I'm counting down the days to the 2015 HR Technology Conference in Vegas and looking forward to taking my place on the Insiders blog squad. This will be my second visit and I'm keen to find out what's new, what's changing and how it can help make work better, and help managers and leaders to make better decisions. With a long background as a recruiter I'm always interested in how we can make hiring better, and give a great experience.
Technology is everywhere now, in fact it's almost impossible to perform the simplest task without using it in some way. In our personal lives we know how to get the tech to work for us, what we want from it and what we don't. In our working lives it's not always that simple though.
We have the tech that helps us do our jobs, and then the tech that tells us, and our employers, how we are doing our jobs. There's the data that we need, and then there's the data our employers need. The key is to make sure all of that is aligned. We can make better informed decisions, and gain greater understanding of performance and engagement, but data can't completely replace nous and good judgement, and shouldn't absolve managers from their responsibilities of being better people developers.
Employees don't like being overburdened and they don't like complexity. They prefer to use technology that's simple and intuitive, that helps with what they need to do, that gives them a seamless experience replicating the one they would get if they were shopping online or messaging friends and family. Anything that doesn't do that becomes a chore - and if its a chore then you need to understand the point of it, and the relevance of it to you as an individual, else it becomes a chore you duck out of.
When I help companies with social media, I tell them that if you make an employee use the platforms then they'll do it badly. They need encouraging and enabling, being given the best tools and shown how to use them in the right way. It's the same with workplace technology. The data you get out is usually only as good as the data you put in. Employees need to be encouraged to use it properly, and to achieve that it needs to be something they enjoy doing...not a chore.
Some of this year's HR trends have seen performance management evolve into a continuous, ongoing dialogue rather than an annual report, and development gradually become the responsibility of the individual. Career progression can be lateral as well as hierarchical, and project and skill based rather than leadership focused. All of these trends are facilitated by technology and place more onus on our workers to take control of decisions affecting their working lives. Is the technology up to it? Are we buying the technology that our employees would choose? I'll be looking for answers when I speak with exhibitors.
Of course it's not only traditional employees that will be using our HR technology. At this year's event I'll be particularly looking out for representatives from the on-demand or gig economy. From the early emails I've received I guess there will be quite a few.Those with tech that facilitates the 'human cloud' and helps freelancers. How are they being sourced, engaged, briefed and remunerated? What inputs are they making to the internal data ecosystem.
And it's that data ecosystem that will ultimately decide if we are gaining the value we need from the technology we have. This year I'll be particularly interested in functionality. What does it do and are we being swayed by bright, shiny buttons that are fun to press but don't really do anything we want or need. My friend Matt Ballantine recently produced this slightly irreverent take on the feature/utility conundrum with regard to collaboration software. As I'm taking to exhibitors and listening to the speakers, I'll be looking for those complex features that are maybe professionally very interesting but in reality are personally fairly irrelevant...
(image courtesy of Matt Ballantine)