Six HR technology functions that will help you retain your best staff

New trends in technology are making it possible for organisations to engage with their employees on a deeper level.

August 29, 2013

New trends in technology are making it possible for organisations to engage with their employees on a deeper level, making the employees more likely to stick around and contribute to sustainable business performance.

Automated talent management is being enabled by new technologies such as cloud computing and mobility, which increase the frequency and depth of employee engagement significantly. Studies from Gallup, Hay Group and Towers Watson have shown that employee engagement has a quantifiable impact on business performance and employee retention.

“Companies with top quartile engagement generate revenue 2.5 times higher than the bottom quartile companies,” says Phil Lotter, CEO of Piilo Software, a people management and human resources software and services company. “The Corporate Leadership Council found that employees with lower engagement are four times more likely to leave their jobs than those who are highly engaged.”

He explains that technology can now automate the entire employee lifecycle, from recruitment to exit, making it possible to understand each employee and manage their relationship with the organisation. “Cloud services and mobility access have meant that relationships with employees are extending beyond the workplace, becoming more personal, which deepens engagement, which increases the likelihood of retention,” he says.

Lotter says that HR technology supports the retention of staff in the following ways:

1. Recruiting the right people at the right time
People are more likely to be engaged if they are right for the job and working with other people who are placed in suitable jobs. “With technology driving recruitment, it’s possible to really focus on the job requirements,” says Lotter. “A line manager can create a job profile, and the system will publish it across various locations and on various media, receive CVs and automatically reject those that are not suitable. It makes the whole recruitment process transparent and shortens the cycle, with higher accuracy in recruitment of staff.”

2. Managing people’s skills and careers effectively
People feel that they are in dead-end jobs if there is no visibility of their career paths. Technology brings the employee lifecycle closer to the employees themselves, allowing career and skills discussions to happen based on the availability of easy to use and practical solutions containing real-time information.

“Career discussions have to happen because they align the expectations of the employer and employee,” says Lotter. “They can temper expectations or create excitement about the employee’s current role. Today software guides discussion and creates a record as a base for meaningful skills development.” The same technology also allows for plans to be put in place to upskill employees in line with their career goals and the needs of the organisation. The value derived from development and training can then be measured against defined outcomes.

3. Managing employees
Line managers are tasked with the day-to-day management of their employees, but without supporting technology and data in place, this can be a near to impossible task. The flexibility afforded to employers by cloud services and mobility solutions is providing management with user-friendly tools to assist them in this task. “HR solutions can automate leave management, time management, succession planning and skills development, and even highlight low productivity or high productivity individuals, so that they can be appropriately managed,” says Lotter.

4. Managing staff issues proactively
“Managers often don’t want to deal with poorly performing staff, so they get sidelined or transferred out of the department so that they can do less harm,” says Lotter. “Many managers don’t have the tools to deal with weak performers.” Technology can facilitate this conversation, by putting a performance improvement plan in place, and creating opportunity for skills improvement. This process is completely transparent, so that both the organisation and the employee understand that procedure is being followed – whether the end result is an improvement in performance or the exit of the employee.

5. Providing business intelligence to support planning
Companies need to understand their strengths and weaknesses, so that they can implement a talent management plan to have the right people in the right place, recruit where necessary while addressing any weak areas. “Technology provides all sorts of business intelligence across the organisation – level of employee engagement, average performance, employee profitability, money spent on development and training. This allows managers to identify trends and understand what they need to do to drive the company forward,” says Lotter.

6. Managing performance and aligning it with organisational strategy and goals
“The key thing is that you want to utilise technology to drive the correct behaviour and cascade organisation strategy down to the lowest employee level,” says Lotter. “You can do this through having balanced scorecards in place, showing all employees what they need to contribute to for example grow market share and improve customer service.”

Performance management software can align all people’s activities towards achieving these goals, ensuring that their performance indicators are clear, and the measurement is agreed on. Automation forces people to weight performance objectives, provides for self-assessment online with interim discussions, so that staff understand what they need to deliver.

“This makes the processes fair, ensures that staff are engaged and motivated and even excited about their work and their careers,” says Lotter. “All of these different software tools deepen employee engagement and result in higher retention and a greater contribution to the bottom line. Technology is an enabler of business in reaching their business objectives. But this time cloud computing is making it affordable and easy to use for all size businesses across industries. ”