In today’s world, the challenges and requirements towards HR are manifold and changing on an almost daily basis: Customer expectations, our social and cultural environment, technology – everything is changing more fast paced than ever. And that of course has a big impact on companies well. HR has to find the right answers to this changing environment – of course. But today I would like to write about a very old topic that is still very much present in our daily business and HR lives: The actual connection between HR and the business – or in more concrete terms, the connection between the people or line managers (at all levels) and what HR has to offer them to support.
There are many different areas of potential connections of course, and one specific connection that is especially frustrating and truly very rarely working seamless. The administrative pieces of people manager work.
I believe we all as HR professionals understand and advocate for people managers to be the owner of the people relationships and people management – and this ownership means that they should manage their teams and employees end-to-end. This actual accountability is today not really a big debate anymore. It is understood and accepted – but the debate starts where the act of actual management of people, the conversations, decisions, recommendations have to be turned into action – the act of initiating a pay raise after the conversation with your employee, the act of initiating recruitment after you have reached agreement with your manager about that role. This is where it often gets clunky.
Of course, modern HR systems like Workday or SuccessFactors make it easier than ever before and also very often straight forward. But: As a people manager you still have to:
- Log-on to the system
- Find the right process/ action
- Understand what needs to be done
- Fill in all required information (hopefully you have them or know where/ how to find them)
- Send the request off… and wait
This does not feel right in today’s world. And this is where Ambient HR as an idea comes to live.
HR processes should only be there for two reasons:
(a) to support the business in what it needs to achieve
(b) to adhere to local legal regulations
(b) is something we cannot really change. But (a) is something where HR technology and processes need to seriously upgrade to toady’s technology possibilities. I imagine Ambient HR as a way to overlay the actual work that people managers are doing with the required HR actions. Let’s take the above cases.
A pay increase for example, should be initiated based on a conversation between people manager and employee. Ambient HR is connected to all systems people managers use in their daily work and so also to the calendar account. It notices that the people manager has set a career conversation with his/ her employee and automatically does two things:
(1) before the conversation happens, it pops up on the people managers computer and asks what this career conversation is about (e.g. new job, performance improvement, promotion, etc.) and based on the people manager’s choice, provides on the spot, just in time support (e.g. what needs to be taken into consideration, how the process works, how long it takes, what exactly needs to be done by the people manager – all in context of the employee the manager is seeing) and recommendation (e.g. how high a pay raise could maximum be).
(2) after the conversation, the people manager receives the next pop-up window, asking for action with a pre-completed form based on the employee the manager has seen as well as the choices the people manager took in the first step (e.g. it is a promotion conversation). The manager just has to review and send off. All work done.
With such an integration, the administrative part for the people manager’ job to set in action what he/ she has discussed or decided to do becomes a simple, not time consuming and effective process. And similar integrations are possible with other systems at work like Time & Attendance, like your Sales System, etc. – and because of AI, contextual information and actions are easy to realise – it is like Google Now for work. Ambient HR is immersive in your day-to-day activities, not a nasty add-on, but an integral part of how you work – you don’t have to remember what, when how – it will tell you. And it will learn throughout your work day to be better every time it supports you.
Of course, you need to trust this system as it has access to all your data – but hey, you trust Google or Amazon or Facebook at home with your private data and at work such a system already houses your most sensitive data: people data. So why shouldn’t you trust it to listen in to your daily activities as a people manager?
Ambient HR is the future of HR Technology and it needs to start today.