What HR Really Wants From Their #HRTech

Much of my job these days is working directly with HR technologies and service providers who are building tech, tools and ways to help recruiters, trainers and HR do their job better and more strategically. A great deal of my time is helping them understand who HR is, what they do and how they impact the organization. It’s a lot more challenging and complicated than you might think, and the number one reason that companies who support HR fail. It’s because they don’t understand HR and how their roles impact their companies.

HR Are A Passion-Filled & Loyal Bunch

Late last week as I was traveling back to Oklahoma, I had the fortunate opportunity to be sitting in first class next to an HR practitioner who has worked for a home healthcare company for 24 years in a regional HR capacity. I noticed when I sat down, she had her SPHR study guide in her lap and quickly told her I was a fellow HR lady. Over the next two and a half hours, we talked passionately about HR. The conversation was non-stop and I was again reminded about the love that people have for what they do in this industry. It’s hard to put into words. This woman’s entire life outside of her children and other family had been in human resources. She absolutely loved what she did and that made me extremely proud and happy. This love is difficult for service providers and HR technologies to really understand especially sales professionals, marketers and business leaders who are new to the HR industry. There’s a lot of love working in HR and not just from HR practitioners but amazing talents like my friend, Stacy Chapman who is a workforce analytics guru. Talking with her and hearing her love and passion for the industry makes me happy and smarter at the same time. It doesn’t hurt that she also has an Aussie accent, but I’m blessed to have met someone with such knowledge, experience and love for what she does.

Like most times when I’m talking to HR practitioners especially those in the field our airplane conversation quickly turned to EEOC charges, depositions and swapping HR horror stories. One of those horror stories was an HR technology implementation gone wrong. Systems didn’t integrate. Training was done halfway. Employees didn’t get paid for weeks. Vacation hours earned and calculations were incorrect or non-existent for a period of more than 6 months. The failure of the product launch and implementation was likely one of shared blame with the technology, implementation team and my friend’s company, that’s how the story was shared with me. This story alone is the exact reason that HR is scared of technology. We’ve been burned. We’ve been bruised and the shortest path to keeping that from happening is to avoiding doing anything all together. Denial and analogue is so easy when you hear my airplane companion’s story.

What HR Want From HR Technologies

When I’m talking to HR technology companies and my clients, I tell them that HR is slow to trust. We’re sold like crazy with people treating us more like a lead call or email than an actual human being. A strategy like that isn’t going to help make your company very successful in HR. It almost assures that your HR technology company is the butt of jokes at the next local HR mixer, happy hour or conversation behind closed doors. We’re a tight little network that’s slow to trust, but there is a way to earn our trust…

  • We want to know you care. You don’t have to love the industry like we do, but you have to care about us, our business and show us that you will be there to support us through our fears. That last HR technology implementation horror story even if it happened 4 years ago is still fresh in our minds.
  • We want you to do your homework. We want to know that you’ve done some research before cold calling us or meeting us for a demo. You’ve googled us and checked out our LinkedIn. We don’t like to be insulted, bullied or treated like we are dumb. While it may or may not be your intention, failing to do your homework makes you look ill-prepared especially if we did something amazing at our last company and took on a challenge at a new company. You have no idea because you didn’t take five minutes to do a little research.
  • We want you to qualify us. Qualify our knowledge base. Qualify our interest in buying your product. This helps in identifying our experience with a type of technology, service or skill.
  • We want you to support us. You might not hear this from senior leadership, but field HR desperately wants to be involved in the conversation with the development, build and customization of the product. Support us and we will support you. We do this job in the field every day so we know our stuff. We want you to support us with implementation, build, design and going forward as we grow our team, our role and involvement with the organization. We want you to be our partner in helping build an amazing company.
  • We want you to understand what we do. This is so critical in being successful at working with, partnering or selling to HR. We want you to understand what it’s like to work in HR. We want you to job shadow someone in HR for 2-3 days every year, meet with focus groups and really take the time to understand who we are. This goes for every person including sales, marketing and even your development team.
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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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