The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology

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Employee Portal Experience Fundamentals

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Portal redesign is fun these days.  Creating widgets from our talent management systems and plugging in cool looking, drillable analytics from the business intelligence engine (also widgetized) is pretty cool.  The technology advances in the last few years that allow you to take a standard portal and natively configure and insert your widgets (portlets, pagelets, whatever) has expanded significantly to allow non-giant organizations to have cool employee oriented technologies.  The problem when we go through employee experience and redeisgn projects, is that we don’t quite get the point of what we’re trying to accomplish.

All the redesign in the world does not mitigate the core problem we have in HR portals:  Employees don’t come to the portal because they want to, they come because they have to.

We make beautiful portal experiences for people.  We have long since applied single sign-on.  We’ve started porting external application functionality into the environment.  We’ve even started thinking about single workflow engines that will transact data across multiple applications.  But we’re still designing (and spending huge sums of money) for a population that visits us only unwillingly.  It’s all very nice that we want the experience to be lovely when someone gets there, and I’m pleased that we’re making it so efficient for them.  None of this changes the fact that they really didn’t want to come in the first place.

Lets face it, employees utilize HR service delivery when they have a problem.  Payroll broke for them, they can’t figure out why their doctor is not on the list, the bonus payment seems wrong, they can’t find where the forms library is on-line.  They never call for cool things like they do in the rest of the business, “Hey, i needed to collaborate and get your thoughts on a project.”  Manager’s don’t really call for help understanding their talent.  We still have to push out our services.

Even with the coolest manager experiences, we’re still only attracting MAYBE 5% of the manager population to self motivate and come to the portal.  So what we’ve done is spend tons of money on the portal, although I do agree that the money should have been spent.  However, and equal or larger sum of money should also have been spent on other areas of HR Service Delivery.  As technologists, we often focus on the portal redesign, but portal does not exist in a microcosm all alone.  Portal is just an enabler in HR to drive fewer calls and increase the strategic purpose of the deployed HR group.

Not only do call center reps need to be directing traffic back to the portals, but deployed HR must simultaneously be strategically partnering with the managers, ALWAYS using the portal as a tool in their conversations.  Portals actually do present value, but our customers don’t realize what that value is yet.  Redesign is needed, but redesign in and of itself will not drive traffic.

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