28 April 2020
The advent of technology has brought about an infinite number of advantages for employees and companies across industries. However, with the hike in job reduction due to digital transformation efforts, new staffing solutions are becoming essential to ensure tech does not replace manpower, and instead enhances it. A domain with perhaps the most important role to play in this, is HR.
In an article for the CEO Magazine titled, ‘Business transformation and staffing solutions in the digital age’, David Jones calls out the benefits of digital transformation in Australian companies. “The reduction of manual processes is helping businesses to become more efficient and productive, with more time being devoted to projects that add value to the business”, says Jones. However, he also goes on to add that it “is highly disruptive and is leading many company leaders to refine or even completely rethink their staffing strategies.” Though his arguments are Australian-centric, they can very well be applied to companies worldwide.
Below mentioned are some of these challenges, followed by what the HR can do to help overcome them.
1. Skilled Employees
With new software upgrades and technological changes occurring every day, finding employees that are qualified and skilled enough to work with these advancements is a challenge. As Jones rightly points out, “traditional labour models might no longer fit current business needs.” Due to a very high demand of skilled employees and only a handful of them in the market, there is heavy competition between organisations.
Moreover, when new digital roles are created, existing employees are sometimes sent to work in them while temporarily leaving behind their permanent roles. This in turn results in both roles suffering; the one left behind and the new one that is created. As already established, digital transformation requires experts; skilled workers who understand the inner and outer workings of new technologies. Rotation of employees between departments in order to subject them to an additional and different experience, seems unnecessary and possibly disruptive; especially if it negatively affects business. The HR team should bear this in mind while hiring employees and also limit rotation to roles that do not fall under the digital category.
2. Staff Retention
Once skilled employees are hired for a digital role, the competition still continues. Organisations can continue to attempt poaching them with offers that can increasingly get tougher to refuse. Of course, there may also be a certain proportion of employees unsatisfied in their current roles, who may choose to leave in search of a better offer. Retention is a challenge.
It is up to the HR here to ensure a good combination of talent present in the organisation. Hiring additional help in the form of consultants and experts on a freelance or contract basis, would result in staff loyalty, while simultaneously ensuring that they are not subjected to an unreasonable demand of learning all the new digital skills and ultimately be driven to leave the organisation.
3. Humans vs Machines
Granted, most businesses are switching to digital as it is the need of the hour. It is only a matter of time before digital advancements take over and significantly reduce the manpower requirements in a business. That being said, a machine can never provide the humane and personal element that an employee brings to the table, at least not any time soon. The idea is to use tech advancements as a supplement to human efforts, not as a replacement. With regard to this, the HR may want to take on the role of ensuring that employees are not rendered outdated simply because the business can afford new tools. Organisations have only reached where they are today because of their employees, and some moral acceptance of this fact can’t hurt. The HR should create new initiatives to encourage employees and continually applaud their efforts towards the company’s growth.
It is true that digital transformation is crucial for business and employee growth. However, so far, it is very clearly only a supplement; a great addition to existing business processes, not a tool that can entirely replace our traditional workforce. It’s obvious then, that businesses would want to continue to focus on their core source of productivity – their staff.