There can be no disputing the size and maturity of the HR software space. Dozens of respected comparison sites exist to pit vendors’ products against each other, with the aim of helping HR departments – large and small – sift through the myriad of options available.

The goal of course, is to make it easier for Human Resources teams to draw up their tech wish list – specific to the needs of their own organisation – and ultimately source a software solution that will be fit for purpose, long into the future.

So far, so good.

But there is a fundamental problem when it comes to this product-to-product evaluation exercise.

It’s important to stress that the efforts of the industry comparison sites are not at fault here. The issue lies in the fact that so many HR software solutions – whether supplied by a well-established market leader or an up-and-coming tech disruptor – exist to facilitate only transactional HR responsibilities such as holiday requests, absence management and expenses claims.

There are thankfully some more strategic products out there which also open up a breadth of transformational potential, thanks to the likes of AI-led reporting and predictive analytics capabilities which give HR leaders a compelling voice in the boardroom, for instance.

Yet despite this extremely busy space, and this wealth of technological opportunity, Employee Relations (ER) still remains overlooked. The big question, is why?

Employees are said to form the backbone of so many organisational cultures. So why is there such a gap when it comes to the technology which exists to support a company’s ‘greatest asset’?

Isn’t it time businesses stopped simply talking about what’s in management vogue, and started living and breathing the commitment they voice to their people?

The ‘cost’ of this oversight cannot be underestimated

However, technology can support this transition to Employee Relations becoming a strategic priority, but only if ER stops being the ‘forgotten module’.

An unexpected – yet welcomed – benefit to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, is the extent to which organisations are now looking past ER as merely a tactical non-priority. The overwhelming volume of flexible working requests, challenges associated with furlough schemes, resistance versus eagerness to return to the workplace, physical and psychological wellness pressures, major business restructures, staggering shifts in team dynamics, mass office closures and the huge uplift in employment tribunal claims are just some of the matters testing ER teams right now. In truth the list goes on.

Of course, this is a topic in itself but the critical point to make here, is that all of this is being debated within organisations large and small, and at C-suite level. A revolution is afoot.

In a growing number of forward-thinking, commercially astute firms, ER is being increasingly acknowledged for the deep-rooted impact it can have. And, armed with the right technology, HR teams will find themselves able to really triangulate the power of people, processes and systems – not just for the purpose of a ‘tick box’ exercise, but so that true change is affected across the piece.

That’s why software stacks that don’t contain or integrate considered ER functionality, will simply no longer cut the mustard.


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