Keeping the Human Aspect of HR

By Natalie Rast, Head of People, Y7 Studio

Natalie Rast, Head of People, Y7 Studio

When thinking about HR technology, the question, “how do we ensure that we aren’t losing the human aspect of HR” has always been on my mind. More than ever in 2020 this question rings true. We are in a unique time in which technology has become the driving force of connection, but also a time where our people simply need more from us. So how do we balance these challenges?

The first thing to keep in mind when thinking about the usage of tools & systems is that they should mirror your philosophy on people and day to day management practices. What does this look like?

The first step is to choose and build out systems that serve not just as a resource or training hub, but as an opportunity for meaningful connection and engagement. When exploring Learning Management Systems, Company Intranets and Human Resources Information systems, aim to make these systems an accurate reflection of your employer brand. When employees log on is the content engaging, authentic and relevant? Do they feel your mission, vision and values reflected throughout the site? Does the platform encourage employee interaction? Several platforms have the ability to recognize employee celebrations (birthdays and anniversaries), send recognition messages, share team photos and more. The more you can combine these moments of interpersonal connection with training or resource touch points versus having them live within different platforms, the more meaningful and humanized your user journey will be.

“In a time where offices have been forced to go remote, communication technology tools have become more important than ever”

When thinking about performance management, the tools & systems you utilize should also support your overall people philosophy. If ratings and preset questions don’t make sense for your organization, don’t settle for a system that cannot be customized. More importantly, how are you living and breathing your performance management philosophy? Employees should not rely solely on reminders or prompts from systems. Leadership, not just HR, should be championing a culture of feedback and creating a space in which performance management and reviews are not viewed as daunting or dreaded, but rather as a time to collaborate, celebrate wins, and identify new ways to learn and grow.

In a time where offices have been forced to go remote, communication technology tools have become more important than ever. Slack, email, videochat - while these tools have enabled remote work and created transformational efficiencies in the workplace, more thought must be put in to ensure that they are not hindering our ability to more deeply connect with each other. A starting point is to outline how to use these different systems and when. For what types of topics are you emailing vs. slacking? When do you commit to moving the conversation to video chat or phone if it becomes conflicting or heated? Ensure that new hires understand this when entering the organization and that as a team you are holding each other accountable to these promises.

When communicating via tech systems, we can also easily fall into multitasking. We become distracted having multiple tasks and messages in front of us, and fail to be fully present. While for some conversations this is a non-issue, for others it can be incredibly harmful. Videochat tends to be one way to avoid falling into this. However on the other hand remote technology burnout is real. There may be days where a team member needs to take a phone call on a walk instead of being in front of their computer screen. This is especially more possible now, at a time when we are relying more heavily on video chat to stay connected in our personal lives as well. How are you creating a culture in which this is supported? While there is no perfect answer, it starts with normalizing these conversations and making it a point to check in.

At the end of the day, the key to creating a technology-focused, people-first environment means that the systems & tools you use are supporting your people efforts, not replacing them. Employees should feel that the experiences they have - whether interpersonal or technological - are genuine, thoughtful and meaningful.

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