In a sub-optimal economic climate, what happens to your HR Tech stack?

HR must become more efficient by eliminating and letting go of work that is not a priority or no longer needed.
By: | September 22, 2020

By Tim Sackett, President of HRU Technical Resources.

I do not believe any economist alive right now believes we are heading towards great economic times, post Covid-19 pandemic. Most countries around the world are going to have some lean months and possibly years ahead. That is just what happens, historically, after major issues like a pandemic.

In HR, we understand what it is like to run lean. We (HR) seemingly are the first ones in line at budget time to take a cut to our budget when the CEO and CFO are asking for cuts. In a modern world, I could argue this is the exact wrong thing to do, but, again, history tells us HR will be first in line again when cuts come.

The big question will be, as an HR leader in your organisation, are you going to allow your HR Tech stack to remain stagnant for months or years, or are you going to find ways to improve it?  

I’m a Senior Faculty member at the Josh Bersin Academy, and as Josh has laid out the big reset of HR during the pandemic, he would call this “doing less with less“. What does that mean? It means, we have to keep improving, but to do so, we in HR must become more efficient by eliminating and letting go of work that is not a priority or no longer needed, and use our smaller resources more wisely.

How do we do that?

There are a number of things HR must do when times are lean when it comes to our technology stack:

1. First, become a super-user of the HR and Talent technology you already have. I find that too often, organisations want to change technology when they are only using a fraction of the technology they have, only to switch to another technology that is basically 90% the same.

If you cannot look your leaders in the eye and specifically state what your current technology is lacking versus the new tech you want, you should not be asking for new tech.

2. Re-evaluate every single piece of technology that you are using and its true value and ROI to the organisation and specifically to the HR team and its effectiveness. Let go of technology that you no longer need and add technology that will give you a higher ROI.

Different economic times call for different strategies. The tech stack you have had for the last decade might not be what you need for the next decade.

3. Do not allow your tech stack to have a people issue! “Well, we just can’t get our team to use the tech!” That is not a tech issue, that’s a “You” issue! Build-in accountability and measurement across your processes that require the use of your stack.

If you truly believe your technology makes you better, more accurate, and more efficient, you need to build into the process that your team must be using the technology.

4. Pressure your vendors to help you be better at the technology you already have. Your vendors do not want you to leave them and find a new technology. It is in their best interest to keep you, and they should be willing, especially during hard times, to help you become better users of the technology you already have.

5. Invest in technology before you invest in adding headcount. This is not a popular opinion. As an HR leader, you want more headcount. It is actually part of being a leader. We want to empire build. I am a better leader if I have ten direct reports versus nine direct reports.

Modern CEOs will actually measure you based on what you deliver, not the size of your organisation, and great technology, used to its fullest, will deliver better faster results.

As you face tough economic times as an HR leader, your gut will tell you to circle the wagons and hunker down. Your gut is lying to you! In tough times the greatest leaders make their functions better.

They eliminate waste and have a laser-focus on priorities that have the most impact on helping the organisation thrive. For modern HR leaders, that means becoming a bit of an HR Technology expert!

Tim Sackett will be making a keynote presentation at HR Tech Festival Asia Online 2020 titled Work from home EX: Increasing your remote employee experience. Register for the session here.