Presented by BCX

The importance of Digital HR in the South African workplace

 ·26 Mar 2024

The human resources (HR) function has consistently played a crucial role in organisations, and ensuring its smooth operation remains one of its fundamental goals.

Digital HR, which refers to the use of digital technologies in human resources management, can bring several benefits to employees and the overall workplace, says Hope Lukoto, Chief Human Resource Officer at BCX.

The traditional HR procedures heavily depend on physical forms, filing cabinets, and in-person interactions.

In contrast, digital HR entails transitioning these procedures and systems onto a technology-driven platform, enhancing accessibility, and facilitating smoother communication and data sharing throughout the organisation.

“As a Top Employer, we’ve identified that Digital HR can significantly contribute to a more efficient, transparent, and employee-centric workplace, fostering a positive work environment and improving overall organisational performance,” she says.

“In order to create a competitive edge, organisations must prioritise the digital transformation of HR, ensuring the creation of smooth and integrated experiences for employees.”

A recent Gartner research indicates that HR leaders rank HR technology as the number one area of investment in 2023 among all priorities, and 46% of HR leaders plan to increase investments in HR technology.

The market research firm says as with other parts of HR’s operating model, huge process, technology and cultural changes are needed to effectively leverage skills and align HR technology investments with critical business outcomes.

It notes that the HR function can start this journey by moving away from HR process automation and moving toward business-enabling digital transformation.

“This doesn’t mean ‘pushing’ things to the business, but developing the HR technology landscape with and for the business,” Gartner urges.

The World Economic Forum points out that it would not be far-fetched to proclaim that the traditional 9-to-5, in which employees clock in at 9am and out at 5pm, with a one-hour lunch break in the middle, is dead.

A large part of the 21st century active population may be found either working from home, freelancing for several clients – possibly even as a digital nomad – or, on the lower rungs of society, taking their orders from the algorithms of an Uber-type food-delivery platform.

Technology now touches every aspect of employees’ lives. By expanding digital HR to all employee workflows, HR technology leaders must be prepared to innovate beyond operational efficiency to make significant changes that will affect employees’ work, careers and the organisation.

For the third consecutive year, BCX has been certified as a Top Employer in South Africa by The Top Employers Institute for 2024.

According to Lukoto, there are several factors that are propelling the adoption of digital HR in organisations.

For example, the continuous advancement of technology, including emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, has led to the development of more sophisticated and intelligent HR solutions, further encouraging their adoption.

Digital HR enables efficiency and automation through the implementation of various technologies and tools that streamline and optimise HR processes.

The platforms automate routine and time-consuming HR processes, such as employee onboarding, leave requests, and performance evaluations. Workflow automation ensures that tasks move seamlessly from one stage to the next, reducing manual intervention and the risk of errors.

Payroll automation is another benefit organisations can derive from digital HR. Digital HR systems the automate payroll processing, calculating wages, taxes, and deductions accurately and efficiently.

Automation in payroll reduces the likelihood of errors and ensures timely and accurate payments to employees.

Digital HR solutions often include self-service portals where employees can access and update their personal information, submit time-off requests, and view their pay stubs.

Self-service options empower employees to manage certain HR-related tasks without the need for HR staff involvement.

On recruitment, Applicant Tracking Systems automate the recruitment process by managing job postings, collecting applications, and screening candidates based on predefined criteria.
Automation in recruitment accelerates the hiring process and ensures a more systematic approach to candidate selection.

The other plus is that automated performance management systems streamline the process of setting goals, tracking performance, and conducting evaluations. Notifications and reminders within the system help ensure that performance-related tasks are completed on schedule.

For savvy business leaders, artificial intelligence (AI) heralds a golden opportunity to free up employees and create the space for them to innovate, dream, and reimagine.

AI algorithms can quickly analyse and screen resumes, identifying relevant skills, experience, and qualifications. This significantly speeds up the initial stages of candidate selection and helps recruiters focus on the most qualified applicants.

Chatbots powered by AI can engage with candidates on websites, answer frequently asked questions, and assist with the application process. Virtual assistants streamline communication, provide instant responses, and enhance the overall candidate experience.

“By leveraging AI in recruitment, organisations can improve efficiency, reduce bias, enhance candidate experiences, and make more informed hiring decisions,” says Lukoto.

Additionally, digital HR can enable cost savings in several ways, streamlining processes and optimising resource utilisation.

Through data analytics, digital HR systems can identify factors contributing to employee turnover. Implementing targeted retention strategies based on insights can save costs associated with recruitment and onboarding.

While there may be initial investments in implementing digital HR solutions, the long-term cost savings and operational efficiencies they bring can significantly benefit organisations in various aspects of human resource management.

“Digital HR offers a myriad of benefits, revolutionising traditional human resource management. By automating administrative tasks, streamlining recruitment processes, and providing insightful data analytics, digital HR enhances efficiency and reduces operational costs,” says Lukoto.

“Paperless workflows and employee self-service portals contribute to sustainability and time savings, while remote work enablement and virtual training programmes foster flexibility and scalability.”

Moreover, she adds, digital HR facilitates compliance tracking, mitigates biases, and supports data-driven decision-making, promoting a more strategic and adaptive approach to workforce management.

“Overall, the adoption of digital HR not only optimises resource utilisation but also empowers organisations to create a seamless, data-informed, and cost-effective human resource environment,” Lukoto concludes.

For more information on BCX, click here.

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