Image: iStockphoto/Jirsak

With many human resource departments working remotely to serve their employees during the pandemic, several HR leaders found a new set of challenges from both a technology and organizational perspective. A new survey by PwC polled 688 HR workers on both the issues and findings brought forth by the sudden move to remote work, as well as five areas for change so companies can make the most of their technology.

During the move to remote work, 95% of those surveyed said they have implemented new methods to track productivity and performance metrics for their workers, or are currently in the process of doing so. The two top challenges cited by these HR leaders were budget (28% of respondents) and issues with integrating other technologies (27%) in completing projects.

1. Employees embracing new technologies

Getting the workforce to buy into using new technology was cited as a main challenge by HR leaders in the study, with a number of representatives proposing different methods to get their employees all on the same page.

Using incentives, such as bonuses, or giving away prizes was one of the most effective methods at a rate of 85% among those polled. Tied for first along with incentives were mobile access to these technologies, as well as training in the tech assisted with employees’ adoption of the platforms.

Less effective were the methods of gamification (82%), leadership communication (82%). The least effective method cited in the survey was that of negative reinforcement by penalizing those who did not use the new technologies.

2. Monitoring remote work

As remote and now hybrid work setups have been implemented across all facets of business, it is up to these HR leaders to adjust in order to best support their employees. Almost all respondents said they have installed new methods to better track and report on the work that gets done, giving the workforce the ability to do their jobs effectively.

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Of those who responded to the survey, 37% said they have already implemented these new ways to track performance and metrics, while 35% said they were either considering doing so, or were in the process of developing ways to map these metrics. Just over one-fifth (22%) of respondents said they have a plan in place to help measure productivity.

The goal in doing this is to gauge a worker on how efficiently work is completed and goals are met, without focusing on how much time is spent completing a task. Some of the metrics being measured were interactions with other employees, either through collaborative tools, such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, or participation in conference calls.

3. Challenges working with the cloud

With more employees working offsite than ever, it is imperative that businesses have dependable cloud setups so workers can get tasks completed in a timely and efficient manner while their data remains secure. From an HR perspective, 80% of respondents said the cloud met or exceeded expectations for each of 10 possible outcomes. However, the movement to the cloud has not come without its hiccups.

As one of the largest challenges for HR leaders, 21% of those polled said they were concerned about the security of critical HR data stored on the cloud as a top technology challenge. Ransomware attack numbers continue to grow, creating potential obstacles for the workforce as attracting talent to manage these cloud setups becomes more scarce.

4. Cloud vendor issues

While most HR leaders had their expectations exceeded by the move to the cloud, not all were elated with the vendors that assisted that move. Of these leaders, 36% say it was likely they may switch cloud vendors once the current agreement had expired, and just 19% said they were not at all considering changing vendors. As mentioned above, the two largest challenges to HR leaders were budget and problems integrating with other technologies, and vendors may not have fully quelled these issues.

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The survey suggests that when it comes to focusing on a few key aspects when it comes to selecting a cloud vendor, and clearly communicating the importance of the core requirements needed for the enterprise. Evaluation of areas such as the vendor’s history of client satisfaction, user experience, technology architecture and tools and alignment with your company’s culture were cited as some of the aspects that should be considered when choosing a vendor.

5. Expansion into new technologies

As businesses expand into new areas like the metaverse, Internet of Things , AI and blockchain, it’s imperative that HR leaders do their part in making sure these technologies are aiding in getting tasks completed to help reduce the amount of repetitive work completed by employees so they can focus on more important aspects of the enterprise. This tech can assist with things like upgrading employee security, data analysis, remote training and helping verify credentials.

But these benefits are not without their issues, as the two biggest challenges faced by HR leaders in getting new tech integrated for use are the costs of implementation according to 23% of respondents and lack of a compelling use case (21%). In order to prove to those with budgetary decision-making powers that these new technologies are needed, the survey recommends that HR leaders gradually increase the push by identifying use cases for the tech and presenting these opportunities to expedite how important work can be completed more effectively. Monitoring systems to track results can, in turn, lead to proposals to increase efficiency, quality and productivity can lead to budgetary decision-makers being more open to adopting these new technologies.

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