Digitalization in human resources – still some catching up to do?

The coronavirus pandemic has proven that digitalization in schools hasn’t fully taken off yet. But what does the situation look like in businesses? How much ground is digitalization gaining in human resources? We explore this question.

Here’s how digitalization is making headway in human resources.
Image: © Song_about_summer / Adobe Stock

For the sake of argument: does the HR sector even need to be more digital?

Human resources is currently facing major challenges, and the pandemic is still demanding a lot from HR. In recent months, HR managers have had to suddenly manage entire departments from home and support employees working remotely. From one day to the next, the usual recruiting processes and training of new staff members were only possible online. In addition, many companies had to impose reduced working hours over a prolonged period of time.

There continues to be a shortage of skilled professionals. Gone are the times when you simply had to put a job ad in the local paper and candidates would flood in with their applications. The pandemic has shown that HR is and must be digital in order to keep up with the changing media landscape, because applicants now mainly search for suitable jobs online, where they expect interesting opportunities to be posted and companies to have a professional presence.

E-recruitment: recognizing and leveraging the potential

Digitalization in human resources is in full swing. These days, recruiters are tapping into a vast array of channels, including their own career pages, job platforms, and above all social media sites such as Xing and LinkedIn. They are also increasingly embracing Facebook, Instagram, etc., and even messenger services like WhatsApp and Snapchat. The HR managers of today are multichannel workers and possess a diverse and cross-media skillset to rival many a marketing agency.

However, digital recruitment isn’t an end in itself. It’s not about aimlessly networking or trying to be present on as many channels as possible simply because that’s what’s done these days. Digital transformation in recruiting means recognizing the potential, avoiding risks, understanding new technologies, and implementing them in a targeted way.

Using digital technologies in human resources comes with opportunities – opportunities that didn’t even exist a few years ago. HR managers have to walk a tightrope between the analog and digital worlds: they can unlock exciting potential by implementing new tools, but they have to keep the associated risks in mind at the same time. These include costs for investing in new forms of infrastructure, technical problems, and data protection considerations.

Even social debates play a key role in digital recruiting. For instance, what do we need to take into account in digitalization processes in order to ensure diversity in recruiting in an automated way and as a matter of course? That is a fascinating question and one that HR managers will soon need to find an answer to.

Digitalization in human resources: the future starts today

Many human resource managers are already using highly specialized HR tools to greatly simplify their work and boost efficiency. For example, applicant management systems such as coveto, BeeSite, and d.vinci enable the automatic collection of applicant data, an advanced search feature for skilled professionals, the efficient development of job profiles, and much more. Professional software programs have also become indispensable in other aspects of HR and are now more the rule than the exception in day-to-day work.

On the cusp of Human Resource Management 4.0

Furthermore, concepts and paradigms like search engine optimization (SEO), marketing automation, and agile HR processes are significantly contributing to modern, digital human resource management. New tasks, goals, and roles are emerging, thereby changing the understanding of what HR is. And last but not least, topics such as big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and Human Resource Management 4.0 are on everyone’s lips, sparking a productive debate among HR, IT, and marketing professionals and providing hope for a bright future.

Fantastic opportunities – but are they being maximized?

The potential and a clear direction are there. But how far has HR come in practice? Is digitalization in human resource management still only undergoing a subtle shift or is it already experiencing a radical transformation?

A recent study entitled “Data Analytics, Automation, and More – HR Study 2020: The State of Digitalization in Human Resources” provides some answers. More than a hundred employees and managers from German companies took part in the survey conducted by the University of Halle-Wittenberg between 2019 and 2020. The results offer insights into the status quo of digitalization in human resources. Here are some eye-opening figures:

75 %
of respondents already use a digital solution for employee records or are planning to.
72 %
implement an applicant management tool in their company.
64 %
utilize a payroll accounting system.
58 %
said that they had already digitalized their HR processes.
52 %
already use a cloud solution or are planning to switch over to the cloud.

Digitalization in human resources is and will continue to be an exciting time for HR

The facts deduced from the study reveal that digitalization in Germany’s HR departments is in full swing, but not all HR managers are responding to it with the same enthusiasm. For example, more than half of the study participants said that although there is an awareness of the digital transformation, implementing it still represents a hurdle.

Consequently, HR managers still have to learn to understand digital technologies, identify the obstacles, and establish new solutions step by step. To confidently master the digital transformation, carefully considered actions and a calm approach are required.

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