3 Must-Read Digital HR and HR Tech Articles of 2019 (and 1 Bonus Article)

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3 Must-Read Digital HR and HR Tech Articles of 2019 (and 1 Bonus Article)

It’s time to kick off the year with an overview of not-to-be-missed Digital HR and HR tech articles of 2019. We’ve selected some of last year’s best pieces and listed them in a single post for you. So sit back, relax, and enjoy these must-reads. 

#3. What is an HRIS? An HR Practitioner’s Guide

Granted, this first article on our must-read list isn’t the most exciting one. In fact, it’s rather dry. However, it does take a deep-dive into the Human Resources Information System (HRIS) and author Erik van Vulpen offers a wealth of information on this topic.

An HRIS (or HRMS) is a system that is used to collect and store data on an organization’s employees. In most cases, it has all the basic functionalities needed for end-to-end Human Resource Management (HRM). 

The HRIS has a system for recruitment, performance management, learning & development, and more. It can either run on the company’s own technical infrastructure or, what’s more common nowadays, be cloud-based. 

If you’d rather watch a video than read: In this Learning Bite we explain what an HRIS is. 

Using an HRIS has a number of benefits:

  • Record-keeping
  • Compliance
  • Efficiency
  • HR strategy
  • HR self-service

Working with an HRIS becomes interesting from the moment you have between 30 and 50 employees. At this point, managing basic information in Excel becomes cumbersome and simple procedures like approving employee holidays need to be standardized. 

There are various types of HRIS systems and software. Typical functionalities include: 

  • Applicant Tracking System (ATS). 
  • Payroll
  • Benefits 
  • Time & Attendance 
  • Training
  • Performance management
  • Succession planning 
  • Employee self-service
  • Reporting & Analytics.

The common characteristic for all HRIS systems is that they have been designed as transactional systems. They are databases that record a company’s transactions, an example of which is when an employee joins the company. The fact that these systems are designed as transactional systems, makes them bad at data reporting & analytics; they simply haven’t been designed for this. 

On top of that, some functionalities such as payroll and LMS could also be recorded in external systems. This makes HR reporting even more challenging since it means that data is dispersed across multiple systems.

In terms of job functions, there are two job roles that involve the HRIS. The first one is the Human Resource Information Specialist. The HRIS Specialist is responsible for, among other things, implementing and maintaining the HRIS for the organization. 

The second one is the HRIS analyst. This is the person who provides support for the HRIS including researching and resolving HRIS problems and generating standard and ad-hoc reports and improvements of HRIS processes. 

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When it comes to the implementation of an HRIS system, Erik provides a high-level overview in his article. The software implementation can be divided into multiple stages: 

  1. Search – In the search phase, the specific demands of the different stakeholders inside the company are gathered. This leads to a list of compatible vendors and eventually a shortlist. 
  2. Plan and align – In this phase, you choose an implementation partner, create a steering committee and an implementation team. 
  3. Define and design – In this phase, user groups are specified and processes and workflows are mapped. 
  4. Configure and test – In this phase, a core test team is created. 
  5. Train and communicate – Before the Go-Live moment, technical staff needs to be trained, communication plans need to be created, and FAQ and other support documents created to benefit the software implementation and uptake. 
  6. Deploy and sustain – This is the last phase in which everyone is made ready for the Go-Live.          

In this Learning Bite, we go through the 6 steps to implement an HRIS.

You can find the full article here.

#2. Microsoft Teams, Slack, Facebook Workplace Are Taking Over: And We Better Take Notice

An interesting read by Josh Bersin about workplace messaging systems. Research shows that employees spend over 20% of their time on messages unrelated to their jobs, and in most companies, the email system has become real-time. 

At the time of writing (March 2019), Microsoft Teams had more than 420,000 corporate customers, Slack had 8 million paid users, and Workplace by Facebook had 2 million users. 

The growth of these messenger systems is the result of the fact that we work in a faster, more team-based environment and need a tool that lets us quickly communicate in real-time. We all prefer short, simple messages to communicate, so email has fallen behind. 

Must-read digital HR articles 2019
Slack replaces email inside your company as it says on their website.

Bersin believes this development will have a huge impact on HR, and especially on HR Tech. In HR technology, there has been a shift from what we used to call “systems of record” to “systems of engagement.” 

This transition has been led by large software companies like Oracle, SuccessFactors, and Workday; they studied user interfaces and built web systems. They all built a (basic) mobile version of their products too. 

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The world, however, is changing. We now spend most of our time on our phones; we dread looking through email and don’t have time to tab through an employee portal to find what we need.  So, as Bersin says, get ready for HR tools to appear as “chats” and “messages” and “bots” and “cards” and “nudges” in your new messaging system.  

Microsoft and Facebook are two examples of companies going after this market. The former has an entire set of tools for Workplace Analytics and on-demand learning, and the latter has a quickly growing online community of HR professionals talking about how to use Workplace by Facebook for HR. 

Must-read digital HR articles 2019

According to Bersin, whether it’s Microsoft Office 365, Slack, G-Suite, or Workplace by Facebook – these are the new employee productivity platforms that we need to use to deliver our HR solutions in the future. He believes that they are going to change the HR landscape in a very big way. 

So, if you haven’t done so yet, it’s time to go see your IT department and talk with them about messaging systems. 

Read the full article here.

#1. 7 Steps to conduct an effective skills gap analysis

This article from the Harver blog talks about skills gap analysis. A timely topic, since by 2022, emerging professions are going to comprise 27% of employment, while other jobs are set to decline. Employers, therefore, value different skills now than they did in the past. 

A skills gap analysis is a tool you can use to determine what gap exists between your employees’ existing skills and the skills required by your organization to reach its current and future goals. 

Conducting an effective skills gap analysis will help your company move forward, as you will gain invaluable insights into your workforce. Benefits include: 

  • Being able to do strategic workforce planning
  • Getting an overview of the entire organization
  • Optimizing your long term recruitment strategy
  • Increasing productivity 
  • Getting ahead of your competition 

You can also listen to how to conduct an effective skills gap analysis
on the Recruitment On The Go podcast.


Now, how do you conduct an effective skills gap analysis? The article gives you a 7-step overview. 

1. Plan your analysis

Skills gap analysis should be done at both the individual and the team level. To effectively plan your analysis, you need to establish exactly who you’ll need to talk to,  including C-suite, team leads & staff-level employees.

2. Define your organization’s future goals 

In order to figure out what skills you’ll need from employees to achieve your organizational goals, you need to aks yourself a few questions first. For instance: 

  • Where is the organization going?
  • Given our current workforce, how can we develop the necessary strategies to get us where we want to go?
  • What skills sets do we require from our employees?

3. Catch up on the future of work trends 

You’ll need to consider future of work trends too. For instance, what jobs have the potential to become automated? Or what skills are currently on the rise? To help you answer these questions, you can use a resource such as The Future of Jobs Report

4. Determine key skills needed for the future 

To remain competitive, every company has to adopt new technologies and embrace new practices to achieve growth. In order to mitigate against being reactive every time a new skills gap opens up or is identified in your workforce, use skills gap analysis to determine where the gaps in skills are, and based on your future goals and where your industry is going, establish what skills you are going to need to achieve your business goals.

5. Measure the current skills 

What is your company’s current skills inventory? You can find out the answers to these questions in multiple ways, for example:

  • Examine individual employee’s key performance indicators (KPIs), it will allow you to determine how each employee contributes to the business.
  • Conduct skills assessments, surveys and/or interviews with employees. 
  • Establish a 360-degree feedback process.

HR technology can help you with gathering and analyzing feedback from and about your employees. Popular employee feedback tools include 15Five, Officevibe and Culture Amp

When talking skills management, you don’t have to worry about keeping spreadsheets with your employees’ data. You can use skills management software to get a thorough understanding of where your workforce stands in terms of skills. Some of the vendors in this space are Avilar, HRSG and Kahuna

Must-read digital HR articles 2019

6. Find out where the gaps are

By conducting skills gap analysis you will know what gaps you have now and how that differs from where you want your organization to be in the future. 

So where could the gaps be? For example:

  • 70% of retail employers are having trouble finding in-store candidates with the appropriate technical experience, so there’s a clear skills gap.
  • Within the next 3 years, the financial and business services sector is expected to have a talent deficit of almost 3 million workers due to a rapid rise in, and adoption of, disruptive technologies.
  • 54% of companies are already suffering from a digital skills gap.

7. Put your findings into action

Once you discover your skills gaps, you can start planning how to fill them. You can do this through a combination of training and hiring. 

Reskill and upskill your existing employees (54% of employees will require this by 2022) to maximize the skills in the employees you currently have. Doing this will help close the gaps between their current skill level and the desired skill level for your organization.

A few ideas:

  • You can provide training yourself or you can draw on the expertise of professional training firms to carry out workshops, conduct training sessions or hold seminars for your employees. 
  • You could run employee mentorship programs to aid the transfer of skills and knowledge.
  • Develop apprenticeship and internship programs to fill your talent pipeline.
  • Put in place skills assessments to use in your recruitment process. 
  • Hire contingent workers

You can find the full article here.

Bonus Article: 7 Digital HR Trends for 2020

Yes, the bonus article is one of our own. But we’re talking about 2019 must-reads and a look into 2020 and what’s yet to come seems an appropriate way to finish this article.

Digital HR trends

For this year, we’ve identified 7 trends

1. What is digital HR anyway?

While there is a lot of interest in the topic of digital HR it still proves hard to find a definition that everyone agrees on. The good news is that this year, that misunderstanding will disappear. This is important beause if we don’t know what Digital HR is, we won’t be able to unleash its true value.

2. HR technology as a strategic tool (from operational to strategic)

The second trend is that HR technology increasingly will be seen as a means to an end. Having the latest technology should never be a goal in itself. It is a means to create a more-value adding hiring process, do performance management in a way that increases performance, or put learning and development on steroids.

3. Integration of digital HR and analytics

In line with the previous one, HR will learn to identify what information is needed – and then adapt their systems in a way that enables the structural collection of this information, they will start to think more strategically about what they actually need from their digital HR systems.

4. Continuous listening

According to Bernard Marr, over the past 2 years, 90% of the data in the world has been generated. This statistic will likely hold true when we move forward. An increasing amount of devices capture an increasing amount of data. The next digital HR trend is, therefore, continuous listening.

5. Digital Transformation is the status quo

The next trend is that digital transformation will be the status quo for innovative organizations. Change is a continuous process – and so is the development of increased digital capabilities. The key to successful continuous digital transformation will be intuitiveness and explicit value for the user. Developing and improving this will become a full-time job. 

6. Digital skills will become more relevant

Digital skills are becoming increasingly relevant. A unique piece of research conducted in the Netherlands showed that 40% of jobs require upskilling in digital skills, and 5% of workers require full reskilling in order to be able to move on to new jobs in the next 10 years.

7. Learning about digital HR will only increase

In line with the previous digital HR trends and number 6 in particular, we are seeing an increase in demand for digital skills. HR professionals too will need to stay on top of their digital game (and skills). This focuses on the question of what digital HR is, how to get value from it, and how to leverage it to create a more connected workforce. 

Go here for the full article.

Wishing you a great start of 2020!

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