HR Technology and Trends to Learn More about this Year
HR technology continues to serve as a key asset for HR leaders as they help guide their organizations through a historically tight labor market and ever-changing legislative landscape.
According to results from the 2019 Paychex Pulse of HR Survey, more than 85% of HR professionals surveyed say that technology "has strengthened their contribution to corporate success," and more than 80% reported that their company's investment in technology "will allow them to maintain or grow their headcount and increase employee productivity."
In other words, as the role of HR leaders expands within the corporate structure, advances in human resource technology are helping to assist these individuals in becoming even more engaged in their company's overall strategy objectives.
What is HR technology?
This broad term encompasses a wide range of complex business functions – payroll, time and attendance, benefits, talent acquisition, and more – served by software and other technologies. From enhancements in artificial intelligence (AI) to a new generation of employee self-service and continued learning tools, this technology enables HR professionals to take on a more strategic role within their organization.
HR technology trends to look for in 2020
A variety of HR technologies are helping HR professionals in their roles, with other technologies soon to appear on the horizon. Here's a brief look into what's happening in the world of HR technology.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) in HR tech
AI-enabled programs can speed the process by which recruiters review and filter job applicants from vast numbers of resumes. AI can facilitate an analysis of the labor market, match skills and identify competencies, and can perhaps detect and mimic bias in posted job descriptions. Also, chatbots can interact with promising candidates prior to in-person job interviews, thus working to reduce an otherwise time-consuming hiring process.
AI can also accelerate employee training and development through augmented reality and virtual reality, while also personalizing training content that matches an individual employee's learning capacity.
Perhaps just as importantly, AI tools can help identify the possibility of employee turnover by analyzing a team member's web browsing patterns, email activities, and search patterns relating to pay scales and job postings. There is potential for this type of information to help HR professionals in uncovering potential reasons for turnover and possibly avert untimely departures by employees. However, employee privacy in electronic communications and device usage is a complicated area of law. An employer should strongly consider working with an attorney before engaging in any type of employee monitoring.
Increasingly, employees want to control the jobs they are responsible for – both how and when they want to get these tasks completed. Through the use of an employee self-service system (ESS), employees can perform a range of HR-related tasks without filing paperwork with HR. Depending on the specific ESS system, employees could:
- Access online pay slips
- View and print W-2 forms
- Confirm employer-initiated employment status, rate of pay, and other changes
- Update personal information
- View federal, state, or local tax withholding information
Self-service technology may also allow leadership to communicate changes in health plan coverage, company holidays, and other time-sensitive information. It can also be useful in assisting employees who want to expand the range of their skills and knowledge.
The rise of self-service technology can be attributed, in part, to changing demographics within the workforce. According to research compiled in a 2019 Paychex white paper, "The Future of Work," millennial and Generation Z workers are increasingly requesting more options regarding accessibility to HR functions through self-service tools. As a result, employers responding to these requests often see a rise in employee engagement, thus benefiting the entire organization.
Another significant trend in HR expected to stay strong in 2020 is attention toward employee wellness. Programs addressing employee health are widespread, with new momentum building for meeting the physical and emotional needs of growing numbers of remote workers (and those who serve the company on a flexible work schedule).
Video resources such as Skype and FaceTime are proving to be highly effective resources for sharing wellness-focused webinars and fitness presentations to off-site employees. These workers can be updated via social media feeds on new in-house wellness initiatives and related efforts. This is a useful way to inspire and encourage these employees to participate in team challenges, leaderboards, and other social options.
HR technology challenges
In 2020 and beyond, HR professionals may continue to face difficult challenges from both organization leaders and the employees that they serve. For the organization, the goal is finding ways to contend with an unprecedented tight labor market. Another challenge – how to facilitate faster, more informed decision-making throughout the company – may be even more urgently needed in the new decade.
Tight labor markets
In a tight labor market, employers are hard-pressed to identify and recruit the types of qualified job candidates they most urgently need. These days, it's not just a matter of locating individuals with the appropriate degree of skills and experience. It's vital that these candidates prove to be a good fit with the organizational culture as well.
The challenge doesn't stop there. How can employers retain their best workers? What approaches to employee engagement are the most successful?
Helping employers struggling with a tight labor market
A key technology resource related to an integrated human capital management system is a customized applicant tracking system. This technology is often designed to ensure that qualified candidates don't slip through the cracks. It can streamline the process by making it easier for job candidates to submit their materials online, which in turn can enable hiring managers and HR professionals to better access the information they need from a single interface.
An applicant tracking solution can also:
- Standardize the processes for job postings, interview scheduling, and hiring workflows for more efficient, consistent results
- Improve accuracy and time savings for HR and applicants alike (saving employers more money with each new hire)
- Enable job seekers to submit applications anytime through a mobile phone or from a desktop computer, and then log into the system for an update on their application status.
Advanced recruitment software also has the ability to strengthen a company's internal application process, so more candidates have an opportunity to find your open position.
Demands for faster-decision making
Increasingly, companies depend upon data to make key operational decisions. With HR analytics, businesses can identify areas of exposure to risk and help devise effective solutions. Investment in analytics technology also eases the process of linking company data to critical decisions made around staffing, compensation and benefits, scheduling, and so on. It paves the way to a deeper understanding of which processes work well and where improvements are needed.
Helping HR professionals make more informed decisions
HR data analytics provides HR professionals with stronger, more accurate data collection and reporting — the type of information needed to make sound business decisions. Examples range from a business unit manager's need for the latest information on time and attendance, so they can decide how to streamline the scheduling process, to a quick audit that helps an HR manager decide how to address a payroll-related problem.
Administering benefits that workforces want
The range of benefits offered by a company is often a key element in both new employee hires and effective employee retention. In this era of competition for the best talent, candidates demand not just the best traditional benefits package, but also a variety of non-traditional benefits and perks (i.e., telecommuting or access to a fitness facility). This can be an area where the abundance of data can feel overwhelming, if it's improperly structured. On the other hand, effective benefits management technology can efficiently provide and monitor all types of benefits packages, better positioning a company and its HR team for success.
Technology also identifies which benefits are currently being utilized and viewed as desirable by the workforce, and which benefits are underutilized. This data-driven approach helps companies gather the information needed for effective compliance reporting.
Performance management and continued learning
New performance management techniques are transforming the way businesses conduct employee reviews and goal-setting. These changes reflect the ongoing need to prioritize employee development, ensuring that skills are up-to-date and that employees continuously learn and better understand the culture in which they operate.
HR tech's impact on performance management and continued learning
Learning management software offers employees access to online courses that enable businesses to achieve their performance management and continued learning objectives. This learning management system (LMS) technology often incorporates:
- Advanced digital user interfaces for online training courses for both on-site and remote workers
- Selections from training course libraries customized for specific industry or workplace demands
- Enhanced content such as easily imported videos and valuable third-party content from other providers
HR technology that reinforces employee training as a top priority can help ensure that employees of all generations remain engaged, focused, and are continually honing their skills. This in turns often leads to improved employee retention for a business.
Using HR technology to help fuel success
As change continues to impact businesses, there's greater urgency for HR professionals to identify and implement solutions that can help address challenges affecting both the workforce and the company at large. Learn more about how effective HR technology can work in organizations like yours.