by Jamie Hasty, SESCO Management Consultants
Human Resource management and technology are intertwined. The year 2012 is considered by many HR experts as the mark of a generational shift in technology and a new league of applications in the HR technology industry.
The convergence of these innovations led to a new era of tech-savviness in talent management being ushered in. Within a span of six years, HR tools and techniques that are driven by these technologies have been regarded as the “future of HR.” For example, more than 5,000 companies have moved to the cloud in the past five years. Yes, some companies are still using their legacy on-premise HR software, but the trend is slowly dying, with everyone vying for the cloud. The pace of adoption of these futuristic HR technologies is only set to increase.
What is the impact of this rapid evolution of HR technology? The entire organizational structure and responsibilities are changing for the better. Information Technology is no longer the department that owns HR. It is now the HR department that owns IT. Thus, the goal where business functions own their own processes and technologies, rather than relying exclusively on IT has now dawned. No doubt, IT continues to extend critical support, but it is the business leaders and managers who are now taking core decisions related to systems and processes.
The result is that the IT mindset is slowly but surely pervading business units. HR managers are now thinking beyond mere implementation and striving to create a great user experience. HR professionals are moving away from the traditional mindset of making software available, to making it a delight to use, akin to a smartphone app. User friendliness, intuitive and simplistic design thinking, and employee delight—these are the keywords that HR are imbibing to be able to create an effective HR intervention.
Earlier, recruiters would rely only on LinkedIn to scout for talent, and IT firewalls opened just enough to allow them to access this professional networking site. Today, we see recruiters turning to various social media platforms to engage and attract potential candidates. Social media has changed the very face of the employee value proposition. It is written all over Facebook, Instagram, and other social channels that young professionals are active on. In accordance, HR technology systems have opened up—one can no longer implement a stringent firewall that blocks all social media sites as a security means.
Machine learning is automated data analysis through algorithms that automatically create analytical models. It basically allows for machines to not only collect information from corporate environments, but also learn from it. 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 PhenomPeople.com, which takes marketing personalization practices and data analysis, and uses them in the recruitment process.
Another high-impact change is the dynamic nature of performance management. Fluidic and always-on review systems are allowing HR to replace annual performance reviews by on-the-go check-ins. Even the barriers of distance and time are no longer valid—video conferencing tools built into performance discussions are breaking the boundaries like never before, enabling seamless and fruitful discussions, aided by the latest technology. Such video technologies are helping the cause of employee communications, bringing leadership messaging and engagement closer to the employee.
Of course, it is the technology changes that came first and drove the subsequent evolution of HR. That is why we must acknowledge the contributions of technology innovators, those who have taken the first steps in envisioning the unimaginable and bringing it to life by way of technology. This is the way ahead for any function to become future-ready.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
While virtual reality has been around for several 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.
The Internet of Things
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 use of these tools comes with 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.
Jamie Hasty is vice president of SESCO Management Consultants. Under an arrangement with ASA, SESCO provides results-oriented human resource consulting services to ASA members. SESCO provides a special “retainer” relationship that provides a free “hotline” to ASA members to discuss day-to-day employment issues such as policy development, employee challenges such as disciplinary actions, terminations, or workers’ compensation issues, compliance to federal and state employment regulations, and many other management and human resource matters. Hasty can be reached at (423) 764-4127 or firstname.lastname@example.org. SESCO offers a variety of online and classroom training for employees and managers, customized to meet your organization need and budget. Contact a SESCO consultant to explore training and development opportunities for your organization.