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Why demand for customization is disrupting traditional HR tech

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(Image credit: Image Credit: Coffee / Pixabay)

The ‘one-size-fits-all’ HR SaaS model has been around for years but is it working for people and business? No two organizations are the same - in part because businesses are supposed to be multifaceted and unique - and so it makes every sense that HR teams should have their own processes and ways of operating. The question is, how can off-the-shelf HR tech support all of these nuances and variables? The short answer? It can’t.

In the current climate, there’s a growing need for customizable technology that can support the specific needs and wants of HR teams and end users - and as we move into 2021, we’ll see rising demand for this.

But before we get into the multitude of benefits that customization brings to HR, employees and business, let’s first define what custom HR should look like. Customizable HR tech - the kind that really works for both people and business - should be structured in a way that blends HR best practices with the ability to adapt to the different dynamics that exist within individual organizations and teams. Acquiring technology that can strike the right balance in these terms will open up a plethora of opportunities for HR leaders - now more than ever.

Covid: a catalyst for customization

So why is customization fast becoming the ‘secret sauce’ for HR right now? The truth is, it has been for some time. We’ve seen the digital transformation of HR over the past ten years and the industry has certainly come a long way from the spreadsheet nightmares of years gone by, but here’s the thing: unless we go further, unless we make sure HR is laser-focused on the specific needs of employees and team dynamics, we’re going to plateau. Arguably, this has been the emerging picture for at least a couple of years now - and there have certainly been increasing discussions about the importance of customization in HR.

So where are we at today? The not-so-small matter of a global pandemic has served as the ultimate catalyst for customization with HR teams needing to solve problems quickly and in a way that works for individual teams and employees. That flexibility simply doesn’t exist within ‘one-size-fits-all’ technology. 

Let’s look at the benefits for people and HR:

More engaging experiences

Perhaps the most obvious benefit is the ability to create more engaging experiences for employees - and when you consider that poor engagement costs businesses more than $400bn in the US alone each year (Gallup), it’s a point that cannot be overstated. 

With customizable technology, HR teams can gather the precise information they need to develop bespoke HR strategies that resonate with a particular team or group of employees. That makes for a far more engaging experience which drives improved performance, increased retention, and ultimately, a bigger return on the bottom line.

Optimum HR agility

In the current climate, businesses need to be able to respond to change very quickly. Now is not the time for rolling out long-term HR initiatives because there’s a good chance these will become irrelevant before they’ve even been rolled out. Agility is very much the order of the day - and customization is a key facilitator in this regard.

So exactly how does customization support agility?

It opens up opportunities to adapt quickly and in a way that aligns with the inner workings of specific teams and organizations. This ensures HR practices remain relevant - and this is the recipe for success when it comes to achieving both employee and organizational goals.

Ability to pilot new processes

Closely linked to the rising demand for agility is the heightened need to pilot HR processes with select employee groups. Custom HR tools provide a key means of achieving this. Why? Because they enable HR leaders to trial new HR processes at either a team or departmental level. This provides an opportunity to gather feedback and, crucially, understand whether any one initiative is delivering the desired outcomes. If it isn’t, appropriate adjustments can be made to provide a better fit, or the initiative can be abandoned altogether. If it is working though, HR has gained the requisite assurances to begin implementing across additional teams and business functions. Imagine never again having to roll out a company-wide HR initiative - at great time and expense - only to find out that it doesn’t work? Wouldn’t that be great?

Consistent culture

By creating bespoke HR processes with the help of customizable tech, leaders can also disseminate their unique culture across all aspects of HR. In this way, customization supports the integration of fundamental HR processes from onboarding right through to offboarding. This creates a more tailored and consistent journey for employees and in contrast, highlights the limitations of stand alone HR whereby, for example, onboarding and performance management are viewed as distinct entities. Customization is the glue that binds HR processes together here - and it’s key to eradicating silos. 

Puts the right tools in the right hands

The benefits of custom HR tech apply not only to HR, however. By arming teams and managers with the right tools and systems, we can also empower them to drive further customization through feedback and self-service. That said, HR tech needs to be customizable not only at an HR process level, but at a team and manager one too.  

Empowering HR to do things their way

If this year has taught us anything, it’s that the future of HR tech lies in empowering HR to do things their way - because they know their people and their organization best. The solution is simple: empower HR teams and managers with the right custom tools and processes so that they can collect the most relevant, high-quality data.

No coding necessary

There’s a sticking point though. Customization that takes days or even weeks is just not going to deliver the desired results - especially in the current climate where HR teams are having to pivot on an almost weekly basis as rules and regulations change. That said, there’s little value in customizable technology unless that technology is also underpinned by bucket loads of flexibility and agility. This is where the magic happens - and this is where HR can create game-changing results on the bottom line.

The final piece of the puzzle? HR teams need to be able to customize their HR solution as and when they need - and without having to call upon IT for support. Anything less than this is fundamentally flawed and will create all kinds of headaches for HR. The road ahead calls for customization with no code configuration - and it’s sure to shake things up in HR tech.

Nikolaos Lygkonis, Founder & CEO, PeopleGoal