Leveraging Technology to Unleash Your HR Organization's Potential

There is no doubt that organizations thrive on, and are even limited by, the technology which is at their disposal. From producing simple tasks like documents and presentations, to managing vast amounts of staff data, information technology (IT) is at the forefront of a business.

This is more so the case in HR, which is often at the heart of these tasks.

Good or bad technology will determine the quality of work which is undertaken in the HR office, with companies who leverage their facilities able to unlock the true potential of their department.

Protecting data

HR staff process a huge amount of data, whether this is from payroll information or looking after the CVs from people applying for jobs with the organization.

In accordance with the UK Data Protection Act, HR professionals must ensure that all personal information is fairly and lawfully collected, relevant, accurate and up-to-date, not kept longer than necessary and secure.

The need for good security procedures throughout an organization's technology set-up was highlighted earlier in 2011 when a host of firms were hacked by the likes the Anonymous and LulzSec.

These data breaches led to millions of people's personal information being stolen, including names, addresses and bank details. It also had immeasurable knock-on effects to the companies which were targeted, with consumers asking themselves whether they could be trusted with their data in the future.

Furthermore, last year the UK's information commissionerChristopher Graham was given the authority to serve financial penalties to any company that breaches data protection laws, meaning that firms have to make sure that their technology and processes are up to scratch.

Technology changing how we communicate

The improvement in technology, year by year and decade by decade, has changed how businesses communicate not only with their own staff but with people on the outside.

One aspect of this is known as onboarding, which can be enhanced by the use of technology.
Kirsten Wolberg, chief information officer of Salesforce.com, told Computerworlduk.com that a collaboration application called Chatter is used across its departments and in offices around the world.

"An employee's level, function and country do not matter; they all have access to one another. This democratizes an employee's contribution to the company and access to information," she noted.

HR departments now use their own internal web space to create company blogs and intranet pages, keeping staff in the loop about not only their own department but others around the business. This means that employees feel like they are part of a bigger operation, improving morale and helping them to work towards a bigger goal.

Another aspect of leveraging communication has seen many businesses take to social media. This has been done as part of recruitment drives, advertising for positions, as well as from a customer services and marketing point of view.

Furthermore, improvements in technology have allowed staff to work remotely, with those in the HR department able to carry out tasks either from home or other locations around the world. This has led to businesses getting the most out of their staff, increasing their flexibility and producing better results.

Robert Yue, Vice President of Recruitment Management at SuccessFactors Australia, told CIO.com.au that advancements in technology have helped HR become empowered to play a pivotal role in how a business executes its tasks.

"HR’s reliance on IT is of upmost importance and highest priority. For example, pays need to be on-time, every time and correctly," added Joe Perricone, IT manager for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

Going green with envy

While IT is hugely important to a company, it is increasingly imperative that those systems which are in place in HR – and across the company as a whole – meet green standards.

Cutting the carbon footprint of an organization is one of the major buzzwords at this moment, and the process has huge benefits to not only the environment but to the business in question, allowing the HR department to align itself with the organization's strategic goals.

Reducing outgoings in the HR department through this method will free up more cash for other incentives, which will benefit the business in other ways, with some companies even employing people in specialized positions within HR to take care of green technology.