Hays have suggested that the continued advancement of technology means there are more tools available to HR professionals than ever before and that for business and HR leaders to capitalise on the benefits tech can bring, they must understand the trends that are expected to impact on their departments this year.
Jacky Carter, group digital engagement director at Hays, explains: “The volume and velocity of HR-based technology making its way into the marketplace in the last few years has been, at times, overwhelming. Having this wealth of technological tools to choose from means having the necessary tech skills available is crucial. Many of those in HR leadership roles probably didn’t have technology high on their own skillset – but that is rapidly changing.”
According to Hays, the top tech trends likely to have the biggest impact in 2019 are:
1. Learning as a skill
The world of work is changing rapidly, not only in the work professionals do, but also the way in which they work. For example, employees increasingly expect different working patterns in their careers to allow for flexibility. As their working lives continue to evolve over time, their skills will also need to evolve to keep pace with changing technology and work styles.
Jacky explains, “Those organisations who want to retain their good talent – and most of them will – need to think about how they are offering their employees the channels in-house that ensure they are able to 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”.
2. Messaging, communication and collaboration – is email dead?
People are increasingly communicating with friends and family via messaging platforms such as Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber or even SMS – more so than email or telephone calls. However, many professionals still use email at work as the predominant way to communicate, but as a communication tool it could be becoming less relevant.
Jacky says, “The reality is that many of us want or expect to have the choice to interact on messaging platforms – meaning communication via old tools such as telephones has become outdated. Employees are no different – we are seeing the emergence of chat as a way to self-serve on HR issues as well as handling high volume applications as people like talking less and less until there is a level of trust established and personal interaction is likely to add some value.”
3. Automation – it’s coming, are you ready?
It is inevitable that many repetitive tasks 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.
Jacky advises, “Of course with automation there will likely be a shift in the skills that are in demand, but, if people are offered the time, knowledge, opportunity and channels to map their own path they are more likely to stay with the employer that offers them that direction and guidance.”
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 is becoming more and more sophisticated, using AI to ensure that the focus is on the right outcomes that have the biggest impact.
Jacky explains, “Authenticity will be critical as companies need to be very mindful of the consistency of the employee journey, such as the employer branding they portray to attract jobseekers into their organisation. This needs to be carefully crafted across all channels and it’s where content created by existing employees can really support. Conflict between what’s portrayed and the reality will quickly lead to disengagement”.
5. Data and Analytics – metrics matter now more than ever
Following on from employee experience, data and analytics are becoming even more important, as organisations gather, analyse and understand the impact that their strategies have on their employee population.
Jacky says, “If retention and attraction of the best talent becomes more and more critical to an organisations’ ability to deliver results, knowing how effective each measure has been in real time will enable them to fine-tune their approach and ultimately be more successful in their hiring process for example.”
6. Culture – is yours with you or against you?
Technology is only useful if people want to use it; any implementation needs to make absolute sense to the target user population. To make sure that happens, most organisations need a shift in culture – often from the top of the business down – to enable an environment of openness, collaboration and flexibility as well as incorporating transparency and “voice of customer” into the design, be those customers internal or external. HR leaders have a key role to play in driving and facilitating a culture that embraces and embeds change into the fabric of the organisation, in a way that maximises the positive impact of any new technology.
7. Don’t forget the human touch
And finally, as technological advancements continue to take pace and small numbers of jobs become redundant, some might expect the role of the human to become less important in the world of work as time progresses. However, robots will still struggle with many skills which are unique to humans and, as a result, humans will be irreplaceable by technology in many ways.
Jacky adds, “The human touch will never be replaced by robots and humans need convincing, persuading, listening to, understanding, patience and all with a sensitivity that technology is yet to replace. The human touch still matters and is still vital to business.”
Jacky concludes by saying, “In the world of work the array of technology that is available and 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 in to your processes – think of it as an à la carte menu rather than an all-you-can-eat buffet!”