10 things you can learn at an HR conference

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Human resources conferences bring together leaders, practitioners and experts from all over the world to discuss how technology influences the HR function and the way employees interact with their organizations.

If you get a chance attend one of the major events on the HR calendar (this teambuilding.com post has a comprehensive list of some of the best annual events), you’ll likely learn quite a bit about the top resources and tools that are making major impacts in the industry.

Here are 10 key takeaways from time well spent at an HR conference:

1. HR is the future of work

HR owns all the data and programs that keep employees working and engaged, so it’s HR’s responsibility to put in place systems and processes that enable agility and adaptability as the workforce and organization changes. If HR departments are working with outdated technology systems that are difficult to configure, change or upgrade, it can be nearly impossible to build processes that support the future of work.

“We now have the best technology ever, but we do not take advantage of it,” said Jason Averbrook, the CEO and co-founder of Leapgen.

HR leaders, Averbrook said, need to “truly meet employees where they are and make sure we are delivering real, quantifiable value. We cannot afford to waste another generation of tech as function of human resources.”

> Read more | 3 examples of smart leaders digitizing HR

2. Human capital is more than just your employees

We live in an increasingly networked and interconnected world, and HR is at the epicenter. It’s not just your employees that create value.

Suppliers, customers and employees are all human capital that organizations can leverage to create value. HR leaders should be thinking about how they can use technology to harness the collective power, thoughts and insights of the network in and outside the organization.

3. Keep it real when it comes to change management

Organizations should take a realistic approach to their expectations when implementing a new system — don’t promise full ROI tomorrow — and understand that people receive value from change at different paces.

Some employees will derive value from the new system and processes immediately. Others — such as employees who have been with an organization for decades — might see their jobs completely change. For them, adapting to the new normal will be more difficult, and that’s OK.

As an HR leader, you know that improving technology and processes will bring value in the long run. It’s important that you effectively communicate that to employees — especially those who are most reluctant to accept all the changes.

4. You need a business case to build a business case

This may seem like a no-brainer, but many organizations still struggle with this. When seeking organizational or leadership buy-in for new technology initiatives, too many HR leaders don’t focus on the business case for HR.

You need to prove a new system will help your department become more efficient, able to better engage employees and empowered to glean insights from employee data. HR leaders need to expand their scopes when building a business case and make sure their technology proposal demonstrates value (financially or otherwise) for the business or organization as a whole.

> Read more | 8 ways HR can help increase productivity and profitability

5. The HRIS function is dead — or should be

We should no longer have any functions or roles exclusively dedicated to entering or managing employee files and data, and processing transactional HR tasks. If you attend a large HR conference, you might be astounded by the technology solutions available to HR departments today.

These solutions provide unprecedented access to employee data and enable HR departments to shift their people and processes from administrative positions to strategic partners for the business. But these solutions also require new skills.

HR departments, Averbrook said, should look for “storytellers” — people who can not only read data, but tell a prescriptive story with it to advise the organization on what to do.

6. Digital networks rule the world

The pandemic created major shifts away from centralized workplaces, and HR must continue to adapt to a remote workforce.

What does this mean for HR?

People want to connect, share and contribute. It’s HR’s job to facilitate that.

> Learn more | HR from anywhere: Increase remote employee engagement and modernize processes

7. It’s OK to let technology take the wheel

Updating an HCM system can cause organizations to re-evaluate their approach to HR processes, reporting and structures — for the better. While a technology solution can help make your current processes more efficient, you can also use a new solution as an opportunity to change processes altogether.

Think of how your new solution can change the way your HR employees interact with each other as they manage information pertaining to new hires, employee files and HR compliance documentation.

8. Know your digital workforce strategy

The key to any technology solution is a clear digital workforce strategy. This strategy should be a holistic three-year roadmap that takes into consideration worker experience, required skills, technology needs, talent differentiators and much more, Averbook said.

A plan, on the other hand, is how to execute that strategy. Most organizations have a plan. Few have a real strategy.

Without a complete strategy and vision, organizations will get stuck in a rut. They will implement HR solution after HR solution (and spend dollar after dollar) without ever knowing what they’re trying to achieve. Not having a clear strategy can create a big strain on HR resources, time and budgets.

> Build your solution | Take a free digital evolution assessment

9. Nobody puts HR technology in a corner

HR technology is a very real and very important focus for organizations of all sizes, categories and industries. It’s not a fad to be ignored.

A recent study by the Hackett Group found that HR tech spending was expected to increase by more than 9% in 2022. Talent management, including recruiting tools, was at the top of the projected spending list.

IDC, meanwhile, estimates that the worldwide HCM applications market will reach $22 billion in 2022. That projection is 7.7% higher than the figure for 2021.

10. HR people are the best!

For anyone who still thinks of HR as the hall monitor of the organization, desperately clinging to their policy and procedure binders, think again.

HR practitioners are on the cutting edge of organizational change, often leading and initiating the programs and technology that will propel their workforces and organizations into the future. They’re creative and innovative, and always work to protect, develop and engage the organization’s most valuable asset — employees.

Plus, they’re a whole lot of fun to be around!

Learn more about Hyland’s HR solutions.

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Danielle Simer is a marketing portfolio manager at Hyland. Her mission is to share best practices and evangelize the power of enterprise content management (ECM) as a tool to automate paper-based processes and improve operations across accounting and finance, human resources, and contract management. Danielle joined Hyland after more than six years with a research and advisory firm devoted to helping senior executives manage their departments and teams more effectively. She received her bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University and her MBA from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.
Danielle Simer

Danielle Simer

Danielle Simer is a marketing portfolio manager at Hyland. Her mission is to share best practices and evangelize the power of enterprise content management (ECM) as a tool to automate... read more about: Danielle Simer