HR Digital Transformation: How to Implement Key Changes and Succeed

HR digital transformation

What is HR digital transformation?

To make up for unforeseen revenue losses brought about by recent world events, many companies are prioritizing building resilient business processes that withstand economic pressures. To do so, many have become part of a global pivot to a total digital transformation to incorporate digital tools and data analytics to improve processes.

Among these tools, business process management (BPM) software with automation capabilities (BPA), robotic process automation (RPA), and artificial intelligence (AI) have emerged as the most effective.

From an HR perspective, digital transformation refers to the use of those technologies to streamline work and increase efficiency to better meet employees’ needs. As a field in which employees have historically (and, perhaps, even unfairly) associated with rules and bureaucracy, HR processes can use digital tools and data analysis to simplify tasks and improve employee experiences.

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The benefits of HR digital transformation

Most processes can be automated. In HR, that includes compliance, employee onboarding and offboarding, performance management, skills training, and many more. HR professionals are using digital transformations to phase out repetitive paperwork and increase face time with the employees who need them.

Businesses that make the transition to digital tools to increase efficiency see huge benefits like:

  • Visibility. Automating HR processes eliminates the frustration of bottlenecks by providing transparency, ownership, and accountability. Employees know the status of all their requests, and approvers have an end-to-end view of requests and needs.

  • Accuracy. Information mix-ups — even typos — can be disastrous for employees when problems arise with benefits and wages. With one platform across multiple departments, data is consistent. With automated tasks, HR gets it right, every time. No more rework, no more duplicate entries, and no more error-prone manual data entry. And with a platform that connects and integrates with existing software, a seamless experience for both HR teams and employees is possible. 

  • Cost savings. With access to key employee and process data, making data-driven decisions is easy. Dashboards and reports give HR teams access to which perks and benefits your employees are and aren’t using and visibility into resource-consuming challenges and improvement opportunities that can lead to financial losses.

  • Time savings. HR professionals spend too much time on paperwork. Period. Use workflow management to create custom forms, templates, and databases, and phase out paperwork for good.

Challenges and opportunities in HR digital transformation

Like most departments, HR faces stumbling blocks when transitioning to digital tools. Businesses that make intentional, dedicated efforts to streamline, however, not only reap direct benefits from end-to-end workflow improvement but find new opportunities for continuous growth and long-term success. 

Managing data privacy and security

Company and employee data security is one of HR’s biggest concerns. In this case, digital transformation may be imperative for all human resources departments, especially for manual, paper-based, and error-prone processes. BPM and BPA platforms digitize these areas of risk and offer teams an IT-sanctioned toolkit of security features and capabilities that teams can use to improve HR processes. 

Overcoming resistance to change

The idea of sweeping change at work is a fearful one, and the outcome of this fear is the biggest roadblock to digital transformation: resistance to change. No one wants to fail publicly or lose their livelihood to technology. 

There are a few things HR professionals and business leaders can do to allay these fears, convert employees to improving processes, and build a company culture of agility that prioritizes: 

  1. Communication. Show them the bigger picture. Embedding new software with no reasoning or context will alienate a workforce already resistant to change.
  2. Training and development. When employees are given the training they need, they make the transformation a success and encourage and help reluctant colleagues. A smooth transition is another source of encouragement for those reluctant to switch over.
  3. Motivation. Employees who don’t immediately grasp new digital tools get discouraged. HR and leadership should train alongside team members, remain positive and open, and continually engage each individual as the new software is implemented. 

Developing digital skills in HR teams

The hiring and recruiting landscape has rapidly changed over the last three years, due in part to the embrace of pandemic-era virtual communication. The best HR departments understand how important it is to keep up with these changes, use new tools, and make an intentional effort to instill in each team member skills like adaptability, agility, and accountability.

Ensuring regulatory compliance

Implementing new technology in the realm of laws and regulations is precarious. HR and legal professionals understand that even the smallest errors and omissions can have major consequences. If an existing system, however flawed, seems to be working, why change?

BPM provides one consolidated platform across all departments, eliminating the possibility of costly errors and discrepancies. Automated critical stage alerts keep HR, legal, and finance on the same page, while dashboards show stakeholders real-time data. Reports can be generated quickly at the request of employees or colleagues. 

The stages of effective HR transformation

HR departments don’t perform the exact functions from one company to another but the process of improving their operations through digital transformation is similar to that of other company divisions like IT or procurement. 

Understand objectives and desired impacts

Before committing to, or even choosing, new digital tools for an HR transformation, set goals. 

Ask the following questions of each HR professional: What areas need improvement? Do multiple complaints have a common denominator? What, specifically, would an ideal system do that your current one doesn’t? Gather ideas from all stakeholders, and consider performing process analyses whenever possible. These answers will inform your search for digital tools. 

Communicate and get their attention

A shift in HR technology will most likely affect all of an organization’s employees at some point, so it’s crucial that everyone is aware of exactly what will happen, and when. Communications should occasionally be transmitted from the C-Suite rather than HR. Leadership’s enthusiasm sets the tone for the project and directly impacts its success. 

Prove that it will make their job easier

When it comes to swaying employee opinion on workplace changes, it’s best to show – not tell. Show them the big picture view of savings and agility, but also take time to demonstrate to each HR team member how they will benefit. If the changes save them time, paperwork, or tasks they’ve long identified as unnecessary, you may be pleasantly surprised by their support. 

Implement changes one step at a time

An ill-prepared HR department will be overwhelmed by drastic changes. Avoid this by arranging hands-on department-wide training, preferably with a third-party system expert. And remember: a department in transition must still function normally. Providing team members with extra help in times of stress and high-volume work is always a good idea. When the go-live date rolls around, make it a time of celebration for the team rather than a crisis.

An HR digital conversion will also mean big changes for the workforce at large. They will need training and guidance navigating the new software for their own HR needs. Show patience and give them time as they, too, make a big transition.

Evaluate the impacts of the changes

It can be difficult to measure efficiency and success in the first few weeks after a digital transformation. Fortunately, digital tools are designed to help you do just that on an ongoing basis. Pull real-time data to generate spreadsheets or create live dashboards. Once you have the data, evaluate it with HR leadership. Make appropriate adjustments, and document the processes the team has improved.

Collect feedback to create a culture of HR efficiency

Encourage feedback from all stakeholders, asking specific questions about each aspect of the transformation, including training quality and effectiveness. A successful HR digital transformation is a great way for companies to hit the “reset” button and build a culture of efficiency and agility – attributes essential for meeting the long-term goal of efficiency through continuous improvement. 

Best practices for a successful HR digital transformation

Many organizations that attempt digital transformations don’t succeed. There are, of course, lots of reasons for this (lack of leadership support, insufficient training, ill-suited software, just to name a few), but most have something in common: a communication breakdown. Consider the following concepts as you and your HR team seek long-term workflow solutions.

Build a strong digital culture

Every organization should make an effort to build its workforce’s digital skills. Digitally literate employees are more open to change, and collaboration, and can quickly adapt to new digital tools. If you see your employees lagging behind in this area, schedule training. A digital transformation is a perfect opportunity to train employees to use new software and apps. Integrating time-saving apps like Gusto and DocuSign with the right BPM is a giant leap toward developing a digital HR mindset and an agile workforce.

Create a seamless employee experience

If you plan to make a digital transformation, be thorough: design it to give customers the best possible experience. The “customers” in this case are, of course, your business’s workforce. Survey them to find out what they need from their HR department and which processes they believe could be improved. Keep in mind that “seamless” also applies to the employees’ transition to the new system. Gaps in HR services can have disastrous results for employees, so ensure that this does not happen.

Collaborate with IT and other departments

It may seem to employees as though the HR department exists in a liminal space within a business, but this is a misconception. Inter-department collaboration is a significant part of an HR professional’s daily tasks, from issues that affect every employee like IT equipment setup to occasional activities like finance audits of travel expenses. Any comprehensive HR digital transformation will prioritize easing cross-departmental collaboration for everyone involved.

Implement a comprehensive change management strategy

If you suspect resistance to upcoming changes will pose a serious roadblock, develop a change management strategy for every stakeholder to follow. It will set expectations and provide something of an agenda for what lies ahead. Change management strategies vary depending on the industry and business, but most employ a five-step approach to changes, especially technological ones, that include:

  1. Prepare for the change.
  2. Develop a vision and set realistic goals.
  3. Implement the change.
  4. Entrench the changes in the business culture and policies.
  5. Measure and review the results.

Note that these strategies apply to not only the HR department itself but to company-wide employees seeking assistance from HR, as well. 

Examples of HR digital transformation

We’ve covered a lot of ground. To showcase how these concepts can apply to your daily work, below are examples of the practical application of HR digital transformation across four key HR areas.  

Onboarding and offboarding 

Employee onboarding and offboarding processes are notorious for the number of documents that need to be filed, whether it’s actual paperwork or digital files. 

A digitalized HR department uses automated email templates and email alerts to efficiently distribute materials to employees joining or departing from a business. 

Customized integrations with commonly used apps like DocuSign and Google Suite give employees the means to sign those documents quickly and, whether arriving or leaving, move to the next phase in their careers fully prepared.

Improving employee experiences

No business sets out to ignore employee engagement, but it can be among the first things to get lost in the shuffle when emergencies arise. 

Automated HR operations are designed to address every employee request with efficiency and accuracy. All requests are gathered in one place (more on that below) and assigned to a team member.

 Life events like an impending minor surgery or a newly adopted child are what matter most to employees; workflows with tangible steps and solutions show them that they and their issues matter to you, as well.  

Request management

In service departments like HR, help desk requests comprise much of team members’ daily work. Upgrading to a digital solution can dramatically improve their efficiency by providing a centralized request repository. 

The request begins as a customized digital form, the answers to which send the request through the proper channels. Customize settings to give any stakeholders you choose to access to the request’s status at any time. 

This single capability has changed request service desk operations forever, saving businesses days of time and work.

Successful digital transformation with Pipefy 

Pursuing digital transformation is no longer optional in the post-pandemic business world, and the end goal for most organizations is being lean and agile; doing more with less. With the right technology, digital transformation, better HR experiences, and more resilient business processes are possible. Take a proactive step toward streamlining and improving your HR processes with Pipefy. 

From request management to data analytics, Pipefy’s customizable HR platform ensures HR operations are carried out accurately and efficiently. This is made possible by Pipefy’s visual user interface which makes it easy to scale and implement conditionals, automations, and process improvements. 

Create an atmosphere of process ownership and accountability to improve delivery time, and set automated approval alerts, request assignments, and notifications and emails to provide HR teams and employees full visibility. 

With Pipefy, teams can experience less red tape, bottlenecks, and delays. Eliminate repetitive tasks to free up HR team members so they can focus on helping employees who need more complex, hands-on solutions to their issues. Along with Pipefy’s customizable databases, import key information and integrate with existing software for real-time updates to eliminate rework and human errors.

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