Back to Basics: What is Digital HR?

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Back to Basics: What is Digital HR?

AI in HR is a topic you’ll find in pretty much every ‘HR trends for 2018’ article. Something else you’re bound to find on these trend lists is the digitalization of HR – or Digital HR. But apart from being a fancy, 21st-century term, what does it actually mean, and how does it affect the business of Human Resources? That’s what we’ll explain in this post. So what is Digital HR?

What is Digital HR?
How Digital HR transforms Human Resources
Real-life examples
How to get started with Digital HR?

What is Digital HR?

Digital HR is a process optimization in which social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC) technologies are leveraged to make HR more efficient, effective, and connected. In other words, it’s a tectonic shift in the way Human Resources function.

The sole application of new technologies is not what makes HR digital, however. As Jeff Mike, from Bersin by Deloitte puts it: “Digital HR should also align culture, talent, structure, and processes to balance efficiency and innovation, as well as to sustain a measurable impact on the greater organization as it continuously transforms.”

According to Dave Ulrich, the digital HR journey of any company involves four phases:

  1. HR efficiency. In this phase, companies invest in and build technology platforms that efficiently manage HR processes; often through existing HR technology providers.
  2. HR effectiveness. In this phase, technology is used to upgrade practices in people (staffing, training), performance management, communication, and work.
  3. Information. In this phase, information is shared for business impact. Data is accessible, internal data is combined with external data, and people analytics is leveraged to create business-relevant insights.
  4. Connection/experience. In the final phase, digital HR is leveraged to create a connection between people. Social networks are leveraged, experiences between people are created, and technology enables a stronger feeling of belonging.

We asked 6 industry experts ‘What is Digital HR?’ at the UNLEASH London event. Here’s what they said.

How Digital HR is transforming Human Resources

Just as digital technology has changed our everyday lives, it’s now transforming HR. It enables HR to (among other things):

1. Use data & analytics

Slowly but surely, HR is starting to understand the value data analytics can add to the business. Preselection, learning & development (L&D), employee engagement, you name it; there’s HR technology out there to measure every single part of the employee lifecycle.

The question, however, is whether there are enough HR professionals out there yet who can make sense out of this data.

2. Future-proof recruitment

A smooth mobile (application) experience, a data-driven preselection process and a personalized, AI-based onboarding program. These are just a few of the many examples of how recruitment is digitalizing.

3. Improve the employee experience

For 21st century employees, the line between their professional and personal lives has become blurred. Yes, they’ll check their social media account during office hours, but they’ll equally check their work emails during the weekend.

As such, they expect to be treated as customers and they want their employer to provide them with a similar user experience when it comes to the digital work environment. 

4. Offer self-service tools to employees

This one is in line with an improved employee experience but focuses on the HR side of it. Just as employees like to be able to choose how and when they manage their professional emails and workload, they want to manage their HR data.   

5. Be competitive in the war for talent

Millennials and generation Z – in other words, the (future) workforce – are constantly connected to social media and glued to their phones. Companies that use these digital technologies for various HR purposes – think sourcing, preselection and learning & development for instance – have a significant competitive advantage when it comes to seducing this demanding generation of workers.

A few real-life examples

Data & Analytics

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There is a lot to say about data and analytics. In fact, HR analytics is an expertise of its own, which is why we’ve dedicated an entire section to it here at Digital HR tech. There are a lot of tools that can be used. The most important are listed in this article on HR analytics tools

Digital recruitment

Spark Hire is a video interviewing platform and a good example of how different SMAC technologies are combined into one digital solution. Candidates can schedule their own interview, are interviewed in real-time and the interviews can be shared easily with other hiring managers for immediate feedback.

Spark Hire

A better employee experience

Performance management is something that’s gained a lot of importance among today’s workforce. Employees like to receive and share their feedback often, in real-time and on any kind of device. Impraise is a performance management tool that provides 21st-century managers and employees with a digital feedback experience.   

Employee Self-service

Employee self-service (ESS) enables employees to access and manage their payroll information, leave requests and other HR information. A company that provides – among other things – a digital self-service solution is Access.

How to get started with Digital HR?

Now, this is a question that justifies a post in itself. Don’t overcomplicate things. Start by asking simple questions such as: “Which areas of our HR processes could use a digital makeover?” (recruitment, L&D, payroll management etc.).

Ask both employees and members of the C-suite what part they think should go digital sooner rather than later.

This will result in a long list of ideas.

The next thing you need to do is prioritize these ideas based on two criteria: impact and effort. The impact is about the business impact of digitalizing the ideas. The effort is about the time and money needed to digitalize the ideas.

This matrix is going to be your starting point: Start with the ideas that are high impact and low effort. They will help you build the business case for digital HR and get you going quickly.


What is Digital HR?

Digital HR is a process optimization in which social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC) technologies are leveraged to make HR more efficient, effective, and connected.

How is Digital HR transforming Human Resources?

Digital HR enables HR to, among other things, use data and analytics, futureproof recruitment, improve the employee experience, offer self-service tools to employees, and be competitive and a largely candidate-driven job market.

How to get started with Digital HR?

First, ask yourself which areas of your HR processes could use a digital makeover. Ask employees and the C-suite too. Then prioritize the ideas based on impact and effort and start with those that are high impact and low effort.

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