HR Technology Trends

November 17, 2020 | David Daly 5 Mins read

It has been a year filled with unexpected and difficult challenges- now human resources departments at multinational companies everywhere are looking towards 2021 with interest. HR professionals have a lot on their minds as they look to recruit, retain, and engage with their workforce, whose mindset, work ethic and life priorities may have been strongly impacted by the global pandemic.

Technology, as with all areas of business, is going to play a significant role in human resources departments. If the current trend of remote working and service delivery is likely to continue long into the new year, then technology to support business services delivery along with digital tools for enhanced communication is likely to be prioritized.

If the human resource department has fallen behind the technology curve, then they will need to invest and upskill to catch up and if they are currently doing very well when it comes to technology , then their focus will switch to expected technology trends in the new year.

In this article, we will examine what some of the likely HR technology trends will be and what impact they will have on a geo-dispersed, internationally located employee base who are working remotely.

A tech focussed year

Covid-19 has dominated our lives in 2020 and the remote delivery of essential business services has become the norm. A huge percentage of workforces at multinational corporations around the world are currently working remotely.

This is something that changes attitudes as well as mind sets and it is inevitable that discussions will focus on how technology used to facilitate remote working, can be introduced to other areas of the business.

Life goes on, and companies need to hire, on board and engage new employees using HR technology. Interviews and employees start days are now happening via video linkup calls and these hr tech trends have now been accepted as a normal part of the hiring process and employee engagement, at least on a temporary basis.

So, we can expect HR departments to focus heavily on ways in which HR technology can facilitate their deliverables in 2021.  It is too soon yet to call it a post COVID-19 working environment as COVID-19 is still happening in many countries around the world. But it is a pretty safe bet that HR technology which has been deployed to good use during covid will continue to play a significant role next year and perhaps beyond. Multinational companies will continue to embrace and improve HR technologies to facilitate and enable recruitment, onboarding and employee engagement as well as career development via online learning.

Artificial intelligence will be in wider use

If artificial intelligence and machine learning has been used this year to deliver services which involved continuous repeatable tasks, then there is no reason why a human resources department would not be interested in deploying such technology to its own workflows and processes.

Administration and data input is a part of HR life and while there have been advances in HR technology to assist with this, many companies have not yet made the decision to invest in automation technology and limit human involvement in these data and administration tasks.

Cost savings and productivity gains can be realized when introducing artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation, so cost sensitive organizations will be interested in the potential of AI. There is evidence to suggest that artificial intelligence and machine learning are being used on a wider scale by HR professionals when it comes to  recruiting and hiring and many expect this use to increase further in the new year as human resources departments look to leverage available technology in a more effective way. HR teams are also set to examine in more detail the ways in which AI and machine learning can improve their employee experience- expect this hr tech trend to continue in 2021.

Platforms will become more accessible and convenient

Having a remote or distributed workforce changes things – lines get blurred and working hours are interchangeable as professionals juggle the responsibilities of home life with office demands. Remote workers therefore require a certain level of flexibility.

They need to be able to access online platforms related to their jobs and daily duties at a time that is convenient for them, and ideally from the device of their choosing. It is therefore expected that online platforms will become more accessible and convenient and, in many ways, resemble an on-demand service. This is about HR functions having a positive impact on the employee experience.

HR technology needs to adapt to this new normal of a dispersed, remotely employed workforce with employees operating in different time zones and needing to access workplace applications and platforms during the evening or on weekends.

The result of this will be a pressing need for upgrading existing technology and replacing dated or legacy software with systems and platforms that have the agility and flexibility to cope with the demands and expectations created by this new remote working environment.

Employee wellness tools will be considered

There has been a lot of coverage in the international news media around the negative effects that the global pandemic has had on the mental health and well-being of remote workers, especially millennials.  The connection between sick leave and drops in revenue has long been established and there have been several studies detailing the importance of employee wellness and good mental health when it comes to performance and productivity.

in 2021 you can expect to see a greater consideration of any technology or digital tools that can support employee wellness and resilience in an organization. Exercise, fitness, nutrition and mental well-being will be looked at in greater detail. Some of the world’s biggest health care providers are already investing in new AI-based automated tools which can be tailored to fit any workforce in the world. Wellbeing platforms can bring these applications together and you can expect some HR leaders to be working on business cases to justify integrating with these platforms as part of an overall focus on employee wellness and talent management.

More remote working tools

Some of the largest organizations in the world now except that a significant part of their workforce will operate remotely on a permanent basis. This means there has been a huge culture shift and remote working tools are no longer a gap filler before we return to normal – instead, they have become the future of work.

In fact, now they are needed to attract new talent. Employees are now empowered in their search for employment and may be less likely to consider organizations that do not operate with advanced and innovative digital remote working tools. Such companies cannot support the work life balance that employees are looking to achieve, and these companies will find themselves struggling when it comes to talent acquisition.

Expect more support for the introduction of innovative digital tools, digital transformation projects, digital upskilling of the workforce and cloud software deployments. There will also be an increase in the use of employee self-service portals that let employees handle HR functions on their own- ranging from entering and updating their personal data to accessing and downloading things like payslips and tax information they may need to make use of in their personal lives.

Agility will be a priority

Powerful and innovative technology is often sourced to support product development and go to market strategies. But it is not often considered when it comes to cultural things at an organization such as agility and mindset.

This is likely to change because the world has changed due to this pandemic. The labor market has changed and evolved and there is now a greater demand for agile and responsive teams. HR software and advanced HR systems will be required to hire these teams but also to support them when it comes to being agile in day-to-day performance and activities.

High-growth firms often experience higher rates of turnover and role switching due to the way the operate. They will be looking closely at how HR technology can be leveraged to fill the gaps and support the rapid recruitment, onboarding, induction, and productivity for new hires. Many high growth companies operate with a culture mantra of speed, efficiency, agility, and next generation thinking – they will be required to back this philosophy up with their technology stacks if their performance is to match their ambitions.

A dynamic labor market means agility and responsiveness may separate the winners and losers. Technology will be needed to help match supply with constantly changing labor demand. Systems and HR processes will also need to be in place to help employers reskill workers to fill some of the more urgent resource gaps and new technology will be needed here too.

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