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Effective HR Solutions only through IT

By Johanna Soderstrom, VP-HR Center of Expertise, The Dow Chemical Company

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Johanna Soderstrom, VP-HR Center of Expertise, The Dow Chemical Company

Immediate Access to In-Depth Data in HR
At Dow, our Human Resources organization continuously strives to improve the effectiveness of our HR solutions— and to enhance our efficiency at delivering valueadded solutions to our internal clients. Increasingly, information technology represents a key enabler of HR  and organizational success. For example, Dow recently identified a breakthrough solution that enables us to link our talent management, recruiting and employee development databases together via a unified analytics and reporting solution. This will give HR professionals and people leaders across the company immediate access to the indepth data they need to better understand and take timely action on emerging workforce issues and opportunities. All of that will enable nhanced partnership between Dow HR and company leaders to drive business results through people with increased speed, cost efficiency and effectiveness.

Portal Tailored for each People Leader
Dow has recently taken action to integrate our recruiting, talent development and performance management tools and to present them to people leaders through one seamless portal that is tailored to each people leader. This solution offers Dow people leaders ready access to all of the data and resources they need to effectively attract, develop and retain top talent. With this solution, Dow HR professionals can spend less time on data collection and more time on offering strategic counsel to Dow leaders, as true, value-adding business partners.

Facilitate Employee Concerns with Technology Solutions
HR solutions today are so embedded with technology that corporate HR departments really must work in close partnership with their companies’ Information Technology departments in order to succeed. One challenge that these two functions can address together is that of balancing succession planning and knowledge management priorities with concerns about data privacy and the potential for HR data to be misused. HR systems, when used correctly, can be powerful tools for understanding organizational demographics, where we need to place greater emphasis on building a pipeline of talent to succeed current leaders and subject matter experts, and where we may need to ramp up our knowledge retention efforts. However, if employees fear that sensitive or confidential information captured in a company software system will be used against employees in some way, then they may be less willing to provide certain information that could be valuable to the company or to support implementation of certain HR systems. Technology providers can help companies navigate this challenge by offering information and solutions to help HR professionals address employee concerns of this nature.

At the same time, the workforce is increasingly mobile, with employees spending significant portions of their time on smartphones and tablets. This means that in order for HR software solutions to be fully effective, they must also be compatible with the hardware that employees choose to use. This is another area where technology providers can add tremendous value within the HR domain, through smart solutions that recognize and accommodate the manner in which today’s employees work.

Enhancing HR with New Approach to Talent Sourcing
Large corporations like Dow are increasingly turning to social media and cloud computing to facilitate HR processes, ranging from recruiting and on boarding employees to recognizing employee performance. Dow today is focused on optimizing our use of social media and cloud technology to advance several key HR priorities, in support of Dow’s corporate strategy. For example, to facilitate talent acquisition and attraction of top talent, Dow has begun to leverage one of the world’s largest social media networks for professionals. This new approach to talent sourcing and recruiting has the potential to unlock enhanced capabilities that will give Dow heightened ability to engage and attract a broader candidate pool. Dow today is in the early stages of exploring social media for this purpose. Going forward, Dow intends to evaluate the most effective social media vehicles for talent acquisition and attraction, based on the reach and impact of the various social media outlets in Dow’s target countries for recruiting.

For HR departments, however, a prudent approach to using social media, cloud technology and mobile devices remains the wise choice. The reality is that HR deals with a significant amount of confidential data and information that cannot be readily shared via social media or cloud technology platforms. So Dow’s focus today is on identifying those HR processes that truly lend themselves to social media and cloud networks, applying these technologies only where doing so will truly add value to the corporation.

Adapt Marketplace Changes for Flexible HR Solutions
Constant changes in the marketplace offers limited room for predictability, which in turn puts a higher demand on flexible solutions from HR—or any function, for that matter. We have transformed our function to adapt more quickly to external and  internal circumstances. This is key for creating value to the company and enabling solutions as required. It in turn puts high demand on all systems, processes and tools as well as on the adaptability of the workforce. It requires a special skill for HR employees to adapt to the constant change and ambiguity in today’s world and to keep up to date with state-of-the-art solutions. A key role has been to help the workforce feel comfortable with the fast moving pace, and to continuously seek out the best solutions and then simplify them for the organization.

Increase Functional Productivity of HR with IT
The bottom line is that Information Technology and Human Resource departments truly need to work hand in hand with one another in order for HR and the company to be effective. Because HR solutions today are so embedded with technology, business leaders today turn to HR professionals not only as consultants but as technology partners. HR cannot effectively play that role without strong partnership with IT.

By working together in close collaboration to address companies’ most pressing business challenges and opportunities, HR and IT departments can both increase their value to any organization, while enhancing their functional productivity. By coming together with a spirit of partnership and collaboration, these two functions offer companies a winning combination that can accelerate business results in a powerful way.

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