A conference dedicated to Human Resources Technology was recently held by the Australian equivalent of HRINZ (AHRI) in Melbourne, Australia. Simon Oldham, International & Corporate Business Development Manager for QJumpers, attended the conference and summarises the main discussion points from a New Zealand point of view. The key focus of the conference was around the Human Resources team taking control of HR technology system buying decisions, cloud based software and social media in businesses. There were various angles to these topics and I will discuss a few of them here.
There was a general mood of frustration amongst the speakers and attendees at the conference over the increasing influence the ICT team has over which Human Resource system to purchase and implement. Due to the relatively larger size of Australian businesses to NZ, there is a greater need to automate and streamline as many Human Resource processes as possible. The most common module types being incorporated into HR systems in Australia are:
The key issue was how a provider of an HR system was evaluated and selected. Insights from Australian organisations showed that the ICT department tended to focus on ease of implementation rather than fit for purpose. Usability also appeared to take a back seat to ease of implementation for the ICT team. This frequently resulted in the purchase of an off-the-shelf; one size fits all HR system from one supplier covering all modules rather than an integrated, modular, best in class solution from the a variety of providers.
To the best of my knowledge, a single supplier cannot provide the best of all of the different modules needed in an Human Resources system. Technological integration is an essential requirement for all HR modular system providers, and leading providers expect to build this into their service provision. So why would you even consider settling for average solutions across all modules when you can get the best for each? David Guazzarotto from Future Knowledge suggested that "these are business initiatives with an IT component. Kill the IT focus". Thankfully in NZ, HR teams appear to be still leading the technology decisions relating to their department. Let's keep it that way!
Australian HR professionals are now generally very supportive of cloud based technology systems. New Zealand seems to be a little way behind in this respect.
Various speakers acknowledged the security issues involved in cloud based technology but as long as the data is stored in a first world country with a reputable supplier, the advantages significantly outweigh the risks. Some of the key advantages are as follows:
Most suppliers who were exhibiting at the conference had cloud based options.
Social media use for business purposes in Australia seems to be on a par with New Zealand. A surprising statistic quoted was that 5 of the top 10 largest Australian corporates have banned social media use completely as they are afraid of productivity losses through inappropriate use. I guess they forget that nearly 50% of Australians own a smart phone and they do not need the work computer to access social networks. The star studded panel on social media also pointed out that if an employee doesn't want to be productive, they will find other ways of wasting time.
Peter Williams, CEO of Deloitte Digital went on to say that social media can in fact be used to increase productivity and reduce staff turnover. Deloitte Australia implemented Yammer, a social media platform similar to Facebook but only for use in-house. They found that internal issues were raised more openly through Yammer and they could be dealt with quickly and promptly. Before Yammer, issues were more commonly raised behind peoples' backs and this created bad staff morale. Staff turnover reduced from more than 10% to 2% for the people who actively participated on Yammer at Deloitte Australia. Participation on Yammer also taught their staff how to communicate appropriately on social media platforms. Now they can actively participate on their corporate Facebook page, which assists the company in attracting candidates who will fit into their company culture.
Australian HR professionals are still generally cautious and uncertain about how to approach recruitment from the likes of Facebook and Twitter - just like here in New Zealand. LinkedIn is the most common social media platform used by HR professionals in Australia. A show of hands indicated that around 80% of the conference audience has LinkedIn profiles. It is also the social recruitment platform of choice, as it is easier to see the connection between using LinkedIn and finding the appropriate people as opposed to the brand attraction model that Facebook relies so heavily on.