Are you ready for the future of human resources? HR tech is “on the precipice of a total reinvention,” according to Josh Bersin, author of a pivotal Bersin by Deloitte report. The amount of resources being poured into that market bears out his statement: He notes that in 2015 alone, investors sank $2.4 billion into HR tech vendors, a figure that represents a 60 percent increase over the previous year. What kinds of changes will you see from this reinvention, and what kinds of new opportunities will come your way? Here’s a quick preview of the most relevant trends in digital management of the human beings that work for you:
It’s all about employee engagement
At first glance, it might appear that the increasing digital direction in HR might lead to a less humanistic, holistic approach. As a matter of fact, though, it has done the opposite: Where talent management was once automated and characterized by practice-driven solutions, the whole focus has now shifted in the direction of employees’ human needs. Data-driven solutions reveal that employee engagement and cultural fit lead to the best HR outcomes, and the new digital ecosystem now encourages a more organic human approach.
Managing people requires feedback
It would be handy if human employees could project virtual meters of how engaged they are, just as some online game avatars always indicate their levels of strength and well-being. Until that time arrives, however, employee engagement is something that has to be understood through specific types of measurement. HR tech provides excellent tools for ongoing feedback, including pulse surveys and structured opportunities, as well as various ad hoc channels. Bersin notes that companies find the new flock of feedback tools to be “transformational,” bringing hidden management defects into the light of day and allowing employee engagement problems to be addressed before they reach crisis levels.
Real-time feedback is becoming more accessible
Bersin’s report notes that over 120 vendors are currently providing tools for continuous real-time evaluation of overall employee well-being. These include assessments of company culture, employee recognition platforms, and a growing array of text-based feedback channels where confidential and anonymous comments can be given. Some of these channels are as impromptu as single words that workers offer for a word-cloud, while others may be associated with a particular company event or scheduled brainstorming sessions.
Once you have all this incoming data, new analytics are able to crunch it into beautifully charted trend lines. You’ll be able to see how your workers’ level of engagement is doing now as opposed to last week or how one team’s enthusiasm compares with that of another team. This unprecedented ability to slice and dice your employee alignment is incomparably valuable for measuring the effectiveness of different rewards and recognition initiatives.
Analytics help you predict behavior trends
While analytics can be used for noting employee engagement levels, this is really only the beginning of the extensive new possibilities offered by the emerging technology. As a manager or HR professional, you probably wish that some software platform could give you a crystal ball that let you view the future: Which new hire will end up staying with the company for 10 years, and which one will flame out in six weeks? Which front-line employee is on the verge of rage-quitting, and which one is angling to take on new job responsibilities? It’s now common for companies to use predictive modeling to figure out how to keep their high-performing workers, and Bersin notes that “the percentage of companies doing predictive modeling has almost doubled over the past three years.” In addition to employee retention probability, predictive modeling is also valuable in gauging future sales productivity, service quality and fraud activity.
One utility that all predictive analytics have in common, however, is that they give managers solid evidence for making beneficial changes. For example, Facebook recently offered its employees at least $10,000 if they would relocate their homes to within 10 miles of the company’s Silicon Valley campus. According to Bersin, this offer was the direct outcome of Facebook’s predictive analytics: Their HR tools found that the longer a worker’s commute, the lower their productivity and the likelier they were to quit.
Tech for employee learning
HR tech has wide applications beyond directly keeping track of how employees are faring. Millennial workers rate the opportunity to learn while on the job as their highest priority when seeking a new position. Naturally, if companies want to hold onto this valuable young demographic, they will respond by re-examining their way of offering training and development. The arrival of new HR tech options has transformed the nature of corporate training. Whether the new training opportunities are termed “mobile learning,” “blended learning” or some other freshly minted term, they are all increasingly self-directed. Bersin cites an interesting statistic to illustrate this trend: Seven years ago, 77 percent of corporate training used to be instructor-led, while now that percentage is only 32 percent. He states, “People at work simply don’t have the time, budget, or patience to sit in classes the way they did a few years ago.”
Managing your employees is a very human art, and new technology will not take away the psychological insights and instincts that you’ve developed over the years. Instead, the new technology provides solid data to back up what you already know about keeping your employees engaged, as well as streamlined new tools to increase your effectiveness. To learn more about how data can help you achieve greater levels of employee happiness, download our e-book, “Four Places to Start Measuring What Matters.”
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