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The pros and cons of HR technology

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Change often brings both benefits and challenges, and the changes that come from new HR technology are no exception. Along with each of the sought-after organizational benefits, or pros, delivered by new human resources technology, both HR professionals and workers must be ready to accommodate the cons, which may create challenging negative effects.

Pros vs. Cons: How Benefits Bring Challenges

  • Enhanced Capability vs. Learning Curve
  • Improved Productivity vs. Loss of Privacy
  • Improved Communication vs. Information Overload
  • Access to Data vs. Security Vulnerabilities
  • Helps Disabled Workers vs. Displaces Legacy Workers

In this article, we will review each of the pros and cons of new HR technology and consider how teams can prepare to meet the challenges that inevitably accompany each benefit.

Enhanced Capability vs. Learning Curve


Technology gives each worker the reach of a broadcaster, the wisdom of a library, the discernment of an expert and the speed of a computer chip. Technology enables workers to do much more much faster. They can make better choices and find better answers. This is why we invest in workplace technology.


Training will need to be held to bring everyone up to speed on the new system, and even with training, there may be a learning curve as workers navigate new technology. In a survey of 50 organizations by the Harvard Business Review, 70 percent of employees reported that they had not been given enough time or training to achieve mastery of the skills needed to do their jobs.

Improved Productivity vs. Loss of Privacy


All workplace technology enables work metrics. In the last century, clerical workers were tested to determine how many words per minute they could type. Today, technology enables employees to not only process work faster, but to start with enhanced input and consistently produce better output. Technology makes the work itself better, along with worker performance.


The employer can see when the worker is online and track individual output right down to counting keystrokes, but this can give employees a sense that they’re being monitored and be a source of employee stress.

A Gartner survey found that 22 percent of organizations worldwide are monitoring productivity data, and employers are not only watching workers on their computers. For example, Walmart has patented an AI audio system that listens for bags rustling, counts scanner beeps and can tell whether employees are greeting guests according to their training.

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Improved Communication vs. Information Overload


Technology provides instant access to all relevant information. The traditional HR processes of hiring, onboarding, training and developing employees can be delivered more quickly, accurately and completely than ever before. Management guidance can reach thousands of employees in a single email. Performance metrics can show immediate results.


However, human workers can only absorb so much information, and information overload can cause stress. HR professionals can help by streamlining communications, targeting only the right audience with only the relevant details. HR can also maintain accessible resources, allowing employees to use information tools as needed. Rather than promoting policies that require employees to check for messages and emails at any hour, HR leaders should encourage teams to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Employees can help avoid information overload by learning the power of brevity in communication, sending fewer messages, using fewer words and focusing on one objective at a time. Rather than leaving notifications on and dividing their attention between every call, email or text, workers can learn to allocate specific times to communicate, to concentrate and to take restorative breaks.

Access to Data vs. Security Vulnerabilities


Technology enhances work through the elimination of repetition and other wasted effort. Rather than human resource data being gathered by one set of workers and transferred to another set of workers who enter it for analysis by another set of workers, technology empowers HR professionals to access and update the whole universe of their workforce data in real time and with employee input.


Data access accelerates the traditional HR processes, sharpens accuracy and improves results, but it also provides many points of access for data breaches, which may come from an outside attacker or from inside the company through employee misuse.

For many businesses, the most vulnerable systems are network or cloud applications that process payroll and HR records. Computers and smartphones used by HR managers are vulnerable to attack through phishing and other deception.

Remote work has exacerbated these risks. A human resources manager using a work laptop on a home or coffee shop network may be exposing sensitive records to a potential data breach. Fortunately, the HR team is well-positioned to caution employees about cyber threats, communicate cyber security rules and set an example for best practices.

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Helps Disabled Workers vs. Displaces Legacy Workers


One of the lesser-known effects of the pandemic has been a dramatic increase in the availability of remote work for disabled employees who are unable to commute. Jobs for workers with mobility, vision or other physical challenges are plentiful, and inside large organizations, company HR departments can apply new HR technology to lead the way in accommodating applicants with disabilities.

The application of helpful technology can begin with recruiting, as HR departments set up their job listings for screen readers, ease of navigation and requests for accommodation.

An accessible hiring process is essential. According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), over 3,500 lawsuits were filed against companies in 2022, with most of these lawsuits involving claims that job portals or application materials were not accessible to applicants with disabilities. Technology helps HR managers prioritize accessibility, along with diversity and inclusion, in their hiring initiatives.


The downside of technology is that it can displace legacy workers. This negative effect is being accelerated by the confluence of computers, networking, robotics and artificial intelligence.

During the five decades following World War II, productivity in the United States was closely tied to jobs and wages. As businesses gained more value from each worker, the country became richer, creating more investment and more jobs. Beginning in the early 2000s, however, these metrics began to diverge, with productivity continuing to rise, while employment and wages grew stagnant. By the 2010s, there was clearly no longer a parallel between economic growth and job creation or wages. This combination of technology and evolving economic dynamics has contributed to the displacement of legacy workers.

Maximizing the Pros and Minimizing the Cons

Going forward, the principal challenge for human resources professionals is learning how to utilize new HR technology while maximizing its pros and minimizing its cons.

HR professionals must keep moving forward to capture the pros: bringing the organization enhanced capabilities, increased productivity, improved communications, expanded access to data and accommodations for applicants with diverse abilities.

But as we embrace those benefits, human resources teams must also provide solutions to the cons: helping workers over the learning curve, protecting employee privacy, shielding workers from information overload, safeguarding data security and bringing legacy workers into a new world of work that’s shared with intelligent machines.

Navigating the ever-changing world of human resources can be difficult, but you don’t have to do it alone. Higginbotham’s HR Services team is here to help by providing consultation, supporting your existing HR team and turning uncertainties into opportunities.

Not sure where to start? Talk to someone who wants to listen.

A great plan starts with a conversation. Let’s talk about what you need.

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