The days of HR departments trailing behind their organizational peers in technology are gone. Today’s HR has the innovative tools needed to instill a distinct level of efficiency and impact to their efforts if, of course, such technologies are chosen wisely and implemented appropriately. For enterprises that take an organized, well-informed approach to the technology they adopt, 2019 promises to be another transformative year for HR as the entire space transitions towards a position of decision-making and strategizing.
As vanguards in HR technology, Hyphen is thrilled to see effective tools entering the space. Our own feedback solutions lend organizations critical insights from people data that directly impact the employee experience, attrition, culture, and subsequent productivity rates through a meaningful, timely understanding of the dynamics that shape the workforce and place. When combined with the following tech trends for 2019, each destined to further empower HR departments and enrich organizations, the future is certainly bright in how enterprises can maximize the impact of their greatest asset -- their people.
The world is swimming in data. It informs our morning commute to work, the television shows we binge watch, and dozens of other parts of our daily routines. Organizations are no different in this regard, HR obviously included, with big data utilized to shape strategy over everything from marketing campaigns and recruitment to supply chain and culture.
However, even the most thorough data sets do an organization no good if they don't have the tools to interpret the information and transform it into actionable insight. This is where the different aspects of HR analytics come into play, arming HR departments with both the data and systems to impact their organizations. Traditionally, enterprises have not been lacking for sufficient data. Unfortunately, that data lacked the immediacy, depth, and organization needed to truly leverage its powers. Modern analytics platforms have changed this notion, however, providing authority and authenticity to data in real time.
Improvements in analytics platforms will have a sweeping and comprehensive impact on HR and its ability to gauge such critical processes as learning and development programs, employee satisfaction metrics, nuanced performance measurements, and many more. Collectively, these abilities will enhance employee retention rates and allow HR to identify employee trends and behaviors that might indicate team members at risk of exiting or the roots of systemic issues that can affect the entire organization.
The quantitative approach provided by HR analytics will ultimately create significant improvements in all stages of the employee experience, from onboarding to alumni programs and all points in between, as well as productivity and organization-wide efficiency. Rather than tasking HR staff to collect and analyze data, the entire process can be automated to free up valuable time within HR to concentrate on other important responsibilities.
AI-Driven Natural Language Processing
Of the many benefits derived from artificial intelligence within an enterprise, one of the most impactful promises to be its ability to drive natural language processing (NLP) and accurately interpret and process human speech. Already prevalent in automated chatbots used in many customer-service capacities, HR-specific applications can automate training programs, communication with both employees and job candidates, and repetitive tasks that are naturally prone to human error.
As AI and NLP continue to evolve, popular platforms in 2019 will assist HR departments in a number of critical ways, including:
- Increasing administrative efficiencies
- Streamlining the onboarding process
- Analyzing employee feedback at scale to identify sentiment and patterns
- Empowering employees with automated, self-service solutions
- Enhancing an organization's recruiting efforts
Aside from communication, AI-powered NLP can also analyze stacks of resumes with absolute accuracy in a matter of minutes, freeing up even more valuable time for HR staff. Imagine an AI algorithm analyzing thousands of comments and responses from engagement surveys and isolating the critical few issues to focus on.
Like most emerging technologies, however, it's likely that many of the benefits provided by AI and NLP have yet to be identified, which naturally bodes well for HR departments well into the future. With 59% of organizations currently in the midst of either researching AI-fueled technologies like NLP or implementing them, it’s safe to say these are innovations that are just now stepping into the spotlight and the best is yet to come.
It's a fast-paced world that will only quicken its stride as technology continues to evolve. As processing power and speed improves by the day, mobile devices are now firmly entrenched into everyday life, including the workplace. Organizations have already embraced mobile technology for marketing and sales, but are now starting to utilize its unique strengths and reach to better manage and foster their workforce.
While most recruiting efforts already use mobile technology, 2019 should see a significant uptick in other mobile applications as well, specifically regarding organizational culture and training programs. Enterprises will begin to act as app developers and builders, creating mobile applications for their specific needs and goals. For instance, a culture-oriented mobile app can significantly ramp-up a new hire’s immersion into an organization's culture by reinforcing critical aspects of it in an extremely convenient manner that is simply impossible to accomplish by other means.
Similarly, 24/7 access to training apps enhances engagement with an employee, maximizing the impact learning and development materials have on immersing a new hire into an organization's culture and, once again, ramping them up quickly and effectively. Companies that have already embraced mobile technology within their learning and development environment have seen a 42% rise in training frequency, primarily from its drastically increased convenience. 2019 will see many more organizations adopt similar strategies and take advantage of the unique power mobile devices and technologies can play in several HR-oriented areas.
The very same technology that allows people to track their heart rate, steps taken throughout a day, distance walked, and other activity metrics will also provide employers with vital statistics into the daily routines of their workforce. Wearable technology like smartwatches and app-specific wristbands will grow in popularity in 2019 as employers look for new and effective ways to gain insights on employee activity patterns to better design and manage wellness programs. Given the heightened attention and resources devoted to health insurance across all industries, such insights will help cut costs, reduce missed work due to health issues, and increase productivity over the longer-term.
Wearable technology will continue to gain traction in the field as well. For instance, employees that work outside of the office like service technicians, sales reps, surveyors, and others can use the technology to check their location, track billable hours, and even punch in and out for the day.
Engagement Enhancing Tech
As millennials become a more dominant component of the workforce and Gen Z quickly gains traction, organizations will better connect and engage with those critical employee segments with technology that facilitates such engagement. Of course, this is somewhat of a broad term and can be applied to several different innovations, so enterprises are best served looking for tools that add the most value and form genuine connections between the workforce and employer.
Feedback tools like Hyphen’s platform are obvious and convenient solutions to address such needs, but so are a host of other technologies, For instance, software is now available that fosters engagement through improved goal planning and career pathing. In these instances, the software is a module that can plug into an existing HR tech stack that tracks individual KPIs, helps gauge performance relative to goals, or charts out different career path scenarios. Therefore, an employee can see what they need to accomplish in light of their current position as well as their broad-based career goals. When a workforce has a clear picture of those micro and macro goals with regards to individual responsibilities, enterprise-wide efforts, and their bigger career path, they feel engaged, empowered, and like an important piece to an overall puzzle, incentivized to succeed with a clear perspective on direction.
Like it or not, humans are innately inefficient and biased. These qualities can be especially corrosive during recruitment, where such biases can cause organizations to hire ill-equipped workers or miss out entirely on top talent. Software is now available that incorporates a blind hiring policy, essentially taking humans out of the loop during certain stages of recruiting and basing decisions on algorithms rather than human judgment, intuition, and perceptions.
Organizations that adopt such strategies create a more diversified workforce which, according to research, results in financial performance 35% higher than industry averages. In an environment where only 28% of Fortune 500 employees are either minorities or women, blind hiring can quickly make substantial inroads in increasing diversity within an organization. As society places a more critical eye on employers and their hiring practices, blind hiring will become more prevalent in 2019 and beyond.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
Improved engagement between an employer and its workforce has a cascading effect that directly impacts the employee experience, culture, retention rates, and virtually every other aspect of employment. Thankfully, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies are nearing the point where they are starting to be taken advantage of in the workplace and, at some point in the near future, will help increase engagement and fortify the bond between an employer, its culture, and its employees.
From an HR perspective, VR and AR technologies have the most potential in learning and development, onboarding, and orientation. In training sessions, for instance, these technologies will allow new employees to simulate real-life scenarios without the pressure of dealing with actual customers or other stressors. VR also can be especially adept in gamification, experiential training, and team building which will quickly transform any onboarding strategy for enterprises willing to adopt the boundary-pushing technology.
Stay Ahead of the Curve
Each of the discussed technologies will bring specific benefits to HR departments in 2019 and beyond as long as organizations stay ahead of the curve and mindful of trends that will continue to rise as technology evolves.
At Hyphen, we pride ourselves in being part of HR’s tech-driven revolution with our feedback solutions, and look forward to seeing what the future has in store for the challenging and dynamic HR space. Technology promises to provide a bright, efficient future for organizations and their teams as long as employers carefully choose and implement them.