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Importance of Purpose-built Tools in Streamlining HR Operations

Lenke Taylor, Chief People Officer, BuzzFeed and Max Brawer, Head of People Analytics, BuzzFeed
Lenke Taylor, Chief People Officer, BuzzFeed

Lenke Taylor, Chief People Officer, BuzzFeed

There was a time not so long ago when HR leaders had to negotiate with their real estate teams for the many file cabinets needed to run an HR team (at BuzzFeed, we only threw ours away two years ago). Advances in information systems have greatly improved the ways we store and report on data, and when we couple these “big” tools with “little” ones: custom apps, chatbots, and web forms — we can expand the definition of what an HR team can do.

More powerful HRIS, Applicant Tracking Systems, and Employee Survey tools mean that the basics of the HR function are better covered, and the function can elevate its capabilities to deliver for the business. No longer can an HR business partner only execute people programs; they need to use tools to provide insights and actionable information to their business leaders promptly.Max Brawer, Head of People Analytics, BuzzFeed

In driving this mindset and capability in our company we have found our core HR tools to provide a solid foundation for us to create bespoke (“little”!) tools to further elevate the work of our team members. Because our HRIS has complete records of our compensation data and ranges, we can build a toolkit that determines a fair and equitable offer rate in seconds. Because we have full employee job histories, we can make tools to help guide promotion cycles. And because we have voluntary self-identification data, we can couple it with organizational hierarchies to build detailed dashboards for our metrics on diversity, inclusion, and belonging.

These front end services and insights are now integrated into how we work. They are adding value to our organization every day. The sheer scale of our HRIS coupled with the speed of easy-to-use web apps we build move data fast enough to make HR jobs more strategic and help drive decision-making. At BuzzFeed we find that employee experience is improved by this hidden, back-office work—not just by events and public action. It begs the question then about what is the future of HR tech. Will we see tools like this move from being unique and bespoke to being built into the technologies offered to HR functions or made more open. Our HR teams now have engineering and analytical functions that demand open access to data via APIs. As tools focus on these users, it grows the opportunity to build the future generation of turnover prediction, better career growth, cost of benefits management, and employee recognition.

 No longer can an HR business partner only execute people programs; they need to use tools to provide insights and actionable information to their business leaders promptly  

The emergence of new players in this space is impressive and offers hope that the next generation of tech-enabled HR tools won’t just iterate on the existing models, but will build for the HR team of the future: one that is tech-driven, but still human.

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