The birth of HR function happened somewhere in the early 1900’s, it moved on to the limelight in the late 1990’s during the dot-com boom where hiring and retention were the priority and later faced some hiccups with employee lay-offs during recession. The journey of HR as a function has never been easy with some twists and turns awaiting the next corner.

Now, the technological revolution with the buzz word ‘Artificial Intelligence’ in the workplace has harvested tremendous fears in the minds of people and HR with a lingering question, ‘Is this is the end of humans or HR as a function in the workforce?’

This is definitely not the case; while AI is expected to eliminate 1.8 million jobs by 2020, there have been sources in HR Technologist who have confirmed that this technology has also been predicted to create 2.3 million more.

Hence, embracing technological explosions positively which is accompanied by growth and the ever-constant thing – ‘change’, HR has accepted the challenge and risen from a reactive to a proactive role.

What has brought this deal-breaker? It is the technological advancement that HR professionals have adopted to enable them as strategic partners for key organizational decisions.

Automation, artificial intelligence and machine-learning have created a wave in the lives of HR professionals to proactively solve workforce problems and participate in making decisions.

AI now has disrupted the core HR functions for the better to create a technological hub for varied areas like recruitment, employee engagement, learning, performance management etc. HR analytics has become the new trend. In 2018, LinkedIn found that more than one out of five companies in the U.S. have adopted HR analytics and another 11% have a specific HR analytics designation. Furthermore, the number of HR practitioners listing “analytics” as a key skill has increased three times in the last five years.

Here is how technology has made its mark in some of the HR functions through implementation of HR Technologies and People analytics to lead HR into a proactive role:

Automation has made the recruitment experience for both employer and employee simpler and more effective through AI, Chatbots, social networking and online recruitment platforms.

As mentioned by CognitionX on their website, a sourcing platform ‘Arya’ by Leoforce sourced a position for a client in mere 20-30 minutes vis-à-vis a traditional path of short list time of 2-3 days.

Also mentioned is the use of People Analytics by a Dutch postal Company, PostNL, to design the required profile of a mail carrier. PostNL benefited from this analysis to optimize their recruitment process and reduce its recruitment costs therefore hiring the right fit for the right job.

Another technological application which is gaining popularity is ‘Visual Storytelling’. HR recruiters are checking the feasibility of candidates posting their personal details along with video attachments to shortlist candidates during hiring and in turn increasing their chances to get hired.

For instance, a report by Glassdoor suggested that job postings with video attachments witnessed a 12% increase in viewership as against those without videos. All of this definitely positions HR as a smart and effective recruiter.

“At the crux of all business transformation, there are people, not technology,” says Gajendra Chandel, the ex-CHRO of Tata Motors in one of the articles in HR Technologist.

A part of Employee engagement is ‘Employee Experience’, the holistic experience that connects employees to a larger purpose.

Employee experience requires focusing on the unique needs of employees as against a standard approach.

Responding to these needs and requirements, the HR digital solutions like self-service HRMS was created to manage everyday tasks as leaves, attendance etc., also LMS etc. to provide an opportunity to engage and enhance employee experience. These intelligent self-service tools are among the top new HR technologies across the year 2019 as these reduce the dependencies on HR teams.

Retailer Clarks, the shoe Company used People analytics to analyse the relationship between employee engagement and organizational performance, as mentioned by CognitionX on their website. The findings were admirable which showed that a 1%-point score improvement in engagement equals to an increase of 0.4% in business performance, measured in financial turnover.

The analysis also showed that the other factor as size of the team also have an effect on engagement and performance.

The technological upsurge can sure bring in metrics to measure a lot of areas which currently cannot be quantified to showcase HR’s contribution towards employee engagement.

How does learning contribute to performance enhancement? What levels of skill is required to meet business needs? How much more does the employee need to learn to implement the skills on the job? Can behavior be linked to performance? These questions and many others can be answered with the Corporate Learning tools which are used by the HR function in many organizations.

YouTube Videos, micro-learning platforms such as customized Learning Management Systems (LMS), experience platforms and virtual reality are some of the highly recommended learning tools in the market and in some companies built by in-house teams. For instance, Virtual reality has been developed for Sexual Harassment Training. Morgan Mercer of Vantage Point VR Training has created this technology platform to create real-time simulations, improving a learner’s ability to assimilate prevention techniques as well as boost bystander intervention.

Not only IT or tech Companies are using these Technologies, these are being used by non-IT Companies like Unilever also.

Unilever is pushing itself one step ahead to link Competency Enhancement Systems and Performance Planning Systems to other HR Integrated Systems (HRIS) like performance evaluations, customer surveys and recruitment systems.

As the data on skill levels and business needs can be quantified due to the metrics derived from predictive analysis, HR can contribute in decision making regarding the employees’ life cycle. This next level of information gives inputs to different spheres of HR like hiring, staffing, competency development needed etc. to design and deliver the required course to enhance employee’s skills and meet organizational goals. It also helps in integrating with performance and behavioral aspects of the employee thus creating a whole integrated HR system.

For example, as mentioned by Ms. Megan Butler, AI Analyst (HR), CognitionX :

Due to the agility required to cope with the dynamic environment and the need of a growth mind set, Companies have now realized the role HR function can play to boost their business and

their profitability. Some companies which invest hugely on innovation like Deutche Telkom and RABO Bank are investing in teams that focus on HR innovations and the possible applications of HR Tech by setting up ‘HR Innovation Labs’.

Proactive HR professionals with their human behavioral touch along with HR analytics, can drive the organization for continuous improvements and share new productive information on the business table.

The new HR technological trends throw light towards a new direction for HR to be at the strategic helm and rightfully claim to be a business partner.

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