The tools companies need to achieve HR digital transformation

Published on 11/29/2022 by Tessa Anaya and Chiara Casse

As SMEs continue to meet expectations for a digital workplace, many may find the need to upgrade their human resource (HR) departments. So, how can companies achieve HR transformation and digitalization?

challenges of HR digital transformation

Human resource management is far from a simple task. HR professionals often act as intermediators to help employees understand new directives and projects. As their work involves nearly all the stakeholders of a company, flexibility is a top priority. 

Digitalization trends continue to push towards a more efficient workplace, and human resource (HR) departments are no exception. In fact, many of the most commonly implemented software types —such as collaborative suites and communication tools— could be used in HR digital transformation efforts to optimize and alleviate complicated workflows. 

Taking a look at the challenges that companies face during HR digital transformation can help inform a strategy for tackling them.

5 common challenges during HR digital transformation

It’s no easy task for SMEs to rise to digitalization expectations. Software has begun to replace many aspects of traditional workflows, but it’s hard to know which software is indispensable and which isn’t necessary. Every company’s software needs are different; to choose the right tools for your organization, one must first understand the problems it wants to solve.

Challenge No. 1: Ensuring employee wellness even for remote workers

The well-being of employees is essential. A comfortable work environment can boost productivity and reduce turnover, which could be why HR departments are often given the task of monitoring and working on employee wellness.  

Empathy is one of the strongest indicators of an organization's health. Many companies have come to this conclusion on their own, as 70% of them have made additional investments in employee well-being over the last two years according to Gartner research.  This was especially important at the height of the pandemic, but continues to play a key role in employee happiness— which impacts employee performance and intent to stay.

The attention to the employee experience and the support offered can also greatly affect employee productivity. Employee happiness and the quality of their work often go hand-in-hand, so investing in one initiative can also benefit the other.

How can HR ensure employee well-being?

There are many options for creating a pleasant work environment by fostering a positive corporate culture and the right spirit of collaboration.

First of all, it is important to normalize the potential problems employees might face while working remotely. These include a changing work-life balance, emotional stress, and inadequate home technology, among others.

Remote or hybrid workers can sometimes feel more pressure to perform working at a distance where getting visibility for their work isn’t as straightforward. It can also be hard to achieve an ideal work-life balance from an environment where the two are mixed. 

Even when working outside the office, employees should feel valued, trusted and supported in balancing their private lives with professional duties. It’s important to give your employees clear priorities, encourage them to take care of themselves, and when possible, offer resources to support their mental health, such as an employee assistance program (EAP). 

Good practices include opening a direct communication channel with employees whether remote or on-site, perhaps making use of communication software to create a regularly occurring meeting where employees can voice their concerns.

HR can also propose periodic team-building activities to channel any periods of staff tension into lighthearted moments to share with colleagues, even remotely. Another solution is to include incentives, such as annual rewards, vouchers or gift certificates for the most deserving or engaged employees.

a view of one aspect of HR digital transformation
Simpplr’s dashboard gives HR managers an overview of employee engagement and sentiment (Source)

Challenge #2: Managing satisfactory smart working for all employees

The main element of an HR department’s digital transformation is arranging an efficient and accommodating “smart” (as in technologically-powered) office for all employees. 

The first step is to reorganize working arrangements and facilitate access to company resources from any place, at any time. Flexibility and mobility must become an integral part of company policies going forward; many Canadian HR specialists have remarked that flexibility is the most preferred benefit amongst job candidates.

The challenge here is twofold: facilitating smooth communication within the company and improving employee productivity. Daily processes must be reconfigured with these challenges in mind in order to create a workplace that empowers employees to do their best work, regardless of their location. 

As many companies have also become interested in facilitating hybrid models, the physical office environment can also benefit from digital transformation. Making it easy for employees to check, reserve, and work from different spaces in the office can empower them to do their best work. With the use of office space software, employees can even report on-site issues directly to their real estate team or HR department.

Challenge #3: Creating a more inclusive corporate culture

Inclusiveness and flexibility have become imperative in an interconnected culture. If you have not yet done so, it’s time to adapt your company and establish these values in-house.

Adopting a diversity and inclusion strategy helps improve performance and increase overall productivity. Relying on a workforce that is composed of different types of people (i.e. gender, race, and religion, just to name a few) and diverse backgrounds fosters a more stimulating, innovative, and creative work environment.

Having a diverse team provides access to a more comprehensive range of skills and experience, as well as greater linguistic and cultural awareness.

The first step in this regard of HR transformation starts with recruitment. Write a job description using language that is as inclusive as possible, focusing on the skills required and not on information such as nationality, gender or sexual orientation. Think outside the box when it comes to posting on platforms as well, potentially using job board software to spread the offer. 

After selecting the most relevant applications, it has become common among recruiters to censor personal or identifying information on resumes. This is called ‘blind hiring,’ and it helps recruiters avoid acting on unconscious biases related to candidates' names, dates of birth, and places of origin.

To get a technological advantage when removing biases during the selection process, you can rely on specific HR recruitment software or applicant tracking tools. Using these, HR managers can integrate all the information related to position details, payroll, vacation and attendance policies. There are also integrations related to onboarding processes and the management of company benefits.

how to incorporate recruiting into HR transformation
An overview of job candidates’ interviewing progress from the Rippling dashboard (Source)

After concluding the selection process, HR should plan a remote or in-person onboarding process focusing on inclusivity. The rest of the team should also be included in the onboarding process as a way to embrace diversity and create interpersonal links that will help newcomers become a part of the team.

If you still believe you are not doing enough, you can introduce the position of ‘Diversity Manager’ into your workforce, a consultant who safeguards the diversity of physical ability, sexual orientation, gender, religion, and ethnicity within the corporate environment.

For new starters, it’s also essential to provide workplace guidelines and personalized goals adjusted to each employee's backgrounds and personal aims. It is important to maintain the same company standards for all workers, even those in remote locations. In addition, HR can take advantage of employee data analysis tools and manage all the corporate workforce processes in a single platform.

Challenge #4: Recruiting employees remotely

With the rise of remote work, another challenge for HR departments has been to recruit new employees without physically meeting them. After covering the best parameters for inclusive recruiting, let's dive into the practicalities of remote interviews.

There are many advantages to conducting an interview remotely. This method makes it possible to broaden the list of candidates to include those who are physically distant from the company's headquarters. It can also put candidates at ease to allow them to interview in a comfortable environment.

There are several options for conducting a remote interview. The most common is via streaming, powered by the use of video conference software. This allows users to connect with multiple people and can be used on mobile devices or PCs. Another option is the submission of a recorded video by the candidate with their presentation and answers to questions that have been previously submitted by evaluators.

Technology certainly plays a crucial role here, as hybrid work continues to be a strong trend. Using these tools, it is possible to record video interviews for reference or sharing purposes, keep a database of pre-prepared questions, collect information about candidates, and use filters to make it easily customizable.

Challenge #5: Remote onboarding of a new employee

The process of welcoming a new employee into the workplace is highly important, as it's the first impression they receive. The first few days on the job can be crucial to a new joiner’s adjustment and the opinion they form about the company.

This stage is even more important if the onboarding process takes place remotely, in a situation where the new employee is far from the physical office and may not understand precise points of reference. During this first stage, HR professionals should welcome employees by providing a precise overview of their role and tasks, laying out company guidelines, and introducing them to colleagues and managers in their department. 

There is plenty of software on the market to facilitate this aspect of the HR digital transformation and prepare a compliant onboarding process. SMEs who involve multiple employees to help onboard a new employee could be helping to introduce and socialize them with their colleagues sooner rather than later. Additionally, conducting meetings via video will reduce travel, while digital signature software can make it easier for new hires to sign contracts and fill out forms before their first day of work.

Things to consider

In times of change, keeping up and being able to ensure business continuity and a positive experience for the employees are top priorities. Fortunately, we live in a time when technology offers us countless options for optimizing business processes, especially those related to HR.

To choose the most suitable software for your business, keep the following criteria in mind:

  • Goals: Before choosing software dedicated to HR, take a step back and ask yourself what goals you want to achieve in the medium- to long-term. After setting your goals, the gaps that need to be filled in order to achieve them will become clearer and easier to map out.
  • Cost-benefit assessment: This is one of the most important items to consider as well as carefully studying the software types most useful for your particular business. If your primary goal is to focus on demanding tasks, it may be worthwhile to invest in software that can streamline these processes, which would normally take a lot of time and resources. 
  • Size of your company: It may seem trivial, but HR management software is often intended for companies with large numbers of employees. If yours is a microenterprise with fewer than 10 employees, it may be worth investing cautiously; however, if your company has multiple locations or departments, investing in digital HR transformation will be essential for you.

The ‘new normal’ that seems to be here to stay has made it necessary for workplace and especially HR digital transformation. Digitalizing a company is meant to help streamline business processes, but it's also a must-have for getting businesses started, surviving, and achieving their goals.

Looking for human resources software? Check out our catalogue!


Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.


This article may refer to products, programs or services that are not available in your country, or that may be restricted under the laws or regulations of your country. We suggest that you consult the software provider directly for information regarding product availability and compliance with local laws.


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About the authors

Tessa is a Content Analyst for GetApp, delivering software-related insights to local SMEs. She was featured in the Globe and Mail, La Presse, the Financial Post, and Yahoo.

Tessa is a Content Analyst for GetApp, delivering software-related insights to local SMEs. She was featured in the Globe and Mail, La Presse, the Financial Post, and Yahoo.


Chiara is Program Manager for the Australia, UK and Canada content team, managing and defining the content production and strategy of research and content around tech developments.

Chiara is Program Manager for the Australia, UK and Canada content team, managing and defining the content production and strategy of research and content around tech developments.