Seven underlying principles of successful HR tech
Companies that want to successfully implement new tech solutions in HR should follow these 7 principles.
Many HR tools emerge but they rarely offer the same level of perfection as the apps we use in our daily lives. Companies that want to successfully implement new tech solutions in HR should follow these principles.
The world of enterprise software – including HR tech – has always been harsh and hostile. Interests of the user have been far beyond hard criterions like price, functionalities, and hardware requirements. The logic of enterprise software is that people use it because they have to and because someone’s ordered them to – not because they want to.
In the post-PC era, consumers have eaten from the tree of knowledge. People are spending dozens of hours on digital devices using consumer apps that are intuitive, simple, fast and friendly to use – like Tinder, Evernote, Dropbox and Gmail. Yes, software can be nice to use.
People naturally started to expect the same level of experience from apps they use at work. This phenomenon is called the “Consumerization of IT”. Generations Y and Z didn’t experience the ugly software in their lives and have much higher expectations from the digital tools they use.
And with this, HR Tech has to adapt.
One does not need a user manual to use Facebook. Take video recording for example: you open messenger, you click on recipient, and press the recording button. You do 3 steps in 3 seconds. But what’s the reality of many of video interview platforms? Login, click through a tutorial, install Adobe Flash, click “allow usage of the camera and mic”, only to test the camera and mic, and finally – you can start recording. It can easily take 2 to 3 minutes which makes it 60 times slower than Messenger. But why?
Another example is Snapseed, a powerful photo editing tool from Google. It’s so intuitive, that you don’t need any training to start using it. It would probably be quicker to learn Snapseed and edit your first photo than to launch a performance management tool.
The intuitiveness of these apps is the single most important factor to increase the adoption of new software. It’s naive to think that when you give your users a training intro, that they will recall it every several months when they log back in. Your vendor might have plenty of nice training videos and tutorials on his website – but the point is, that they shouldn’t be needed at all.
When evaluating your next HR Tech app, check how many steps users need to accomplish the goal. Ask sample employees to start using the app without any training. How do they evaluate the ease-of-use? How steep is the learning curve?
Wondering why employees don’t use your new tech after so many explanatory sessions? Well, to be honest, maybe it’s just ugly.
Delight your users with good visual aesthetics that are clean and well organized, incorporating useful animations, nice typography, and elegant symbols instead of long chunky words – these are the essentials of consumer design that will keep you attractive.
Design isn’t only about impressing the public. It’s about making it easy to scan and consume information, differentiating between primary information and secondary information, while being able to easily navigate through the app or website.
While none of the HR Tech can match up to the best consumer services like Uber, Airbnb or Netflix, we should at least try close the gap. Ugly HR tech supports the perception of HR being an old school backwater – and we don’t want that.
Some websites seem to be designed to frustrate their visitors. https://www.oracle.com/applications/taleo.html
Check vendors’ websites, it can give you a hint. Does it feel outdated, super corporate, boring, and difficult to navigate? Their product would probably be the same.
Imagine that you lead a team. Some workers don’t talk to others at all, some would only accept information in a written format between 2 am and 3 am only, and some would record only 20% of what you tell them.
Each software should be built to allow plugins, add-ons and integrations with other services. Unless you have one product “that covers everything”, which is not what I would recommend, you need your apps to cooperate.
The basics are about synchronizing employee data. You don’t want to copy/paste candidates from ATS to HRC. You don’t want to export data from one app and upload it to another. You want your orgchart to be automatically updated in all systems that need it.
Modern systems are built to allow seamless integrations with others. A great example is Greenhouse, that has dozens of integrations with scheduling tools, assessment tools, HRC and many others. You can easily connect to Greenhouse’s API (Application Program Interface) to create your own bridges.
Before enrolling into a new service, think about the data it needs to exchange. Job boards should forward candidates to the ATS, while the onboarding app pulls employee data from HRC and a scheduling app must be integrated with calendars and the ATS. Then it must check with the vendor to see how the data exchange is done, and then ask for list of supported integrations and partners.
Mobile yes, new app no
Being able to do work, see progress and perform quick tasks while on the go is necessary. Many tech vendors still live in the desktop era and do not offer any mobile solutions.
However, there’s also another extreme which is forcing users to use a mobile app when it’s not appropriate. There is a growing resistance of users against installing new apps – having to click install, wait for it to download and worry about available space or invasive permission. It takes about 6 clicks to install a native app and with each click you lose 20% of your visitors.
The app can be a good thing for regular users (e.g. HR self-service for employee), especially when it brings a real added value (filling scorecards by hiring managers, accessing reports, approving workflows). But why the hell should candidates install an app to record answers in a video interview? Or to receive job updates? Or to do a performance review twice per year?
Emerging technologies such as Progressive Web Apps (PWA) can deliver the user experience of a native web while staying in a web browser. This includes the ability to work offline, send push notifications or access hardware. Check that with your vendor.
Your vendor might try to sell you the mobile app as a great competitive advantage but don’t be impressed too quickly. Who is supposed to use it (admin or user)? Will they use it regularly? What value does it bring? Is there an alternative? Is the app good? Would people like to use it? “There’s an app for it” approach isn’t fancy any more.
Don’t Create unnecessary tech
Imagine having 3 TVs – one TV to watch Netflix, another one for Amazon Prime and a third for CNN. Similarly, HR tech vendors provide their own “device” (software) to deliver the service. And with every new software, app or website that you ask your employees to use, it only creates more and more layers of discomfort.
I don’t need a scheduling app. I need my calendar to get the features I need.
I don’t need a performance feedback tool, I just want to use Slack for it.
I don’t need an HR self-service app, I want Siri to be able to request a vacation.
I don’t need an app to get “valuable company content and updates” if there’s already Facebook, Feedly or email.
HR Tech vendors should aim to deliver their service via existing popular services that were fine-tuned on millions of users. The best example is how chatbots are incorporated to use Facebook Messenger or Slack.
The real nirvana will come when all HR Tech will disappear. Actually it will discretely run in the backend while using common interfaces to interact with the user.
The quest to improve HR Tech and deliver employees something they would love, requires buyers to think differently.
Many HR vendors confirmed that selling to HR people is a painful experience. There’s often insufficient technical expertise, fear of new tech, small budgets, lack of decision-making power and an extremely long decision cycle. User experience is rarely put in the center of the whole purchasing process.
We should be more demanding in terms of UX requirements.
We should give employees a voice in the decision-making process
We should enforce the user-first mentality in the purchasing process.
We should get rid of ugly tech and replace it with better products more quickly.
Afterall, we are in the demand-supply market. If we want better HR tech, we need to do our part of the job too.