Harnessing HR technology to support Omanisation

As the Sultanate of Oman moves towards an integrated Omanisation plan, aimed to bring national Omanis into positions of responsibilities within key organisations, it is an interesting time to look into how Human Resources technology could come handy during and after COVID-19 emergency.

Recently I was involved in a Tweetchat (an organized conversation over Twitter) revolving around the topic of HR and its future in the after-COVID19 era. Many Human Resources specialists joined the conversation under the public hashtag #EXWeek. All participants were provided with questions and were tasked to formulate an answer. In addition, we were also given inputs on HR figures. For instance, according to a survey commissioned by People Matters, it appears that 50 per cent of the respondent organisations are keeping salary increment budgets unchanged. This is the typical glass that can be seen as half empty or half full depending on the point of view. Some might make a point that as long as 50 per cent of the respondents have a positive outlook towards the future, then the situation is rosy. Others might argue that because the other 50 per cent has planned to cut the salary increment budget, then the overall outlook is negative, since half of the organisations are affected. I leave it to the readers to formulate their own conclusions, if any conclusion at all is possible with this data alone.

Another piece of information shared during the Tweetchat was the following: 90 per cent of the organisations surveyed prioritise employees experience as an important criteria while deciding to invest in an HR technology. This means that the largest majority of the organisations are not going for innovation “no matter what”, but actually rationalise the impact on the current and future workforce.

While discussing with a brilliant sales team leader based in Singapore, Ms Shivani shared with me that meticulous upkeep of the company’s CRM is often seen as a chore. However, in Shivani’s experience, she noticed that those willing to go through CRM software training with a growth mindset were able to improve their performance quite rapidly and steadily over time. On the contrary, those who gave up learning the software displaying a fixed mindset, thinking that they knew already everything they needed to know, ended up underperforming. In Shivani’s view the core of the issue was in the way the e-learning program was structured. She said that for the first 80 per cent of the learning journey, the concepts explained were mostly theoretical and hard to associate with real examples, while the last 20 per cent of the content was very engaging, because it contained all the tools that the team needed in order to track and improve their sales funnel.

There are generally two types of technology approach in HR: the one that tends to be designed to make things more structured and the one that wants to implement automations to make things faster. I tend to categorize the former as Efficient and the second one as Effective. Although at times we mix them up, these two words sound so similar yet are so different.

One of the simplest examples that I can come up with is pertaining to something that appeared to be just a silly incident at first, but upon reflecting on it I realized how insightful it was. I was home preparing some ice by pouring some water in the ice-tray from my freezer. I poured water slowly from a bottle, but somehow I missed the “max” line so the water level was too high, yet still within the borders of the tray. That would have caused the ice to form as one big piece connecting all cubes as opposed to individual cubes. Hence I thought of removing some water from the tray. But because I was using bottled water to fill the tray, I sensed that simply throwing the water away would have been a waste of precious drinking water. Moreover I was feeling thirsty at that point, so I thought that I could have drank a bit of water from the tray in order to kill two birds with a stone: quench my thirst as well as lower the water level in the tray. That is being Efficient. However, while I was carefully lifting the tray towards my face, I unintentionally tilted it and spilled some water on the floor. As an instinctive reaction I laughed, thinking of my silly idea of drinking some water from the ice tray and ending up making a mess on the floor. You know how it is with water… once it spills somewhere it is always surprisingly more than we imagined as it was within a container. So I promptly took some absorbing paper towels and dried up the floor. When I stood up and looked at the ice tray, the water level was exactly at the “max” line. Perfect! That is Effectiveness.

Similarly the HR software aiming to structure processes tends to be tedious and seen as a chore, while the technology that wants to speed up flows might end up creating a delay chain reaction outside of their core scope, like I did by spilling water on the floor, yet achieving the initial goal.

As we are heading towards the end of COVID-19, it is important that organisations are able to focus on what is needed – in an essential way – in order to maximize the performance of their workforce, while reducing the chances of injecting tedious chores for employees to follow.