To build on my recent insights into digital HR in the East Africa region, such as blog #1: Is Kenya Ready to Embrace the Power of Digital HR, blog #2: Rwanda’s Hunt for Talent; Can Technology Support HR Challenges for a Rising Nation and blog #3: Top Tips for Kenyan Businesses Considering HR Technology, I developed a survey. So far, 40 businesses have responded to this survey and provided insights. In this post, I have shared the interim results, as well as some commentary to help regional businesses understand where there are greater opportunities to leverage technology to provide better support to the business, whilst elevating the position of HR.
I will also be using these results in my seminar in Nairobi on 15th August 2018 and will be expanding on some of the top insights, provoking some meaningful discussions with participants about the opportunities they present.
This blog post will briefly analyse the emerging trends for three of the questions from the survey. At this point, the answers primarily represent businesses from Kenya, who may be operating exclusively in Kenya or across the wider region. However, my intention is also to incorporate additional responses from the East Africa region as I continue to collect results.
1) What are the top 3 challenges (pain points) businesses face from a HR perspective?
- Motivating people in the organisation (43.75%)
- Retaining the best talent/losing them to competitors (40.63%)
- Acquiring the right talent (34.38%)
Employee engagement and retention were ranked #1 for importance and urgency in the 2014 Human Capital Trends survey by Deloitte. Talent acquisition also featured in the same list at #4. Four years on and these items are clearly still featuring high on the agenda of both SMEs and larger corporates.
In the Brighter Monday 100 Best Companies to Work for in Kenya survey carried out in April 2018, just 23% of male employees and 21% of female employees said they are satisfied with their place of work. The survey also highlighted that up to 50% of employees would not recommend their current employer. These are quite alarming figures and further validate my own findings; there must be urgent action taken in order to improve the workplace culture, provide better engagement and enhance employee satisfaction.
In such a competitive market and with a dynamic, multi-generational work place, companies must take steps to review and refresh their talent acquisition, engagement and retention strategies. Two extremely important considerations are:
- Creating a strong, compelling brand, which is both attractive to new talent and makes current employees feel proud to be part of
- Focusing on factors that resonate with employees, such as career opportunities, pay and benefits, flexibility, trust, diversity and inclusion etc.
2) Which areas are already using HR technology?
- Payroll (78.13%)
- Talent acquisition (43.75%)
- Performance management (34.38%)
Whilst some effort has been made in recruitment and performance management, these are two key areas that are being affected by the changing demands of the multi-generational and modern digital work place. They are also directly linked to the pain points outlined above and as such, are critical to the success of the business. Both recruitment and performance management systems need to have a carefully defined and well thought-out strategy, which is underpinned by best-in-class technology. It is important that businesses continuously review the effectiveness of the technology that has been implemented to support these areas, in order to remain relevant and to stay ahead of competitors.
There are many opportunities to streamline and automate the core HR processes, which would help enhance data quality and improve both efficiency and productivity of the HR function, enabling them to focus less on the administration and more on developing a strategic focus and sharpening their skills. Payroll is clearly the area that most businesses have focused on so far and this is most likely out of necessity and practicality. However, this in itself demonstrates that technology can effectively support business processes to make them more efficient – imagine having to manually calculate and raise payments for the entire work force. There is no doubt a significant cost and efficiency saving to most businesses just in this one area – so why would there not be similar cost savings in automating other HR processes?
Two other critical areas that seem to be taking a back-seat but definitely must come more upfront to be successful in the future work place are talent and learning.
3) Which factors prevent HR technology from being used more?
- Cost of implementing systems (65.63%)
- Ongoing costs – subscriptions, licensing, maintenance etc. (37.5%)
- HR is not viewed as a strategic partner to the business (31.25%)
Cost is clearly a major barrier to implementing digital solutions. However, first and foremost, I believe that there has not been enough appreciation of how HR can add value to the business. Technology is merely an enabler to facilitate and deliver the HR strategy in the most efficient and effective manner possible. Cost will always be seen as a barrier unless it can be offset by clear business benefits. HR have an opportunity to elevate themselves from being seen as a non-profit, administrative function to a valuable business partner, who works with the business to support them deliver their goals, show commercial awareness, address the critical agenda items (e.g. engagement and retention) and add value by providing powerful real-time, data-driven people insights through effective use of technology. This is all within the hands of HR right now but in many organisations, it will take time to win support and trust. My recommendation is to focus on one or two key areas first, create a strategy that can be supported by low-cost (but effective) digital solutions and use this as a way to begin demonstrating business value, as well as the return on any investment made. Once this can be achieved, trust can be built slowly and support for future initiatives will be easier.
Have your say!
This survey is part of my ongoing research, so if you are a HR or business leader in East Africa, I would appreciate your input – you can complete the short survey here (it will only take 2 – 3 minutes). However, to keep findings relevant, please ensure you are representing businesses in East Africa only.
Join my event!
You can register for my upcoming event on 15th August 2018 – it would be great to meet you in person and have some insightful discussions around these topics.