The need to streamline people processes and cut down on admin is often the driver behind the purchase of an HR software system.

But the latest generation solutions are much more than an efficient replacement for spreadsheets. Used to their fullest extent, they can also make a real difference to levels of engagement in the business.

Recent research from talent consultancy CEB shows that more than half of HR professionals see engagement as the most important issue for their department. This is no doubt partly in response to the ‘war for talent’ which is hotting up as the economy improves and the jobs market starts to move again.

So how exactly can HR technology help organisations maintain levels of motivation and commitment and retain the best and brightest employees?

It improves the flow of communication:

A recent report from Information Services Group points out that today’s employees – and especially Milennials – “expect their interactions with HR departments to be as easy and engaging as shopping on Amazon”. The latest generation HR technology breaks down the walls that often exist between HR and employees. It makes information easier to find and ensures that processes are consistent.. The social portals that are integral to many systems can also act as a communication channel for non-confidential discussions – making it easier for people to ask questions and get signposted to the right information. Perhaps most significantly, these portals also allow tech-savvy Generation Y employees to access information and communicate in a way that is natural to them.

It cuts down frustration with the small stuff

You want to book your holiday but you’re not sure how many days annual leave you have left. Your manager is taking ages to approve your request – and neither of you are sure the information about your holiday entitlement is up-to-date. It’s often the small stuff that causes the most irritation in teams, distracting people from the task at hand and making them feel demotivated. HR software systems eradicate this kind of uncertainly and speed up processes. At the click of a mouse, employees can see where they stand on annual leave. Managers can get an overview of who’s off when in the team and can approve requests quickly without having to complete tiresome paperwork. Everything runs much more smoothly – and everyone is happy.

It makes HR processes more transparent

When people join a business they are usually bombarded with information about HR policies. It’s their first week, there’s a lot to take in – and by the time they actually need to use a process the detail is long forgotten. No-one can quite remember what they’re supposed to do when they are off sick, what the process is if they want to raise a grievance or how often they are supposed to have a performance review. HR software systems provide a central place where this kind of information can be housed so that it’s easy to find when people need it. It means that processes are much more transparent, there are no ‘surprises’ and less likelihood that people will feel (or indeed claim) that they are being treated unfairly if issues arise.

It makes it easier for people to collaborate

The social portals that are built in to solutions like Cezanne HR can do much to encourage collaboration across the business. Employees can set up personal profiles highlighting their interests or expertise, projects leaders can invite people to share views or get involved in their latest initiatives. Everyone is better connected and feels part of what’s going on in the wider business. People have the chance to use their skills and talents to the full and to get involved with stuff that really interests them – and of course the organisation benefits from harnessing the wisdom of the crowd.

It gives employees a voice

Technology that connects HR with employees can be particularly valuable at times of change. It provides a vehicle not just for sharing information, but also for encouraging dialogue and allowing the organisation to ‘take the temperature’ and get feedback about what people are thinking and feeling. Employees have the opportunity to add their voice to whatever internal debates may be going on and can give valuable front-line perspectives about what is and isn’t workable in practice. People are involved with the change, rather than being passive recipients, and as a result are much more likely to buy in to whatever is decided.

How are you using HR technology to boost engagement? Let us know what’s working well for you.