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5 tech trends every HR leader needs to know about in 2019

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The volume and velocity of technology making its way onto the Human Resources scene over the past year have been somewhat of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, we have technology delivering us with the solutions needed to automate mundane processes and free up our time for more high-value, “human” tasks. On the other, we are finding ourselves inundated and unsure of which tech trends to try and wrap our heads around first!

For an HR leader to thrive in the face of such monumental change, they will need to remain both anticipatory of the latest tech solutions to sweep the world of work, but also discerning of which ones would be viable within their business. With that in mind, which tech trends should every HR leader be considering in 2019?

1. Automation – it’s coming, is your company ready?

First off, this wouldn’t be an HR tech trends blog if we didn’t mention AI at the forefront! After all, it is inevitable that many repetitive tasks across all departments are likely to be replaced by automation. However, rather than fearing change and shying away from dealing with the impact, business and HR leaders must communicate the advantages to their workforce and begin embracing, discussing and getting ready for the changes it will bring.

Any implementation needs to make absolute sense to employees, and leaders will need their buy-in to reap the full benefits. To make sure that happens, most organisations need to create a culture of openness, collaboration, and flexibility; both in the way the technology is deployed, but also how employees are trained on how to work with this technology. This takes me to my next point.

2. Learning as a skill

The way we learn is evolving, because technology is moving at a pace which is no longer befitting of a one-off training course in a classroom environment. In fact, LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace learning report found that employees want a more personalised learning experience, whereby they can access a choice of training materials at the point of need, be it via webinars, interactive quizzes, infographics or ideally, a choice of the above and more.

To give an example, customer generation specialist MVF offer their employees a £1,000 training budget per year, an unlimited book allowance and twice-monthly ‘lunch and learn’ sessions. They have also set up “academies” where new starters can get the skills they need in a way that is best suited to their preferred learning style.

Therefore if employers are to avoid a skills gap, HR leaders will need to think about how they are offering their employees the channels in-house that ensure they can upskill and reskill themselves. These channels need to accommodate micro or bite-sized as well as macro learning – with the former being heavily driven by video-based content. Employers who recognise this will win in the talent stakes.

3. Messaging, communication, and collaboration – is email dead?

People are increasingly communicating with friends and family via messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, Viber or even SMS – but is this trend set to seep into our professional lives? Well, it’s estimated that over 500 million of us use chat software such as WhatsApp for work, and over half a million companies worldwide are now using instant messaging platforms such as Slack.

We are also seeing the emergence of chat to self-serve on HR issues, from employees using chat applications to find quick answers to simple questions regarding holiday and benefits to HR professionals themselves handling high volume applications from candidates. The reality is that many of us want or expect to have the choice to interact on messaging platforms for the sake of expediency– meaning communication via email may soon be outdated.

4. Employee experience – the new employee engagement

‘Employee experience’ is emerging as the new collective term that encompasses the entire employee lifecycle at an organisation – and how they feel about it. The journey begins before employment with the company – starting with the employer brand, then through to onboarding, performance management, ongoing engagement, employee wellbeing, the importance of employee benefits and last but not least, the employee feedback loop.

The cadence and methodology around how that feedback is collected are becoming more and more sophisticated, using AI and advanced data analytics to ensure that the focus is on outcomes that have the biggest impact. This takes me to my final point.

5. Data and analytics – metrics matter now more than ever

Organisations are taking advantage of the growing number of data resources available, in a bid to improve hiring and retention strategies. As such, we are seeing a growth in the number of HR departments deploying “data-driven HR” and “intelligent HR” strategies.

To give you an example of data-driven talent management and hiring in practice – Gartner Analysts conducted a study for a financial services company in the US. They looked for a correlation between the performance of employees, the college they attended and the grades obtained at this college. Therefore they were able to glean greater insights into the educational background of their best-performing employees and make better-informed decisions when it came to future hiring.

If retention and attraction of the best talent become more and more critical to an organisation’s ability to deliver results, knowing how effective each measure has been in real time, using solid metrics, will enable them to fine-tune their approach and ultimately be more successful in the future.

In the world of work, the array of technology that is available and the tech trends that are emerging is staggering. To make it work for you, it really is a case of finding solutions to the problems you’d like to solve and keeping that in focus, rather than trying to work all the tools available into your processes – think of it as an à la carte menu rather than an all-you-can-eat buffet!


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