As Labor Day has now come and gone, and the long and sultry days of summer begin shifting towards the cooler, brisker days of fall, the change in seasons also brings us just a little bit closer to the mecca of all things HR tech related, the annual HR Technology Conference. As we approach what is one of my favorite conferences of the year, of course I begin thinking more and more about the role of technology in our lives and in our companies. Not that it’s a topic I don’t consider throughout the year, but this time of year it tends to get a much more dedicated amount of consideration in my thoughts.
Despite the fact that I blog, regularly musing about the state of HR and how we can make ourselves and the profession better, at the core I’m an HR practitioner. That’s my day job, the one that pays the bills. And though writing has become somewhat of a passion for me, a hobby that I think actually makes me a better HR practitioner, and it’s fun to play the role of industry analyst from time to time, I do in fact hold a job where I’m in the trenches day after day, dealing with a lot of the “unsexy” HR stuff, in addition to the fun, more strategic projects on which I have the opportunity to work.
So when I attend conferences such as the HR Technology Conference, I’m doing so wearing dual hats. One of them is as a blogger, as someone very interested in reporting back on themes, trends, and the “what could be’s.” But I’m also attending as a practitioner, with the goal of continuing my own learning and looking for ideas to bring back to my own company.
As a practitioner in a rather traditional industry (i.e. not high tech), sometimes it’s a struggle to get people to want to try something new. And in an industry where there is very commonly quite a mix of generations under the same roof, at times there’s a bias that some of our folks are just not “tech savvy,” and sometimes that becomes an excuse as to why can’t or shouldn’t consider new options. But through a recent evaluation of one of our own systems, and the process of demoing a variety of alternatives, my team has just seen firsthand the position that assumptions can put you in. It has become glaringly obvious that what we’ve settled on for far too long is not the right answer to our needs. Not only that, but the alternatives may even be easier to use than what we currently have.
Because let’s face it, through this phenomenon we call the consumerization of technology, much of what’s out there is very intuitive and user friendly, not unlike many of the websites we use on a regular basis, or the apps that are on our phones. I’d bet that even some of the most “tech unsavvy” people in our workforces have probably either shopped online, or used a smart phone or tablet at some point. Heck, even some of our grandparents are on Facebook these days. Are there perhaps some who are truly non-technology inclined? Probably so. But in those cases, it’s our job to demonstrate just how easy and intuitive these solutions are.
A good HR practitioner should recognize that value that technology can bring to processes and efficiencies it can provide, and should know how to find the ones that best suit the company’s needs as well as work best with the technological capabilities of the majority of the workforce. Attending a conference such as HR Tech can only help us build those skills.