Technology advances at too fast a pace for some, but not fast enough for others (shouldn’t we all be in flying cars by now?).
Whichever way you look at it, it’s undeniable that an increasing number of tasks in our professional and personal lives can be carried out more effectively with the help of technology.
HR professionals interested in using new technologies to their advantage should keep their eye on the following HR technology trends of 2021 and beyond.
Technology for a remote office
The pandemic-driven adoption of remote work that began in 2020 has only slightly reversed in 2021. Some 51 percent of workers are still remote, according to a recent Gallup poll.
Even as a return to the office becomes possible, many employers and employees don’t intend to reverse remote work options. Research from Accenture found that more than four in five employees prefer a hybrid work model, and many firms are already implementing hybrid work models or full remote-work plans.
Remote/hybrid work is here to stay and will improve the lives of a lot of people. But, as we all know, remote or hybrid workforces present their own unique challenges.
HR is now tasked with managing people across multiple locations, time zones, and jurisdictions and ensuring remote workers are healthy, engaged, and can access HR products and services.
In many ways, remote/hybrid can represent a new opportunity for human resources to redefine its role within organizations. Here’s how technology can help with this endeavour.
As a result, a survey by the Business Group Health showed that, in the US, the number of large employers providing online resources to support mental health will increase to 88 percent this year.
According to the same survey, at least half of employers plan on “lowering or waiving costs” for remote mental health services and nearly one in five respondents plan to provide managers with additional training to recognize and support an employee who may experience a mental health issue.
Telehealth mental health services—like Talkspace and BetterHelp—bring trained professionals right into the homes of remote workers.
Start-up Oliva aims to provide customized, personal video therapy sessions and workshops for managers. Some employees are even open to AI therapy because a non-human is easier to open up to.
Technology to monitor employees
Remote work has changed the rules of communication. Remote workers can’t pop into a neighbor’s office to collaborate or have serendipitous chats with colleagues in the kitchen. From a manager and HR perspective, it’s harder to gauge how engaged people are when you’re not sharing a space with them.
This is why, increasingly, organizations in 2021 are relying on methods such as regular pulse surveys, using tools like TinyPulse, to continuously gather feedback from employees and use it to improve their experience.
In addition to this, some organizations are now using increasingly advanced employee monitoring tools that track how engaged employees are when working from home. These gather metrics such as time tracking, application and website usage, and productivity, in addition to random screen screenshots and sentiment analysis (studying dialogue).
This data can then be used to track healthy habits and avoid burnout, suggest improvements for productivity, and designate training and coaching.
Online learning is enhanced with new tech
Digital education for employees also benefits from recent advances in digital tools. Mobile learning is helping to deliver an easy-to-access learning experience, sometimes through small bursts known as microlearning. Gamification is making professional learning more entertaining for workers and virtual reality tools are growing in use too.
HR Tech to help with compliance
All those distributed employees, potentially located in multiple countries, means that compliance will become even more complicated.
Recognizing this, HR technology tools such as Oyster help you to create locally compliant contracts, communicate your employment terms and keep documentation centralized, safe and accessible.
Compliance cannot be fully automated, but hybrid services combining humans and technology can help absorb new changes in an expanding regulatory landscape.
AI continues to get smarter
Artificial intelligence is gradually moving from sci-fi novels into everyone’s daily lives, including HR professionals. Some 30 percent of organizations intend to use an AI tool as part of their HR technology complement next year. That’s up from 17 percent this year.
So how can this burgeoning technology help HR professionals?
Hyperautomation is the idea that if a task can be automated, then it should be. You’ll likely be aware of automation to help with payroll and data entry and, as AI gets ‘smarter’, the breadth of tasks that can be automated will increase.
AI chatbots, for example, can greatly enhance employee experience by immediately providing workers with the information they need and delivering relevant data to the HR team.
AI can also be trained to look through CVs and parse candidates based on their education and experience and help assess the performance of existing employees.
Of course, there’s the AI therapy we mentioned earlier that can analyze not only conversations but also more subtle, non-verbal cues.
Make better decisions
The power of AI also comes from machine learning, or its capability to analyze and interpret large data sets. The more data you can collect about employees the better it is for the AI, so many enterprise-level human resource management systems (HRMS) in particular have been beefing up their AI technology to leverage the data.
For human resource teams and business leaders, machine learning can help predict the best candidates to interview, how an organization’s employees should best be utilized, and even which employees are about to quit.
Cybersecurity a growing concern
As the world becomes increasingly digital and remote work becomes more widespread, unfortunately, cybersecurity is becoming an ever-growing concern.
According to a study by IBM, the cost of data breaches in the United States, which was $3.86 million last year, rose to $4.24 million in 2021 and remote work was a direct contributor to the increase.
Despite the increasing risk of data breaches, most HR professionals in a recent survey suggested that data security is not a “serious issue.” However, HR should be at the forefront of ensuring employee and company data is as secure as possible. Identity theft through leaked personal data can result in real losses for employees and can also hamper recruitment and employee retention.
HR, working with their organization’s information technology leadership, should lay out a clear set of policies for data security. The HR department should also ensure its team receives proper cybersecurity training. HR can even facilitate training for the organization as a whole as well.
Finally, HR departments should be involved in planning a response to a data breach. Employees who lose their personal information to a cyberattack will need clear communication from the organization and support going forward to minimize harm.
How can HR technology help your business?
While HR technology is always changing, the core function of the HR department remains the same: empowering people to make fulfilling contributions to their organizations.
HR technology is a means to an end and can’t be treated as a magic bullet. Some AI solutions, for example, won’t work unless you have the requisite levels of data management in place.
Increasingly, human resource management systems (HRMS) are evolving to cover all aspects of employee management, but you might still want to choose more specific tools for processes such as applicant sourcing, for example.