Staying Human-Centric as Technology Propels HR Forward

Last month, the Sayge team attended the HR Transform conference. We flew to Las Vegas to join some of the most forward-thinking HR innovators creating the future of work. The event covered everything from emerging technologies to authenticity. Over the course of the conference, one topic stood out to me: How can People Leaders leverage technology and still preserve the ‘human’ aspect of HR? This idea is central to our work at Sayge. Technology plays an integral role in our work—enabling us to provide one-to-one coaching at scale—but we prioritize meaningful human connection above everything else.

During a presentation last year, my co-founder, Jamie, captured our perspective on this topic really well. He explained how Sayge works with People Leaders who use technology to exponentially increase the impact of the work they do. Within HR, there’s a spectrum. One end includes HR professionals with a narrow focus on compliance and liability who use technology to minimize the need for human involvement. On the other end, leaders with a broad and strategic focus on culture use tech to enable humans. Instead of creating a barrier between leaders and people, technology gives these leaders superpowers. We refer to this group as Tech-Enabled People Leaders. They use technology to do more human work. As I reflect on my experience at HR Transform and the way this mindset informs our model at Sayge, I wanted to share more of my thoughts on the topic!

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As a baseline, I think tech should be used in a way that lets us connect more closely with our people. We use tools like Slack and Zoom to speed up less-than-exciting administrative work. This frees up time to have more thoughtful conversations with our team, coaches, and customers. In a recent #HumanAtWork paper published by EY and Unilever, it says, “Using technology to enhance, rather than negate that which is essentially human, is not just the right thing to do, it’s one of the most important ways that we can safeguard the long-term health and well-being of organizations, of the people who work for them and for society as a whole.” We’re totally on board with this.

From our experience at Sayge, we know that leaders who use the right technology in the right way are freed up to focus on their biggest problems—problems technology can’t solve. We designed the Sayge platform to connect the very best coaches with employees. We refer to this as, “Personalized Coaching, Powered by Technology.” Although technology lets us make the best coaches accessible to everyone, at the end of the day, the human connection is what’s left in people's minds. We use technology, which is essential to the process, to the degree it delivers on the personalized human experience.

As we evolve our technology to better support personal connections, we always ask three questions:

1) How will this give our People Leaders better access to the best coaches and ROI?

2) How will this give our coachees a more personalized experience?

3) How will this help our coaches, coach even better?

At Sayge, we strongly believe in the mindful use of technology. Before we leverage tech, we carefully consider its impact to ensure that the technology will help us become more people-centric, not the other way around.

I recently came across a study that poses this question: Does electronic human resource management (eHRM) result in a transaction-based versus a relationship-based approach to employee management? Unsurprisingly, employees want more interactive, interpersonal, information-rich approaches to eHRM. To the extent eHRM is seen as impersonal, its effectiveness will likely decline.

Fortunately, using tech doesn’t mean your work is going to be impersonal. In fact, it can be the exact opposite. If you use technology judiciously, you can exponentially increase the impact of the work you do, while keeping people front and center! It should give you more time to ‘walk the halls’ and truly listen to and understand what your organization needs in a more intimate way.

At Sayge, we leverage technology in a way that not only preserves the ‘human’ aspect of HR, but actually enables a more personalized experience than otherwise possible. Technology is integral to our work—letting us connect more closely with people and provide one-to-one coaching at scale.

How do you use technology and still keep things human? How do you push HR forward, to create the future of work, but keep people at the core of what you do?