Posted in HR Process Automation

Top 16 HR Trends For the 21st Century

Improving employee satisfaction isn’t just a “feel-good” kind of thing:

  • Happy employees are up to 20% more productive at work.
  • Disengaged employees are costing U.S. companies $450 billion to $550 billion per year.
  • Employee support initiatives increased employee satisfaction by 37% at Google.
  • Employee turnover is costing U.S. businesses $11 billion annually.
  • Companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share.

An outstanding employee experience can improve employee engagement, increase retention, increase productivity, and lower the cost associated with hiring and firing.

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In many organizations, the HR department is responsible for ensuring that the employee experience – from hiring and onboarding to payroll and benefits – is designed to meet employees’ needs, streamline administrative tasks, and minimize frustration.

With the many moving parts and competing priorities, it’s increasingly challenging for HR departments to keep up. Thankfully, there are many technologies that companies can use to facilitate recruitment, employee onboarding, remote workforce management, as well as ongoing training and development.

With the many HR tools and software applications on the market, which ones should you invest in to get the highest ROI?

To get the most out of the latest HR technologies, you should first understand the top trends impacting HR processes and then select the right tools that meet your organization’s needs.

Top HR Technology Trends Every Organization Needs To Know

Here are some key technologies that are helping organizations increase cost-efficiency, improve employee experience, and facilitate talent acquisition:

1. Cloud-Based Systems

HR must become familiar with the cloud.

Web-based platforms enable HR administrators and employees to access the system from anywhere, at any time, and from any device. This helps facilitate processes, especially for companies with various locations and/or a distributed workforce. 

After many years of development, cloud technologies are now mature enough to support complex requirements from large global enterprises. For example, you can apply universal rules to payroll management to standardize workflows while being able to process payments locally to comply with specific rules and requirements.

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In fact, a recent study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found that 75% of companies have at least one HR process and 40% have their core HR systems in the cloud – making it an inevitable part of any HR technology. 

2. Workflow Automation Applications

Technology will improve HR hiring processes.

Using low-code platforms for business process automation (BPA,) HR teams can automate various time-consuming workflows with very little assistance from IT to streamline processes, minimize errors, improve employee experience, and reduce the costs associated with procedures such as employee onboarding, form submissions and approval (e.g., time-off requests), as well as expense reporting and reimbursement. 

For instance, automation is widely adopted in the hiring process to create new employee records, gather employee documentation, and set up employees in the payroll system. It’s also used in payroll management to perform basic calculations, tax deductions, and benefits administration to minimize errors.

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3. AI-Driven Technologies

From improving healthcare to streamlining recruitment, AI-driven technologies (e.g., machine learning) are playing an increasingly important role in every aspect of HR.

For example, the application of AI in processing workforce data helps identify employees that require support so real-time assistance can be provided. It also helps streamline repetitive tasks such as onboarding, benefits selection, and IT service ticketing to improve cost-efficiency.

AI can also be used to help employees navigate learning and development options. For example, by recommending content for ongoing training, suggesting workplace connections, guiding employees to set career goals, and helping them find potential mentors.

In addition, AI can be used to automate communication between HR and employees so you can improve employee engagement while removing unconscious bias.

4. Engagement Measurement Tools

While companywide surveys had been the standard method for measuring employee engagement, they have some shortcomings and often fail to reflect current sentiment among employees.

With the ability to collect and process a large amount of employee data, organizations are using nontraditional, technology-based listening techniques to gauge company culture and measure employee engagement. 

ID badges can carry useful HR-related information.

For example, by using IoT devices embedded in ID badges, employers can analyze employee movement data, track where workers are spending their time, and how they interact with each other or the office environment.

Also, computer usage data can provide insights into how employees use tools such as e-mail, internal collaboration networks, websites, etc.

5. Digital Coaches

“Nudge-based” technologies are used as digital coaches to provide employees with guidance in various areas such as job performance, professional development, and time management by embedding performance management within the daily workflow.

Email analysis can also provide useful information for HR.

For example, an application can analyze information from e-mail, collaboration software, and calendars to see how managers are interacting with their direct reports.

Then, the software can use AI-driven technologies (e.g., machine learning, predictive analytics) to provide recommendations on how managers can coach their teams and improve their performance.

Based on the analytics, such system may send automatic “nudges” to remind managers to focus on specific team members or provide feedback to employees on a regular basis. It can also deliver just-in-time content to guide managers on how to coach their teams effectively. 

6. Cybersecurity Enhancements

HR has to process a lot of sensitive employee information. In fact, it touches everyone in the organization and has to handle more data privacy and integration issues than other departments – making it the prime target of cyberattacks.

With more of its functions moving to the cloud, HR is now 1.5 times more likely to be responsible for data security and technology configuration decisions than IT.

As such, human resource information technology (HRIT) specialist will have a more active and strategic role in ensuring IT security of an organization by selecting reputable vendors for cloud-computing solutions, implementing and educating employees on cybersecurity protocols, and ensuring internal compliance with industry regulations.

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7. Point System Solutions 

Such an approach allows companies to access innovative technologies without being limited by offerings from a single full-suite vendor.

The many aspects of HR and the fast-evolving trends in the discipline have led to the emergence of smaller-scale “point” or specialized technology solutions that address individual areas such as recruiting, performance management, employees engagement, etc.

With the help of APIs (application programming interfaces), these point systems can be integrated with the core HR system in a matter of days and enable organizations to tap into the latest technologies such as talent acquisition systems, employee engagement tools, and AI-driven chatbot applications (e.g., to facilitate the hiring process or answer common employee questions.) 

8. Talent Acquisition/Recruitment Platforms

Talent is the #1 determinant of success in the 21st century. In today’s “sellers’ market,” companies need to constantly improve their candidate experience throughout the recruitment lifecycle to attract the best talents. 

By 2020, Millennials are expected to make up about 50 percent of the U.S. workforce. With the aid of technologies, the hiring process has become more digitalized and interactive, which streamlines the candidate experience while increasing engagement with this new generation of candidates. For example, more employers are using videos in job postings, which are found to increase viewership by 12% and completed applications by 34%.

Organizations are also using new technologies to improve recruitment marketing so they can nurture and attract employees of a high caliber by delivering a seamless and fully immersive hiring experience

The use of AI-driven technologies enables companies to leverage talent acquisition analytics to select candidates that are a good fit for the organizations. With every bad hiring decision costing an average of $14,900, finding the right candidate can cut down the cost associated with talent acquisition significantly.

In addition, AI-driven technologies are now deployed to help identify and attract high-quality candidates. For example, they can help remove unconscious biases and improve diversity and inclusivity in the hiring process, take advantage of the gig economy, use chatbots to provide prompt responses that improve candidate experience, and support collaborative hiring (e.g., referral and internal mobility.)

9. Workforce Planning Software

Proper workforce planning can help companies respond to business needs in an agile manner. With workforce planning software, HR can accurately forecast workforce demand, anticipate resource requirements, calculate employee turnover rate, and predict attrition.

HR should encourage collaboration between employees to increase engagement.

As such, organizations can increase employee utilization rate while ensuring that employees are applying their expertise in their jobs to increase engagement, job satisfaction, and retention rates.

Proper workforce planning also helps increase bench utilization by matching internal resources with existing demands to reduce dependency on external recruitment.

10. Online Learning Platforms

In today’s fast-changing business environment, offering learning and development (L&D) resources helps employees stay relevant and allows employers to attract and retain top talents.

On-demand training delivered via online learning portals enables employees to access L&D materials that are most relevant to their professional development cost-efficiently, often without having to take time off so they can stay productive.

HR can take advantage of time-saving technologies so they can focus on other tasks.

Many online platforms can deliver training materials in various formats to suit different learning styles. The use of interactive content (e.g., quizzes) and gamification techniques enhances the learning experience, incentivizes participation, and creates a community experience.

11. Virtual Reality Technologies

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies, with the aid of AI, are changing how companies engage and interact with employees in various HR functions.

VR is becoming an incredibly useful HR tool.

For example, VR can augment the interview experience, provide real-life job previews, enhance the onboarding process, and evaluate performance. It’s also used in L&D to deliver an immersive and engaging learning experience.

In addition, VR has been used to support other employee training such as improving soft skills (e.g., interpersonal interaction, emotional intelligence) and sexual harassment prevention, in which the technology is used to create real-time simulations, help participants assimilate prevention techniques, and encourage bystander intervention. 

12. Augmented Data Analytics

HR analytics, also called people analytics, workforce analytics, or talent analytics, can be applied to drive data-driven decision-making in various HR processes, such as talent acquisition, promotions, resource management, and performance evaluation.

These analytics models can automatically sift through a large amount of employee data, cleanse and assess the information, identify patterns, and recommend clear actions. 

HR analyzes employee information to see how they can improve the employee experience.

HR teams can then use the insights to identify high performers, predict retention, design succession plans, support leadership development, support talent mobility, and recommend training to help employees close skill gaps.

Analytics technologies will become more user-friendly and offer deeper insights, which can then be applied automatically to various employee interactions with the aid of AI technologies such as natural language generation and machine learning to deliver timely and relevant communications.

13. Mobile Accessibility

As the new generation of digital natives is entering the workforce, employers need to adapt various processes (e.g., HR workflows) to the user experience these employees are accustomed to in other areas of their lives.

As more employees prefer to interact with internal platforms via their mobile devices, HR applications will need to deliver a mobile-first user experience to encourage adoption and compliance. 

Worldwide connectivity is a huge advantage for HR.

For example, employees want the ability to submit travel expenses while they’re on the road rather than having to wait till they get back into the office. Offering such capability will encourage them to submit expense reports in a timely manner to facilitate budget forecast and ensure compliance with company policy.

As such, organizations need to ensure mobile accessibility in key functions including recruitment, employee learning system, performance management software, and form submission processes (e.g., expense reports, time-off requests.) 

14. Self-Service Tools

The new generation of workers prefers to handle many processes through self-service tools so they don’t have to wait for the HR’s assistance. These tools will also reduce dependencies on and the workload of HR teams associated with everyday tasks such as leave, attendance, and holiday management.

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Self-service tools, such as knowledge base or employee portal, improve the employee experience by offering them the ability to manage their responsibilities and complete their tasks at their own pace while staying productive.

The use of cloud-based technologies will further enhance the accessibility of self-service tools so employees can manage many HR processes from anywhere and at any time that’s most convenient for them.

15. Remote Workforce Management Software 

The ability to work remotely attracts fresh talent.

The use of remote working platforms has enabled employees to access many convenient features and capabilities that enhance collaboration and productivity. Meanwhile, the use of remote workforces is helping companies drastically reduce overhead while allowing them to access a global talent pool. 

However, coordinating a remote workforce can be quite a challenge if teams can’t communicate and collaborate cost-effectively. New technologies will enable HR to manage remote workforces in a more organized manner, e.g., prioritizing workload, allocating resources, and providing real-time feedback to optimize the productivity of remote teams.

16. Employee Wellbeing

Organizations are offering more support for employees’ physical, mental and financial health to improve employee satisfaction, increase productivity, and boost retention rate.

Employee benefits and security are very important for potential employees.

Technologies are used to support various employee wellness programs. HR professionals can leverage data from software platforms, apps, IoT wearables, and other sources to avoid employee burnout and retain talents.

In addition, solutions such as telemedicine, online financial advice, etc. can enhance employee wellbeing and boost loyalty while maintaining productivity.

Final Thoughts: Implementing HR Technologies In Your Company

The key to successfully implementing HR technologies is to make sure that the tools are adding value to the employee experience and addressing the increasing workforce complexity.

It’s also important to avoid getting overly reliant on computer-generated algorithms at the expense of the human experience so you can address what’s actually going on in the workplace – balancing the intricate dynamic among employees and the efficiency made possible by technologies. 

While it’s important to invest in the latest technologies, you should be aware of any gap between the new solutions and the competencies required to execute them in your organization. Poorly implemented technologies can make processes more cumbersome and lead to frustrating employee experience.

Last but not least, new technologies are only as good as how they’re used so select solutions that meet the needs of your employees and invest in the effort to ensure company-wide adoption of the new tools and platforms.

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