There are fundamental shifts taking place in HR. In these times of critical skills shortages, everyone has woken up to the fact that employees are the most important company asset. And using the right HR Tech will help you get the best out of them.

The big HR shift is on

With HR tech impacting every stage of the employee lifecycle, HR is fast moving beyond a traditional operational role into a strategic business function.

With the right technology, HR is beginning to make a much stronger and visible impact on business performance by showing where, how and why people strategy affects the bottom line in a way that hasn’t been possible in the past.

HR tools for employees

In fact, HR tech has rapidly evolved from systems that help HR professionals do their jobs to tools for employees to learn and develop, set goals, manage others and steer their careers.

In this year’s report, HR Technology for 2016: 10 Big Disruptions on the Horizon, Josh Bersin said many companies were “ripping out decades of investment in last-generation resource planning systems and replacing them with tools that can directly empower managers and employees”.

Let data drive decision-making

Importantly, HR tech delivers analytics and data. Though the big challenge is to use his data proactively. While a job post or people visiting your site creates a stack of data, you need to right tools in place to leverage it. Smart insights come from smart data.

Aggregation is key

A single sign-on and connected workforce management apps that give you end-to-end, 360-degree insight into your entire people operations are no longer just nice to have. They’re essential for data-based decision-making and attracting, engaging, and retaining the best talent.

And these days HR tech is not just about automating a manual process. HR tech is no longer just about saving time. HR tech plays a very visible part in keeping you a step ahead of the competition.

So while process improvement is critical, and is fundamental to any well run business, we’re on the threshold of a new era where HR tech will help us to do stuff that we haven’t been able to do before.

A new era of wearables

Which brings me to wearable tech.

While some businesses are leading the charge and implementing wearable technology to bolster corporate wellness participation, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Yet, as Andrew Gordon, cyber security partner at PwC says in an article on its Digital Pulseblog, “For wearables to thrive, trust is paramount.”

Yin and yang of HR wearables

While many people will be happy to use wearable tech and allow their employer to collect data from it, there has to a related benefit. For instance, flexible working, or fitness incentives, or lower health insurance premiums. Or if it leads to improved working conditions, benefits or better career opportunities.

That said, it seems just as many people don’t trust their employer not to use the data against them.

For this reason, Gordon outlines two important steps that businesses need to consider, which I’ve paraphrased here:

  • Be clear and compelling in communicating the reasons for implementing wearable technology. The benefits should be unequivocal and communicated sympathetically.
  • Establish a firm and unambiguous policy for wearable tech that addresses data protection and privacy concerns. The data policy should minimise the usefulness of that data to an outsider – from anonymising it to simply deleting that which no longer has any relevant use.

VR is here, and it’s evolving quickly

Of course, my personal passion in HR tech is VR. This new technology is set to transform the workplace of the future. In a recent post, I identified six crucial areas where I believe VR will have an enormous impact on HR. These include:

  1. Training and development
  2. Meetings
  3. Recruitment and interviews
  4. Team building
  5. The physical workplace
  6. Safety management

With the proliferation of emerging HR technologies, there are more choices than ever before. But it’s important to embrace HR tech beyond purely automation and administrative benefits. The real long-term value comes from the data it provides and the insights you use to attract, engage and retain quality employees.