The top five reasons why HR and IT will live happily ever after

By Shane Sabatino President, TELUS Employer Solutions

When I first joined TELUS as HR Manager in 1994, the world had two million computers connected to the Internet while the World Wide Web included a mere 10,000 websites. Netscape Navigator had just launched. It was also the year e-commerce started; the sale of a Sting CD was the first-ever recorded online transaction.

Needless to say, the HR world at that time had very little to do with technology. In fact, many organizations still referred to their Human Resources team as the Personnel Department…

Fast-forward a quarter-century, and the HRM function has become a central component of any organization’s success, to the point where traditional personnel-related functions are only one of the several dimensions in which the strategic contribution of HR professionals is valued and sought after.

However, with an unemployment rate under 6% in Canada, the lowest in approximately 40 years, many HRM executives have had to return to the drawing board and revert their focus back to the more basic HR functions, which include employer branding as well as talent attraction, promotion, and retention. In this specific endeavour, technological solutions are in the driver’s seat.

If two decades ago, IT solutions gradually started as a way to add value to some HR practices, today they are completely essential and bound to a bright future together! Here are five reasons why the love affair between IT and HR will remain strong, according to our team at TELUS Employer Solutions.  

Reason #1: Keeping talent requires at least as much effort as attracting it

Talent has never been more mobile and in demand. In that context, attracting talented candidates is only a tiny portion of the task at hand, because according to a survey conducted by Robert Half in 2018, a preoccupying 63% of employees aged 18-34 in Canada see job-hopping as beneficial.

On the flipside, for employers seeking to attract talents, this high propensity to job-hopping can be beneficial. When an employer uses the right recruitment solutions, the interest of a candidate applying to your organization may increase after a positive and flawless first contact. In fact, that’s when the onboarding process actually begins - a critical and often overlooked aspect of employee retention.

Indeed, 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for at least three years if they receive a great onboarding experience. Recruitment and onboarding are two areas where talent management solutions can make a meaningful difference – helping to rapidly build a sense of belonging and engagement.

In the later stages of the employee lifecycle, organizations should also consider implementing learning management systems and succession planning solutions to design career advancement paths for high performers and high potential talents.  

Reason #2: Offering flexibility can truly set you apart

Given today’s fast-paced environment, the challenges of work-life balance, and the increasingly trying daily commute, employees seek and value flexibility from their employer. A recent IWG survey showed that 50% of Canadian employees work at least 2.5 days a week outside the office. Three in four Canadian employees work at least one day per week outside the office, while an impressive 20% claim to work remotely 100% of the time.

TELUS, our parent company, is a great example of delivering flexibility through mobile work and telework – and is often cited as an inspiration by other employers. With 40,000+ employees, TELUS’ Workstyles program required the right technological tools to succeed – including videoconferencing, live meeting and telepresence capabilities – proper governance, and minor cultural adjustments.

Since Workstyles was first implemented in 2007, employee engagement at TELUS grew from 53% to 85%. The company also expects to save $166 M over 20 years, in addition to the program’s many environmental and social benefits.

Fortunately, what wasn’t even possible fifteen years ago is now within the reach of most organizations, nearly irrespective of their size, geographic footprint, or industry.  

Reason #3: One-size-fits-all doesn’t cut it anymore

In customer service no more than in employee-employer interactions, no one likes to be a number. With the right HRIS solutions, even company-wide programs can have a personal feel, especially when employees have the ability to make choices and to customize their experience.

Complete personalization goes a step further, with self-service technology focused on the employee’s needs. Wherever employees are – at home, in the office or on the road – information about their pay, vacation and benefits should all be accessible at their fingertips.

A highly innovative example of such programs is Flexit360, a one-stop online solution which makes benefit selection easy for employees, and even simpler to manage for HR managers and plan administrators. With it, employees can fully customize their benefits, choosing optional products such as critical illness coverage, employee purchase plans, life insurance, and much more to meet their personal and family needs.  

Reason #4: Employee wellness considerations are light years away from old-school health and safety programs

Employee health and wellness has become a major component of the role played by HR teams in modern organizations. In recent years, the philosophy behind health and wellness has migrated from a compliance-driven responsibility to wellness prevention and promotion programs that include mental, physical, and even financial health.

Many of our clients are implementing highly innovative programs to ensure their employees are well and happy, including the likes of virtual care solutions such as Medisys On-Demand. This 24/7/365 service grants employees and their family members virtual access to a nurse practitioner and/or physician - via text and video chat - for answers to their pressing health questions or concerns. Employers benefit from happier, healthier employees and gain productivity by reducing the number of in-person medical visits by their staff.

Reason #5: Silos and employee satisfaction don’t go hand in hand

Organizations have become very complex. This isn’t about to change, especially as most industries undergo consolidation while global M&A activity remains near all-time highs. This context calls for efficient business process solutions.

In fact, no customer wants to experience silos when dealing with different departments within the same firm. Employees are no different. Human Resources Management teams can position themselves as key value-added resources to support growth when implementing solutions in which different operational and corporate business functions come together using the same tools, sharing key data, supporting better decisions, and enabling a seamless employee experience.  

The bottom line: let’s get on with IT

For these five reasons – and perhaps a few more - the future of HR and IT are deeply interconnected. The right technological solutions can make a world of difference in the success of an organization and the long-term sustainability of its model.

Today, more than ever before, HR’s future is friendly.