Human resources has quickly become one of a business's most valued and important departments. A company is only as good as its people, and HR departments are responsible for bringing in and retaining that talent.
As with nearly every job function, the HR field has changed dramatically in the last decade, primarily due to technology. Business News Daily spoke with HR and hiring experts about the evolution and future of human resources, and how those changes will impact the workplace.
1. HR processes will become automated and cloud-based
In the last decade, marketing and communications technology underwent a cloud transformation. Now, HR technology is catching up, and functions like recruiting, hiring, onboarding and training are happening completely in the cloud.
"According to KPMG’s 2016 Global HR Transformation Survey, 42 percent of organizations plan to replace existing on-premises HR systems with cloud-based ones," said Don Charlton, founder and chief product officer of recruiting software Jazz. "HR's move to the cloud has created new opportunities to develop innovative tools to eliminate redundant tasks."
"We're seeing more of our clients utilizing cloud technology and social media to automate the onboarding process and engage employees very early, and often, as they come into the organization," added Michael Pires, CEO and president of JetPay, a provider of HR and payroll services. "Believe it or not, employee retention begins before a new employee shows up for the first day of work."
Charlton noted that new automated HR tools can provide round-the-clock responses to candidate inquiries, collect data for intuitive candidate profiles, and give users easy access to platforms that keep the hiring team connected throughout the hiring process. [See Related Story: Hiring in the Digital Age: What's Next for Recruiting?]
Kara Silverman, director at Small Girls PR, agreed that automation is the way of the future for HR processes because it gives employees, particularly tech-savvy millennials, the opportunity to manage their benefits online, any time and from anywhere.
"So many startups like Justworks, Namely, etc. are appearing on the scene to help make providing great HR service easier, even if you're not a huge company," Silverman told Business News Daily.
2. User experience will become a top priority
Consumer technology today tends to focus on "delighting" the user, and people have come to expect this smooth, streamlined interaction with all the tech tools they use, said Leela Srinivasan, CMO of applicant-tracking software Lever. There is a wide gulf between how traditional, legacy HR technology operates, and the experience that users actually want, and people are fed up, she said.
"The latest HR technology takes account of this important shift in user expectations," Srinivasan said. "It factors in design thinking to understand what users are trying to accomplish and why. It also recognizes that sometimes less is more, and it reduces clutter with a view to streamlining processes."
Jason Leverant, president and COO of executive recruiting firm AtWork Group, added that today's digital natives want technology built into their daily work lives.
"They are looking for … things like proprietary apps, electronic logins, etc.," he said. "They want to be engaged in this sense, which helps with retention."
3. Recruiting will remain personalized and candidate-centric
Recruiting has become more personal, Charlton said, and therefore, the interviewing process must be more strategic.
"What benefits are you offering that differentiate your company from your competitor?" he said.
"Technology makes it easy to stay in touch quickly, but you have to remember to personalize [the experience] to build relationships with candidates," Silverman said.
Srinivasan noted that modern companies recognize the power of making recruiting a strategic competitive advantage, rather than writing it off as an administrative process.
"They are willing to invest in tools that give them an edge, and their teams embrace a role that goes way beyond order-taking," she said.
4. HR will continue to evolve into "human capital management"
Over the last several years, the field of HR has become less about following rote management and record-keeping processes, and more about the strategic execution of human capital management (HCM), Pires said. This evolution is continuing today, and will shape the culture and operations of tomorrow's businesses.
"The first wave of this transition was driven by the need to better organize, track and report employee information," Pires said. "The next wave is a meaningful shift toward leveraging various technology solutions, information and data to make better, more strategic decisions about talent, organizational readiness, succession planning and culture to help drive better business performance and results."
Leverant noted that employee engagement via HR technology will continue to be top of mind for employers, especially when it comes to engaging millennials.
"Millennials have a different work ethic, needs, wants, etc., and companies are adapting to the largest segment of the workforce," he said.
Charlton agreed, adding that it's critical for employers to keep pace with the overall workforce trends that emerge.
"To ensure you’re hiring the best up-and-coming talent among this generation, each HR function – from sourcing and recruiting to hiring and training – should be tailored to the preferences, traits and habits of candidates," he said. "From how you evaluate prospective candidates to how you interact with them to how you train and sustain them, it should all be evolving to meet the expectations of the modern workforce."