Technology adoption today is no more a privilege, but rather a necessity. One of the key demographics for any workplace of the future will be Gen Z, and for them, the workplace needs to be connected, online, and data driven. On that note, very soon we will stop thinking in terms of generations at work, because online and connected will be the only way to figure out if you did show up to work today or not.
HR tech is at the edge of the workplace now. The rising competition for talent among organizations has ensured that each organization needs to do the best to attract the right talent - and this includes factoring in the latest tech developments, including machine learning and robotic process automation. No more are countries and industries only looking at talent within their geographic expanse, but at anywhere in the world. 56% of executives say that their firms will recruit from overseas.
It is within this landscape that HR Tech is located. HR Tech is poised to not only leverage the rising technological advancements to automate processes and cater better to Gen Z, but also to ensure efficiency and productivity across the employee base and meet critical business outcomes.
HR Tech: An indispensable component across the employee lifecycle
The 2010s saw the advent of chatbots, rising HR tech and people becoming cognizant of the indispensable ubiquity of tech.
The ways in which HR Tech is growing today is poised not only to change the way companies think of and engage with HR, but also the speed at which these companies emerge in the first place.
The 2020s have seen conversation AI software that can preempt what you are going to type. Infact, chatbots have reduced email queries by almost 43%.
In recent years, HR Tech has evolved from conversational software, and made its mark across a breadth of HR functions. Here are a few such functions that have leveraged and continue to have significant scope for technology intervention as talent leaders and professionals navigate uncharted waters:
- Talent acquisition: While many companies have invested their time and energy in building elaborate recruitment strategies - including employer branding and investing in applicant tracking systems (ATS) - there are now startups which effectively manage the recruitment equation for any organization. Most of them work using advanced machine learning algorithms that shortlists profiles based on relevance, skill and candidate’s interests. It matches them directly with the hiring team.
It also is no surprise today that most full time employees are also gig economy workers. The pandemic made all gig workers aware of the dangers of simply relying on one company to ensure that you continue to earn. Tech today ensures that the gig workforce and the mainstream workforce have a go at the same opportunities. Employees, and their expectations are much more fluid and objective. With the increase in unreliability in the job market, many have turned to working multiple jobs.
Recruitment across the globe is focused on reducing time to fulfillment. Technology is well placed to match capabilities with opportunities and to streamline the entire process. Combining the two goes a step forward and guides the ecosystem on what skills are on the uptake and need to be built into one’s resume.
- Background screening: In a scenario where you know that an employee might be employed in parts by another company, it helps to know where to look. As long as they aren’t already working for a direct competitor, most companies tend to overlook the fact that they are dually employed as part timers or weekend workers elsewhere. In short there isn’t a single source of truth for any employee.
Background screening is especially tougher for industries where adoption of tech is poor or slow. That said, many emerging startups have found ways around traditional problems.
- Physical address verification has now been replaced by GPS tracking
- Digitally signed documents are the norm now
- Most organizations not only tie in education and employment history, but also social media usage and activity on platforms
The entire focus is to ensure that companies make data-backed decisions. There are several layers of trust to the sanctity of an employee’s background now.
- Workplace communication: Do we remember workplace communication before Slack? Do we remember project or people management without ClickUp or Basecamp? Of course we want to remember meetings when it was just about pulling people into a meeting room and getting in with it, but that part of the workplace is no longer available, or at least it seems so today.
Communication at work has become about interactive platforms, emojis, empathy and real time response these days. Email today has become the basest way of communicating with people you don’t know, messaging apps do better. Stewart Butterfield, Founder of Slack says that he hopes AI will free people from the drudgery of workplace communication. In between February to March 2020, Slack reported 9,000 new paid customers. The trend of shifting to innovative workplace software for better communication and collaboration only appears to be on an upward climb, given the rising acceptance of hybrid.
- Employee experience: The best all-in-one employee experience should be able to provide inputs into what processes work best for the employees - they should be able to gauge employee interaction/ friendliness with processes and know how to enhance adoption rates. They enable the organization to track everything an employee is interacting with and experiencing, and how it is impacting their productivity, and so on.
The best platforms are about modernizing the employee experience. Even small companies use HR software now to up their employee experience strategy, and price is no deterrent (given the heavy competition in the market). HR software will easily be a $43 Bn industry by 2026.
As per a research by Gallup, in spite of the pandemic, workplace engagement reached unprecedented highs of 38%. To keep the numbers moving north, HR Tech will play an instrumental role.
HR Tech unlocking future value
Around 87% of HR leaders said that people were at the core of driving change, coping and reconciling and showing resilience in the face of the pandemic. A large part of this was due to the hybrid workforce that continues to be the hallmark of a post pandemic world.
Collaboration platforms have been critical to running the business - all fueled by tech.
47% of HR leaders have confirmed investing more in tech in 2021 to support larger adoption of tech across their workforce.
Ultimately, with where HR Tech stands today and where it can propel organizations, Eric Torigan, Vice President and Assistant Head of Global HR for Akebono Brake Corporation, puts it best: “The world has been getting ready for this for a while. We’ve been moving to an online world, a gig economy, toward remote work groups. In the next 20 or 30 years, this world is going to change a lot and people are going to come back to this time and ask ‘who were the people that made the difference?’ I think they’re going to look at HR people and say they’re the ones who led us through this.”