What’s stopping HR tech adoption in organizations? Four things preventing change

Charlotte Nicol
Published on 5th February 2020
3 min read

Do you feel like your team can keep up with changes in HR technology in the next ten years? 

Worryingly, 43% of HR leaders we polled as part of our research, The changing face of HR, admitted they don’t think they’ll be able to.

HR technology appetite is high – but uptake is slow

As part of our research, The changing face of HR, we spoke to 500 HR and People teams about new technologies they’re using as they continue their journey from HR to People. We asked them what technology they currently use in their organization, and what they plan to in the coming years.

Technology adoption amongst HR and People teams was highest for cloud and mobile technology, but just 43% and 36% of organizations have adopted them respectively, followed by analytics (26% adopted) and self-service (24%).

When we asked HR leaders what technology they plan to adopt in the next two years, however, this leaped significantly.

Many HR and People leaders said that they plan to adopt new technologies, such as AI, gamification, and analytics, in the next two years.

However, how realistic is this? HR and People leaders have a huge appetite for change it seems. Yet, will all HR teams have adopted new technologies indicated in the next two years, as they say they intend to?

Perhaps intentions aren’t always realized, for different reasons. So, we asked HR leaders: what’s stopping you?

1. Too many competing priorities

Too many competing priorities was given as a reason for delaying change by more than half of HR and People leaders we polled; 53% of HR and People leaders said they just have too much on.

Employee expectations are changing; and with issues like flexible working, enhancing employee experiences and employee-driven learning vying for HR’s attention, it’s not surprising it’s difficult to carve out a niche for technology. Yet, it needs to be done if the transformation from HR to People is to be successful.

Investing in new HR technology enables HR and People teams to more efficiently look at some of these strategies. Without technology, organizations won’t be able to offer self-service and flexible working. Nor will they be able to attract and retain the employees they need.

2. Resourcing restrictions

Nearly three in five (57%) HR leaders gave a lack of resource as a reason for not investing in new technology.

This is despite technology, in fact, freeing up time for HR teams to concentrate on the things that matter. For example, automation can make a workforce 31% more productive by enhancing processes and eliminating admin.

Do the math for your organization to see where technology can help you make your resources work harder. Then demonstrate the ROI to the wider business to get the technology investment you need.

3. Unable to make the business case

More than half of business leaders (53%) felt unable to effectively make the business case for change.

Investing in your people is one of the most important business decisions an organization can make. Get it right and your business will thrive.

Yet HR and People teams are in fierce competition for that all-important slice of budget. As a result, building a robust and comprehensive business case is the most powerful tool that can be used to get that all-important investment.

Packed with tangible benefits, clear facts about ROI, and information tailored to meet the needs of key internal stakeholders, it can give decision makers the confidence to say yes.

To build a successful case, consider the specific needs of your organization and work out how technology will fit into the overall business strategy. Everyone needs to be on board, so getting buy-in from stakeholders is essential. Our 10 steps to building a successful business case for HR tech investment can help.

4. A lack of vision and leadership

A lack of direction from the top of the organization was cited as a barrier by 51% of HR leaders.

It seems that, for some HR and People teams, they feel there is no clear business strategy for the organization that they can use to plan their HR and People strategy – something which is extremely worrying.

Without leadership and vision in an organization, there’s no purpose and organizational direction. These are fundamental in attracting and retaining employees. Who can do their best work, if they don’t know what their work is contributing to?

This is the most worrying barrier to change cited by HR leaders that we polled. So, what can HR and People leaders do about it?

Overcoming barriers with actionable insights

Currently, sales, marketing and operations are all using data to plan and measure objectives and gain actionable insight, meaning they can demonstrate the value of their contributions to the business and its bottom line.

So too should HR as the department responsible for any organization’s biggest asset: its people. That’s what People analytics is about.

With People analytics, HR and People leaders can use data to develop stronger and predictive insights about their people and motivations. These insights can then be used to make more informed evidence-based decisions. That data can be used for predictive purposes, so that the leadership team can start to understand and make decisions based on employee behavior and motivations.

Using data in this way adds immeasurable value to any business, and enables HR and People leaders to not only demonstrate the value of their contributions to the bottom line, but also make business recommendations that can turbocharge growth – both key insights and contributions needed at the top table.

Discover how HR is adapting to the changing world of work and what’s on the horizon in the coming years – download Sage People’s brand-new research ‘The changing face of HR’.


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