HR Technology Trends in 2023: Digitalization with a Human Touch
Streamlining workflows and maximizing the value of teams with innovative technologies is the future of human resources. Some HR directors are motivated to modernize their teams with technology simply out of the fear of being left behind. However, it’s important for CHROs to understand that there’s a lot more to making that step into the future than this. Instead of implementing innovations for the sake of it, it’s important for HR leaders to consider how it will affect their business and how that technology will complement their business’s existing strategies.
For example, HR leaders may have objectives such as improving business automation, data storage security, onboarding, and employee well-being that can be augmented with evolving technologies. Importantly, HR leaders may want to preserve the ‘human touch’ of their business to improve the morale, productivity, and livelihood of their teams. In what follows, we’ll discuss how to meet those needs with the help of modern technologies.
8 Key Factors that Drive Human Resources Technology Trends
Industries evolve for a number of reasons. In particular, HR technology trends emerge based on demand for more efficient ways to manage teams, improve their livelihoods and make them more productive. Some other compelling factors that drive HR tech innovation are the transition to online and hybrid modes of work after the spread of Covid-19, diversity and inclusion, and the demand for automation.
In general, technology trends are a response to industry trends that best demonstrate the needs and challenges of human resources.
Human Resources Trends
Technologies for Workplace Digitalization
After the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work and hybrid workplaces became a new reality for businesses around the world from many industries. This especially affects human resources because it deeply impacts how teams work every day.
One way that businesses are hybridizing their workplace involves using a centralized platform that allows employees to connect various applications together. In addition, many businesses are enriching their internal communication with multimedia content like videos and images. Space management technologies are also becoming more popular to allow for the reservation of shared meeting and working spaces.
There are a number of innovations that help digitize the workplace:
- Immersive technologies (the metaverse)
- Digital and automated onboarding
- Online collaboration apps and platforms
Immersive Technologies for the Workplace
With many teams working from home or in hybrid settings, one of the main challenges of keeping teams productive is communication. When meetings are necessary, teams can communicate far more personally and effectively face to face. However, for hybrid teams, video calls may not cut it. Instead, using augmented and virtual reality can help bridge the gap between those who work from home and those who work in the office on any given day.
This technology shows itself in various metaverse-related projects, such as Meta’s Horizon Workrooms and Immersed. These applications generally involve linking an app called an agent to your Windows, Mac, or Linux computer. This allows your computer screen to be streamed to your virtual reality headset so that you can work in any virtual environment. Other team members can join the virtual room and you can collaborate with your devices and share screens with one another.
Digital and Automated Onboarding
Another area that can help digitize the workplace is onboarding. Software for onboarding can help greatly reduce the time that it takes to bring new employees onto a team, especially with documentation. It saves time for HR leaders, gives new hires the ability to quickly enroll in benefits and see useful information, and allows for more employees to be hired at once.
One way that technology is improving the onboarding process is through OCR image to text software. Optical character recognition (OCR) can take an image and turn it into text, allowing employees to upload scanned documents and images that can be automatically processed.
Online Collaboration Apps and Platforms
Aside from the immersive options mentioned earlier, online collaboration apps and platforms are plentiful and benefit teams around the world. Sometimes the trick can be finding the right ones. If necessary, sometimes entirely new applications need to be made or special integrations made possible through custom code. Many applications have support for external APIs, which allows teams to bridge together multiple different applications made by different companies.
However, another approach is to use app ecosystems like Microsoft 365 which are built to work together. This doesn’t work in all cases, but it can be a great place to start and keeps the UI and functionality consistent between applications.
Augmented Reality in the HR Industry
Immersive technologies are having a powerful influence on many industries around the world. With AR-compatible smartphones being nearly ubiquitous, the potential for augmented reality development to enhance human resources can’t be ignored.
A common way that AR is used in workplaces is for training. Depending on the context, AR can be a powerful learning tool for gaining context about objects and environments in the real world. This can be done simply by pointing your phone’s camera while software renders content on the screen. From here, employees can learn about machinery, parts of their office, the products sold by the company, and more.
This technology goes hand in hand with the immersive virtual reality experiences that we mentioned earlier. However, mobile AR is a more accessible technology that may be more affordable for the time being.
Artificial Intelligence in HRM
AI is making waves in just about every industry right now, and human resources management is no exception. One way that AI can improve HR is through elimination of bias in the recruitment process. Since AI acts autonomously, it can review applicant information more fairly. However, we must remember that for this to happen, the training data itself must be free of bias that could affect the AI’s judgment.
Artificial intelligence can also simplify HR functions through automation. Automating certain payroll processes and PTO procedures can result in significant cost savings. AI is also the champion of schedule management, making it easier for teams to find time to collaborate.
There are also a few more detailed fields where AI plays a role in HR management. These include chatbots, recommendation engines and employee tracking.
HR Chatbots and Virtual Assistants
In search of making it easier for employees to ask questions and get answers, chatbots present an attractive solution. This is especially true for large-scale businesses with hundreds of employees. With so many questions needing answered, a chatbot can handle them more quickly than a human can. This also allows HR teams to spend more time on other tasks that can help enrich their teams.
Chatbots can be used for a few different purposes in HR:
- Assessing employment candidates
- Making onboarding processes more efficient
- Supporting employee training and engagement
Although AI virtual assistants are useful for employers, there are some important weaknesses to consider. Chatbots aren’t a good fit for every task or business. There will always be questions that employees have that are best suited for humans instead of AI.
AI-based Candidate Recommendation Engines
With the increase in the amount of data in the HR field, their effective management becomes an important issue for organizations. Timely access to the necessary information is crucial for decision-making. AI-based recommendation systems can help here. Intelligent recommender systems allow you to quickly filter data using machine learning algorithms to recommend the most relevant data to a particular user. You’re probably used to hearing about this in the context of content recommendations on YouTube or Netflix, so how can this be used in HR?
Recommender systems can significantly improve hiring processes. Example, selecting a candidate with the desired professional skills, sorting the most suitable interviewers in order of importance. Or vice versa, the system can recommend a vacancy to the candidate based on his profile.
Another example is employee upskilling. The recommendation system can provide each employee with a personalized training plan based on the past choices of the user, trending courses or other parameters.
People Analytics & Employee Tracking
Good HR leadership strives to measure team performance to find ways to improve. Some of the most important tools in an HR toolset are people analytics and employee tracking. By measuring and reviewing data about employees and how they work, organizations can make decisions on how to improve. There are a few different kinds of people analytics to consider:
- Descriptive: this data demonstrates what’s happening in the current moment. This may be turnover rate, engagement statistics, and costs.
- Diagnostic: data in this category helps inform HR leadership on what may be causing the descriptive data that they see. This involves looking at data side by side over time to see how one datapoint affects another. For example, a team could measure the difference in productivity before and after a training course has been taken.
- Predictive: this step can help teams understand the expected outcome of changes that they make. Algorithms are great at aiding with this so long as the algorithm is paired with high quality data.
- Prescriptive: teams may find through the prediction process that there are a number of possible outcomes depending on the choices that they make. The prescriptive phase’s goal is to find the best choice possible.
Throughout this process, it’s important to set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that when measured give you a good idea of how well your team is performing over time. Having a way to collect and analyze employee data is essential to the process. This may require specialized software, or choosing software with analytics options built in.
Many of the most advanced people analytics programs utilize artificial intelligence technology. With powerful machine learning models, teams can process data faster and more effectively than ever before.
However, it’s important to consider ethics when collecting employee data. Have conversations with teams about the purpose of people analytics and be open about how it’s being used. Ask for their feedback on the process and how changes affect them. This will help preserve a human touch while making teams more productive.
Software to Improve Data Security
There are a number of important technologies that HR teams can leverage in data systems, mobile device management, and biometrics that can help improve team data security.
Documents and Recordkeeping
Securing business documents is important. However, making those documents accessible to those who need them is just as important. These two goals can often be at odds with each other, making it important for HR teams to find viable solutions. There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a solution that works best for your team:
- Regulation and Policy: compliance with government and corporate policies is critical to any choice. Some documents need to be kept or destroyed, records need to be kept for each employee, and everything needs to be up to date.
- Security: ensure that confidential documents cannot be accessed by unauthorized users. Have protocols in place in case a data breach occurs.
- Integration: records should ‘play nice’ with the employee system of record. Although there might be one central place where records are kept, it can be securely accessed from multiple sources that need it.
- Workflow: the system you choose needs to be efficient for your team. One way to keep an eye on record management is through email notifications on document events. The best options are the ones that are configurable so that the workflow can be personalized for your team’s needs.
- Legacy Recordkeeping: although digital systems have revolutionized the world of recordkeeping, paper documents still play a vital role in businesses around the world. Not only is it an accessible option for some employees, but it can also potentially serve as a backup in case of technical failures.
Mobile Device Security
Across organizations, device security takes many forms. Static workstations will have different security requirements than laptops. In that same vein, mobile devices face perhaps the most challenges of any device. They are portable, pocketable, and operate on Wi-Fi and often even mobile data. Because of this, they are a prime target for theft. This makes securing them an important task for any HR and security team.
Mobile device security comes in two forms:
- Personal devices: allowing employees access to company apps and data from their own smartphones or tablets.
- Corporate-owned: these devices are owned by the company.
These each have their own pros and cons. Allowing employees to use their own personal devices is very cost effective at first, but it can result in severe limitations and risks. For example, personal devices may not have the necessary hardware to perform certain tasks. These devices can also open up vectors of attack for hackers.
However, corporate-owned devices can be made much more secure thanks to the ability for businesses to enact security policies and control software on the devices. Locked-down home screens, settings, and other changes can make securing these devices far easier. However, the capital required to acquire these devices can be high for some businesses.
Biometrics in the Workplace
Security is often a balance between accessibility and inaccessibility. When we use stronger security, we often are slowed down and exclude those who need access. However, biometric technologies in some cases offer the best of both worlds. Not only is it faster to provide a fingerprint and an iris scan for access, but it’s also more secure than a password.
Using more than one method of biometrics, known as a multimodal approach, can be even more effective at securing data. Multimodal approaches make it harder for spoofing attempts to succeed.
Biometric authentication systems require businesses to store employee biometric data when needed. Also, using edge biometrics for workplace security allows deploying of artificial intelligence applications right on the device. This makes security systems resistant to connection shutdowns. And since all operations are performed locally, data can be stored in the device’s internal storage without the need to transfer it over the Internet.
However, businesses need to remember that personal privacy will always be a concern of team members. Have conversations with team members about biometric security. Gain their consent, and work with them and use their feedback. Transparency about what this data is used for is also important to maintain trust.
Employee Wellness Software to Support Corporate Health Programs
Throughout this article, we’ve discussed a number of ways that HR teams can grow their use of technology while maintaining a human touch. One of the best ways to support that mission is to use technology to directly support employees with corporate health programs and well-being opportunities.
One way to accomplish this is to use technology to make health and wellness opportunities more accessible to team members. Technology can help make teams more aware of health resources and benefits. They can even go so far as to help connect employees with the health resources that they need when they need it.
As an example, wearable technologies have become far more prevalent. Smartwatches, bands, and other wearable devices make health and wellness tracking more accessible. For example, employees can become better aware of the number of steps they take or calories that they burn throughout a shift. This may be especially useful for more sedentary employees in offices. Maintaining some physical activity throughout the workday can prevent serious and expensive health problems from occurring in the future.
Ultimately, providing teams with accessible care and wellness opportunities will make them more productive. Not only that, but it will simply make them happier and more fulfilled in their roles.
Human Touch: Key to HR Success
Technology is evolving faster than ever before. It can be easy and exciting to adopt as much technology and automation as possible into the workplace for maximum efficiency. However, this may not be the most sustainable solution. There’s a reason ‘human resources’ is named the way it is. Without that human touch, HR teams can lose track of their goals of supporting and enriching their amazing teams.
HR leaders should strive to maintain as much of their human touch as possible in their work. Instead, technology should be used to augment their human connections. For example, instead of replacing most HR team members with chatbots, use chatbots to help handle large loads of simple questions, while referring employees with more challenging questions to humans. Being proactive in having HR team members train chatbots consistently on answering new questions that appear will go a long way too. There are many ways to keep that human touch while adopting new technologies. How you do that is up to you.
Future of HR Technologies
Teams around the world are facing the future of automation. In the United States, 47% of jobs are at risk of being replaced by automation. As AI takes on more responsibilities, we need to be thoughtful about how humans play a role in that future and how to preserve that human touch in our work.
Human resources teams need to be flexible with regard to technology. The tides are changing as the years go by, and waves of disruption and innovation can go by at a dizzying pace. Keeping up with it all and being ready to pivot is critical to your success. Most importantly, these technologies shouldn’t just be used to make our work more productive — they should support HR’s efforts to care for team health, wellness, and comfort. When teams are engaged, trust one another, and work well together, businesses succeed.
With this in mind, purposefully using leading-edge technologies not only can help automate HR management tasks and make teams more productive, but it can also strengthen new initiatives and drive innovation in the company.
When you’re ready to take your all-star team to the next level with your vision for success, get in touch with us. We’re ready to talk to you about how we can help you achieve your goals!