It’s an interesting question and one that takes me back a few years, when I was working in a different role within the same business I am in today. We had (and still do have) c3000 people in our business, and at the time, no global HR system. No system to record our data, no system to engage our people through, no e-learning platform, it made our reporting difficult and our support to the business fragmented. It was difficult.

Rather than to get the tick in the so called ‘digital box’, it’s important to understand our colleagues’ development needs, their passions, and their career aspirations

When I look at where we are today, and the advancements in HR technology, I wonder how, we as an HR team, ever did our job. We had to navigate convoluted processes and glue different pieces of the puzzle together to give the support the business needed. It was not an easy environment to work in with and not easy to change. I know that many of you reading this article will be at a point in your HR tech journey that I have been several times in my career - the beginning.

So, how did we transform our HR function and what support did we leverage? We took a pragmatic approach – we prioritised centralising our people data and acquiring a central platform to provide development. We approached this process step by step, concentrating on our people’s needs, with performance reviews, development plans and succession planning at the forefront. A point to note, the transition from paper to digitised processes does tend to make managers look at these important people processes as KPIs. Completion rates become the focus, and there is a requirement to be mindful of the quality of the conversations. Rather than to get the tick in the so called ‘digital box’, it’s important to understand our colleagues’ development needs, their passions, and their career aspirations. Our company exists to protect lives and connecting our teams to this purpose is of upmost importance. This cannot be achieved by simply ticking a box, you do this through taking the time to talk to people – technology is simply the enabler.

In today’s ever-evolving world, and with so many of us having moved to online working over the past year, HR technology has never been so important. We need accurate data for our people; we need to support individuals in a way which is different than before; and at the same time as provide an HR service that is easy to deal with and adds value to the business. One way that we at Survitec have responded to these challenges has been to design and launch our Group-wide Engaging Managers Programme. Utilising our existing HRIS technology, we decided to bring forward the launch of the Programme and deliver it online so we could support our managers across the business to deal with the issues that the pandemic has exacerbated, whilst also providing a pathway for their development. Though launching it online, and in such a short period of time, was challenging it also brought about immense benefits – connecting different cultures and colleagues across functions and divisions through a programme designed to enhance our leadership capabilities has been a real success story.

So, when I look back at what the teams in our business have achieved to support our people, it’s a vast improvement to what we knew before. We’ve had c40,000 learning items completed in 2020. We are now able to provide data for agile decision-making, providing self-service manager dashboards and central reporting tools. We share HR best practices consistently across the globe, with ease. We can see in an instant how our people are performing, with online PDR systems, and what development they need through their development plans. We can identify those high performers, through global succession planning processes, supporting their career aspirations, and working with their strengths to support the business performance. And we can identify those who need more of our support to be the best they can be.

We still have work to do, and with ever enhancing technology we have more to leverage, better never stops … but not too much … we don’t want to forget that people need people!