Pushing Future-focused Digital Transformation For HR In Africa

Nikki Summers

Human Resource (HR) folks have had the most hectic time in the last two years, given how a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic upset regular workplace programming worldwide. 

From remote work to return to office policies, hybrid arrangements, furloughs, and layoffs, people operations have taken some exciting turns in the last two years and put immense pressure on HR personnel. So much so that demand for HR staff has skyrocketed. For example, between February 2020 and September 2021, HR job postings on Indeed increased by 87%.  

Managing people is the most challenging part for most business managers. Finding the right people, onboarding them, creating assurances, assuaging doubts, communicating, managing expectations and conflicts–there’s almost no end to the concerns related to people management.  

Thankfully, software is eating the world, and technology is serving up essential solutions and tools to ease the frustrations and challenges of HR. Digital tools are increasingly important to achieve optimal people management as they can improve critical HR functions such as performance management, employee engagement, collaboration, social interaction, and general people interaction in the workplace. 

In Africa, a young population and rapid urbanisation mean there is an abundant supply of working hands eager to learn, earn and develop their skills–and companies outside of the continent are even now competing with local businesses to take advantage of this. “I believe that the employment market landscape in Africa has definitely changed over the years. These days, employers value employees and their skills much more than we’ve seen before,” says Nikki Summers, Director of International Expansion at HRtech startup, SeamlessHR. 

Founded in Lagos, Nigeria, but intent on serving businesses across the continent, SeamlessHR is a cloud-based, end-to-end HR software that helps businesses manage and streamline their entire human resource processes and workflow. It wants to help African businesses improve their employee experience with digital technology and believes that tech is key to helping businesses maintain high employee satisfaction and achieve maximum productivity. The company is already working with some reputable brands on the continent, including PwC and AXA. 

The HR challenges in Africa are similar to what obtains in the rest of the world but wear slightly different clothing. For example, poor internet and power make remote work a tougher sell in many parts of the continent. Similarly, complex regulations make people operations more complicated for HR staff. Nonetheless, the world of work is changing on the continent too. 

“I believe the world of work has definitely changed in Africa as well as the rest of the world, due to Covid 19,” Summers says, “Workforces had to learn to become much more mobile as a means of necessity, and of course, need technology to support this mobility.” 

After raising Series A funding in January, SeamlessHR embarked on an expansion drive across the continent. After hiring Nikki Summers to lead international expansion from the global enterprise software company Sage, it’s currently signing up partners and setting up in Kenya. According to Summers, SeamlessHR is pushing for African developed technology to “support both employees and employers to be the best and to offer them the best service to grow their businesses.” 

Technology is creating new dynamics in the international employment market, and SeamlessHR is working to ensure that African businesses are equipped to compete. For example, as companies in Europe hire from Africa, a startup in Nairobi should also be able to hire staff in New York without worrying about managing such hires.  

Will technology help to solve HR’s problems? “Absolutely!” Summers says. “Just experiencing the SeamlessHR suite since I’ve joined the company has blown me away by how effectively technology can be used, and how quickly it can help an employee to be more effective, productive, and really get up and running at a much faster pace.”  

The future will tell, but with digital technology evolving at the speed of light these days, it will be interesting to see how HR technology utilizes it, particularly for African businesses. Of course, emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence will influence significant changes in people operations and management, and SeamlessHR claims it is already developing artificial intelligence, data analytics, and machine learning products. As Nikki Summers surmises, “in the next 5 – 10 years, we will see a significant change in how people work and the technology that supports this.” 

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