HR Tech Innovations Forecast in 2016

December 16, 20158:38 am1396 views

There are HR tech innovations you can expect to see in the next 12 months at small and large companies. From data analytics, to wearables.

HR professionals have used cloud services, mobile apps, and social networks for so long. However, those technologies are still considered as cutting-edge technology. In small to midsize businesses (SMBs), one arena in which that is glaringly apparent is in people management.

Only in 2015 did companies for the first time buy more cloud-based human resources management systems (HRMS) than on-premises software, according to the 2015-2016 HR Systems Survey by consulting firm Sierra-Cedar. That’s despite the fact that cloud-based software has long been less expensive to deploy, and much faster to implement and take advantage of new features and technology.

When it comes to tech, HR is playing catch-up. But, while slow, it is catching up. Over the past three years, for example, companies boosted investments in mobile-based HR initiatives by 70 percent, according to the Sierra-Cedar survey, which polled 1,204 small, midsize, and large companies with a total workforce of 21 million employees. Approximately 20 percent of companies polled are planning a major mobile HR initiative in the next 12 months, according to the survey.

Here are some other HR tech innovations you can expect to see in the next 12 months at small and large companies, based on reporting and observations from industry insiders.

Using Data to Keep Employees from Walking Out the Door

Lots of companies talk up the importance of making employees feel engaged—productive, fulfilled, happy, and connected to coworkers and the company’s mission. Employee engagement is becoming critical as low unemployment rates nationwide and demand for highly skilled workers in industries such as tech are leading more people to consider making a switch. But few companies have used data analytics to measure engagement, a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed by HR tech vendors.

According to the Sierra-Cedar survey, companies’s investments in HR analytics doubled in 2015 and will continue to increase. Marketing leaders are using data to optimise consumers’s experience with a brand, business leaders are applying personalised strategies to create a more rewarding workplace for employees.

Data collected through advanced analytics and machine learning [will] deliver personalised insights and recommendations to employees to help them choose their next career move or connect with others within the organisation.

Employees Trade Places

As the job market opens up and wages possibly rise, expect to see a lot more job hopping next year. In her own 2016 predictions post, HR blogger Laurie Ruettimann calls it “swapsies,” with companies’s “A-grade” players leaving for the competition.

If that’s the case, businesses better have the applicant tracking system (ATS) and onboarding systems in place to manage the uptick in hiring. When people leave, department heads or HR managers should do exit interviews to learn why and use the feedback to make fixes. Hopefully that function is built into the performance management software or core HR tech.

If a business uses Atlassian HipChat, Slack, or a similar communication and productivity tool, you should consider creating a channel for these ex-worker alumni, since so-called “boomerang employees” (workers who leave and quickly return) are also on the rise.

See: Online Security Considerations for Jobseekers in 2016 and Beyond

Companies Treat Job Applicants Better or Else

Speaking of hiring, as the search for new talent intensifies, how people are treated when they apply for a job will matter even more. With so many businesses relying on employee referrals and good reviews from employees and job candidates on websites such as Glassdoor and CareerBliss, a poor experience can really come back to bite you. That means setting up an ATS to generate auto-replies to everyone and giving candidates feedback on how they did in job interviews.

However, job board expert Jeff Dickey-Chasins doesn’t hold out hope this will change too much any time soon. “Candidate experience is a second-tier thing for most employers,” says Dickey-Chasins, aka the Job Board Doctor. “There are still plenty of employers out there that barely have a career area on their website. For companies with 1000+ employees, it’s more of a big deal, but I think [SMB] HR has trouble getting its head around the concept.”

Social and Mobile Recruiting: The New Normal

It is time to stop predicting this will be the year social and mobile recruiting take off because they already have. Mobile and social are here; they are pervasive, it is a done deal.

Today, social and mobile are recruiting. If your company isn’t using them, there are a slew of tech vendors chomping at the bit to help including Jobvite and iCIMS. A simple way to get started: On LinkedIn, create a company profile page and post news and other regular updates that potential job candidates would be interested in signing up to follow. This gives you the ability to capture their contact information and prospect them to present and future job openings.

Wearables Are Here, Sort Of

If you count the Fitbits, Jawbones, and other fitness trackers companies give employees for fitness challenges and the GPS devices they strap onto truck drivers, couriers, and other employees who drive for work, there is nothing new about wearables in the workplace. How far beyond that companies go to integrate the newer smart wearables (such as the Apple Watch) remains to be seen. If and when they do, companies need to pay heed to when, where, and how employees use the devices or face possible legal issues.

For instance, location data from a wearable could show that a nonexempt employee is working after hours, “which might become relevant in overtime litigation,” writes Christine Lyon, an employment and privacy law specialist with law firm Morrison & Foerster in Palo Alto, in a company release. “Employers will need to think more carefully about how they are collecting data about employees from mobile apps and devices, and how they are using and sharing that data.”

VR Meets HR

Virtual reality (VR) will slowly penetrates early-stage HR applications, including companies sending Google Cardboard or similar low-end VR units to job candidates to take a virtual office tour and meet potential coworkers.

However, don’t expect it to become widespread any time soon. One of the last big HR tech innovations, web-based video for conducting job interviews such as the kind from HireVue, SparkHire, and InterviewStream, has been around for a decade. But adoption rates “are still super low,” Dickey-Chasins says, “and that’s much more primitive.”

See also: Top 10 Disruptive HR Technology Trends for 2016

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