Juggling data and humans as an HR professional

One of the biggest challenges of HR today is to leverage technology while keeping empathy for humanity intact, claims Sanja Licina. “Balance is always so interesting; you’re thinking of how to make sure you maintain somebody’s privacy,” she told HR Daily Advisor in an interview. “How do you make sure you always understand, when you’re using certain models, that you’re aware of the likelihood of error, that you’re aware of the confidence in your model?” Historically, HR’s role has been to relay the results of traditional surveys to management, which sometimes created a bottleneck. “Now, the thought is how you get data and insights into the hands of people who can act on them the quickest,” Licina says. “But you also have to consider how you prepare them to be able to make really good decisions and be able to understand that information and know exactly what to do with it.” She says bridging the gap between data and the human touch is key going forward in an era of rapid digital transformation. “How do you present business metrics and people metrics in such a way that you have to look at them together? That helps humanize data a little more and shows the impact,” Licina says.

2020 will see a rise in chatbots in HR

Workplace technology continues to enhance human and machine interaction, and more employers are using chatbots in HR, claims Carol Patton. “Besides offering voice-activated help desks to address HR questions, some companies are using virtual-reality glasses for training or text- and voice-enabled chatbots to provide a positive candidate experience,” she writes in HR Executive. “The ultimate goal is to free HR professionals from performing mundane transactions, enabling them to focus on more human responsibilities like employee coaching.” Emily He, senior vice president of HCM marketing at Oracle, gave Patton other examples of chatbots in HR, such as voice-enabled apps on cell phones that help employees navigate HR directories and platforms that managers can use to enter in real-time feedback on employee performance. “As workplace technology evolves in 2020, I believe it will create more opportunities for employees to focus on innovation and decrease burnout among workers performing mundane tasks,” she told HR Executive. “The work environment will become more positive and allow all of us to be more human.”

Four big changes coming to HR

With the unemployment rate at a nearly five-decade low, Brit Morse predicts that businesses will continue to take creative approaches to recruiting, retention and other human resources functions. In this Inc. blog post, she lists the top four ways HR will evolve in 2020: 1. Deploying chatbots to handle recruiting. “Recruiters already use artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify potential candidates who have the right skill sets and experiences for the roles they’re trying to fill,” Morse writes. “But what if there’s a new manufacturing plant opening and you’re tasked with finding 100 people to work specialized machinery? 2. Reskilling the existing workforce. “With unemployment low, the ‘buy, not build’ strategy of hiring is unlikely to work,” she writes. “It’s vital for employers to retain employees, even those whose roles are shifting or being eliminated from the company, because there’s no guarantee of hiring additional talent.” 3. Diversifying HR with people from various backgrounds. 4. Leveraging internal data to find potential new leaders and help employees change teams internally.

Top three tech trends for HR in 2020

As the job market continues to tighten, technology will continue to be front and center as a powerful tool to help HR professionals achieve their recruitment and retention goals, claims Paul Phillips. In this Forbes blog post, he outlines three top technology trends that will emerge in 2020: 1. Using technology to make onboarding more effective. 2. Increasing use of video conferencing throughout the entire employee life cycle. 3. Using virtual reality for onboarding, training and more. “There’s no doubt that innovative technology and digital transformation will continue to impact companies across every industry in 2020 at an increasing velocity. Life as we know it will never be as slow as it is today and tomorrow,” Phillips writes. “The clock continues to spin faster and faster, making it even more imperative to stay abreast of technology and avoid getting left behind. With the pace of change that we’re seeing in the marketplace today, those companies that fail to embrace these top technology trends will likely find it difficult to catch up.”

AI’s growing role in hiring

As artificial intelligence (AI) evolves, companies are going to increasingly rely on it for boosting the hiring process, claims Eric Vidal. In this TalentCulture post, he looks into a number of key ways AI is already saving HR teams time and money. “AI is being taught to overcome human biases during sourcing and screening,” Vidal writes. “The key is teaching the program on data that presents as gender-neutral and training it to ignore other identifying information that might trigger biased decisions. An organization may end up with a pool of applicants far more diverse than if the HR team itself had sourced them.” AI can lead the candidates through the recruiting funnel quickly and efficiently, ensuring the candidate experience goes smoothly. “Recruiter chatbots can provide real-time answers to candidate questions, offer quick feedback and suggest next steps,” he writes. “They can provide links to promising job descriptions, clarify company hours and location, and schedule interviews.” AI can also provide assistance with interviewing and onboarding. “AI-powered tools can ensure all new employees receive copies of the paperwork that spells out company policies and log-in information,” Vidal writes. “They can track when documents have been read, prompt an electronic signature, and schedule meetings to go over the information further when necessary.”

HR tech solutions for 2020

HR tech is not just about building cool apps; it’s about solving the people problems of today and tomorrow, argues Suzanne Lucas. At this year’s Unleash World in Paris, she spoke to several HR tech experts about the problems they will be looking to solve in 2020. In this Inc. article , she lists some of the trending HR tech topics: employee satisfaction and turnover, the talent experience, employee coaching, agility, and building an alumni network. “Millennials today are looking for personal development as well as career opportunities,” Juno Journey’s Klil Nevo said. “We offer a tailor-made career map based on skills and tasks backed with personalized learning that results in prediction for internal mobility and growth in your organization.” Another HR tech expert, Roman Vovk of IntraWorlds, told Lucas how building alumni networks can create a modern approach to the talent life cycle. “We recognize that talent management starts before, during, and after employment. We know that millennials are moving jobs quicker than ever and no longer stay with firms for decades,” he said. “We help companies stay connected with former employees with a talent-centric approach to help them reach their business objectives.”

The next perfect storm in HR

Brent Colescott, senior director of business strategy and transformation at SumTotal, believes there’s a perfect storm coming for HR. “HR was born in the 1940s, post-World War II,” he told TalentCulture’s Meghan Biro in an interview. “What’s happening now is that things have changed and added to what the burden is that HR needs to do.” Colescott said HR’s new responsibilities include overseeing the use of technology and handling an influx of talent that might not be as prepared for work as in the past. “When you look at all these challenges—whether it’s the generations in the workforce, the lack of talent that’s available now because the low unemployment, or automation—it’s just all converging at the same time,” he said. “That’s really the HR perfect storm that I look at.” Among the more interesting challenges Colescott noted was HR’s new role in helping younger generations in “adulting,” i.e., teaching them basic life skills. “The talent that’s coming in—and these can be college graduates that are coming into the workforce—are having to ask HR to help them set up a bank account, to have them understand conflict management, dealing with challenging viewpoints in the office or even how to run a meeting,” he said.

The best HR tech trend of the decade: the digital workplace

The modern digital workplace, where organizations and employees are shifting to virtual workspaces or managing tasks digitally, is the best HR tech trend of the decade, claims Sharon Lobo. “Digital workspaces are known to foster efficiency, and drive growth and innovation,” she writes in People Matters. “The most important benefit of the digital workplace is dissolving boundaries and creating open offices where communication barriers cease to exist.” She lists several factors to consider when building the digital toolbox of an organization. “Your digital strategy must always align with your organization’s values and mission,” Lobo writes. “Think about the holistic digital strategy where the entire organization can benefit from digitization.” She encourages leaders to analyze how technology-friendly their workforce is before implementing changes and to provide appropriate training. “Ensure that your employees have adequate resources to adapt to the new digital revolution at the workplace,” Lobo writes.

The future of recruitment

New technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbots hold huge potential for recruitment in 2019 and beyond, claims Puja Lalwani. “Blockchain is not just the foundation of cryptocurrency, it can help in recruitment,” she writes in HR Technologist. “[Blockchain] helps recruiters in two ways: a) using smart contracts, it instantly eliminates the need to track multiple sources to verify data, and b) because of this enhanced level of verification, recruiters can leverage blockchain technology to hire more contract and gig workers more easily.” Lalwani calls chatbots “the new HR interns,” that can initiate interactions with candidates and shortlist them, giving recruiters a quality talent pool to begin their recruitment process. “AI can do more than power a chatbot, it can predict talent gaps in an organization,” she writes. “When given data from a range of sources such as university databases, professional networking sites such as LinkedIn, and government employment databases, it can predict information on upcoming jobs that will be generated in the future, and the skills required to fill these gaps.”

HR sidelined in AI decisions, study finds

According to new research on how artificial intelligence (AI) is being used in UK workplaces, HR is often the least likely business function to be involved in decision-making and implementation around new technology. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and PA Consulting analyzed a survey of 758 UK employers for the report, “People and Machines: from hype to reality,” and found that just more than half (55 percent) of HR teams were involved in investment decisions on AI and automation, and only 45 percent in implementation processes. By contrast, the research reveals that functions like IT, research and development, production or operations, purchasing and procurement, and marketing and sales are much more likely to be involved in both investment and implementation decisions. “This indicates a real need for HR and longer-term workforce planning, but too often HR struggles to be part of the conversation,” Peter Cheese, chief executive for the CIPD, told Relocate Magazine. “Instead people professionals should be taking the lead, orchestrating the debate on who does what work, where, when, and how technology interacts with those processes.”

Three areas chatbots can improve EX in HR

Chatbots powered by artificial intelligence (AI) can optimize HR workflow and ensure a higher degree of employee experience (EX). This HR Tech Outlook article highlights three areas where AI chatbots can transform the employee-employer relationship. In recruitment, chatbots can interact with candidates and provide them with feedback, helping companies strengthen their relationship with potential hires throughout the recruitment lifecycle. In HR service delivery, chatbots can address day-to-day queries on processes, policies and frameworks, allowing HR teams to focus on more meaningful tasks, such as performance management, career pathing and employee engagement. Chatbots can also play a role in learning and development with innovative approaches to real-time training activities.

EX should be a top priority in HR tech purchases

With the growing wealth of platforms, solutions and services that have become available, 2019 is shaping up to be an exciting year for HR tech buyers, argues Kevin Grossman. “Understanding our options is a big part of our challenge—but it is only one part,” he writes in TalentCulture. “Our candidate and employee experiences should be paramount concerns as we weigh our HR tech options.” Grossman believes technology is an integral part of the recruitment process, employee engagement and retention. “The truth is we all want technology to work for us, not disrupt us. We’re consumers and we want seamless experiences and solutions that save us time and energy, not add to the clutter we face,” he writes. “The same goes for employees who depend on the HR technologies we provide them to get their work done.”

How to prepare HR for a successful digital transformation

While digital transformation is at the top of every organization’s agenda, HR tends to lag behind, according to Steffen Maier, cofounder of Impraise. In this HR Daily Advisor blog post, he details four ways to prepare your HR team for a successful culture and digital transformation: 1. Create end-to-end responsibility, where digital transformation comes from the people with the authority to successfully drive it. 2. Remember, data beats hierarchy. Rather than picking and choosing the data that supports what the leadership is looking for, allow it to inform decision-making. 3. Use data to be strategic, not just reactive. “People analytics isn’t just about reporting this year’s turnover rate,” Maier writes. “If HR can learn to collect and make use of people data, it will have a powerful force behind the initiatives it presents to the executive level.” 4. Don’t focus on hiring digital talent. Help your internal HR team develop new digital skills. “Instead of holding HR back, digital transformation should be an opportunity to empower the department with valuable workforce insights. New HR tools provide support for the latter, but revamping the traditional HR mind-set should be the first step in your transformation journey,” Maier concludes.

Using big data to build a talent pipeline

From the HR Tech Conference, this HR Executive piece highlights our presentation, where Accenture’s Mike Gabour talked about using big data to build a robust talent pipeline. “Gone are the days when you had 10 years to respond to a new tech trend. These days you’ll be lucky if you get two,” he said. We partnered with Burning Glass Technologies to explore the larger world of human-capital data to get answers to questions like: How do we validate what we’re seeing internally? How do we make sure we’re not missing what’s happening in the external marketplace? And how do we look to the next one to two years and predict what the future trends will be? With data Burning Glass collects from 50,000 sources, and with the nearly 1 billion jobs in its database going back to 2010, we were able to see job skills in context. We could also make appropriate comparisons between two companies in the same industry, in order to get an accurate look at the companies’ “talent shape” and see what types of skills they are looking for. This information allows companies to identify future skills gaps and how to invest in future learning, as well as where to focus on hiring. “Using this information can really help inform our decisions and prioritize those investments we need to make on a quarterly or annual basis,” Gabour said at the conference.

HR Tech Conference highlights

In this ERE blog post, Joel Cheesman shares the four key takeaways from the HR Tech Conference held in Las Vegas last week. 1. Business is good. “For an industry that thrives when the economy is good and literally falls apart when things go south, the conference was proof that the economic party is alive and well,” he writes. 2. Apps 2.0 is here. Cheesman says HR companies are reaching beyond Facebook and Twitter and are leveraging a new generation of platforms. 3. Chatbots are for real. “I’ve called them commodities, but for now business looks good for the chatbot players,” he writes. “Automation is in.” 4. Who wasn’t there was very telling. Cheesman believes the absence of Glasdoor, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Slack indicates the event was more focused on partnerships, instead of sales.

Immersive learning as the future of employee training

“The next generation of workers are children of the digital age and used to constant stimulation across all forms of technology. We need to consider: how can we motivate our new hires and existing employees in the right direction?” writes Sue Turk in this Human Resources Director blog post. She believes immersive learning, the kind that combines virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies, has the potential to be the most effective with the younger generation of workers. “Virtual immersive learning is fairly out of the norm compared to traditional training methods, and helps employees feel more open-minded and willing to try the experience,” she writes. “It can also have more of a long-lasting effect than traditional training methods–it becomes more of a memorable and a personal experience for the individual, allowing them to retain information easier.”

11 ways AI can revolutionize HR

Members of the Forbes Human Resources Council were recently asked what the future of artificial intelligence (AI) in HR might look like. This article sums up the top 11 ways in which AI is changing the human resources game, according to HR experts across industries: 1. Automate business processes, 2. Enhance efficiency, 3. Reduce bias, 4. Narrow the talent pipeline, 5. Replace administrative tasks, 6. Communicate candidate status, 7. Simplify sourcing, 8. Reduce administrative load, 9. Highlight better talent, 10. Enhance the human experience, 11. Stay compliant. “The answers all pointed to systems that were operating more smoothly and HR professionals getting a fighting chance at doing their jobs better instead of chasing a never-ending paper trail,” the article notes.

Three HR tech trends to watch

This TalentCulture blog acknowledges the recent proliferation of HR tech tools in the marketplace and flags three hot trends worthy of following: 1. Better people analytics to target HR communications more effectively, as well as to identify high-potential employees and what they want from employers. 2. Employee self-service (EES) tools that enable employees to complete basic HR tasks on their own from their mobile devices. 3. Social collaboration tools such as chat rooms, instant messaging and video communication to streamline onboarding and give employees a sense of community. “Growth-minded companies are empowering their people with new tools to solicit and provide real-time feedback, build success recognition into the fabric of the culture and ensure that both managers and employees have the resources they need to innovate, grow and perform at their best,” Rajeev Behera, founder of Reflektive told TalentCulture.

The next generation of HR service

According to George Zarkadakis, delivering HR services to employees is like an ambulance – not something one thinks of every day, but essential when needed. In a Willis Towers Watson Wire post, he explains why the next generation of HR services must be responsive, proactive and agile. “Because HR services is often regarded as a cost center, the aim has usually been to reduce costs, often at the expense of reengineering the process to make it more efficient,” Zarkadakis writes. He recommends introducing new data portals and platforms to help HR deliver a more responsive and personalized service; utilizing virtual assistants and chatbots to streamline the front desk experience. “These next generation technologies offer an enormous opportunity to reinvent HR service delivery at the back end as well as the front. [HR leaders] can get themselves out of the passenger seat and start navigating the HR ambulance using GPS, saying goodbye to the backstreets of confusion forever,” Zarkadakis writes.

How to ensure employees adopt HR tech

This HR Technologist blog post highlights five ways to streamline the transition to new technologies and avoid change resistance by the workforce. 1. Talk before you purchase: Healthy communication is key to keeping the workforce in the loop. 2. Keep it simple: Training must be relatable, lucid and broken down into clear action points. 3. Ensure opinion leaders are with you on the migration: Influencers are the flag-bearers for the transformation and will help build enthusiasm for new programs. 4. Action a communication plan at every level: For a smooth transition, consider regular meetings and reviews. 5. Insist on feedback and save space for flexibility: An open mind-set helps familiarize employees with the solution. “With these ideas in implementation, a transition pattern could become far easier, with room to determine adoption figures, study resistance and its causes, and focus on insightful transformation trajectories,” the article notes.

Chatbots, a must in HR tech

Artificial intelligence and cognitive computing are no longer just options for HR, but rather a must, argues Meghan Biro in this TalentCulture blog post. “Chatbots on company websites and social media channels will be a boon for attracting far more talent and then helping turn that talent from passive into active candidates,” she writes. “In terms of talent management, the possibilities are endless, from onboarding to management. If you don’t have it, you’re going to get left behind.” Biro cites the results of a survey by the IBM Institute for Business Value, which found that 65 percent of CEOs expect cognitive computing to drive significant value in HR. She points to the U.S. Army’s chatbot SGT STAR as an example of how the trend is gaining ground. Biro also believes that HR tech can help create a more diverse workforce: “We can learn to overcome bias, unconscious or otherwise, by using technology and analytics to teach us what we’re doing right and what we can do better.”