By Ian Dowd, Director at NGA HR

If you have been following the recent news, the fight for talent is in full swing. Having the right person in the right place with the right tools is, now more than ever, essential for success. The difference is that nowadays, managers have a multitude of HR technologies and tools at their disposal to improve efficiency and productivity with analytics. Or so they think.

The HR department has a responsibility to be at the core of this development as it is one of the few departments in a company that touches every employee. This gives HR experts the opportunity to create and embed corporate culture, create ways for employees to interact and engage with the brand to boost motivation. A better HR service for employees and an improved employee experience are cited most often as the benefits of modern HR technology. Thus providing the right support and tools to employees is undoubtedly seen as the main benefits of modern HR technology.

However, even though high technological standards have become a key differentiator in the fight for talent, there is still a gap in perception in most businesses. Recent research shows that while 75 per cent of HR leaders view HR IT systems as ‘Excellent’ (22 per cent) or ‘Good’ (53 per cent), only 49 per cent of employees would agree. Even more worryingly, only just 24 per cent of employees feel their current HR IT systems had a positive impact on productivity and often feel overwhelmed by the complexity of processes.

The survey reveals noticeable disparities in what HR leaders believe they are providing, and what employees on the ground are actually experiencing. To retain talent and gain a competitive advantage over other market players, HR solutions need to be simplified so that people spend less time on admin tasks, and can focus their work where it really matters.

The main reasons for the low ratings of HR systems among employees are quite revealing: limited functionality, not being user friendly, multiple systems that are not integrated and high complexity make employees life more difficult rather than easier. It’s only logical that when asked most employees rated real-time updates, accessibility, ease of use and one system for all HR tasks highest among the terms describing the ideal HR IT system.

With overly complex HR systems, business managers will experience the direct opposite of what they were trying to achieve: annoyed employees and inefficient processes that take longer than they should and inhibit productivity. If employees are overwhelmed with overly complex HR systems they are likely to waste time that could rather be spent on achieving corporate objectives.

This shows that when it comes to HR technology, business managers need to face up to reality and spend more time with their employees to understand what their daily workload looks like and what they need to reduce complexity and become more efficient. A “one size fits all” solution will not be suitable to accommodate the specific requirement of each individual and the company as a whole – an integrated system of unique tools and techniques is needed to make a positive impact.

Data-driven HR is to become a core field in organisations to align their resources more intelligently and streamline their talent management in specific and HR management in general. However, for HR IT systems to be effective, business leaders need to acknowledge that employees have very specific needs when it comes to handling technology and software. A positive user experience will inevitably result in high user adoption of the new system and an easy-to-use system will have a much bigger impact than overly sophisticated solutions. So, the old rule for success remains: Keep it simple, put the employee first and work backwards to find the perfect processes that are easy to implement and do follow.