Digi­ti­sa­tion: South Africa’s HR de­part­ments are lag­ging be­hind

Al­though it’s a global trend, SA com­pa­nies are par­tic­u­larly re­luc­tant to em­brace dig­i­tal tools within hu­man re­sources.

Finweek English Edition - - THE WEEK - By Jes­sica Hub­bard 1. Put stuff where peo­ple will find it: 2. Run ef­fec­tive meet­ings: 3. Learn to use OneNote:

de­spitethe fact that most em­ploy­ees are be­com­ing highly tech savvy and com­fort­able with mo­bile and cloud-based tools in their pri­vate ca­pac­i­ties, lo­cal com­pa­nies are slow to bring dig­i­tal tools and plat­forms into the work­ing en­vi­ron­ment. This re­luc­tance is be­ing acutely felt in the realm of hu­man re­sources (HR) and peo­ple man­age­ment, as com­pa­nies stub­bornly cling on to old meth­ods in a new and rapidly evolving dig­i­tal world.

Ac­cord­ing to Deloitte’s 2017 Global Hu­man Cap­i­tal Trends re­port, Rewrit­ing the Rules for the Dig­i­tal Age, HR is fail­ing to keep up with tech­nol­ogy in­no­va­tion and de­vel­op­ment. The study re­vealed that only 35% of global HR pro­fes­sion­als rated their dig­i­tal ca­pa­bil­i­ties as “good” or “ex­cel­lent” – and in South Africa, this fig­ure sits at 31%.

Glob­ally, the re­port shows that 40% of com­pa­nies still have HR sys­tems that are based on en­ter­prise re­source plan­ning (ERP), with few dig­i­tal ap­pli­ca­tions. In ad­di­tion, a pal­try 15% have fully dig­i­tal HR sys­tems in place and only 18% have fully re­designed HR to sup­port dig­i­tal op­er­a­tions. The key is­sue, notes Deloitte, is that HR sys­tems are not the high­est pri­or­ity within tech­nol­ogy bud­gets – es­pe­cially if legacy ERP sys­tems are in place.

“The South African prob­lem is much the same as the rest of the world – in that legacy sys­tems have been im­ple­mented at sig­nif­i­cant cost and SA com­pa­nies are very re­luc­tant, or un­able to spend money on new tech­nolo­gies,” explains Trevor Page, direc­tor of hu­man cap­i­tal at Deloitte Con­sult­ing. “Lo­cal lead­ers need to align their busi­ness, peo­ple and tech­nol­ogy strate­gies very closely in fu­ture to en­sure they are choos­ing the ap­pro­pri­ate dig­i­tal so­lu­tions to en­hance the pro­duc­tiv­ity of their peo­ple at work.”

He also points out that busi­ness pro­duc­tiv­ity is clearly not in­creas­ing in line with dig­i­tal in­no­va­tion and de­vel­op­ment.

In­deed, most pro­duc­tiv­ity re­ports paint a grim pic­ture. In ad­di­tion to a work­ing en­vi­ron­ment char­ac­terised by cost-cut­ting, ever-tight­en­ing mar­gins and gen­eral aus­ter­ity, the fu­ri­ous pace of ev­ery­day work­ing life is adding to stress, burnout and ab­sen­teeism. In June 2016, Pro­duc­tiv­ity SA re­ported that “the stress-re­lated ex­penses in SA in­clude: ab­sen­teeism; de­creased pro­duc­tiv­ity; staff turnover; work­ers com­pen­sa­tion; burnout and med­i­cal in­sur­ances”, cost­ing the econ­omy bil­lions a year.

Deloitte’s Hu­man Cap­i­tal Trends re­port echoes this sen­ti­ment, not­ing that “em­ploy­ees and or­gan­i­sa­tions are more over­whelmed than ever”.

“The real prob­lem of the over­whelmed em­ployee is that they have to en­gage each day with mul­ti­ple tech­nolo­gies and com­mu­ni­ca­tion plat­forms to do their work,” adds Page. “So the work pro­cesses and flows (along with the mul­ti­ple sys­tems) are com­pli­cated, con­fus­ing and over­whelm­ing.” In his view, or­gan­i­sa­tions need to “re­design” work for the fu­ture – which is, ac­cord­ing to Deloitte, more net­worked and mo­bile with sim­pli­fied pro­cesses and fewer, bet­ter sys­tems.

“Tech­nol­ogy is not the sim­ple an­swer to the over­whelmed em­ployee though,” cau­tions Page. “Many other as­pects will have to be taken into ac­count when try­ing to re­duce this prob­lem – in­clud­ing re­design­ing jobs, con­duct­ing or­gan­i­sa­tional net­work anal­y­sis to un­der­stand com­mu­ni­ca­tion flows and more ef­fec­tively align­ing teams and jobs to ac­tual work­flows.” Direc­tor of hu­man cap­i­tal at Deloitte Con­sult­ing

Hands-on in­no­va­tion

More than just in­stalling over­sized head­phones and build­ing a health-food joint for em­ploy­ees, some HR ex­perts ar­gue that the in­evitable dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion of the work­place re­quires a well-thought-out and deeply em­bed­ded cul­ture shift. Lack­ing hands-on lead­er­ship and guid­ance, most em­ploy­ees will sim­ply not be

Work from cloud-shar­ing tools such as OneDrive. Your files will al­ways be safe (even if you lose your lap­top) and you can eas­ily share and work col­lab­o­ra­tively on files and doc­u­ments. Also, you can eas­ily search and dis­cover con­tent that you are au­tho­rised to ac­cess from all your co-work­ers.

We spend 47% of our time (on av­er­age) in meet­ings. Let’s make sure we spend the time well, with set agen­das, ac­tion points, shared min­utes, pres­ence de­tec­tion and con­ver­sa­tional in­ter­ac­tions as well as re­mote meet­ings via Skype for Busi­ness and other sim­i­lar tools.

Keep a jour­nal of all your work con­tent that you can eas­ily share across teams. Al­low all meet­ing at­ten­dees to save min­utes and other doc­u­ments in a sin­gle shared lo­ca­tion, in real time.

Trevor Page

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