The HR domain is undergoing a sea change, led by digitalization, a growing mobile workforce, and an evolving corporate landscape. And while it proudly rides these waves of change, it continues to be the pivotal point of nurturing and managing an organization’s most crucial resource – its employees.
As we make way for 2018, it would be interesting to look at the trends that will significantly impact the way this people-focused arm of the corporate will operate and perform its daily tasks.
The Drive Towards Digital
Digitization has impacted almost every area in the workplace. And the HR is no exception. Having realized the importance of staying in tandem with the changing times, prompting adoption of a tech-enabled approach, it has taken a leaf out of the digital-savvy departments’ book and re-designed the company’s digital mindset and strategies completely. However, digital HR does not simply mean digitizing the existing HR platforms. Quite the contrary actually. It goes much beyond that to develop and implement technology to meet the organization’s specific needs and help it ‘be digital’, rather than just ‘do digital’.
Digitization has also encompassed the learning function in companies where the HR now handles the vertical with Cloud-hosted LMSs, empowering learners and fulfilling their knowledge and skill needs - whenever needed and wherever needed. These LMSs are equipped with APIs and Integration libraries and are used to build a strong digital learning ecosystem.
In fact, automation of the vital HR functions has only meant that HR professionals will now have more time on hand to develop other key strategies that can help move the needle in the right direction. Where companies may continue to falter while understanding the digital revolution, HR can leverage its power by leading from the front rather than following. In 2018, HR can actually drive the digital revolution with the help of its key aspects of organizational structure, reward systems, and incentives that fall under its aegis.
From “Automation” to “Productivity”
For a long time, technology in HR meant automation of key processes like payroll systems, record-keeping, learning management, resumes, hiring process, assessment, performance appraisals, etc. Period. This is important, no doubt. But these are now mundane processes and their digitization is almost a default expectation. The idea, now, is to go beyond and focus on productivity and ways to develop agile and team-centric organizations.
In the coming year, the HR needs to focus on developing experiential platforms with the help of digitized, modernized Learning Management systems, and new AI-based systems to support and deliver learning and performance support. It has to look at exploring new tech-enabled performance management models, learning strategies, and techniques to recruit, coach, and engage people. With a host of communication tools to deal with, HR also needs technology to improve productivity and make teams work together in a more cohesive manner.
Technology is forcing the HR community to move faster than ever. 2018 is likely to witness how the HR can leverage this technology to improve people’s productivity and experience at work. In fact, HR-driven technology can go a long way to do much more than simply automate existing practices.
Power to the People
There was a time when organizations and HR departments, in specific, worked top-down (some still do!). Times are fast changing though. No more do employees have to wait for the organization or the HR to tell them what exactly to do. They are independent on several issues, including their learning needs. They are also more fastidious about what, how, and where they want to learn from and the tools that go into the process.
To cut a long story short, employees are now proactively taking more initiatives and aiding them in their quest for knowledge is a host of social media tools that have made learning an extremely collaborative process. Teams, these days, prefer to interact with each other on a more informal level via communication tools such as WhatsApp and Slack, skipping the officially approved communication channels. Further, in an increasingly growing BYOD culture and an environment that promotes a concerted learning approach through social learning and knowledge collaboration, it is the employees that have an upper hand in the whole learning process. It only makes sense for the HR to keep abreast with this and leverage the full potential of the growing power of its people (read 'employees').
In 2018, it is up to the HR to encourage these informal social channels of communication and utilize their clout rather than promote standardized and approved channels.
While all these years, technology and HR have been connected as a way to ease out the day-to-day functioning of the organization, in 2018 technology will surely become a way of life in the workplace. It is bound to dictate most steps in the HR process right from hiring people to engaging them to even replacing them and then finding solutions when this (replacement) happens. However, the fact remains that technology in the form of Artificial Intelligence (which is replacing repeatable tasks) and predictive analytics is taking away the jobs. This phenomenon is not limited to a specific sector and every sector is equally gullible.
In 2018 (and in the long term too), it is up to the HR departments to shield their employees from this and future-proof them so that their jobs don't become obsolete. One way is to utilize the potential of digitization while ensuring that the existing people on the payroll are involved in other aspects of the job that require a human touch like management, problem-solving, troubleshooting, etc.
HR departments also need to focus on Competency Management among employees so as to aim at higher performance, a stronger organizational culture, and a more competitive workforce that drives their business success. Some organizations are also leveraging predictive analytics to make better strategic decisions by applying HR data to enhance employee retention.
Business Intelligence through People Analytics
Organizations are now fast moving towards investing inefficient infrastructure to bring their people data together to manage the business better. HR is relying heavily on technology to develop business-oriented programs that help study sales performance, team performance, and other issues critical to business. People analytics has made it possible to extract answers for general queries, like what factors are driving employee retention, who are the potential successors for leadership roles, how can talent management be made more effective, and so on. Be it Employee Engagement, Performance Management or Recruitment, People Analytics enables HR to play an efficient role in planning as well as meeting the organizational goals, making smarter hiring decisions, and enhancing employee retention and performance. With the right kind of technology in place, companies can use People Analytics to improve talent management at every level.
In conclusion, 2018 is going to be an exciting time for the HR as new digital and learning models continue to evolve. Digitization is influencing all verticals of the HR and is assisting them in their efforts to up-skill and train employees. Digitization will play a key role in the design and transformation of people, processes, and technology. It’s time for HR departments to take on 2018 armed with a digital approach that gives more power to its people, improves overall productivity and enables intelligence business solutions.