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Why your HR technology isn’t actually causing your HR technology problem (and what to do about it)

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    About four years ago, we were referred to a potential client that had been using a large payroll provider.  They had about 350 employees. The owners had been pretty hands-off in regard to how the HR and payroll departments were processing their bi-weekly payroll and thought everything was hunky dory.   

    During our first meeting with the HR team and the two owners, we asked them to do this simple exercise: Walk us through your current payroll process. As the HR team began to describe the process, the two owners’ jaws dropped. They had thought their process was smooth as butter, but as the description went on, it was clear we were all hearing the same thing: a terrible, redundant payroll process with a high probability of error. They were spending a ton of money on the software, and worse, payday required at least four individuals to spend close to 3 days to administer and manage it. The owners had no idea it took that long, and while they had the staff, they were frustrated by how inefficient the process was. It was at that moment that the HR team leader infamously said, “I mean, it ONLY takes them 3 days to do payroll every couple of weeks with 4 people.” Not what they were looking to hear… 

    That’s because if your goals and process are flawed from the start, no amount of HR technology will be able to fix what’s broken. It starts with process.

    Why a flawed HR process can’t be saved by technology

    The fact is, our clients simply hadn’t reviewed their process in a long time, so they had no reason to think they had a problem. As we continued the conversation, a few things became clear.

    1. They were drastically overpaying for a technology they weren’t using well.

    2. They had not had an internal conversation about improving the management of running payroll, probably ever. In fact, their process looked like re-keying the same data for 350 employees three different times as they moved information from one excel sheet to another, to another.

    At no point had they tried to make their point of sale, time and attendance, payroll system, and general ledger system be integrated with one other, and the HR Team truly felt that ONLY 3 days each payday to do payroll was a good standard. Simply put, they had a flawed process and were not getting the most out of their technology. And while the software was only part of their problem, their current partner wasn’t helping them use the technology effectively, costing them extra time and employees to do the work. The biggest issue I saw was that they did not have a guide to help them, which was why (until this meeting) they were unaware of their problem.  

    When businesses start exploring new technologies, we often see people without a clear idea of the problem they are hoping the software to solve. Or worse, they don’t even know the pain they are trying to fix. Before you can determine if you are getting the most out of your HR Technology, you need to ask yourself a couple of big questions and create a plan so you can achieve your ultimate goal. 

    Have a plan, determine what is essential, & why 

    I am a dreamer, but sometimes I can only see one or two steps ahead of where I am trying to go. This is also one of the biggest issues we see when our clients decide on a process change or technology change. They are changing to fix one problem but not always thinking about the repercussions of this change on all of the other stuff that is already working correctly.  That’s because they haven’t figured out their priorities for their HR technology

    The first step is to have a game plan to reach your ultimate HR technology goal. Redundancy, which leads to inefficiency, is one of the main problems we see when it comes to the misuse of HR technology. Whatever your problem is, it should lead you to develop a goal.

    Potential goals for your HR technology 

    • remove compliance issues 
    • reduce cost 
    • eliminate service provider issues 
    • simplify the employee experience 
    • minimize growth issues 
    • remove inefficient processes 

    HR Technology can be implemented to support all of these goals, as long as you have a plan to do so. Depending on where you are in your business’s life cycle, you could be having one or many of these issues. Do yourself a favor and create a priority list for solving these problems to keep you focused on your goals and ensure you don’t compromise other processes in your business faster than can test them. Having the right plan at the right time and implementing it the right way is crucial for your success. 

    How to find an HR technology partner who understands your company’s goals  

    Having a plan is great if you have the know-how of how to execute it, but it’s likely you’ll run into a problem you don’t know how to handle. When implementing HR Technology and your overall plan, you should have both a proactive and reactive approach to execution. Before you switch, identify how you can receive help from your supporting provider. If this is unclear to you, I would advise staying away or digging in deeper before committing to the change.  

    In your search process, it can also be incredibly valuable to learn from others who have looked for similar things. Seek out referrals because they can help you think about what you didn’t know you needed.  

    What to expect when training with a new HR technology

    When you do make the switch to a new HR Technology, you will almost certainly receive some training on your new platform. However, it’s unlikely that training will answer all the questions you’ll ever have.  There may be things right away that you need to tweak or fix to fit your business. This is another key reason you need to know what support looks like with your software company or your outsourced agency. Will you get a real person on the phone? Do they have video resources? Will you be left to just click around on your own? 

     Personally, I believe everyone learns differently and needs different things to implement well. At Whirks, we support our clients with a variety of resources to learn our systems: online video learning, text articles, guidance plans, regular recurring training on topics, hopping on zoom to screenshare with you, and built-in help articles on each screen within our software. It is our hope that each of these resources will allow our clients to learn the right (and efficient) way at the right pace for them.   

    Why is HR Technology important for your business? 

    HR technology and the management of your employees drive a couple big things in your business. Ultimately, your technology should align with your “why”. In our case, our “why” is simplifying HR and people problems. We want to do that with you as your guide, but we also want our people/employees to have that same experience of working for a Best Place to Work. We want them to share our vision, win when we win, and be absolutely rewarded for their effort. We want them to have buy-in for all the things that we’re trying to do as a company.  

    HR tech helps us show our employees how much we value them in a multitude of ways. First, in the onboarding phase. The tech makes our application and interview process easy for job candidates with clear communication and automated reminders. When they’re offered a job here, our tech makes document signing easy for everyone without wasting their time. From the time they accept our job offer to when they start with us, our technology helps us communicate clearly to them about anything we need from them, or how to get started with training. And beyond onboarding, our HR technology keeps all employee essentials organized in one place. This removes the stress from us as the administrators, as well as the stress for our employees when they need to locate their own employment details.    

    How do I know if I am wasting money on HR technology?

    If you haven’t evaluated your payroll and HR software and/or processes lately, I can assure you are wasting money. Be it directly with your software provider or with the time and resources you have to have in your organization that are not being used efficiently, HR Software waste is everywhere. From using multiple systems to having inefficient data management, time is being wasted any time you have more than one employee touch data that another employee could have input themselves.  

    Additionally, a lot of money can slip through the cracks if certain processes aren’t automated. If you aren’t fully utilizing the benefits of electronic onboarding, you are likely losing money. If you inadvertently forget to turn off an employee’s benefits after they leave your company, you will also be paying for months of coverage that can be nearly impossible to recover.   

    Pitfalls of switching your HR technology (and why you should do it anyway)

    Once you make the transition to your new HR Technology, it’s inevitable that something will still go wrong. Don’t let perfection be the enemy. Taking two steps forward and one step back is perfectly ok and normal. This doesn’t mean that you won’t diligently create your plan and try to execute it, but it is wise to expect the roadblocks that come with a big change. Ultimately, take it slow and remember to incorporate the efficiencies you’ve developed as you switch systems.     

    Have a “one step better every day” mentality with your HR software

    Another pitfall that we see is our clients trying to change too many things at the same time. At Whirks, our “motto” of sorts is “getting one step better every day.” It’s even the name of our podcast (The One Step Better Podcast)! We use this image in reference to the classic 1976 film Rocky. In the iconic Philadelphia scene, Rocky is shown at the top of the steps at the Museum of Art, throwing his arms up and jumping up and down in celebration. But he didn’t get there by just magically appearing at the top.  He ran up the stairs one at a time at first, then building up momentum, he could take two steps at a time. But the important lesson is that he didn’t start there.  

    Figure out your game plan during the compliance phase

    Work on your game plan for your new software. Start with the basics like, “How do I replicate that excel spreadsheet to be incorporated into your reporting?” or, “How do I import time into your payroll system?” In my experience, a great place to start is in the compliance phase. Reduce the amount of paper in your onboarding process. Get all of your employees on direct deposit. Update your handbook.  Baby steps. Then you can work on the challenging stuff like systematized performance evaluations and ongoing online training content.   

    Regularly review your plans and HR technology goals

    Lastly, be diligent about reviewing your plan and implementation regularly to keep up with your goals. You may have a vision for 3 years out with 90-day sprints to implement it, but every 90 days you need to evaluate the result of your sprint. At Whirks, we believe in this review step so much that we have quarterly Whirkshops with all our clients to help them identify new ways the technology can support their business. We love working with clients that have the motivation to keep improving. If you are looking for guidance, we are here to help get you where you want to go. Check out a free demo of the HR technology we use with our clients.