All businesses can come together and agree that the availability and management of talent is crucial to the success of their organisations. Whether it’s at an execution level, from an innovation perspective or the leadership at the top, companies need talent.

Even then, mobilising that talent is the missing link between having the right people in place and achieving the end goal. To mobilise employees in this way, businesses need the right tools in place to support their performance. Organisations that can harness the latest HR technologies, such as analytics, integrated systems and high usability interfaces, will be set up to succeed.

Despite the obvious need to create a more stable and supportive environment for all employees – the domain of the HR department – a gap exists in most businesses. Recent research from NGA HR shows that while 75% of HR leaders view HR IT systems as ‘Excellent’ (22%) or ‘Good’ (53%), only 49% of employees would agree.

HR leaders believe that their IT is doing a better job than their employees do. In an environment where recruitment, retention and development of talent is paramount to business success, HR cannot afford to stand so far apart from employees.

In order to reduce the gap and get closer to employees, there are five key areas of HR for companies to think about:

1. Make life as simple as possible:
Too many HR processes are architected in an overly complicated way without considering the needs of employees and managers. If systems are put in place to support these processes, they too will be overly complex and very challenging to manage. With this in mind, put the employee first and work backwards to re-design simplified processes that are easy to follow and implement. Use modern technologies to guide the design with an iterative deployment approach that reviews continuously with end-users.

2. Take off the rose-tinted glasses:
When it comes to the effectiveness of HR IT system(s), HR leaders are far more positive than employees. If real progress is to be made, then perhaps a reality check is required. More time needs to be spent understanding the end-users to find out what truly works for them. Most organisations have a diverse workforce so a unique combination of tools & technologies will be needed. This cannot be copied or bought off the shelf. So again, start with your employees and work back.

3. When selecting technology pay close attention to user adoption:
Technology selection can be difficult because there are so many different considerations, but perhaps the most important is end-user adoption. An easy-to-use system that is widely adopted is a far better scenario than a more complex solution that is harder to use and therefore not taken up. So as has been said repeatedly, keep things as simple as possible but also ensure that change readiness and training are key factors in the selection process.

4. Prepare to embrace mobile and social tools:
It’s a fact that most employees spend more time on mobile devices than they do on PCs or even laptops. However, access to HR systems from smart phones, tablets and also from an employee’s own device is still surprisingly low. Nevertheless, it’s particularly important in areas such as recruitment and learning for a quality mobile experience to become the norm. So make this a key area of focus. The use of social tools also continues to proliferate, which presents a huge opportunity for HR teams to provide services that leverage them in full. Those organisations that embrace these technology shifts will improve their ability to attract and retain talent, as well as increase the productivity of their employees.

5. Build your data strategy to make talent analytics a reality:
Data-driven HR is now a core competence in organisations that are high performing in the field of talent management. Yet only one in five HR leaders are confident in their analytics capability. The challenge of working with multiple systems that are only partially integrated continues to stifle the ability for many organisations to make truly informed and effective talent decisions. So, invest in a robust data infrastructure and ensure that your HR technology roadmap is aligned to the key talent insights your business really needs to succeed.

Taking steps in the right direction
The experience that an employee has of your organisation goes a long, long way to determining whether they stay or go. In the case of high demand skills and top talent, these decisions have a significant business impact. Companies need to be doing all that they can to make sure that their workforces remain stable and productive.