HR Is Changing and Technology Is Making It Happen

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Dec 5, 2019

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change”

This enduring quote, erroneously attributed to Charles Darwin, seems logical in every industry and profession. HR does not serve as an exception.

Organizations are now more interconnected and knowledge-based than ever. For businesses to survive, they must become adaptive to emerging trends and responsive to change. Technology is playing one of the biggest roles in driving change.

With businesses being forced to change to survive, HR too is being transformed by technology. That is exactly what we are seeing and have for more than a decade. Digitization has become a quintessential part of HR functions.

Technology hasn’t simply replaced human efforts. On the contrary, technology is building smarter and better managers. Let’s take a look at some of the changes brought about by technology and automation.

Artificial intelligence

Many companies are already successfully using artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions in HR workflows. By embracing AI, HR departments can make more informed, analytics-driven decisions in recruitment and performance handling. The data is also helping managers in understanding the drivers and factors that impact employee productivity.

Josh Bersin, in one of his recent articles, talks about the next phase of employee engagement. According to him, employee engagement will leverage artificial intelligence and transform into more proactive and data-driven systems. The system will use intelligent “nudges” to help organizations in developing rules, predictions, tips and suggestions to build a more employee-oriented workplace.

How is employee engagement changing? The trends and developments are detailed in this new report from ERE Research: Employee Experience and the Difference It Makes.


How the company is viewed and remembered as an employer is a crucial factor for businesses to thrive. The importance will only rise in the coming time and employer branding will take the center stage.

With the massive surge in social media and engaging professional networking sites like Linkedin, everything that happens inside the organization is visible to the outside world. If social media, on one hand, can bolster the company’s reputation, it can also weaken the same.

Technology has caused a monumental shift in influence. In the digital era, any person is accessible to anyone in the world. That’s how one single person can have more influence on consumers and prospects than an entire organization. With employee branding, your employees become your brand ambassadors.

This is not a possibility but a reality. The future of branding is personal.

Remote and flex work

It wasn’t too far back when the concept of remote and flexible work was almost science fiction. Thankfully we have come a long way since then. It has answered one of the most daunting concerns for HR. It’s difficult to find great talent next door.

In the era of the digital nomad, remote working has transformed from unique to mainstream. 63% of companies in the USA have team members who work from home at least sometimes.

Beyond expanding the pool of talent, there are significant benefits for both employer and employee. Remote workers are more productive; they enjoy a better work/life balance and may even be more engaged than onsite employees.

And of course, remote teams are easier on the pockets of the organizations too. When organizations hire from the local market, they are have to meet the local compensation standards. Hiring in less competitive markets or even offshore can result in thousands of dollars of savings in compensation. And the savings on office expenses can be considerable.

Employee development

The new hot kid on the block is employee development and employee learning. Even conventional and rigid companies are jumping on the employee development wagon and why not? With technology changing at a neck break pace, the biggest and the hottest jobs didn’t exist a decade or two ago.

And of course, the same applies to the future.

The skills needed for some of today’s jobs will become obsolete in the future. This means companies must get on board with continuous learning and development, and fast.

So far technology has been automating mundane jobs. Artificial intelligence is quickly broadening the jobs machines will be able to take on, so organizations need to brace for accommodating these changes and train for the new jobs that will be created.

Meanwhile, the soft skills like communication, team work, collaboration, analytical ability and leadership are becoming so valued that recruiters and hiring managers now see them as priorities.

Continuous learning and development aren’t just “nice-to-have,” they are essential to organizational success, increasingly critical in attracting and retaining employees. A 2018 survey showed that 94% of employees prefer organizations that provide continuous learning and career development.

Gen Z

The new generation after millennials is generation Z. How is this relevant in talent acquisition and human resources? The new generation is just beginning to enter the workforce, mostly in internships or entry-level roles. Millennials and the technology they grew up with, forced organizations to abandon many legacy practices and adopt a more collaborative and flexible management style.

What changes Gen Z will have on organizations won’t be clear for years, but some hints are emerging from surveys and from those young people who have joined the workforce.

This is the first generation to have grown up with mobile devices. They expect the same user experience from organizations that they get from sites like Amazon. As a Glassdoor report demonstrates, those who use their smartphone to “shop” for a job aren’t willing to work through lengthy applications.

Collaboration, so critical to the millennial generation, is less important to Gen Z. They grew up communicating via text messaging and have less well-developed social skills.

They also grew up in one of the worst recessions since the depression of the 1930s, so they may be more willing to stay with an employer longer, but much depends on employers willing to allow them to try out multiple roles or projects.

Moving to the cloud

HR technology began shifting a decade ago from on premises systems to the cloud. Today, most HR functions are or can be cloud-based.

The benefits are significant, enabling employees to have 24/7 access to information about their benefits, payroll and schedule. Of even greater value is that the cloud gives HR the ability to analyze the data from multiple sources to glean insights into workforce and individual worker performance.

Moving to the cloud is making it possible for the first time for HR to use people analytics to identify potential flight risks, improve the quality of hire and make predictions about succession and skills needs.

Cloud-based solutions offer flexibility and agility in HR functions that are crucial for today’s digital workplace and workforce.

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