Tech And Tradition - Emerging Trends In HR
Posted on 23rd Jun, 2020
Setting out to understand the trends in force in the business world in the recent times, a surprising revelation emerged - a revelation that there are not one, but two, nearly opposing forces at work. On the one hand, there's the digitization and automation juggernaut, which is racing to influence all facets of individuals' professional and personal lives. On the other hand, there's a growing emphasis on soft skills including communication, creation, flexibility, cooperation and empathy to name a few; which indicate a conscious effort to return to that which makes us more human.
It almost appears like both trends are two sides of the same coin, with every thrust by technology and digitization being parried by an equally fervent attempt by humans to reaffirm their humanity, almost as if in a pursuit "rehumanize" themselves in a bid to be secure in their own identity, rather than having their unique nature being usurped by the former.
The impact of these parallel trends, is reflected not only in businesses on the whole, but also clearly seen in the HR domain, with the aforementioned parallel needs vying to dominate each other, particularly in the face of the majority of the workforce slowly being conquered by the millennials.
In considering the growing adoption of technology in the HR sphere, i.e., the process of HR Digitization, some of the developments most forward-thinking organizations are running full tilt with include:
- Virtual HR Assistants:
- Automating employee services can take the form of using virtual assistants
- Most commonly, they take the form of bots which offer chat or voice support
- The benefits offered by adopting this medium of digitizing HR, are:
- HR can save on workforce costs,
- The response time in handling employees' needs and concerns can be reduced
- A 24x7 availability of the support system
- Employee Services Mobile Applications:
- Multiple needs of the workforce, including workplace communication, can be addressed through the adoption of a mobile application designed to manage employee services
- Beyond communication, the application can also be programmed to facilitate self-management of employees' benefits (such as corporate benefits, health and wellness etc.), organizing of transportation, raising queries etc
- Employee engagement is often seen to improve within organization through the deployment of such apps
- Robotic Processes Automation (RPA):
- One of the AI based revolutions in the HR Digitization revolution, RPA platforms enable the performance a variety of HR's administrative tasks including hiring, uploading of data, managing alerts and communications etc
- Considerable savings of both time and money are a common result of engaging RPAs
- Big Data and Machine Learning:
- With trends dealing with data intelligence booming across fields, HR has not been left behind, with organizations world-wide incorporating big data into various HR related processes
- Recruitment is one major sphere of HR where big data is leaving its mark, with the new technologies allowing for the redefining of recruitment through facilitating the designing, defining, and evaluating of ideal recruitment profiles, absenteeism models, personality-job fit models etc. which in turn a greater fit between the organization and candidate hired
- Utilizing a data-driven approach to people analytics also allows for employers to discover valued insights on employee performance and satisfaction, and facilitates and understanding of what influences their productivity and motivation
- Organization Guidance Systems
- The time has come for the development of Organization Guiding Systems -an integrated guidance system that enables more effective organizations and business decision-making - that can be used by business and HR leaders to provide course-correcting and enable more effective organizations
- Remote or Virtual Workspaces
- While there already are several solutions to address the challenges the remote workforce presents for organizations; there is a vast scope of growth in this sphere especially in view of the current pandemic which has offered an unprecedented need for the same
- The sector offering solutions for virtual workspaces thus, is still in its infancy, with the decade beginning 2020 likely to witness a race among those offering viable business solutions to increasing groups of remote workers
- Digital Ethics
- HR will play a big part in advocating for the ethical introduction of automated technology
- With the advent of AI often marking the beginning of people's job being taken over by technology, there is a definite need for the assessment of the ethics involved in the processes, and a mitigation of distress to employees through the ethical and compassionate manner of handling this digitization boom. HR, in its duty as custodian of the workforce, will emerge as the bona fide leader in ensuring the digitization revolutions toes the ethical line
While these trends, among many others which are boosting HR's foray into the digital revolution, as discussed, there is also a stark contrast being experienced currently, with the workforce actively seeking to humanize itself, almost as if to make sure digitization doesn't take away humanity, from the fabric of the business world; with some clear, highly relevant HR trends also emerging from this school of thought.
- Soft-Skills Take on the Starring Role
- Soft skills are quickly becoming the difficult skills to recruit for and develop within businesses across industries; with four critical people-focused skill gaps identified include gaps in leadership, communication, collaboration, and time-management
- There has been an increasing need for more of us to feel it's safe, acceptable and desired to combine human talents with our learned, technical or professional skills; indicating it's not the lack of human-ness, but the lack of workplace cultures allowing for the human to emerge parallel to the existing, efficient assembly line-like model, which has made soft-skills hard to find at workplaces
- To see more human skills in a workplace, the first step that can be taken is to stop calling those abilities "soft," instead encouraging the tweaking of an organization's pre-existing culture, to allow for these skills to emerge - a role HR can and must take on
- Employee Centricity, and the Employee Experience
- Today, organizations place the employee at the centre of their focus and try to offer experiences assimilating various areas of their lives including their personal well-being, physical well-being or assimilation into work teams
- HR professionals are (or if they aren't yet, they ought to be) at the forefront of this perspective, considering the usual way of working of any HR professional involving the designing of personalized experiences for a segment of employees, at a given moment in time
- Employee Wellness
- One of the characteristics of this era is the cult emphasizing the importance of the body
- Activities to take care of it, such as sports or healthy eating are becoming increasingly important to people across age-groups, geographies, genders, social classes and various other demographic classifications
- Most companies already offer their employees various mediums for the management of their physical well-being, with the management and flourishing of mental wellness slowly grabbing its time in the spot-light with reference to employer attention to employee wellness
- In addition to improving employee health both physically and mentally, the adoption of wellness measures has also been shown to positively impact on employee engagement
Seeing all these trends emerging in the recent times, and appearing to have dug in their heels becoming ready to be around for a while yet, makes for an expectation of interesting times ahead in the field of HR.
The human being, becoming progressively both more cognizant of self, as well as reinforced with support through machines, will continue to discover novel ways of undertaking a variety of tasks, which will then certainly lead to the emergence of new forms of work, that we are yet to visualize.