By Jessica Miller-Merrell
It seems that across the HR industry, technology has begun to take center stage. Some may think that HR has turned into one giant robot, while others may want us to believe we couldn’t do our jobs without it. But the role of human resources existed long before technology and will continue on with or without it. HR isn’t a technology-driven industry. It’s a people-driven industry.
In HR, the star of the show always has been and always will be people. It’s easy to get caught up in the latest and greatest tool or technology that helps you do your job quicker, more accurately and better than the competition, but we can never lose sight of the fact that the only reason we even use tools is to reach, hire and retain people. At the end of the day, the best HR technology in the world can’t create the type of people we need and make them stay. We’ve got to remember that as we adopt more technology over time, there will never be a substitution for the human element.
People vs. technology
I am a major proponent of technology, both in my professional and personal life, but even I can admit that technology has its limitations. This especially proves to be true in an industry where the human element is such a key part of all that we do. Technology will never be able to make connections, build relationships, determine when and how to deal with a personnel problem or be able to assess a situation and all its human complexities. Technology can do a lot for us, but it will never be able to meet human needs.
Technology has its place in the industry, though, and that is to support the efforts of HR professionals. The role of HR technology is not to replace human resources or recruiting. Technology is designed to help automate administrative tasks so we can focus on what’s important. And that is the people side of HR.
People don’t work for technology. They work for people.
There’s a lot to be said for being a trendy company, having the best technology, a cool image and modern branding, but that’s not usually why people want to work with you. It may get them in the door, but what’s going to make them want to stay is the people. They want to work with people who inspire and challenge them. They want to work with people who see the world differently.
From the outside looking in
Outsiders often place too much weight on what HR technology can do instead of why we’re using it. Executives and others on the outskirt of HR looking in sometimes look at all the functions HR does and immediately associate a technology with that task. For instance, they may attribute recruiting success to social networks even though it would be impossible to accurately source candidates on social networks without a recruiter’s knowledge and techniques. Technology supplements the work we do, but it does not replace it. As HR professionals, a small part of our job is showing business leaders and others the value we bring, and this area is no exception. We must help them see what role technology plays and what role we play.
Technology helps businesses cut through the red tape and paperwork to see what really matters at the end of the day, which is people. The human element is the key to everything.
Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s is the Chief Blogger & Founder of Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @jmillermerrell.