you remember how they were originally drawn? Where Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie began is not where they are now. Their figures have changed, and in many ways, they’ve changed significantly since Tracy Ullman. I have not heard much of a demand for them to be drawn as in the “good, old days” as we’re oft to say about other things. We’ve been okay with the evolution of characters. We’ve forked over millions for their likeness-infused merchandise so we must be okay with it.
Technology requires the same of us. We need to be okay with the evolution of tech products.
In the world of employee software, the alphabet soup of SaaS tools – ATS, HRIS, LMS, HRMS – along with the payroll, assessment, surveying and communication platforms make for quite a tech stack in some companies. Employees can feel overwhelmed as they negotiate through company software. Management can spend too much time navigating and completing tech-documented assignments. Executive leadership can fumble through dashboards and reporting. Finance can struggle with GL feeds and accuracy in labor distribution reports. Whew. It can make us hate software in about 3 minutes.
But is it the technology? Could it be us? I know, I know. I see the face you’re making as you think of the various people in your organization who are a mess when it comes to using software. Adoption for some employees is fraught with difficulty and frustration, both for them and for the HR team trying to help. But truly, it could be the software.
Are you still working on patching systems to speak to new ones? Do you get excited when you hear that a tool has an open API (you know you do) and think that’s going to solve it all? You might need to look at your tools more closely. Do they serve you well for today’s workforce?
I recently spoke with a business owner who didn’t want to update to a payroll system that allowed for the downloading of an app. He didn’t want employees to have such ease of use. Wait, what? He was concerned that these same employees could trick the system into giving them extra hours of PTO or mess with their pay. Deep breath. First, that’s not what happens. Second, who is the talent you are going after? They are looking for ease of use and ease of access. Just because it’s cumbersome for you, which it really isn’t, does not mean it will be cumbersome for them.
The evolution of tech is here, and it has been here. There are developers around the world updating systems, crafting new ones and sunsetting irrelevant ones. The life cycle for technology is usually vibrant. With AI and machine learning being as vital to the future of work as they are, how could a SaaS product ignore their fit? They wouldn’t.
Listen, if we have allowed the Simpsons to advance, we can allow a work product that we use daily to do the same. And if the product doesn’t advance, then we can look for another that is more advanced, more effective.
Have you given yourself permission to assess your tech tools? Budget the time and invite a few others into the mix. Cull the responses from the review into themes. Work with the team to decide an order of importance based on talent acquisition, performance management, career mapping and more. Look at all the functional and transformative areas that technology can influence and/or measure.
Assessing effectiveness instead of putting up with ineptness is a better use of your time, of the company’s resources and of the employee experience. Build for proactivity, not the usual reactivity that many get stuck in. Technology isn’t the enemy (breathe deeply and repeat that a few times). The enemy is irrelevance. The technology you use reflects organizational values and mission; make sure it works as it needs to. Remember Radioactive Man? “My eyes! The goggles do nothing!” Don’t be Radioactive Man.