How the Future of HR is Changing Small and Midsized Businesses

In five short years, the workforce has evolved drastically from its days of 9-to-5 work and fishbowl cubicles. More than ever, workers are mobile, working from a variety of places far away from each other. Staying connected with colleagues is hard enough when you don’t have the right technologies in place, but understanding what motivates them individually and how to best leverage their skills is even more difficult.

Outside of work, people use many different technologies to shop with convenience, manage every aspect of their lives, and engage in today’s digital world. Yet, Michael Stephan, Deloitte Consulting’s global leader for its HR transformation practice, observed in the Forbes Insights briefing report “Competing for Talent in the Digital Age” sponsored by SAP SuccessFactors, “HR still struggles to adopt and use these technologies.”

While most businesses understand that digital technologies are impacting HR performance and services, less than half are digitalizing their HR processes, as indicated in 2017 research by the Hackett Group. Unfortunately, this also means that small and midsize businesses are restricting their growth by limiting opportunities to run more efficiently as unified, agile, and collaborative teams.

The future of HR: It’s all about collaboration

When it comes to integrating technology with HR processes, most teams are focused on empowering managers and employees to be self-sufficient in electing their benefits packages and updating personal information. But this approach is only a small part of the bigger digital picture for HR. Employees must also collaborate with all areas of the business; find the information, expertise, and resources they need to get work done; and manage changes to job responsibilities and compensation – all without the help of HR.

The Forbes report shared an interesting story about Truesign, a workforce of 20 delivering cloud-based digital signatures software. With so few employees, the company needs every person to be engaged in the business and do whatever it takes to satisfy customer needs. Even though there isn’t a dedicated HR resource, the Brazilian provider deployed a talent management solution that includes an internal social collaboration platform.

Truesign employees can now work together much more effectively to accelerate service delivery and resolution of customer issues. At the same time, the system is capturing information that provides managers with insights into employee performance and opportunities to develop high-potential talents. By understanding what keeps employees productive, empowered, and high-performing, every manager can map out the future direction of the business and grow the workforce intelligently to deliver that strategy.

Collaboration technology magnifies the inherent strengths of small and midsize businesses

Mainstream digital technology, such as collaboration platforms, workflow software, self-services, and mobile solutions, as well as cutting-edge innovations, like chatbots, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, can help small and midsize businesses operate as strategically as large enterprises. By supporting business-wide collaboration, the HR function can be a guiding force in helping the workforce capture knowledge, identify hidden business trends, pinpoint anticipated skills gaps, find the best talent to develop and promote, and optimize overall business productivity and performance. More important, the entire business can capitalize on its tremendous strength in being able to pivot its resources and focus in a new direction at a moment’s notice.


This article originally appeared in Growth Matters Network.