When companies cut budgets, a typical target is anything considered to be a frivolous gadget. An unneeded gizmo. There certainly are a lot of frivolous gadgets and unneeded gizmos. It all makes perfect sense.
But then I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone when I talk to clients who have cut their annual or bi-annual on-line performance appraisals and assessments when I clearly remember them saying to me in the past that they don't know how their team, their department, even their business as a whole could continue to function and grow without them.
They used to say stuff like “We were such a dysfunctional, uncooperative bunch.”
So when the tools that 'functionalized' the dysfunctional and got the 'uncooperative' to cooperate are put to pasture, I always want to say “My word! Is it that bad? I hope you didn't have to get rid of the Tassimo coffee maker too!” But, inevitably, I get my head on straight and get with it again.
Here is what we need to do.
If your team, department, or company as a whole is a dysfunctional, uncooperative bunch but you can't seem to find room in the budget for the tools and support that you need to 'fix it' then either you're company is not taking the 'human factor' seriously enough or providers are not taking your budgets seriously enough. It's probably a little bit of both.
They say that in money, a perceived need is as real a need as a real need. I don't know if they actually say that, but I think it's true. We were going in this direction anyway, and it is simply the case that the state of the economy has accelerated the HR market's need for easy to use (which is time efficient) and cost-effective (which is cash efficient) technology solutions.
HR needs to start making the case that these tools are as necessary a part of the frictionless functioning of a business as the workstations, the network bandwidth and the Tassimo. Uncooperative people don't just start cooperating especially when they are afraid that their jobs are on the line. No company would sell all of their workstations and replace them with typewriters to save money. It would end up being more expensive... that's why we have computers. The best question to ask is, “How is that any different than getting rid of the other tool that time and again has provided stability and openness to the workforce?”
At the same time, HR solutions providers need to start innovating and moving away from the old model that companies don't see room for in their budgets. Solutions providers cannot just weather the storm and when the skies clear up approach their clients with the same garbage that got tossed at the first sign of trouble. That is about as backward as selling off workstations for typewriters. HR solutions providers need to learn that HR is now going to want more control over implementation and management of these systems. It's a particular brand of protectionism. HR solutions providers need to have a whole new game that's easy to learn. The products need to be better than they were before and we can actually define what we mean by "better": easy to integrate into company culture, easy for the client to learn, easy to use, quick to deploy, stable, error free. Of course, some HR solutions providers will be quick to say “oh but our systems have always been like that”. But, if that were true then we wouldn't be having this conversation.