How IT will change HR in 2018


By Karen Cariss
Wednesday, 10 January, 2018


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There’s an IT-led tsunami of change ahead for HR departments in 2018.

Human resources (HR) professionals are in the business of helping employees deal with and manage change, whether onboarding a new recruit or preparing them to take on a challenging new role. HR smooths the transition and provides the tools and skills needed for people to succeed.

But is the HR function itself ready to ride the impending tsunami of change?

In 2018, new ways to learn, interact and perform our roles will transform the work environment. Just about every HR practice is being scrutinised and many reinvented, as technology continues to augment HR activities in increasingly powerful and empowering ways.

Here are some of the major trends set to redefine talent management in 2018 and beyond.

The rise of artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is permeating every industry and every profession, and HR is no exception. In 2018 we will see a sharp increase in the uptake of AI-enabled chatbots to match candidates with jobs. As a result, recruiters will be freed to spend more time adding value to the sourcing and selection process — conducting interviews and making offers to a considerably reduced and select pool of candidates.

AI will also automate essential administrative processes (eg, indexing and filing candidate records), onboarding, measuring performance and offering personalised curated learning content. In turn, HR professionals will refocus their efforts on strategic workplace initiatives and contributing real business value.

Many common daily tasks will lend themselves to AI automation. That said, automation doesn’t necessarily equate to the loss of human jobs; in fact, it bodes well for augmenting current HR roles by eliminating low productivity tasks and tapping into AI to make informed workforce decisions.

Stay ahead of the curve: AI isn’t going away. If you haven’t already, it’s time to start exploring applications of AI and educating the business on its value.

End of the employee as we know it

The new currency of the labour market will be mobility, not stability. The balance of power in the employer/worker relationship has tipped in favour of workers and many businesses are still awakening to this realisation.

HR professionals will need to rethink the way they manage the growing number of workers shifting to freelance and contract modes of employment. HR-tech will be essential to help workers maintain connections across borders, and managers to lead their teams and drive collaboration.

Gartner estimates that by 2020, 60% of organisations will use a unified talent management (UTM) strategy for their entire workforce — freelancers, contractors and employees. In 2018, we will see an accelerated uptake of UTM technologies, as more businesses identify the need to galvanise a multifaceted workforce.

Stay ahead of the curve: Initiate the internal dialogue on changing workforce expectations and workplace arrangements. Improve your HR-tech subject matter expertise by exploring and testing best-in-class technologies.

Self-directed micro-learning

Traditional learning models have hit their use-by dates. Expect to see more businesses move away from traditional, structured programs, towards self-directed, social, informal learning platforms.

The pressure is on for workers to continually increase and update their skills. HR and businesses will play a crucial role in delivering learning that is continuous, consumable, relevant and available on demand. Small bursts of micro-learning will be reinforced through repetition in future lessons and tasks, as well as shared through social networking platforms. Moreover, social connectivity breeds user-generated content and idea sharing, making learning more digestible and engaging.

Stay ahead of the curve: Apps such as the PageUp Everyday Learning App enable employees to share relevant content with their teams. Industry-leading tools such as Slack and Microsoft Teams can also be repurposed to drive collaborative learning in an informal setting.

Boosting employee engagement

As millennials become the key demographic in the workforce, businesses can no longer rely on a one-size-fits-all approach to talent management if they want to attract and retain top talent. Additionally, people are pursuing career development opportunities at every age and are working longer than ever before.

So tailored and personalised learning opportunities for employees of all types will become the norm. Rich data insights are set to help organisations deliver more engaging content and meet growing consumer expectations for highly relevant and targeted information in the workplace. And HR analytics will expose gaps in employee productivity, highlight ways to improve engagement, uncover what motivates employees and map the overall employment experience.

Stay ahead of the curve: Task yourself with understanding the value and contribution HR analytics can bring to your business. Develop pilot use cases to demonstrate the power of analytics.

Design thinking applied to HR

Traditional hierarchical organisation structures will soon be a thing of the past. Replaced by new organisational designs that better facilitate teamwork, agility and collaboration, for many, this will be a welcome relief. As more and more companies hire employees across different time zones, working on multiple projects and using various media, organisational design will evolve to accommodate a more fluid work stream. Matrix structures will replace linear hierarchies and employees will be measured on how they collaborate with internal and external networks. Managers are likely to be hired on a project basis.

In 2018, we can expect managers to provide real-time feedback and coaching in place of fixed review cycles, and businesses to invest in mobile performance coaching applications to facilitate and track performance discussions.

Stay ahead of the curve: Address organisational design for the future of work in your next HR strategy planning session. Challenge your existing performance management policies and practices for their alignment to what workers and managers need in the future.

Augmented and virtual reality

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will begin to find their way into the talent acquisition toolkits of tech-savvy recruiters. Expect to be served up interactive job advertisements, go on a VR tour of your future workplace in Australia while sitting in Singapore and complete VR assessments during your recruitment process.

AR/VR will also be used to enhance the employee experience by providing simulations of tasks and work challenges, better preparing workers for real-world situations before they have to face them.

Stay ahead of the curve: Familiarise your talent acquisition and learning teams with this emerging trend by incorporating basic AR/VR technology into your current recruitment and learning practices.

In 2018 HR will be instrumental in preparing the workplace and the workforce for the tsunami of changes ahead. In doing so, HR professionals will also need to craft the redesign of their own function — in order to ride the wave of change, rather than be swamped by it.

Karen Cariss is CEO and co-founder of PageUp, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2017.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/4Max

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