UCT GSB's Linda Ronnie says technology has increased burnout risk 

Linda says part of HR's role in the future world of work is to mitigate that risk.

With technology increasing productivity in the workplaces globally, the prevalence of burnout has increased significantly as people struggle to separate work from their personal lives. UCT Graduate School of Business professor Linda Ronnie believes that, as a result of this trend, part of HR’s role in the future world of work will be to mitigate burnout risk.

“There has been a blurring of lines, which has been enabled by technology, making it perfectly acceptable for you to be responding to an email at 9pm. In today’s world, we are working longer hours than our grandparents ever had to work and HR will need to watch that because it leads to a real lowering of productivity,” she says, adding that employees must have a work-life balance in order to be able to function properly during work hours.

Says Linda:

“HR's role is to ensure that those lines aren't blurred because they, more than anyone else in the organisation, should be on top of what the trends are worldwide and follow the lead of countries like Germany, for instance, where legislation has been introduced preventing bosses from sending emails to staff after working hours."

Companies are not leveraging HR tech the way they should 

That said, most organisations are a long way away from making use of new age HR tech. This is partly because they don’t have much of the underlying data that is required to do so, but also because the HR discipline is much farther behind other functions in being ready to adopt cutting-edge technology that is on offer now. Other core business functions, like sales, for example, are already leveraging Artificial Intelligence and Predictive Analytics to make much more powerful decisions and ultimately be more productive.

Linda says HR functions leaders need to take cognisance of the various HR tech solutions that are available out there and implement what is best suited to their organisations instead of following trends. 

“HR now has access to a range of innovative software and electronic tools. And if you want to attract new people into the workplace, you're going to have to use technology that is suitable for them. I don't know any young person today that looks at newspapers to look for job opportunities,” she says.  

As an example, Linda refers to MyGrow, an online training app developed by an MBA graduate, which develops, measures and tracks the emotional intelligence of employees through video-based learning, neuroscience techniques, personalised coaching and rich data. Although it has not been around for very long, the company has already been used in companies like Old Mutual, Distell and Google South Africa. 

That said, you really shouldn’t be lured by big name companies using a particular HR technology, says Linda. If your main buying decision is based on the fact that Google uses a particular technology, you are likely to make mistakes. The reality is that your HR practices are going to be different and a piece of HR technology is not going to transform your company into Google.