Is HCM Software Replacing Humans in HR?

In an ongoing quest to increase employee engagement, businesses continue striving to assure personnel that they are far more than mere data points in the corporate machine. However, the escalating shift toward human capital management (HCM), which fundamentally operates on the principal that people are data, seems to directly contradict these humanistic approaches at engagement. So, how deeply ingrained is HCM software in how we deal with fellow humans in the workplace?

Human resources (HR), despite its title, is far from immune from the accelerating digital evolution of today’s workplace. The world of personnel management is changing as surely as the title of HR has shifted in HCM. However, companies remain quick to assert that HCM software is still merely supporting the inherently human functions of HR.

HCM Software in the Workplace

According to Kirsten Allegri Williams, SAP SuccessFactors global head of marketing, initially, HR technology boiled down to simply facilitating transactions to ensure consistency and accuracy for hiring, time management, and payroll record keeping. However, this back-office approach is falling to the wayside as globalization has taken a prominent role in the workplace, but she says this only enforces the necessity of a human touch more than ever.

“Today, everything has changed. The workforce is no longer a narrowly defined group of people. For most organizations they are a diverse, globally dispersed, mobile collection of individuals who are often dis-engaged from the organizations they work for,” Allegri Williams said. “In response to this, the role of HR has transformed.”

“They are no longer ‘back-office’ staff,” She continued. “HR is now on the front lines and in the front-office — working to ensure the workforce is aligned, motivated and engaged to deliver on the organization’s mission and purpose. Leading human capital management (HCM) technology has evolved to support them in their new, digitally transformed role.”

Consequently, while the role of HCM software in HR has evolved into cloud-based systems that easily fulfill the function of many aspects of HR, including  e-learning programs, productivity analytics, employee pay, vacation approvals, and bonuses, we’re still moving toward a future that is far more focused on people than processes. The back-office processes are being handled automatically through software, while the HR personnel works on the front line.

 HCM Software is Managing Data – Not People

HiringSolved founder and CEO Shon Burton says that modern hiring is more of a data problem than a people problem, necessitating the use of AI to offer supportive functions to HR.

“You’re either faced with a breadth of people (tens of thousands of applicants per month, with human recruiters drowning in data) or on the flip side, you’re a startup and no one is applying,” he told Forbes. “This is where AI hiring technology comes in, analyzing candidate/applicant data to make recommendations on how to parse through this data, who recruiters should be talking to, how and where to open up applicant searches.”

Burton holds that hiring software isn’t striving to replace human recruiters, but, rather, it is attempting to handle the sheer volume of applications so that the human element can focus on viable candidates and continually improving daily operational functions.

HCM Software Going Forward

Oracle’s senior vice president of HCM software marketing agrees with Burton, maintaining that while HCM software will increasingly replace process and operational functions, this frees HR managers from data-driven tasks to engage in new opportunities to work with employees to create better work environments.

“To meet the demands of today’s workforce, HR managers need the time to truly personalize career paths, provide more management coaching, work on enhancing the employee experience, etc,” He said. The fastest and most efficient way to get this time back and allow HR managers to focus on more strategic initiatives, is to automate the processes that are consuming valuable time.”

She went on to note that the automation of process- and data-driven HR tasks mirrors the automation we have seen in marketing.

“Today, those functions have gone away and marketing’s role has evolved and grown,” He said. “We now see marketers owning business-wide initiatives like the customer experience and taking on new functions that are directly mapped to driving growth and revenue. The same will be true for HR. HCM systems will not replace HR managers and instead will augment their existing skills and create new opportunities.”

While computers are not replacing the human element of HR, they are going to change the landscape considerably. The automation of processes will allow HR more time to get creative and innovate how we work in the world today. Those who fail to embrace HCM software and digital tools as essential supportive functions risk falling behind.

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