By Jessie Taylor
Technology, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning are becoming a part of our daily lives and are increasingly influencing our workplaces. More than a third of companies today use AI in their business, with an additional 40% exploring the ways it can be used.
One survey found that almost 90% global organisations believe that AI will give them a competitive edge, and around 40% of large companies said they plan to invest further in AI services.
But this increasing use of technology doesn’t stop at automating tasks or making workflow more efficient – it has great potential for adoption in the HR space to retain talent and improve working environments.
Here are just some of the trends being shaped increased use of technology in the HR space:
1. Using the power of new digital worlds
HR will be increasingly shaped by new digital worlds, such as the Metaverse and gamification. These can be used as essential tools to bring staff together.
Gamification is becoming a popular tool for HR practitioners and involves using game principles and techniques in a non-game context. It can be used to engage employees in learning new skills or knowledge or to encourage staff to reach their goals through the use of points, badges, and leaderboards.
Gamification provides mechanisms for recognition (stimulating progress), feedback, fun and collaboration. It is often used to draw the attention of job candidates and raise interest in job openings through the use of digitally supported recruitment that speeds up the process and helps to evaluate the future job performance of the applicant. This could play out through a game, for example, that virtually simulates the workplace experience, providing points for performance.
Onboarding is another process that can be digitised using gamification techniques. Digital platforms that allow new recruits to collaborate while learning about compliance, ethics and procedures are successfully being used by a number of companies and could be paired with a virtual office tour.
The Metaverse – essentially a virtual work where people can interact as three-dimensional avatars – could be harnessed for virtual events, employee onboarding, career fairs, and meetings. Around a quarter of people will spend an hour in the Metaverse every day within the next few years, and this space could be harnessed to build a creative, collaborative, and productive world without being restricted by physical conventions.
2. Flexible working environments and technology
Remote working will continue to be a trend, with many employees actively seeking out work opportunities that allow for hybrid working. To enable an environment where remote working is feasible, companies will need to ensure they have communication and collaboration tools that allow all employees to stay connected no matter where they are.
Around one in five HR managers say that hybrid working is likely to be a priority over the next three years, and processes such as onboarding, feedback, coaching, learning, and wellbeing will largely need to be adapted to online platforms to allow for remote workers.
Technology can assist businesses in managing hybrid workforces, and around 16% of businesses are adopting technology to monitor their employees’ productivity. Others rely on mobile apps to ensure employee wellness or online onboarding platforms for new recruits.
Hybrid work impacts HR practices and technology investments, and companies are increasingly finding they need to create a framework that defines how hybrid working will be managed. HR plays a critical role in defining these conditions, especially as these policies impact employee wellness. . Research suggests that almost 90% of employees at organisations with clear hybrid working guidelines feel connected to their job and their team. This drops to around 64% in organisations without such guidelines.
The guidelines will need to dictate what days team members will work in-office, how remote working will be managed, the core hours for remote and hybrid workers and how managers should review team members in the hybrid work model.
Companies will also need to ensure their workforce has the technology and hardware (such as headsets, video cameras, mobile lighting etc.) that can be transported between home offices and company offices.
3. Where technology and employee wellness meet
This is why employee wellness will remain a focus for HR practitioners, especially in the face of increasing technology use and remote working.
Estimates say that workplace stress brought on by the pandemic was experienced by three out of five people, and issues such as the energy crisis, inflation and increased cost of living are adding to the stress experienced by employees.
Employee burnout has become a significant concern in the post-pandemic world, and applications are more and more choosing companies that prioritise employee wellness.
These programmes may include benefits such as mental health services and encouraging self-care, but they will also need to address technology use among employees.
The digital transformation, while allowing for many workplace advancements, has also triggered mental health problems for some employees. This is in part due to intensive remote working and sole technology-based interactions.
Finding ways to minimise the intrusion of technology on employees’ lives while prioritising communication and connection with online platforms will be a goal for many HR teams in the next few years. Understanding when and how technology can support employee wellbeing is going to be essential for HR teams as they look to prioritise employee health.
4. The role of technology in retaining talent
One of the skills HR practitioners will have to master to retain talent is creating digital trust. Digital trust is the confidence workers have in the ability of people, technology and processes to create a secure digital world while they are at work.
In the past, digital trust has largely been focused on consumers and users to ensure data integrity, privacy and security. However, this safety needs to extend to employees as well and can be eroded by exposure to phishing attempts or the overuse of technology that monitors employees, such as spyware. HR practitioners will need to consider using open and transparent digital tools to track and report on work performance to mitigate this digital mistrust.
Along with digital transparency, retaining talent will require HR practitioners to focus on company culture over the next few years.
More than half of HR practitioners say they will be focusing on company culture over the next three years.
A record number of people quit their jobs during the great resignation in 2022, and today creating a healthy company culture to keep top talent has been cited as a high priority by most companies. To retain talent, companies will need to provide cultures built on transparency, autonomy, control, a sense of belonging, connectedness, and authenticity – and technology can be harnessed to help grow a number of these.
HR practitioners will need to focus on supporting employees as they reprioritise their time and focus towards meaningful work. This will require establishing social contracts with the use of HR tech and tools while driving hybrid company cultures.
5. Technology and AI as HR tools
As workplaces embrace technology, AI and machine learning, so too will HR departments have to incorporate these features into their work.
Many HR departments are already relying on algorithmic HR, which uses people analytics to inform their choices. This means decisions are based on objective data instead of human observation. Research shows that around half of HR managers say they are already using AI in their departments, and close to 60% are using people analytics.
This type of technology can be useful in employee monitoring in terms of targets or deadlines and can automatically trigger rewards for good performance without any human bias.
Removing bias is favourable in the hiring process, and technology is likely to play an increasingly important role in this sphere. Using AI to assess a person’s skills and experience removes the possibility of them being discriminated against on the basis of gender, race or disability. Predictive modelling could indicate employees are likely to leave the business and allow HR practitioners to intervene to retain those employees.
HR practitioners will have to become more comfortable using data and working with predictive analytics, which anticipates behavioural patterns before they occur. They will have to learn to derive insights from this technology and translate them into interventions for the workforce.
But there is also likely to be the incorporation of AI for HR functions such as hiring and firing, growing the candidate pool, and facilitating employee engagement in the workplace.