Today, organisations all over the world use technology to increase productivity. As such, technology is perceived to be a catalyst for growth. In the early years of implementation in organisations, technology was used to automate processes. These processes were found at the bottom of the organisational hierarchy and were mainly transactional in nature (for example calculating sales per day). This limited role of technology gradually permeated through the ranks of organisations from the bottom of the hierarchy to the top for purposes such as informing management decisions, improving interactions, and providing business analytics, among others.
Human Resource (HR) departments are not left out with regards to the benefits of technology implementation in organisations. There is a wide range of technology products and services on the market that facilitate core HR functions, which include the management of people, processes and performance.
Below are some important notes to ponder over with regards to the discourse on HR and technology.
Technology Breaks Geographic Barriers
In today’s global milieu, technology has the tendency to make geographic barriers seem irrelevant. It is commonplace to find an organisation with branches all over the world. Even within the same country, one organisation could have several branches. Advances in technology have made it less hectic to control and coordinate people and processes. For instance, an employee in Takoradi can apply for leave through a shared network and have it approved by an HR department in the Accra head office. This interaction can be done with both parties not having to travel. Another example worth mentioning is the conducting of interviews over Skype. Job seekers no longer have to travel long distances for interviews because some organisations have adopted Skype as an alternative to face-to-face interviews.
Breaking Communication Barriers
It has been established by research and practice that communication facilitates the attainment of organisational goals. As such, it is impossible to produce any form of output without interaction between people and systems. Increasingly, organisations are experiencing a breakdown of bureaucratic and departmental structures that existed prior to the surge in the use of technology. For example, software such as Yammer and Whatsapp provide the platform for subordinates to interact directly with superiors and sometimes management without going through a long chain of “messengers”. Communiqués from HR can reach all targeted recipients in an organisation by one click of a button. These have made interaction and collaboration in organisations seem effortless.
Improved Standardisation of Operations
Technology also serves as a quality assurance and integrity check on HR processes, policies and documents. There are software that make it possible to create and use templates during interactions with people both within and outside the organisation. These templates make executing tasks easier and assist in completion since they provide useful information on previous activities. For instance, in assessing an employee for the purposes of performance measurement, a software can be used to score activities and grade performance without the manipulation of people. This ensures that all employees are given a fair appraisal within the organisation. Where there is a change in an HR Manager for example, templates provide an understanding of how things were done prior to the current appointment. This breeds trust and promotes a healthy working environment.
An Ethical Conundrum between Efficiency and Redundancy
Technology is known to be notorious for disrupting the way a society does things. When organisations adopt new technologies, the probability that an employee will be made redundant increases. This is because some technologies are perceived to be more efficient than people. This nature of technology, sometimes, makes its implementation contentious in organisations. Employees may want to resist its implementation to safeguard their roles. However, while technology has the tendency to create tension, it also provides an opportunity for new ventures. HR Managers must be proactive in managing these situations through interventions such as training.
In sum, technology has come a long way to support HR’s work in organisations, and its relevance cannot be overemphasized. Admittedly, the discourse on HR and Technology is so broad that we cannot limit it to the points raised, however, the purpose of the issues discussed is to present a general overview on how technology drives HR in organisations.
Information Systems Professional,