Our reliance on technology in everyday life is an accepted fact and the last two years have firmly underlined this. Thanks to digital technology, we were able to access the goods and services we rely on, without having to leave home during a pandemic. However, with this reliance comes a responsibility for organisations to keep the ‘human’ in Human Resources.
Losing the human touch
The technologies that we thought were a short-term fix in unprecedented circumstances are now an accepted fact of life as every working day is interspersed with virtual meetings. As we progress, with technology integral to the workplace, organisations must consider how they operate if they wish to stay relevant and ensure that employees are supported. The time saving and productivity benefits that come from using specialist software cannot be overstated, with the streamlining of routine and repetitive tasks and workflow to generate automated communications. But, as many ‘human’ tasks and responsibilities are now automated and home-based working is a norm, there comes the risk of employees feeling isolated as the human touch diminishes. Technology has removed a considerable amount of face-to-face interaction and left many people feeling lonely, with no opportunity to build friendships in the workplace. If employees get too used to working alone and become isolated as a result, it can have a big impact on their mental health and well-being and, potentially, could lead to them leaving the organisation.
Automation to assist not replace
With the rise of automation, there is a risk that as HR focus on data metrics and analytics, they pay less attention to supporting individuals and teams to reach their potential. A successful HR team will build a strong culture within an organisation and encourage employees to fully understand their role and how it fits in that culture. The routine is taken care of, so take time to shine a focus on empowering and encouraging your employees in both their creativity and productivity. Give employees a voice when they are most at risk of becoming silent or invisible to the organisation. Too much reliance on instant messaging tools can further compound feelings of isolation and the reduction in human communications can place a strain on relationships in and out of the workplace. Add in constant use of mobile phones and the lines between work and home become blurred. It is easy for an employee to feel guilty for not responding immediately to work texts and emails, even out of hours. This is not a good place to be for any individual or organisation.
Striking the right balance
Every manager knows the benefits of technology when it comes to producing data to measure productivity and performance, but people skills are still a foundation of good HR. There is no substitute for sitting down with an employee and asking if everything is OK. HR is instrumental in reinforcing the values that form the core of the organisation and ensuring that employees are listened to and supported. Pay attention to employee feedback and implement charge, where possible, to strike the right balance between technology and people resources. For example, a flexible approach to remote working can remove some of the monotony that arises from being ‘alone’ and, being given an opportunity to take time away from the desk can inject renewed enthusiasm and commitment.
Social interaction is critical
Never has the human touch been so important. Of course, HR must support the use of technology to enhance the workplace but should also facilitate collaboration and social interaction. Strike a balance between technology and people through social events and regular “in person” meetings that are now easier than ever to organise. This balanced approach can help maintain morale, reduce feelings of isolation, and remind staff that socialising with colleagues can enhance working relationships and help to build stronger teams. Whilst technology has improved our lives in ways we could never have imagined, HR leaders should always remember the importance of the human touch.
For nearly 40 years HR & Payroll software experts, Frontier Software, have been successfully delivering systems to support human resource management.