SHRM Panel Unveils 2016 Trends in Technology

By Aliah D. Wright January 5, 2016
Better-educating employees, achieving technology compliance, developing talent insights and improving social media communications are among the 10 technology trends HR will grapple with in 2016, according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM’s) Technology and HR Management Special Expertise Panel. The trends will be part of SHRM’s upcoming Future Insights research report.

Comprised of HR practitioners, software vendors, and HR technology professionals with small and global organizations, the group spent nearly a year devising the list.

Denver-based Sybll Romley, who is regional developer at Synergy HomeCare and co-leader of the panel, told SHRM Online that she was surprised that HR technology practitioners are now primarily concerned with challenges that are largely outside of their control.

“In the past, our technology challenges have been more around security,” she said. Today’s challenges include getting the most out of social media in recruitment and managing employees’ behavior on these platforms, she said.

“An applicant can find an opportunity on LinkedIn, research employer reviews on Glassdoor, return a signed offer letter through Dropbox, enroll for benefits through an exchange or benefit administration site, and bring their own device to their first day of work,” said Heather Bemis, client service leader in the Human Capital Practice at Willis, a global risk advisory corporation in Nashville, Tenn. “Employers can tweet jobs, crowdsource specialized expertise anywhere in the world, and link work teams through Skype and Periscope. Technology has infiltrated the employer-employee relationship.”

The list of trends for HR to watch in 2016 are:

  • Social HR: The use of social networking is changing HR from a brick-and-mortar department to a virtual contributor in a global organization. Social media tools improve how HR communicates and shares information with applicants as well as employees, the panel noted. In recruiting, this reach includes talent networks, meet-ups, and new relationships with a broader (potentially global) talent pool. Applicants use their social media profiles as resumes and can use videos to demonstrate their abilities. The panel members also said that the use of crowdsourcing as a collaboration and business problem-solving tool is giving HR even more ways to gather information. Internal social networks are continuing to be used for harnessing and transitioning institutional knowledge management.

  • Education and certification: Expect an increase in people getting certification credentials, which will result in a larger pool of job candidates, the panel said. “This shift to microcredentialing for specialized certifications and the use of digital badging to market yourself across multiple platforms will continue to grow.”

  • Vendor consolidation: The SHRM panel said that large technology suppliers are expanding their market share by procuring platforms to round out their product suites and better handle the total employee life cycle. However, businesses are continuing to struggle with vendor and system integration, as well as communication across the organization for centralized/consolidated reporting.

  • Technology and compliance: Technology will continue to adapt to continuing statutory changes, ensuring that HR is operating within the confines of the law, the panelists found. “With the introduction and continuation of the Affordable Care Act … employees have the consumer power to purchase their benefits online. If you are not using technology in all aspects of HR, an organization will struggle to be current and compliant with ever-changing regulations,” the panel stated.

  • Telecommuting: Whether or not this trend continues will vary based on company culture and industry, the panel said. As HR Magazine reported earlier this year, some organizations are beginning to pull back on telecommuting, but others recognize that technology, communication and training can assist companies’ efforts to provide telework opportunities. Yet some organizations and employees are realizing that not everyone can telecommute and not all jobs are suited for telecommuting.

  • Talent insight:Knowing more about an employee, his or her skill sets and his or her background outside of what is found in the traditional HR file is going to be essential for the employee’s future, the growth of the company and succession planning, the panel said.

    A lot of the needed data, the panel said, can be found on social websites. Employees are more likely to keep their social media profiles up-to-date than they are to notify HR when their skills and education have changed.

  • Security:Greater focus is being placed on taking proactive steps to defend against cyberthreats, especially in countries that have strict privacy laws regarding sharing data across borders. As SHRM Online reported earlier this year, in 60 percent of breaches, cybercriminals were able to compromise an organization within minutes.

    “Creation of security systems and improved processes for onboarding will shape and control how we give new employees access to the tools they need and enable them to do their jobs when they walk in the door,” the panel stated. “It will also secure data so the right people have access to what they need.” The panel also predicted that the use of smartphones and tablets at work will drive an increase in the use of [two-factor authentication] to validate user access.

  • Wearable technology and bring your own device (BYOD): Not only will the continued use of wearable technology, smartwatches, mobile technology and BYOD as a means of working on the go continue to pose security challenges, Romley said, these technologies may become problematic should proposed changes to the overtime regulations go into effect.

    “Because someone is checking their e-mail at night, you may now be subject to paying 20 hours of overtime that you weren’t planning on paying,” Romley said. And while the use of wearable technology shows increased productivity, HR may be challenged with helping employees maintain work/life balance. HR may also be tasked with mitigating the risks associated with confidential company data on personal devices.

  • Changes with independent contractors: People can more quickly move from project to project and company to company by creating their own personal online brand with validation from peers—and this trend may create more “free agents” or independent contractors. At the same time, changes in the Fair Labor Standards Act and Department of Labor regulations are putting tighter controls on a company's ability to classify a worker as an independent contractor.

  • Shortened tenure of employees: How do you manage the limited time you have your employees and how do you get the most from them? Employee engagement will continue to challenge HR, the panel predicted. The goal of every company should be to keep employees challenged every single day.

“Once they are bored, they are gone,” the panel said.

Aliah D. Wright is an online editor/manager for SHRM.


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