Wrapping up our discussion of the six HR trends that will forever impact the way we work, communicate, engage, produce and ultimately impact the bottom line at any company, we’re looking at user experience as the key to adoption.

Adoption used to hinge on easy-to-use user interfaces. Well, not anymore. Now software has to be exciting, engaging and there has to be something in it for me now. Give them rewards, awards, and acknowledgements they can boast about.

The new generation of our workforce is all about instant gratification and quick value creation. Well-designed, user-centric HR technologies must focus on providing immediate value with little effort.

Gamification has emerged as a new paradigm that leverages game mechanics to engage users and achieve a business task. Gamification is not about pretty badges. That worked for FourSquare, but will not be enough for you. When it comes to HR software, give people what they want: money, diamonds, trips, vacation days, training, passes for events or visibility. Gamification is about gratification, privileges and recognition. Your workforce can smell gimmicky tricks at a distance, so be careful and avoid overdoing it.

Also, do consider that user centric systems must always be device specific. How employees track their expenses with their mobile device while on a trip is very different from doing their expense report once they get to the office and sit in front of the computer.

Rich data, more data

Data abounds. Meaningful data is scarce. We’ve been talking about Big Data for a couple of years only to realize that very few companies are making consistent and meaningful use of their Big Data. Analytics is the new black for HR decision makers, but analytics are meaningless if they do not consider all data points and are easily consumable by leaders. Combine your current data with social data: Tweets, Yammer posts, RSS feeds, customer service feedback to get a real picture of your workforce’s abilities, wants and needs.

So instead of Big Data, we should start by opening our eyes to the data-rich world we live in. Let’s not boil the ocean and expect a sophisticated Big Data intelligence platform. Instead, start with making sense of the data you have, including new social media metrics and info.

Nobody has cracked the code for this yet. All of your traditional HR software providers say they do, but make no mistake about it, they haven’t. They keep throwing more and more reports at you hoping one of them sticks. Start with clear business goals first, and then pick your data providers based on that. Not one will fit you perfectly, so be willing to pick and choose to create your own dashboard. Out of the box will not cut it.

Continuous releases, employee centricity and infectious rollouts

Stop thinking top-down, email blast from the VP of HR introducing new technologies. Stop conducting focus groups and classic usability tests. The way technology has been rolled out to date has not worked so well, has it? HR software boasts the lowest adoption rates of any enterprise software. Workforce has been forced to adopt the software. They don’t like it. Instead, find those early adopters, social natives and enthusiasts in the organization that can serve as ambassadors. Spread it socially and naturally. It’s all about value to the workforce now, not about HR.

The way we manage software releases and prioritize product changes must also change. Iterate quickly, involve users (crowdsource your release planning of features), deploy continuously, and treat your employees as your customers. In this sort of agile and lean release process, engaging employees in HR tech evolution is key to adoption and usage.

What HR executives must watch out for:

Product and technology ambassadors in your organization are not in HR. Look elsewhere. Find those who have a following, who are trusted, and who care about people and their futures.

If you take the plunge and decide to crowdsource new features to add to your existing HR technology, make sure you allocate time and resources to be responsive and engaging with your users.

The world is moving fast, being transformed from static, one-to-one interactions to hyper connected and social environments. Your best talent will come from the social networks of your employees. Your biggest savings will come from not having software in house. Your most successful HR initiatives will depend on social adoption and your role will forever change to focus on people and making connections.

About Rob Garcia

Rob Garcia is a Silicon Valley product executive who has helped dozens of Fortune 500 companies and startups define and execute digital product strategies. He is a product strategy and marketing consultant to RiseSmart, the leader in next-generation outplacement solutions. This article was first published on the RiseSmart blog. Follow Rob on Twitter @RobGarciaSJ.

26 November 2012

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