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5 HR Technology Trends to Expect in 2017

Posted by EmployeeChannel on 1.24.2017


2016 has come and gone, and we find the world of work looking much as it did one year ago: millennials in the workplace are growing in greater numbers and seniority; employee engagement and retention are the highest priorities; the war for talent is still raging as skill requirements are not being met by today’s workforce. In fact, 48% of employers are unable to fill their job vacancies, a serious problem that’s arising from a growing skills gap and inefficient recruiting processes. And once great talent is discovered, it can be a struggle to convince them to stay. It’s a vicious, competitive cycle that’s preventing many businesses from reaching their full potential.

Though 2016 was a year of great innovation and expansion in the HR technology landscape, it’s essential that HR continue to innovate at a rapid pace to meet changing business needs. We believe 2017 will be the year for ground-breaking HR technology as organizations of all sizes become more digitally structured than ever before.

Here are our top five HR tech trends for the year ahead.

1.  The Consumerization of HR Tech

 We will see HR technology continue to trend in the direction of popular consumer and customer-facing applications. Successful consumer applications solve problems, enhance productivity, and/or entertain, but also offer seamless user experiences and modern, innovative design. They are conceived with the end user (an individual, not an organization) in mind using the principles of design thinking. This is quite a shift from legacy HR technologies, which aim foremost to ease efficiencies for key stakeholders and the organization at large.

Design Thinking, UX, and user personalization—key components of modern consumer technology—will begin to take center stage in Enterprise HR tech. As Jeanne Meister, Founding Partner of Future Workplace LLC, insists, “2017 is the year to prepare for transforming HR to be agile, consumer-focused, and digital.” This new mindset “requires a belief in the power of leveraging the latest consumer technologies inside HR.”

2017 is the year to prepare for transforming HR to be agile, consumer-focused, and digital.
Jeanne Meister, Founding Partner, Future Workplace LLC.

2.  A Focus on The “Whole Employee”

According to a 2016 survey by the American Psychological Association, “less than half of US workers believe their employer supports a healthy lifestyle.” Considering that employees are more health conscious than ever before, it makes sense that employee wellness would become an important piece in the employee experience and retention puzzle. 2017 will see a greater focus on supporting and improving the entire person in order to reap the benefits of healthier and happier employees and greater employee loyalty.

Technology plays an important part in wellness, too. Though wearables and fitness trackers are the current fad, workplace technology doesn’t need to be health-focused to benefit the “whole employee.” Offering tech tools that are both enjoyable to use and make your employees jobs or lives easier shows a commitment to their overall wellbeing—to this concept of the “whole employee." 

3.  Machine Learning and AI

Machine Learning, a kind of Artificial Intelligence that allows computers to learn and act without being explicitly programmed, is expanding into almost every aspect of our lives. It powers the updates that appear in your social media feeds, notifies your bank of fraud or identity theft, and can even diagnose diseases. It is already being used in recruiting technology to help companies find and hire better candidates and in performance management initiatives to more effectively train and retain top talent.

Machine learning will expand into employee-facing technology as well, making it easier and faster for employees to automate routine tasks, communicate with the organization and with their peers, and to find information. Tools that incorporate Natural Language Processing (NLP) will allow employees to interact as they would with another human being, breaking down barriers of language, geography, time, and limited resources within an organization.

4.  Mobile-First

Mobile has been on everyone’s trend radar for the past several years, but it still deserves inclusion here. While consumer mobility is at its zenith, much of the corporate HR world is playing catch up.

2016 did see some significant improvements: the 2016-2017 Sierra-Cedar HR Systems Survey reported that HR departments' adoption of mobile technologies grew 21 percent in 2016, and is expected to grow another 17% in the year ahead. Back in 2014, only 13% of HR leaders said they were adopting mobile practices; this number is now hovering at 50%. While these are momentous improvements, there is still substantial room for growth.

Considering that 75% of internet use will be mobile in 2017, all technology, including enterprise and employee-facing technology, should be designed for superlative mobile experiences. The smartphone is a hallmark of the modern workplace and will continue to grow in importance for HR.

5.  Security and Compliance

Sure, security may not be as exciting as the other trends written here, but it deserves a worthy place among our list. There has never been a more important time to invest in digital security. As employers and HR professionals, you are stewards of your employees’ privacy and personal data. You are responsible for their protection. With the rise of cloud and mobile technology, there are far more opportunities for data to be compomised. If you prescribe to Murphy's Law, it's only a matter of time before that data is compromised. Security must be a top priority for all new technology, especially platforms that house employee data and other sensitive information.

2017 will see a greater focus on data privacy and security, and we hope every HR leader will take part in this important conversation when evaluating new technology.

As Josh Bersin reports, “the whole marketplace for HR technology is making a glacial shift: away from systems to manage transactions and HR processes toward systems to make employees’ work lives better.”

Yes, the shift has been slow, but it is fundamentally transforming the role of HR in a changing world.

It’s an exciting time to be in HR, and we look forward to innovating with you in 2017!

Topics: mobile, hr tech, HR trends

Human Resources Today