The miter saw is a fantastic piece of equipment and is able to dice up just about any wood that finds itself under its razor sharp blade. Yet does it mean that the owner of this saw is ready to build a house? Certainly not. The tool is simply not enough. Could you try? Of course. But chances are the house you’d build would need to be torn down and rebuilt with a Master Carpenter operating that saw of yours, along with a cadre of other supporting builders, managers, drywallers, plumbers, etc.
So where’s this analogy going?
We live in a time where tools are everywhere. And they’re cheap. From QuickBooks and Salesforce, to Hootsuite and Basecamp, there’s a $9/month software product meant to support just about every aspect of an organization’s mission and function these days. In fact, a recent study, conducted by The Starr Conspiracy, stated that more than half of the 210 business leaders surveyed had plans of introducing some form of HR technology to their company within the next year.
For the most part, this is good news. It’s great being able to track your purchases, or connect a remote workforce with a few clicks in a portal. But here’s the problem, specifically as it relates to HR:
Tools and technology cannot replace the strategic thinking and human-centered insights that a real-live professional can bring to the table. And that’s what HR is really about.
Now, it’s not the tool’s fault. Most of the tools out there are useful and, for the most part, affordable. The problem is that many leaders assume that enough HR technology products can replace the role of an HR professional. It’s an attractive scenario but it’s simply not true as these tools could eventually function as a crutch for your organization, short-circuiting the very role of HR in the first place.
It’s called human resources for a reason.
Let me give an example: Say that over the last two years, your company saw a 40% turnover rate in all non-management employees. Could a tool identify this as a problem? Sure. Could a tool tell you that the majority of those employees left because they saw little room for growth and felt limited by the management style they found themselves under? Probably not. And if it could, would a tool be able to produce a strategic plan that senior leadership could use to address the root of the problem? You can see the dichotomy here. A few more examples:
- Can a tool determine if a candidate is a good cultural fit for your organization?
- Can a tool spot a red flag on a resume that only a seasoned HR professional can?
- How well can a tool assess and overhaul your organization’s onboarding plan?
Tools like applicant tracking systems (ATS), automated training tools, and open enrollment portals are extremely useful, but they’re just that: tools. You still need talented HR professionals at the helm; just like you need a carpenter to run that miter saw and focus on the overall project (building a house) instead of just a task (cut a 2×4).
Over the next few months, we’ll be spending some time on the topic of HR technology, specifically addressing the tempting myth as tools serving as a substitute for an HR professional, instead of as a compliment to their role. We’re all for tools here at Smart HR, but we’re all about results. Let’s find the balance.