Q&A  | 

Steve Boese, HR technology expert

"HR tech has put more information and data ownership in the hands of the employee."

Tags: 'Future of work' 'HR technology' 'Human resources'


Reading Time: 4 minutes

Steve Boese is one of the Co-Founders of H3 HR Advisors and HRevolutionise and has been focused on the development, implementation, and support of technology solutions to solve business problems for over 20 years, working with organisations ranging from telecommunications to consulting to higher education. He is currently the Co-Chair of the HR Technology Conference, the world’s largest gathering of the global HR Technology community.

Formerly, Steve was on the Product Strategy team at Oracle, helping to build and deploy a set of HCM solutions for organisations. He also created the HR Happy Hour radio show, the longest running and most downloaded podcast on Human Resources and the workplace.

Can you give us a general explanation of your work

I am the Program Chair for the HR Technology Conference, the largest global event on HR and workplace technology and the future of work. In addition to that, I am a frequent speaker and writer on HR and HR technology, as well as the creator and co-host of the HR Happy Hour Show, the longest running and most downloaded podcast on Human Resources and the workplace.

What's HR Technology?

It’s any tool or technology that helps people navigate their work lives – from the administrative side (payroll, benefits and time keeping), to their career management (recruiting, learning and development, career planning) and to how they can work more effectively and efficiently with peers and colleagues (messaging, project management, collaboration).

How is HR Technology impacting the way we work and recruit?

HR Technology has impacted just about every part of the employee lifecycle. Recruiting technology has transformed the candidate engagement and application processes, making them faster, more tailored to the individual, and now, mostly conducted on mobile devices.

This technology has also made the assessment and matching processes more precise and accurate, often using advanced technology like AI and Machine Learning to generate better matches between individuals and roles.

As to the way we work, HR tech has put more information and data ownership in the hands of the employee. From their personal profile, to their work skills and experiences, to their learning and skills development and more, HR tech has been increasingly empowering the individual employee in substantial ways.

What are the risks and opportunities that arise with it?

As for risks, the primary one for HR is one of data security and privacy. HR tech systems over the years have grown in size and scope and thus the amount and types of data these systems collect has expanded quite considerably. HR leaders need to work with their technology providers to ensure the highest standards of data security and privacy are being maintained as well as communicate and assure employees that their personal data is protected and only being used in positive applications. 

As for opportunities, there are too many to mention I think. I’d just say that with increased data, more powerful technology, and increased adoption by employees, managers, and leaders, HR tech offers the potential to better match people with roles, help them develop the skills they need, help the company execute on its business goals, and create and environment where people and the organization can succeed.

One of the core debates within HR technology seems to be the "single suite" vs the "best of breed". What is this about?

Essentially, the “single suite” approach aims to acquire and implement as many HR and business applications from one single provider, like an Oracle or an SAP and utilize all the needed applications from that one provider. The “best of breed” approach favors acquiring what is considered to be the “best fit” technology for a given subset of business functions regardless of the provider, and then find ways to integrate these disparate systems together later on, and on an as needed basis. Both approaches have their pros and cons, we could write another 10,000 words discussing them, but that is the basics of the debate.

You have said that the reasons for employees to leave their jobs is increasingly beyond compensation and more related to wellbeing at work. Which role can HR Tech play at this regard?

There are many examples of HR technologies designed to support, enhance, and improve employee wellbeing. From health and fitness-based applications, to mental health, and even to financial health, there have been dozens of technologies that can be applied to support people in the workplace. The best of these applications are designed to provide employees information, access to resources, and inspiration to enhance wellbeing both inside and outside of work.

And data suggests that when employees are healthier, feel supported and valued, and have resources available to help them when they need help, they will be more engaged at work, more productive, be absent and sick less frequently, and be happier at work.

Can you give as an overview of how technology could shape the future of work?

That’s another really big question. but as I see it the important way the technology will shape the future of work is by making information more transparent and accessible to employees and for organizations, it will allow employees more flexibility and how and where they conduct their work, and it will enable both employees and organizations to make better decisions for themselves and for the organization.

Can technology replace a face to face interview with someone?

Technology can enhance many elements or aspects of the interview process. For example, one video interview, where the candidate records themselves answer a set of questions, can then be evaluated and reviewed by all members of the hiring team, ensuring they all see and hear the same information, and can make better group decisions and evaluations.

Also, technology ensures all candidates are given the same opportunity to answer the same questions, thus removing aspects of often unfair variability from the process.

As with any technology, when used properly, it will support and enhance people’s decisions and judgments, not replace them.

What's the kind of job technology will never be able to perform?

It’s probably more about what aspects of any job that are not likely to be performed by technology. By that I mean the classic human skills and traits like empathy, cultural understanding, caring, negotiation, understanding where another person is coming from, and more. Almost every job can be supported and enhanced with technology, but most jobs will still need a healthy dose of these human skills as well. Ultimately the organizations and the people who will be most successful in the future are the ones who best manage to combine the best capabilities of technology with the best capabilities of people.