Top 9 Digital HR Tech Trends for 2019

By Neelie Verlinden – Digital HR Tech 

Whenever I hear the word ‘trend’ I tend to think it’s something temporary. Like those slap bracelets for kids in the nineties. Remember those? All of a sudden, they were just there and all the cool kids were slapping themselves on the wrist with them – only to completely disappear a couple of months later.

Digital HR and HR tech trends, however, are usually here to stay. When I look at some of the top trend lists of the past years, I often see the same themes pop up.

But what’s in a name, right? Temporary trends or not, here is our take on this year’s top digital HR and HR tech themes.

Future-proofing employees

For many organizations, this is their biggest challenge and therefore the Mother of all other Digital HR tech trends for 2019. How do we prepare for the future? Especially since that future seems particularly vague. The exact numbers differ, but about 85% of the jobs people will be doing in 2030 don’t even exist yet.

At the same time, (AI-powered) technology is rapidly changing the world of work and 10,000 baby boomers are retiring every day in the US alone! A 2017 McKinsey report, “Jobs Lost, Jobs Gained”, found that 30% of “work activities” could be automated by 2030 and that up to 375 million workers worldwide could be affected by emerging technologies.

The good news is that the below trends can help you future-proof your employees and therefore your organization.

Generation Z

Generation Z – the cohort that comes after the Millennials – has been entering the global workforce for several years now. So far, however, mainly in internship and entry-level job positions.

As they too get older, more and more organizations will have these Digital Natives in their workforce and if they haven’t yet, they will find themselves increasingly recruiting people from Gen Z.

This means, among other things:

  • Mobile. In your recruitment process – meaning you need to have a smooth mobile application process – but also when it comes to your in-company software and systems. Think of your employee learning system for example, and your performance management software; is their user experience comparable to what your employees are used to for all other aspects of their life?
  • Video. When it comes to Generation Z, the use of video isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have. These are the people who go on YouTube when they encounter a problem to find a guide on how to solve it. One of the best ways to get – and keep – them engaged is therefore to use videos; in your application and recruitment process, during your onboarding, etc.
  • Coaching. Coaching or mentoring is a phenomenon that has grown more and more popular recently. And for good reason: it’s a great way for different generations of workers to learn from each other. For organizations, it’s a fantastic way to boost engagement. What Gen Z may lack in social skills, baby boomers may lack in tech skills and as they regularly spend time with people from another generation, everyone may become a little more tolerant towards each other in the process!
A tech mindset

No need to keep saying that AI is coming. AI is here. There are heaps of AI-infused HR tech applications for pretty much every HR function: from sourcing & selection to feedback and performance management.

So, instead of asking ourselves when we’re going to use this kind of technology, it’s time to ask ourselves how we are going to prepare our people for the future.

Because if there’s one thing about this future that seems pretty certain, it’s that we’ll be using more and more (AI-driven) technology.

Therefore, our workforce needs to start thinking of technology as something that makes their lives easier. A tool that takes over most of the tedious tasks they don’t want to be doing anyway and that frees up their time for other things.

In short, it’s time to create a pro-technology mindset among employees.

Continuous learning

Employee learning and development is hot. Heaps of companies are (trying to) tap into this learning market with their various offerings.

And rightly so.

With the world of technology changing rapidly, the job we’re doing today will most likely not be the same one we’ll be doing in a few years. This means we need to get into this mindset of continuous learning.

We need to keep developing – and sometimes even reinventing – ourselves.

For organizations, this means that they need to give their employees the possibility to keep learning. And while specific job-related skills will remain relevant, other, more transversal skills and competencies will become more important.

Because, when we don’t know what future jobs will look like, we cannot train the skillset that we need to be ready for this change.

With technology automating mundane chores, we need to be prepared to handle the more complicated tasks. Soft skills, such as the ability to act as a team player, good communication skills, problem-solving abilities, and time management become essential.

Wellbeing

Wellbeing is much more than a weekly office yoga session or a healthy Friday lunch. It’s your people’s physical, mental and financial health. And as such, the number one condition when it comes to getting your workforce ready for the future.

After all, if your employees aren’t well, they won’t be able to do their job in the best way possible.

Hence the growing importance companies attach to employee wellbeing – and the explosion of employee wellness programs and apps we’ve seen over the past year.

The gig economy

The gig economy has been around for some time now. Then why is it on this year’s digital HR and HR tech trends list you wonder?

Because it’s growing rapidly and will most likely continue to do so.

An increasing number of people prefers to work on their own conditions: when, where, how and with whom they want. Platforms such as UpWork, Fiverr, Freelancer.com, etc. offer gig workers a place where they can sell their ‘gig’ to the highest bidder.

Organizations increasingly tap into the gig worker space too. In fact, most companies already have a workforce that is a mix of full-timers, contractors, and freelancers (sometimes as much of 30%).

Working with a combination of gig and non-gig workers comes with its own challenges. Often, people aren’t physically in the same place, they don’t have the same hours, use different software, etc. And these are just a few of the more practical issues that can occur.

Using the right technology and applications to ensure a smooth work process is essential for the success of your organization’s projects.

Recruitment tech is booming

The recruitment game hasn’t gotten any easier over the years. In today’s candidate-driven market, recruiters need to be on their A-game if they want to stand a chance in finding and recruiting the talent their organization so desperately needs.

2018 already saw – among other things – a growing use of AI in recruitment, a stronger focus on diversity hiring, an expanding gig economy, chatbots…

So far, 2019 is shaping up nicely too and while some of last year’s trends are still relevant, the focus also shifts to other parts of the recruitment landscape. A sample of what we can expect to see this year:

  • Collaborative hiring: Referrals & Internal mobility
  • A growing importance of recruitment marketing
  • Hiring Gen Z
  • Hiring people with future-proof (soft skills).

All of these recruiting trends are supported and partially driven by the use of appropriate technology of course.

An evidence-based HR culture

The increasing importance of people analytics has been well-documented. However, a data-driven way of working goes beyond leveraging analytics to solve business issues.

A common challenge in people analytics projects is the implementation of analytics findings. This problem goes further than simply talking about storytelling and data visualization: it is a sign of a more structural issue.

Recent research from the CIPD shows that HR professionals most commonly use their own personal experience as evidence to inform business decisions. According to the survey, the second most popular form of evidence is ‘the judgment of experienced professionals within my organization’.

Management literature and results from scientific research are used the least. 42% of respondents indicate that they rarely to never use results from scientific research as evidence for their decisions.

An evidence-based HR culture is needed to change this. Scientific literature should be one of the most common forms of evidence for HR professionals.

Bonus tech trend: Virtual Reality

Virtual reality has been making its entrance into the HR space for several years now. So far, the technology could be used for, among other things, interviewing, real-life job previews and meetings or for onboarding purposes. Like in many other areas, however, the technology is evolving rapidly, and VR is now entering the corporate e-learning space too.

I’ve had the pleasure to experience some of the mind-blowing possibilities of virtual reality myself when I attended an HR tech conference recently and I have to say, I’m expecting to see great things this year. But that’s just my two cents of course.