How Does Technology Impact HR Practices?
Fraser Sherman; Updated June 27, 2018
Technology changes the way HR departments contact employees, store files and analyze employee performance. Used well, technology makes HR practices more efficient. When used poorly, it can get in the way of managing the company’s human resources. Good HR practices maximize the benefits and minimize the problems.
Before the internet and email, connecting with job seekers meant phone, face time or a letter. In the 21st century, it’s routine for companies to post openings online, and require job seekers to apply through an online applicant tracking system. That frees up a great deal of time that HR would have spent dealing with paper resumes or personal calls.
However, HR practices don’t always take into account how well the system works for the candidates. Online forms have a standardized format that often makes it hard to tell a star performer from a slacker. A badly designed system with confusing instructions and slow response times can actually turn job seekers off to applying with a firm.
Ease of Communication
With email, text and messaging apps it’s easier than ever for HR staff to stay in touch with the rest of the company. If a manager wants to share a new schedule with a project team, one email with an attachment or a conversation on Slack can share the word with a dozen people at once. There’s a risk of relying too much on tech as a time-saver though. Information in a two-page email may be better off delivered to the group face to face. That way everyone can ask questions and hear the answers.
Analyzing employee performance used to depend on personal assessments and obvious standards: Did the employee finish the task on time? Does their boss trust them? Technology makes it easier to gather and break down data on employees to get an overall picture. Which tasks do they perform best? Do they meet all the goals from last year’s performance appraisal? If they fell short, was it by 12 percent, 50 percent or 75 percent? Software programs can even take over much of the work in evaluating employees.
Too Much Data
As HR makes more use of data collection and analysis, employees might feel their privacy shrinking. If, say, a company has security cameras that monitor employees every second, it can be easier to find the facts behind a harassment charge or someone drinking on the job. However, being constantly monitored can alienate employees as well. Good HR practices involve not only knowing how much data can be gathered but also how much should be gathered.
Another risk is that the HR department can end up getting more data than it can manage. After a certain point, wading through data to pick out the relevant material becomes an impossible task. It’s also possible that HR will misread data or make assumptions that a face-to-face conversation could clear up.
Securing employee records used to mean locking a file cabinet. In the 21st century, best HR practices have to include security for the digital data. Some security is more an IT matter, such as a good firewall. HR needs to have good policies in place, though, governing who can access confidential data, both hard copy and in electronic form.
Technology has had an enormous impact on our lives and this article deals with the advantages and disadvantages of this. In recruitment for example it is a time saver, enabling fast communication and avoiding time-consuming phone-calls.
However, it must be said that it also creates too much data, which can affect decision making. Furthermore, employees might feel that their privacy is being invaded even though it can provide strong evidence of acts of sexual harassment and other unprofessional behavior.
HR also needs to have good security measures in place to prevent confidential data from falling into the wrong hands.
Get in the way: to obstruct or interfere with something.
Job seekers: people looking for jobs.
Frees up: to make something operate with fewer restrictions.
Slacker: a person who avoids work or effort.
Slack: a software technology.
Gather: come together, assemble or accumulate.
Break down: to divide something such as a total amount into several parts.
Shrinking: to become or make something smaller; contract or cause to contract.
Wading through: to walk with effort through a substance , such as water or mud.
Misread: to read incorrectly.
Clear up: solve or explain something.
Pick out: is an idiomatic expression that means to perceive or recognize. Here are some more:
Pick apart: to separate the pieces of something by pulling.
Pick at: to play with one’s food instead of eating it.
Pick off: to shoot people or animals one by one.
Pick on: to choose someone for punishment or blame.