Originally posted April 15th, 2014 at SHRM WeKnowNext Why HR Needs to Advocate for Change | WeKnowNext.com.
The world is constantly bombarded with the emergence of new tools and technologies that change the way we live and work. And while many of these innovations can bring new efficiencies to the workplace, implementing these solutions can present a number of challenges. In addition to gaining executive buy-in and company-wide adoption, another key aspect is ensuring that any new technology acquisition complies with both the company’s legal processes and the larger local and federal regulations.
One of the biggest challenges is that company policies are often slow to keep up with the technology. And at today’s speed of business, where the ability to gain competitive advantage through the use of innovative tools and solutions is more essential than ever, company’s simply don’t have the time to wait for legal to catch up. This is especially true in the industries where heavy regulation is common, such as the financial or healthcare sectors. Yet, as HR teams discover better ways of managing talent, enhancing communications and spurring professional development, they must also do everything they can to help make the laws more modern and up to date.
Just consider how the business world responded to the use of social media in the workplace five years ago. Legal departments were afraid to condone employees putting pictures on LinkedIn or sharing information on Twitter or Facebook. However, these practices are more than common today; if the company and its employees don’t have a strong social presence, customers, business partners and job candidates alike will be left wondering why.
It was the same story with digital interviewing. When the technology first emerged, there was great worry about the legal repercussions, such as whether it violated EEOC and OFCCP regulations. There was also concern about how candidates and even recruiters and hiring managers would react to it. Well, as the use of digital interviewing has become quite ubiquitous in the last few years, it’s clear that many of those concerns were unfounded.
From improved ways to collaborate with employees who work remotely or at different locations, to tools that help people work offline, the market is full of new solutions that can enhance productivity and communication. Yet, it is important to understand the legal environment surrounding them. And, if any regulations stand in the way of their implementation, HR should take the lead to ensure legislatures make the appropriate changes to the laws to keep up with technology.
Rather than letting the laws define your technology use, HR has a professional obligation to help define why the laws should be changed. To remain truly competitive and ahead of the pack, HR must be proactive instead of sitting around and waiting for policies to change to enable the use of a promising new technology. Just consider how much the workplace has advanced through the use of social media – we shouldn’t have to wait for the next great innovation to be held back either.