The future of HR: technologies that will reshape the HR function

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PwC’s recent Labor Market Future study shows that companies are not doing enough to prepare for the labor market transformation and that technology is at the center of all future changes. How is HR responding to transformation? According to the report, 65% of business leaders do not consider HR professionals to be tech-savvy enough.

Despite the recent shift to the cloud for HR, driven by technology solutions from software developers (Oracle, SAP, and Workday), the survey suggests that HR is not always at the forefront of technology adoption in its workflows. Even if HR can transform within its own function, will it help HR professionals advise the business on the impact of technology on future operational processes in general? If so, which technologies will have the most impact on HR management?

To answer these questions, PwC organized a roundtable with business leaders and experts from different regions and industries. PwC’s Eight Key Technologies for Business report served as a starting point for the discussion. We adapted it for HR and evaluated the technologies in terms of maturity and implementation potential, from those already used in many organizations to those with which most companies are still barely familiar.

1. Automation

Automation of HR processes, including through RPA (robotic process automation), can improve the efficiency and accuracy of procedures while reducing costs. Automation is best suited for standardized, consistent processes that do not require much thought or analysis. Software robots (RPA) are relatively inexpensive to implement, but can have a short lifespan if processes change. Today, robots most often close gaps in existing processes where people enter data and can make mistakes – for example, when entering personal data of employees into systems.

2. Chatbots

Chatbots are already being used in many service functions of organizations. HR departments are using chatbots to replace the traditional helpdesk by providing 24/7 self-service for employees to find information and resolve underlying issues. Also, these tools can perform procedures in basic HR systems (for example, transfer an employee from one team to another or approve a vacation request), but this requires significant process changes and system tuning. When combined with artificial intelligence, improving the HR service experience for employees can be colossal.

For example, he can improve the hiring process by analyzing resumes and by himself creating short lists of candidates that meet the requirements of the position. Artificial intelligence can also provide advice and recommendations, saving a lot of human time and resources, especially in terms of service requests.

However, technology raises ethical questions. Some applications based on artificial intelligence were “biased” in the selection of candidates, for example, they discriminated against certain groups, as they learned from previous data – instead of creating programs free of bias and subjectivity, the algorithm accumulated these principles.

At the same time, there are examples when artificial intelligence made a significant contribution to the decision-making process for assessing the effectiveness and development of an employee, providing additional non-obvious information about the necessary skills, which significantly enriched the discussion of the further career development of employees.

3. Virtual reality

Although the technology is in its early stages of adoption in HR, VR is already being used for onboarding and learning processes. For example, companies run simulations that enable employees to learn safely in situations with real health risks. PwC is using VR in major change implementation programs to help managers understand how their behavior affects employees and how to change their behavior.

4. Wearable devices

Wearable technology and the Internet of Things can give HR managers and executives a more effective way to measure employee health, productivity, and even happiness. However, as with artificial intelligence, wearable devices raise ethical questions, especially in terms of maintaining the right to privacy and privacy. Some companies – and even some countries – may want to avoid adopting this kind of technology. A key takeaway for HR is that it is important to understand technology in order to advise business partners and business leaders on how IoT can be implemented and what risks need to be addressed.

5. Drones

The most promising technology affecting the operations of many companies also creates opportunities for HR transformation. Drones essentially allow managers and HR executives to see everything that is happening in the organization. For example, a company can use drones to fly to workstations and gather information on task completion, productivity, quality control, and more.

6. Blockchain

Blockchain can be extremely useful in HR. While the technology is more commonly used in payment systems and complex supply chains, blockchain can help HR create a standard, verifiable, and accurate record of employee qualifications, education, and productivity. Because blockchain is a distributed ledger in which changes are automatically logged throughout the chain, it significantly improves cybersecurity and protection against HR data fraud.

This is not an exhaustive list, but a starting point for HR to understand technologies that could lead to change in the next decade.

Translation of the article “The Future of HR: eight technologies that will reshape the HR function” published on December 19, 2018.