2016 Tech Predictions

Technology will help HR inspire people to work better, smarter, faster

By Aliah D. Wright Dec 21, 2015
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Thanks to advances in technology—including tools that keep employees informed and supported anytime, anywhere—the data-armed, data-savvy HR leader will play an increasingly important role within executive leadership, experts predict.

Advances in technology, if properly harnessed, “will positively impact the way people connect, communicate and collaborate on a daily basis, resulting in more engaged, productive employees, which numerous studies correlate with positive business ROI [return on investment],” Dean Chabrier, chief people officer at Calif.-based Jive Software told SHRM Online.

As a result, Chabrier said, HR leaders will be expected to bring to the executive table “actionable insights around recruitment, talent management and employee engagement, and map that directly to the core business strategy,” she said.

“And as HR buyers look for modern solutions, they will place more importance on how these tools integrate into the systems they already have in place. These integrations are important for ensuring uninterrupted workflows, uncovering insights by bringing together data across multiple systems and providing a seamless experience for employees.”

According to a news release from human capital management (HCM) software vendor Workday, “In 2016, there will be a massive focus on user-generated content in the workforce,” such as videos and online surveys. User-generated content “will take center stage in HCM and learning systems with a focus on sharing and collecting information for greater engagement across the organization,” the news release stated. “This will, in turn, require business leaders to help employees create quality content, gather and share insights, and be open to experimentation with the goal of fueling collaboration and productivity.”

Workday added that “based on the vast amounts of data collected through advanced analytics and machine learning, businesses are able to deliver personalized insights and recommendations directly to employees to help them choose their next career move or connect with others within the organization.”

According to data from the IBM Center for Applied Insights, companies that are driven by analytics are 2.9 times more likely to use predictive analytics to inform most processes and decisions. Those decisions include figuring out whom to hire.

Rise of the Freelancers

What’s more, the ways in which we define workers will change thanks to the gig economy, as more people turn their cars into workplaces on wheels by signing up with apps like Lyft and Uber and their homes into profitable hubs of relaxation courtesy of Airbnb.

Speaking at a Future of Work Symposium held in Washington, D.C., last month at the U.S. Department of Labor, Natalie Foster, a fellow with the Institute for the Future, said there are four reasons why Americans are shifting to gig or on-demand jobs:

  • People are looking to supplement their incomes.

  • People are in between jobs.

  • People are beginning to fashion themselves as entrepreneurs.

  • People are simply searching for flexible work arrangements.

Chabrier agreed. “I think flexibility of work will become an even bigger topic, from finding the right balance with remote working to the growing popularity in freelancing,” she said.

Companies will continue to see a rise in the amount of people earning income by working for themselves selling goods and services on sites like Etsy and Instacart. Freelancers, too, will continue to find work through such sites as Upwork, formerly Elance-oDesk. In fact, according to a study by Elance-oDesk, Freelancing in America: A National Survey of the New Workforce, 53 million Americans are now freelancing. And 69 percent say technology is aiding their ability to do so.

Chabrier told SHRM Online that in 2016, HR organizations won’t just need to provide employees with tools to access content anytime anywhere, they’ll need to provide ways to motivate employees to take desired actions through “contextual quests.” Contextual quests are new gamification technologies that boost engagement, while providing structured ways to motivate employees to take desired actions. “They’ll also need to figure out how to reward employees for being brand advocates inside the company and out. As a result, she said, leaders are going to be spending more time thinking about the culture of the entire organization.

“There will be even more demand for data-driven insights around what’s going on with the workforce,” Chabrier added. “To get ahead, HR teams need to measure, measure, measure.”

More HR professionals are turning to analytics to help them solve workforce problems, according to the recently released Sierra-Cedar 2015–2016 HR Systems Survey. Thirty-nine percent of organizations are “doing some form of business intelligence analytics,” the survey stated.

“There will also be a greater need for integrating the various HR systems and tools,” Chabrier added.

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

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