Ask the Expert: Criterion Shares Insights on the Future of HR Technology

Criterion HR Tech Insights

The future of work holds exciting opportunities for innovation and growth. As the priorities and needs of HR shift toward personalization, employee-centered experiences, and digital integration, the technology used to achieve those goals must shift as well. HR leaders and their teams need robust tools that not only support ongoing digital innovation, but also shape the way teams interact and deliver value across the organization.

In the midst of this rapid evolution of work experiences, a worldwide pandemic has also placed unprecedented demands on the HR office. Remote teams, health and wellness needs, budget constraints, and changes in workforce dynamics have changed the HR landscape virtually overnight. To respond to those changes, companies will need agile solutions that can continue to provide necessary support even in non-traditional work environments. HR is changing, and technology must change along with it.

We spoke with Steven Kuhn at CriterionHCM about what they are doing to meet the challenges of today’s workforce. Here are some of their insights about the future of HR technology and how Criterion has stepped up to the plate.

HR Technology Transformation

CompareHRIS: What do you think has been the biggest change in software over the past five years? 

Criterion: While cloud solutions have been available for 20 years, the last 7 years have seen a significant move off of traditional client/server, behind the firewall, and on to Software-as-a-Service solutions.

CompareHRIS: What do you expect to see in the next five years? Has the pandemic changed company priorities in terms of technology transformation?

Criterion: This transition will continue and may in fact accelerate due to this pandemic and a major shift to remote work. Traditional solutions simply cannot keep up with the demands of a remote workforce.

Criterion has always had a strong solution for automating manual processes and efficiencies for remote locations and remote workers. Our solution is designed to help our clients during the pandemic with features like: employee engagement, digital documents & forms and forms management, electronic signatures and work flows. 

CompareHRIS: Have you made any changes or enhancements to your solutions to support companies during the pandemic? (e.g., contact tracing, ability to configure earnings codes for FFCRA, support for remote team management, etc.) 

Criterion: Criterion HCM was designed with the remote workforce in mind, so while we continue to enhance our solution quarterly, there wasn’t a need to do any elaborate redesign. We also quickly adjust to legislative changes, which means that we were easily able to configure and integrate FFCRA earnings codes. Since we are a SaaS delivered solution, the changes were immediately available to all clients on the day of release.

CompareHRIS: We hear a lot about technology transformation in the HR field. How has Criterion stepped up to the plate for companies that want to support talent more effectively through technology?

Criterion: Definitely, many people are talking “digital transformation” these days. Criterion has been providing these tools for many years, but the drive to this capability from the market is just really starting to take hold. Many organizations now realize disparate HR systems just do not work in today’s workplace. Even many systems who claim a “single database solution” will still be dated technology with behind-the-scenes integrations between HR, Payroll, ERP, etc. Criterion always has been and sill is a true robust single database HR solution without any internal break points. It is also a completely open API solution.

Simply stated, we can integrate with any other software solution given access to their database. Clients find this seamless connectivity advantageous for doing business in a fast-paced environment. That technology aside, another way Criterion helps clients is by providing a rich document-management capability embedded in our core HR. This enables clients to securely store and track employee forms and documents including digital signatures. Clients can use existing PDFs or build their own forms, assign them to groups of people or individuals, and report on the data collected in those forms. 

Remote Work and Employee Experience

CompareHRIS: How does Criterion support needs like remote teams, FFCRA policies, and employee wellbeing? 

Criterion: Through the Criterion HCM ESS portal and mobile apps, employees have access to whatever relevant company information they need.  Administrators can also provide easily accessible government information, initiate polls, and review the results.  Using the Social Feed, managers can keep in touch with all employees or specific groups for things like employee recognition and other morale building functions.

CompareHRIS: How do your solutions incorporate personalization throughout the employee lifecycle (e.g., recruiting, onboarding, recognition, etc.)? 

Criterion: From the moment a candidate applies and continuing through their entire experience with the employer, Criterion HCM provides a single source of information. When a candidate applies, they receive personalized emails throughout the interview process, so they’re assured of not being lost in the mix. Through our interview review forms, all hiring staff has a consistent interview track to ensure the candidate gets a fair evaluation. Once on board and throughout their tenure, employees and managers have easy access to all relevant information, forms, and tasks to keep them informed, engaged, motivated and productive.

CompareHRIS: Employee wellbeing will be a high priority for companies in 2021 and beyond. Does your product include features that support employee wellbeing (e.g., surveys, health tracking, other resources)?

Criterion: Absolutely. One of the biggest issues we hear about is communication (or, lack thereof).  Criterion HCM’s Self Service portal makes it easy for people to access information. It also allows administrators to query staff and otherwise alert employees to company policy and direction. But, many companies don’t have the resources to plan and create the relevant communications. To solve that problem, Criterion uses the ESS portal to direct employees, managers, and administrators to internal and approved external resources to keep everyone informed in a concise and consistent manner.

CompareHRIS: Diane Gherson, CHRO of IBM says, ”Our job in HR is to create that connected, transparent, mobile, personalized, searchable and 24×7 universe through our workplace and our tools.”  How does Criterion support these objectives of stronger connection and greater flexibility? 

Criterion: Criterion has created a solution that is easy to use with various tools that employees use to connect them to their HR data. Remote employees in the field can access the HR data they need online with a smart phone, allowing them to do all the things they need to do in the 24X7 universe. Incorporated tools like time & attendance, performance management, benefits management, learning, task management, workflows and real time reporting and dashboards provide employees & managers with the information they need to make sound decisions. Our clients like the flexibility of purchasing the modules they plan to use now, with the ability to purchase additional modules later so they can expand upon their HCM goals with a single application.

CompareHRIS: How can Criterion help HR leaders reach the goal of driving value through employee-centered solutions? 

Criterion: Our GUI (graphical user interface) is easy to use and to deploy. Most importantly, however, we provide the training and change management capabilities to enable better adoption of our solution. Criterion is set-up with a flat design that allows for easy navigation.  Based on the employee role, users see only the data fields and information you want them to have and the information they need to interact with HR.

Advancements in AI, Robotics, and Data

CompareHRIS: We’re seeing a growing demand for more sophisticated robotics, AI, and cognitive solutions in the HR department. How does this impact your products?

Criterion: We are doing more in this area as well taking advantage of some tools our technology partners provide. We will have more to show and tell in the coming months.

CompareHRIS: Does your product include any AI or virtual reality components as part of your service offering? 

Criterion: The challenge faced with any company, including those who develop and publish software, is how do we make the tools not only friendly but unobtrusive.  The balance between AI, Virtual Reality, and practical use requires some nuancing that Criterion is deeply involved in. Our goal is to make the product better, not just to make it glitzy for show.  We are working on some features that will be enhanced by these components without overly glamorizing a process.

CompareHRIS: How are you preparing for issues related to employee data privacy? 

Criterion: We continually update our software to accommodate the changing requirements of employee data privacy in the US, Canada, UK and globally. We are GDPR compliant and people can access our policy here: Criterion GDPR policy. How have HR analytics changed over the past five years, and how does Criterion incorporate these changes into solutions to measure value and support better business outcomes?  

Data drives the decision processes across all parts of the organization. Access to the data is critical. From our perspective, there does not seem to be a great change in HR Analytics in the past 5 years, but there is a greater awareness for wanting access to data and being able to derive meaningful decisions from it. In other words, the metrics really haven’t changed; the need for accessing critical data to create and monitor the metrics has. 

Improving Business Outcomes Through Your HR Technology Solution

CompareHRIS: Can you describe a recent client implementation and how Criterion was able to deliver advantages or support business goals for the organization? 

Criterion: Recently we worked with a large construction organization with multiple locations. The company was using multiple solutions to handle their HCM needs. As the HR and finance department leaders looked at all the big HCM players in the market, they could not find an HCM solution with the right complexity to handle all their HR processes, union rules, pay rules and employee engagement needs. Ideally, they wanted one complete HCM solution with integration to their new cloud-based financial solution.

During our implementation processes we managed the project with a single implementation manager and project manager. Criterion’s experienced and professional implementation delivered a solution around tight timelines with a configurable solution that met their HR, Payroll, Talent, Benefits, and Time & Attendance needs. We supported their business goals by automating manual processes and putting all their HCM needs into one solution, which allowed them to eliminate three other tools. In addition to all the HCM requirements, Criterion also provided a bi-directional API integration to their cloud-based financial solution so they could better organize their finance department. Our implementation team delivered on their known business requirements but also supported their transition from a paper-based environment to a full digital transformation.  We also provided employee engagement for their remote workforce that allowed the HR team to align their communication with their remote workforce during a pandemic.

CompareHRIS: What advice would you offer to someone who is just beginning their search for an HCM software application? 

Criterion: There are many HCM solutions available to you. Without much exception, they can all meet the basic HCM functional requirements that you will have. So, consider evaluating your options from a different perspective. Look for ways the solution addresses your “pain points,” not only in the current processes, but also those deeply embedded or complex processes that maybe you’ve given up on trying to resolve because you’ve never found a system that can deliver that specific functionality. Use that as your initial requirement. If the solution can pass that test, (and can demonstrate that capability), then you should look at their core functionality. 

Ready to Find Your Ideal HR Solution?

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The Insider Buyer’s Guide to HR IT

HR TechnologyDon’t shop for Human Resources technology until you know what you want and need. A right product will fit your workforce size, industry sector, organizational structure, and potential budget. It’s not impossible for your internal Information technology people to create a workable product, but that’s a misuse of their time and yours when you consider the array of HR IT systems available. Nonetheless, this buyer’s guide to HR IT products lists 10 base needs.

Ten base needs for any HR IT program

  1. Payroll: Your system manages the payroll functions. It tracks time and attendance, makes appropriate deductions, and prepares data for payroll execution, tax and benefits charges, and compliance reporting.
  2. Benefits: Employee benefits have become increasingly difficult to administer with more group products and quality tiers. You want the system that will track your benefits options, enable open enrollment, allow employee editing, and prepare related financial reports.
  3. Talent Search: Recruiting burdens any HR office. HR IT can coordinate job descriptions, want ad posting, application forms, filter screening, compliance tracking, and more. Some systems will create talent pipelines and/or integrate with social media platforms.
  4. Orientation: A contemporary HR information system will “walk and talk” new hires through onboarding processes. HRIS will connect them to security, training, supervision, policy, and procedure. It offers instructions, manuals, and news.
  5. Training: HR information technology can be a training and development kiosk. It’s the place workers can learn in engaging ways, schedule and archive training courses, and provide constructive feedback.
  6. Performance: Automated systems calendar and facilitate performance appraisals. It layers performance standards, target objectives, and developing competencies. You can integrate such records with talents and workforce management metrics.
  7. Workforce Management: You might integrate the HR system with ERP and CRM analytics to mine the data that helps understand, predict, and manage productivity.
  8. Talent Management: It takes some talent and ability on your part to step up to matching talent resources and potential needs. Such systems can integrate what you “know” in terms of recorded recruiting, training, development, and performance appraisal.
  9. Analytics: HR management simply does not realize the information it has at its disposal until it introduces the data to HR information tools. The reporting capacity is enormous and challenges the strategic talents of managers. It will administer and store records, of course, but its ability to assess and analyze is invaluable.
  10. Scalability: Any HR IT system relates to workforce size. If the product you buy serves numbers and needs your business has not grown into, you may have overbought. However, you always need information technology that will grow with you. The growth may be an increase in employee count or in multiple locations, but either way you want a seamless support system.

When shopping, you need support from your information technology people, HR peers, current users, and supportive vendors. It’s not just a question of what you want, but it is a search for why, when, and how. You don’t want too much overlap among functions, and you do want to understand the interface with the organization managers and employees the system will serve.

Remember, it is not your administrative function alone; it is a primary shared technology. So, spend time and talent on framing the base needs cataloged in this guide to HR Information Technology.

To narrow your search for HR technology systems try our free Software Selector Tool which will rank providers as to how well they match your criteria. 

6 Steps for Finding the Right HR Technology Solution

HR TechnologyI recently attended the Society for Human Resource Management 2014 Conference in June of this year and one of the great takeaways for me as an HR and tech advocate was Mr. Joe Rotella‘s insights on the the six steps for finding the right HR solution. While I can’t possibly fill my article with the same verve and panache that Mr. Rotella brings to the stage, I can certainly enthusiastically reiterate his more salient points. Here goes:

  1. Complete a Self-assessment and Internal Needs Analysis – Always the starting point for any major project, determining your needs is key. While you do want to efficiently transfer as many processes as possible ( and leave no important one behind) there is no need to go overboard either. To paraphrase Joe, functionality, versatility and customization are key.
  1. Rank Requirements Based on Organizational Impact – This is where the “rubber meets the road” if you do not have an unlimited budget. The key point is that you must prioritize the components that will have the most immediate and dramatic results – read that as the bottom line – within your projected budget. If there is some room left afterwards, then you can add a few bells and whistles.
  1. Identify Potential Solutions—Narrow the Field – In addition to attending trade shows like SHRM2014, there is plenty of information on the Internet as well as an extensive dealer network for the more popular solutions. Joe’s point (I think) is that there are a plethora of software vendors out there who will promise you the world but it is up to you to discriminate between the wheat and the chaff.
  1. “Get Real” with Providers – Once you have identified a half dozen vendors that seem to suit your needs, it is time to ask the “tough” questions that will narrow them down to the top two contenders. As Joe points out, this is not the time to hide any of your needs and hope to fit them in later. Complete transparency with the vendor about your needs is the only way to go.
  1. View Demos From Promising Providers – Now that you have two or three vendors who are firing on all cylinders when it comes to understanding your HCM technology needs, it is time to get serious and invite the two most promising to give a live demo. This process is far more effective than reading written proposals and should definitely include some of the people who will actually be using the software and not just the “decision makers.”
  1. Score Solutions Based on Requirements – While almost everyone will be excited about their particular favorite HCM software and its advantages, it is imperative for everyone involved to take a second, more objective look. This process is most effectively accomplished by using a score-based system. Each person on the committee – as well as those who field-tested the software – should be allowed to grade the software. Then when the results are in, an informed decision can be made.
  1. Request a Written Proposal – Finally, you’re almost home. Now it’s a matter of asking for a written proposal that memorializes all of the agreed upon details. This process will avoid any misunderstandings in the future once the contract is accepted and smooth the implementation of your HCM software package.

Of course, this is just a cursory look at what Mr. Rotella had to say and doesn’t even touch on the concrete questions that he offered for anyone already involved in the task. For more information on this topic, please visit the site or contact us at

Now, More than Ever, You Need Technology to Manage Your Contingent Workforce

HR technologyThe latest statistics show that over one-quarter of the U.S. workforce is now classified by their employers as “contract” or “contingent” and the new burdens imposed by the PPACA is likely to see that percentage  increase significantly over the next few years. For this reason, it is essential that companies develop tools and techniques to properly manage this segment of their workforce.

The Issue
It may seem that many of the issues inherent in this process can be ignored as these workers are acquired through the use of staffing agencies or hired on a “contract” basis. In fact, companies may feel that these employees are merely an ad hoc addition to their workforce. Instead, companies must realize that it is the government that will eventually rule on whether these employees are, in fact, on contract. To make matters worse, the government does not seem to have settled on a final definition of the word.

The Downside
While the prevailing HR mantra is that all workers should be treated the same in all business circumstances, this is an impractical ideal that is all but impossible to maintain. The simple fact of the matter is that it is extremely risky from a legal standpoint to treat contract workers like full-time employees. Instead, new procedures, techniques and tracking methods must be implemented to not only maximize productivity for the company’s own ends but also guarantee compliance with government mandates.

A New Paradigm
Many companies from the behemoth, CVS-Caremark, to the icon of high-tech, Microsoft, have been caught short by the meandering policies of government agencies and the socialist leanings of District Court judges. These companies and many others have been forced to re-categorize employees, pay them back wages and also ante up to the Federal government a substantial fine. If these titans of industry cannot navigate these uncharted waters, smaller companies should certainly beware.

The Solution
Many small to mid-sized companies attempt to integrate the process of managing contingent workers in with their regular payroll and systems. Unfortunately, since these systems are not integrated with each other, this usually leads to a host of errors that can take many man-hours and weeks of actual time to unravel and fix – even if dealing with a relatively simple problem like missed hours.

The use of another HRIS, such as an integrated vendor management system (VMS), can proactively forestall many of these problems and also allow your company to track a variety of other productivity and compliance metrics.  Not only will you keep the government off your back – now and for the foreseeable future – you will also be able to track the time and deliverables of the most under-managed part of your staff.

In short, if you are spending more time managing the management of your employees rather than their tasks themselves, it’s time to take a look at an HRIS system.