We constantly hear about the opportunities and risks of digitalization, but what does that actually mean? What does digitalization mean for HR?
Digitalization has already penetrated our everyday lives. We use apps for all sorts of tasks, and they simplify life enormously. In the workplace, on the other hand, this development seems to have occurred to a much lesser extent. We struggle on with old-fashioned tools and even mounds of paperwork. Many processes are unnecessarily complicated and tedious, and this results in a negative working experience for employees, weakening the company.
Digitalization can come to our aid by simplifying or automating otherwise laborious tasks, and this can save valuable time. This is why companies should behave responsibly, making the most of the opportunities of digitalization so as not to get left behind and – above all – to make their employees happy while attracting new skilled workers and retaining them in the long term. This is because digitalization means a more attractive working experience for employees, and tomorrow’s talent also wants a modern workplace that is oriented towards the future. Digitalized HR already improves the corporate image. It means the applicants are not the only technical experts.
But modernization does not end with recruitment – it continues through the simple, digital administration of personnel data and a modern service desk with a ticketing system to a precise analysis of employee data for more competent decision-making. In the future, artificial intelligence will also make inroads into HR, helping us fulfil our tasks more professionally – with no preconceptions in recruitment, for example – and more rapidly. HR processes are dynamic, and in future this dynamism will just become more necessary.
Do not be afraid. Ultimately, digitalization will overwhelm precisely those people who are worried about and fight the change rather than embracing it. Nobody is saying that facing up to digitalization will not be a challenge. This is why companies should establish a culture of learning and focus on nurturing their employees’ digital skills. In this way, all employees will again be able to take part in shaping the future of the company over the long term. An assessment must also be made of which technologies are strong and fit for the future, and which can be discarded. Knowledge is power, and this is why we should learn how to work with new technologies. At the end of the day, humans and their skills will still hold centre stage, but processes can be improved by complementing them with artificial intelligence and automation. Humans are fallible – as are machines – but a human–machine symbiosis can improve the quality of HR.
HR also has a specific role with regard to digitalization. HR is not merely subject to the digital transformation – it also has a decisive role in steering the transformation of the company as a whole. HR has the opportunity to participate in shaping the future, and it should grasp this opportunity and make it its own. To this end, it must use digitalization to be able to anticipate trends, to remain agile and adaptable, and to recruit the right skilled workers. HR is at the centre of this rapid change due to digitalization, and this is why it has to be able to keep up with the pace of the developments. Modern, efficient HR makes processes more efficient and transparent, thereby making the company more successful as a whole.
Ultimately, digitalization should not be thought of as simply scanning old documents into a system. It consists of a profound societal and structural change. It is impossible to resist this change, which makes it all the more important to see it as an opportunity and participate in shaping it. Even with digitalization, the human element remains the key to the success of a company.
Published: 17. July 2018