Technology Is Changing Human Resource Management – But Where Will It Go?
1. Virtual and augmented reality
While virtual reality has been around for a few years, consumer applications are barely making strides in the market. Meanwhile, virtual and augmented reality will continue to mature and find its way into the workplace environment. For example, Microsoft is preparing the launch of the Hololens Headset which will likely be embraced by human resource professionals in the not-so-distant future.
This type of technology is primed for disrupting talent management and productivity. We can envision the potential of virtual reality in enterprise training and learning, where employees can use it for anything ranging from off-site assignments to corporate training.
Furthermore, in industries looking to enhance tasks on the job, this will become the new normal, as digital information will be superimposed on the physical reality. Onboarding and training in industrial environments can be transformed by adding virtual instructions on top of machinery and tools, as employees engage with the environment.
2. Advanced Machine Learning
Machine learning is automated data analysis through algorithms that automatically create analytical models. Using algorithms, machine learning programs iteratively learn from large sources of data-building patterns and identify insights without being explicitly instructed and programmed to look for answers, only to learn to identify data sets.It basically allows for machines to not only collect information from corporate environments but also learn from it.
This technology can improve the efficiency of the initial analysis that humans can do, allowing people to look at higher level results and focus on more complex analysis as a result.
To date, machine learning applications in the human resource space are mainly focused on predictive analysis and talent relationship, mostly in the recruitment process.
One instance of such an application is Phenom People.com, which takes marketing personalization practices and data analysis, and uses them in the recruitment process. Employee engagement is also being targeted, with KPMG apparently developing a proprietary model for enterprise engagement, which is rooted in machine learning algorithms.
Only the future will tell about the advancements of these initiatives.
3. Autonomous Agents and Things
Robotics continues to grow in terms of task diversity and capacity, as well as autonomy. One of the most advertised examples is the autonomous driving car, but the essential thing about it that often goes unnoticed is the move beyond controlled environments and the expansion into uncontrolled spaces. What this means for human resource management, in the short term, is the need to train and build new skills into existing workforces.
In the future, machine learning and autonomous agents might be the equivalent of HAL from Space Odyssey. These agents have the potential to become an internal information nexus, streamlining communication and increasing efficiency of organizations through access to the right data, at the right time. Applications can vary from recruitment to employee engagement, and they can be used for anything, from organizational transparency to boardroom meetings.
4. The Internet of Things
Gartner studies show that Internet of Things platforms suffers from fragmentation, leading to inefficiencies in terms of data access. Even so, these platforms will follow a trend of integration throughout the next 5 years, which will lead to more data being available and accessible throughout enterprise environments.
Companies will continue to adopt cloud computing and HR is actually ahead of the curve, with more time being spent on using cloud solutions to efficiently increase workforce productivity than other industries. The increase in the use of these tools comes with the availability of information, which will push HR expertise into middle management ranks freeing up human resource departments from training middle tier leadership. Part of HR’s functions will be taken over by line managers, while the role of HR will shift to business performance and execution.
We can already see that time-consuming tasks such as keeping track of employees’ time, preferences and work patterns are being automated, freeing up HR to focus on engagement challenges, increasing productivity and aligning the human side of the organization with business goals. HR managers gain more strength at a boardroom level, as their departments move away from cost centers to revenue centers. As systems and objects become more connected, it falls on HR to manage performance.
In 2016 we will see more companies turning to the wearables industry, and as consumer markets start to take off, new entrants will look at enterprises for business models. Wearable devices, outfitted with sensors focused mainly on applications in health and fitness, will gain a foothold in the enterprise market.
The enterprise wearables market is expected to reach 18Bn by 2019, visibly impacting the human resources department. While tracking workplace wellness through wearables is most likely the simplest and most straightforward use, applications can vary. Stress management and monitoring can become the norm, especially in environments where it impacts retention. But moving beside health, wearable devices are also enhancing other areas of productivity and employee management.
Virtual reality can also have an impact on employee communication and collaboration. Notifications sequences can be improved based on someone’s focus patterns or scheduled to be sent in idle times when productivity is not affected. Bittium, for example, created a use case for smartwatches in the retail sector, where employees can be notified of required actions based on real-time needs: alert cashiers when to switch turns, customer-facing personnel on where help is needed, etc.
In these cases and more, human resource managers and their departments will transition to being strategic data managers, guiding and managing the information flow to ensure that employees have access to the right data at the right time, and that disturbance is minimal.
While it may be a scary vision of the future for some, and privacy of data will surely be under scrutiny, the role human resources plays in organizations is changing. Driven by data, technology, and new interaction models, it is shifting from managing bureaucracy to managing business assets and talent management, and the information is the key resource inside this New Age HR.
Last but not least, while reading through technological trends and how they could impact the role of human resources teams across organizations, I came across a field which may not have a direct impact but will surely play a part in the future.
6. Self-charging phones and wireless electricity
While self-charging technology will not be affecting the way HR operates per se, it can influence work patterns and work modus. As this technology evolves, it has the ability to transform the workplace environment which is still evolving around the need to be connected to electricity. Anyone who has ever been involved in the design and planning of a new office knows that decisions are taken based on access to electricity and electric cables. The disposition of desks, meeting rooms and work areas is dependent on the availability of electric plugs.
It is only a matter of time before self-charging phones are widely available and this technology reaches laptops, projectors, and televisions. Cota, build by Ossia, promises to automatically recharge mobile phones based on perimeter proximity, in a way that’s similar to WiFi internet. Such technology will allow devices to charge even without having them placed on pads.
These developments will free office spaces from the cable stigma and will allow organizations to redesign the workplace experience, improving the employee experience and thus retention and engagement rates.
The future of any human resource team is being connected to technological development and challenging it offers rooms for innovators inside and outside the industry to adopt new developments to create and redesign the workplace and employee experience. I believe the future will showcase that HR can take a role in the science fiction novels, and innovation in the field will continue to grow as human resource professionals will find new ways to embrace and model the technological development. What will be next?
5 Ways Technology is Changing the Face of HR
Less Guesswork as Recruitment Goes Digital
Recruiting new hires is a time-consuming and costly process, but it’s getting easier to find skilled people who are a great fit for your company.
In the past, recruiters would search high and low for employees using face-to-face networking, job postings, and even the newspaper. After winnowing hundreds of applicants to a few for the final interview stage—even to one final individual—some recruiters would find their carefully selected candidates actually fell short. That resulted in both time and money wasted, resulting in the selection of the wrong person for the job.
Between social networks like LinkedIn and pre-employment screening tests, HR departments can now reach a wide audience and more effectively and efficiently evaluate an applicant’s skills and personality, with a view of selecting the right fit for both the position and the company as a whole.
However, the hiring process isn’t the only one that’s been upgraded as a result of technology. We now have both a global and a mobile workforce. The integration of technology into human resources allows us to pair virtual classrooms, sophisticated AV systems that allow face-to-face communication even for remote teams, and/or apps developed specifically for onboarding purposes, and quickly bring a new group of employees quickly up to speed, no matter where they are and no matter what their positions might be.
Compliance Doesn’t Take Boxes of Paperwork
Staying compliant has often been a major challenge for HR teams. The laws are always changing and often require vast amounts of paperwork and information.
Compliance once required organization and dedicated IT storage capacity, but now, technology allows us to securely store data in the cloud. As electronic files, personal data is easy to search and organize and can be accessed with a few clicks. Even when HR departments are required to keep employee information for a number of years, it no longer requires file cabinets and expansive storage rooms to keep everything in order and easily accessed.
In fact, the need for any sort of storage has been reduced, if not eliminated entirely, as a result of cloud technology. Forms no longer need to be stockpiled or completed in duplicate, and even government forms are easily accessed online and printed as needed. Everything about this part of compliance on the part of HR pros has been streamlined, which is a great time-saver, as well as a space-saver.
Performance Management Is More Accurate
Performance management has long been an important HR function. HR pros have driven the performance management process, monitoring performance, collecting supervisory feedback, and managing the process of regular employee reviews. How did we do this before technology? With time-consuming meetings, performance reviews, and lots of paper. Today, technology has streamlined the process and eliminated a lot of unnecessary steps, while opening an ongoing—and more transparent—feedback loop.
There are many software programs designed to evaluate performance using key performance indicators (KPIs). These programs can be utilized to help HR pros maximize their efforts when it comes to performance management, pinpoint particular areas where an employee (or organization) needs improvement and put the right systems in place to offer additional training as needed. With the integration of technology into the equation, learning, and improvement can be an ongoing process, instead of just an exercise done once a year. That’s better for employees, better for the teams they are a part of, and also exponentially more expeditious for the HR pros managing the performance management process.
Technology Increases Engagement
By harnessing the power of mobile and cloud technology, in addition to big data, businesses have the opportunity to make huge changes for the better. Employee engagement is more important than ever; Millennials, who make up the largest portion of the workforce, have repeatedly said they have no qualms going elsewhere if they’re not happy at their jobs.
We’ve talked here before about how technology can be used to attract and retain a younger workforce. Millennials want to be engaged, but it has to be done well. Using technology to manage performance, make the hiring process easier, and give people access to their own personal information will bring businesses over the threshold that separates the traditional workplace from the modern one.