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.
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
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.