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Digitization in Human Resources

Digitization and artificial intelligence – topics that are often addressed together. Rather, they are terms that are cropping up more and more frequently these days. In both the private and professional spheres, society is moving toward an “e-version.” Life with the daily use of at least one to three devices, which make it possible to store things in a cloud, network with each other or, to put it casually, move data back and forth, no longer seems foreign to anyone.

If everyone tries to define the above-mentioned terms on their own, they often still appear abstract despite the ongoing developments. In the following, we will primarily draw attention to the transformation of an entire area of work and thus provide more concrete background information on a subarea of digitization. The human resources area, which has almost always been dismissed as an administrative support service, is undergoing a transformation through digitization into a strategic field of work that can influence the company as a whole both positively and negatively and is therefore largely decisive for the attractiveness of the same.

At this point, the digital turn, which meant the first developments away from pen and paper, should no longer be taken up. The modernization and optimization (automation) that occurred in the 20th and 21st centuries should be taken up. Not unimportant in this context is also the social change. A generational change, which in interaction with digitization is decisive for the shifts and changes in everyday working life. [1]

Human Resources at a Glance

First of all, it should be explained in brief what tasks can and should occur in human resources. Depending on the size of the company, one differentiates and decides on the necessity of these. University professor Christian Scholz provides some insights in his book on the ‘Fundamentals of Human Resource Management’ and thus helps to develop the necessary understanding. The tasks can be differentiated into primary and secondary areas. Primary, one deals with personnel calculations and acquisitions. It is about the evaluation, integration and allocation of personnel. But also compensatory issues or qualitative training in the company are significant. In the case of unpleasant issues, such as staff reductions, experienced employees from the HR department are called in for advice. It can be described as a field that takes care of organization, communication as well as administration, linking to emotions and introducing innovative concepts (secondary field). It is crucial to understand that most of the tasks mentioned here from a textbook of 2011 are now 10 years later almost exclusively digitally organized, implemented and perceived. In this context, one can ask oneself as a personnel manager:in initially simple questions:

  • Personnel Calculation & Acquisition: Where do I find talent? What qualifications do these people have to meet? How do I calculate staffing requirements and what shortfalls should I expect?
  • Integration & Allocation: How do I integrate new employees? Where do I deploy them? What possibilities do I have to integrate new employees into the teams as uncomplicated as possible?
  • Qualification & Compensation: How do I reach the employees and how can they continue to work on their qualification? How do I compensate them and what makes a company attractive as a place to work?
  • Organization, Communication & Administration: What are the most effective and efficient methods of data processing? How do I communicate and reach employees in the best possible way? How do I deal with the factor of globalization and thus additional administrative tasks?

In answering these questions, one is immersed in the digital world and recognizes new areas of work and terminology of HR relatively quickly. [2]

Digitization in the Human Resources Sector

According to Product Marketing Manager Martin Woßmann (Haufe Group), there are four areas of digitization in HR in particular: digitization of recruiting, digitization of talent management, introduction of e-learning and automation of HR processes:

  • Digital career fairs and career days,
  • Digital learning systems developed to meet the aspect of continuous learning,
  • Data processing systems, which can be shared via a special work cloud only in the internal area,
  • Virtual personality and knowledge tests, which are increasingly used in the acquisition process,
  • Virtual systems that allow staff to share documents internally, or
  • External career sites and resource access, which are often critical in attracting and satisfying employees.

To what extent has the field changed now? Above all, the reach of a company has increased. Due to globalization and emerging opportunities for talent, it is important to gain a global foothold and work on the attractiveness of the company. What aspects are particularly important to today’s new employees? They want to work internationally, they want continuous training, they want to be recognized and feel special, they want to be integrated and have a good work-life balance. The possibility of so-called “remote working” is also considered crucial, especially in times of pandemic. As easy as possible, as effective as possible, and as fairly compensated as possible. [3]

Digitization and Generational Change

At this point, the aforementioned generation change and its significance for companies can be put into concrete terms. The current generation of people entering the workforce is also referred to as Generation Z. Let’s think back to Generation X (“latchkey kids”), who saw their work as an end in itself and made a fairly strong separation between work and private life. They grew up, mostly without computers and global digital networks (Internet). In contrast, for the Generation Y (“Millennials”) that followed, the boundaries between work and private life are no longer clear (“work-life blending”). They are almost always digitally accessible. With the opening of the Internet outside universities for public use in 1990, they grew up as the first generation of the networked, digital age. While Generation X currently occupies many of the key positions in business and society, the digitally savvy Millennials are pushing out of universities and their first career steps into higher positions. Generation Z is only at the beginning of its professional life, with many behaviors still open – technology-savvy yet back to a sense of strict separation of work and private life seem to be their ideas. Many studies confirm the change in behavior of Millennials from previous generations. While HR professionals:inside are still grappling with their expectations, Generation Z is already entering the professional world. [4]

Digital Routines of HR Professionals

A brief insight into some of the tasks of human resources professionals, which are mainly concerned with recruitment and retention, can help to understand the terminology of modern human resources management and to recognize which of their skills differ from purely administrative activities today and to what extent social developments must be followed:

I start the computer, my work tool, without which I would no longer be able to perform my job. The most important elements are my email inbox, my digital application system, my accesses to various digital professional portals and social networks, as well as my cloud and internal system with information about employees – many open documents, browsers, systems, emails and resumes. Not to mention requests for collaborative partnerships, requests from internal employees, requests for consulting implementing new systems and vice versa in turn the own requests that go out every day of the week. Organizational chaos, which must be structured in the first place. Digitization helps with the standardized processes and speeds up the automated processes regarding documents and requests. Employees have high expectations of HR and expect their applications to be processed as quickly as possible. Through digital learning platforms and social media, one can search for talent both actively and passively, through concrete sourcing in networks such as LinkedIn, or by participating in virtual fairs, where one can often go through or shorten an entire application process. This is where you meet talent in one-on-one or group meetings and have the opportunity, among other things, to plan and organize an entire concept or event around this meeting. At this point, HR professionals have to deal with emerging marketing and employer branding issues (even if it is not the person’s core competence). Organizing both digital and live events requires setting up an entire concept around recruitment. In doing so, one should pay attention to the above-mentioned needs and perceptions of potential talents, and get involved in the organization and strategy both competitively and with consideration for the company’s vision. Digital advertising slogans, digital workshops, digital learning opportunities, digital events that contribute to corporate attractiveness, and similar organizations, fall under HR and require close collaboration with external vendor:s and the marketing department. University marketing also falls under HR. In doing so, one should be able to stand out from other companies as much as possible in order to win over today’s generations. Document, note down, pass on to team members who then deal with contract creation, legal regulations and induction through digital platforms.

Key words: Employer Branding – Recruiting – HR Marketing – University Marketing, Digital Application Systems – Virtual Fairs and Events – Candidate Experience

After this first insight into the digitization of HR, which would have been the equivalent of an essay if it had been extended, it remains to draw attention to what is probably the biggest and most important challenge posed by digital systems and processes: Data security and data protection. In larger companies, the most important thing is to communicate clear guidelines and to monitor the obligation to delete data, which is laid down by law. There are digital systems that can help with compliance here as well. In the course of digitization, HR managers have to process and edit larger volumes of data with stricter requirements, however, while not violating the obligation to maintain the confidentiality of personal data. To this end, digital learning units on correct data processing often take place. In the future, it can be assumed that artificial intelligence will be used to help further in the individual activities (See introductory article on artificial intelligence on oveyaras.de).

Quellen

  1. Bendel, Oliver (2021): Digitalisierung, Wirtschaftslexikon, Online unter: wirtschaftslexikon.gabler.de.
  2. Scholz, Christian (2011): Grundzüge des Personalmanagements, Verlag Franz Vahlen GmbH.
  3. Woßmann, Martin (2021): 4 Handlungsfelder für die HR Digitalisierung, Online unter humanresourcesmanager.de.
  4. Klaffke, Martin (2014): Millennials und Generation Z – Charakteristika der nachrückenden Arbeitnehmer-Generationen.
Ida Manko

Our guest author Ida has a degree in economic sociology and works in the HR department of a large international company. In her project oveyaras.de she deals with interesting issues around the topics of human resources, employer branding and digitalization.