HR has traditionally not been a field considered synonymous with technology. However, with the benefits of advanced technologies like AI and data analytics making themselves known throughout the industry, this is changing. HR and technology are becoming irreversibly connected, and “HR Tech”, or Human Resource Technology, is now a popular buzzword. From flexible working and the rise of the gig economy to remote workplaces and data analytics for employee engagement, HR Tech has certainly evolved. The new decade is likely to see some explosive progress in this field. Here’s what to expect in 2020.

Remote workspaces

HR tech, 2020

The concepts of flexible working and remote working are now gaining ground globally. Getting work done from the opposite end of the world has never been easier, with video conferencing and real-time data processing on the cloud enabling it all. This has given birth to a number of new concepts, including globally distributed teams, where talent is given priority over the geographical location of the employee. 

All this comes with its challenges, too, though, and it falls on the shoulders of HR professionals to overcome them. A NetMotion survey of 285 mobile employees revealed five categories of issues they faced: 

  • poor network connectivity;
  • Underperforming tools and software; 
  • Slow and dated devices; 
  • Restrictive security and compliance; and 
  • Collaboration and communication issues. 

Although these issues primarily require IT support, the HR function can play a critical role in ensuring that the employee experience of remote workers is of the same quality as that of in-office employees. 

AI for better employee experience

Organizations throughout the world have already started relying on Artificial Intelligence for assistance with recruitment. It is expected to reduce the workload of HR professionals in terms of screening candidates as well as keeping them informed throughout the recruitment process. An area that is only beginning to be explored, though, is the use of AI for the employees themselves. The opportunities here are limitless, and AI is just waiting to be leveraged to improve the employee experience.

For instance, when it comes to the varying needs of the multi-generational workforce, AI could be used to analyze data and personalize career paths and incentives for each employee based on their demographics and needs. It can also be used to help with the training of each employee, personalizing their learning experience according to their needs. The opportunities are infinite.

Using VR for training

Virtual reality is not a new concept when it comes to gaming and entertainment. However, when it comes to more mainstream applications, organizations are just beginning to realize its potential. Several companies have begun to use VR to train their employees on various aspects. Some notable examples of such companies are Walmart and FedEx Ground. Walmart is using this kind of immersive training to assess new hires for various roles, while FedEx Ground is leveraging the technology to train new hires for warehouse jobs, which can be strenuous and dangerous. Several other companies are catching up, and 2020 may be the year that sees widespread use of VR for training purposes.

People analytics for actionable insights

Data, as they say, is the next oil. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, IoT, cloud computing, all these technologies share their base in data. And although people management can be more than just about numbers, data analytics can still be fairly useful in HR. People analytics, although relatively new as a field, involves leveraging data such as employee demographics, skills, and performance data as well as data related to various HR initiatives and programs for actionable insights. These can then be used as feedback to test the effectiveness of the HR policies and improve on them.

The rising popularity of people analytics has its challenges, including the fact that it requires to possess additional data analytics skills. However, the benefits of people analytics make it worth the effort of learning a new skill.

Cloud migration

Organizations have been shifting their data and applications to the cloud for the past several years now. A while back, this was just their software applications and IT systems, but now, this shift to the cloud has come to encompass even HR data. In fact, the 2017 PwC Global HR Technology Survey reports that now, more than 70% of companies manage at least one HR process in the cloud. The increasing use of data analytics in HR, as well as the improvement in security protocols of the cloud, has led to the increasing migration of HR data management to the cloud. Soon enough, more and more HR processes are expected to see migration into the cloud. 

AI and machine learning for employee well-being

Employee health and well-being have been a priority for organizations for the past several years now, but historically, well-being initiatives taken up by companies haven’t delivered very convincingly in the long run. A primary cause of this failure is that the initiatives have, in the past, taken a generalized approach and are not relevant to many individual employees.

In 2020, AI could be deployed to rectify this problem by leveraging individual employee data to design personal well-being plans for them. Another issue is that most employees don’t have the data necessary to make sound decisions regarding their own well-being. AI, in the form of chatbots, is a solution to this problem. There is evidence that the presence of chatbots helps enhance learning, as people are more likely to engage and disclose their stressors to chatbots than to people. Clearly, HR tech can be used in several ways to promote employee health and well-being.

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