Just five or so years ago if you were to ask most small business owners if they would have imagined that their payroll information — perhaps the most confidential and private data in their company — would be hosted by a third party company somewhere in “the cloud,” then it’s likely they would be very surprised, if not amused. Trust the cloud? No way! I remember this response. Back then, the cloud was still an unknown, untrusted new technology.
But that’s all changing … and fast. Sure, security challenges continue to evolve. But cloud based services have done a good job reducing these risks. And in just a few short years, cloud applications have not only proliferated, but most of my small and medium-sized clients have embraced these types of services as an essential means for increasing productivity and profits.
And few areas are being disrupted more than human resources. Hundreds of apps, software, and services have emerged over the past few years that are helping companies find and better manage their employees. Where’s it all heading? Over the next few years, look for these five big HR tech trends to take hold:
Cloud-based HR platforms will become a required tool for most small businesses
Today’s cloud-based platforms are going well beyond just payroll. Many of them are adding features to quickly enable onboarding and off-boarding employees, alerts and workflows to monitor regulation compliance, performance appraisals, vacation and time-off tracking, benefits administration, and document management. As a result, more and more payroll and HR managers are increasingly relying on a full-service HR software to do their jobs. In the next few years, business owners and senior executives will need to understand that experienced HR managers will need to be equipped with these tools to do their jobs.
HR functions will become more self-service focused
Where once administrators were forced to spend time doing paperwork in order to enroll employees in benefit plans, update payroll information, or complete required forms, much of this is being placed online and with mobile access. As a result, more employees will be expected to complete more information through web portals, which will be equipped to check for accuracy and completeness, and assist with the data entry process. These portals will also have self-scheduling capabilities to remind employees when forms are due and alert HR managers if any deadlines are at risk of being missed. As systems become smarter, HR and payroll managers will have more time available to focus on minimizing company risk and strategic objectives.
Recruiting applications will grow in features and reach
One of the biggest headaches for any business owner or manager is the recruiting process. In a tight job market, many companies are faced with the challenge of not only locating the best talent for their business, but sorting through applications and qualifying candidates in a timely manner. Already, technology companies are responding to this issue by combining search results from multiple job sites, providing deeper and more relevant searches into social platforms, doing background checks automatically, and then using algorithms to narrow down results for managers to review and approve. Look for continued enhancements in this technology that will enable companies to find better people faster and with less effort.
Innovative services are emerging to help small companies provide world-class benefits
To stay competitive with larger organization, small and medium-sized companies are pressured to provide benefits that will attract good people without breaking the bank. Many technology companies are responding to this need and developing services that assist companies with innovative benefits like paying down student loans, offering discounts and other “perks” from many participating organizations, building teamwork applications that enhance a company’s culture, and administer savings, health, and wellness plans that track everything from exercise and nutrition to even offering healthy foods through vending machines at the company’s offices. Look for more services to emerge over the next few years that, through technology and the pooling of resources, can offer big company benefits to even the smallest of organizations.
Feedback and collaboration tech will increase engagement and productivity
New collaboration tools are maturing that are enabling employees to provide instant feedback on the status of projects or problems, report safety or workplace issues in real time, and create conversations about customers and jobs that can be shared with everyone regardless of where they’re located. As these collaboration tools evolve, we’ll see a significant increase in real-time video streaming and internal company engagement increase that will improve communication and profitability.
The smart business people I know always do two things: they surround themselves with talented people and they’re always looking ahead. Hopefully you’re paying attention to these trends so that you’ll be able to surround yourself with the best people — and keep them motivated — over the next few years.