The Digital HR: How Tech-Enabled Learning is Changing HR's Role

The Digital HR: How Tech-Enabled Learning is Changing HR's Role

Traditionally, a company’s Human Resource department has always been viewed as a paper-intensive, non-innovative area, where decisions pertaining to issues like salaries, hiring, team-building and so on are conducted. The department has been synonymous with piles of paperwork and a constant struggle to keep up with compliance and unending stacks of employee information. But with changing times, technology made a debut into the HR bastion and changed its face like never before. By simplifying responsibilities like recruitment, record keeping and payroll, technology has drastically improved efficiency and accuracy of the HR.

Areas like compliance that once required the HR to organise a dedicated IT storage capacity, now lies in the form of securely stored data in the cloud thanks to technology. Also, personnel data is easy to search and organise as electronic files can be accessed with a few clicks. Even when HR departments are required to keep employee information for a number of years, it no longer requires file cabinets and expansive storage rooms to keep everything in order.

Today, along with managing the aforesaid functions, in some places, a company’s HR department also plays the dual role of managing the Learning and Development needs of employees in turn functioning as L&D or CLOs. Digitisation has, of course, to a great extent left its impact on this aspect of the HR as well. Recently, Deloitte released a report on the challenges ahead for business and HR leaders in a dramatically changing digital, economic, demographic, and social landscape. The report that surveyed more than 10,000 HR and business leaders across 140 countries, explains among other things how digitisation is revamping HR departments to opt for new organisational practices and innovative programmes.

Some years ago, a basic technological know-how was perhaps enough for an HR professional, and areas such as “solutions design” and “user interface” were safely handled by and were limited to the IT department. Yet, today, winds of change have meant that even job descriptions for roles in HR require references to these technology skills and experience. HR is thus no more limited to a basic digital knowledge. In fact, as the report states, HR departments worldwide are now being asked to manage the reins to help lead the digital transformation sweeping across organisations. According to a research by CEB (now Gartner), between 2012 and 2016, there was a 60 percent increase in the number of references to technology skills and experience in job listings for roles outside IT.

Going back to the Deloitte report, it points out that the change in the HR's role is taking place in three areas:

1. Digital Workforce

HR departments now have to explore a number of new ways to embrace digital transformation for better business. One of the most important steps is to see how a digital workforce can be created in tandem with the digital culture. It also has to be taken into consideration that the workforce of today has high expectations. Employee retention and productivity is now intrinsically tied to employees’ expectations for a digital business and the changing way they work. HR departments need to look for an array of methods that can enable the creation of a digital workforce. Building a digital workforce goes beyond just recruitment and talent development – it also requires incumbents to think about enhancing their workforce in other ways.

In today’s dynamic world, HR departments must look at ways like Mobile Learning for employees to ensure that learning is not constrained by space or location. Mobile Learning is not simply a matter of delivering content via mobile, it is about creating learning opportunities in a variety of environments, sharing new techniques and encouraging knowledge retention, often on the go. Multi-device, Responsive Learning Management Systems enable HRs to do just that. By making learning accessible to learners anytime, anywhere on any device of their choice, they remove the time, place and device barriers respectively and make learning 'seamless'. Mobile learning can also boost productivity, increase profits and improve staff retention, and it's the prerogative of the HR departments to stay abreast about the latest on that front to enjoy the highs of a digital workforce.

2. Digital Workplace

The Deloitte report also tries to examine how organisations can design a working environment that enables productivity by using modern communication tools, and promotes engagement. An HR department can play an important role in creating a digital workplace where people, processes, technology, and the company converge to improve agility, productivity, and engagement.

APIs and Integration are important cornerstones of a digital workplace. A digital workplace is one that enables easy data exchange and allows a diverse set of systems to work together in cohesion. HRIS, HRMS, PMS and other software systems used by the HR for storing and managing employee information can easily be integrated with a Learning Management System through one or multiple APIs (depending on the scope and objective). From the HR perspective, it means managing a single system rather than a bunch of isolated entities.

Likewise, a great way to foster employee engagement is by creating a collaborative learning environment. The sharing of knowledge has many benefits to an organisation such as improved productivity and better teamwork. In a digitised workplace, HR departments can rely on good, strong LMSs to provide simple Social Learning & Knowledge Collaboration tools, that mimic the real social tools that most of us use on a daily basis for social networking and learning, for teams to share knowledge, learn and work together in an informal setting. Through LMSs, employees are can share experiences and gain new knowledge and combine the two in learning forums to create new knowledge for peers.

3. Digital HR

Largely, a workforce as well as the workplace can become digital if the HR department has adopted to the changing technology. The report points out that HR leaders are being pushed to take on a bigger role in helping to drive the organisation to “be digital,” not just “do digital.” Fifty-six percent of companies surveyed are redesigning their HR programs to leverage digital and mobile tools. Numbers do speak for themselves! Employees at all levels expect dynamic, self-directed, continuous learning opportunities. It is for the HR department, which as mentioned often doubles up as the L&D, to identify learning moments that matter. Full featured, Cloud-hosted LMSs with ready APIs and Integration libraries are now the conduit in an ecosystem deployed to engage and empower learners to be skilled, knowledgeable, and productive.

But as HR departments tread the digital path, the first step must be to do away with archaic LMSs and instead opt for new set of learning platforms that don't just provide the features and functionalities needed today, but ones needed for future-proofing too.

Quoting from the Deloitte report, "HR has a critical opportunity to help lead the transformation to a digital enterprise. In the next several years, HR teams that embrace digital platforms to take up the dual challenge of transforming HR operations on the one hand, and transforming the workforce and the way work is done on the other, will be game changers."