From chatbots to personalized learning to GDPR compliance, here are 7 unique ways in which HR systems are creating an organization of tomorrow.

Rewind the clock by 30 years and let’s visit the world of HR in the late 80s.

What do you see?

Employees working. Managers managing. Communication mostly comprised of insincere compliments passed from the workforce to the top management. Occasional bonuses that don’t make anyone feel better. Then, of course, there is the HR department acting as the gatekeeper to the decision makers.

They are the ears of the C suite and they do not encourage candid conversations. It may sound dramatic but it is an honest snapshot of what Human Resources started out as.

The disciplinarians to keep recalcitrant workers in line. Furthermore, the tools they used—the HR software solutions—assisted them in wielding this power, keeping employees deprived of the right to transparency.

In 2018 the scenario has been flipped on its head. Today, businesses clamour for talent. The war to attract and retain individuals who display traits like responsiveness, innovation, and initiative is real and it is not going to end anytime soon.

In response, Human Resource platforms have also evolved. The focus has shifted from maintaining data and keeping power contained for the sole benefit of the company “bosses” to an open and engaging environment where people analytics is rapidly growing in scope.

The evolution of people analytics
The evolution of people analytics (Source: Al Adamsen)

The role that HR tools are taking on is more than “improving productivity” or “sorting information.”

Human Resource solutions are now the bridge between man and machine. They have the ability to gauge human sentiment, overview people performance, and seamlessly marry the betterment of talent with the ultimate growth of organizations.

With the new generation of HR functionalities, the vastly misunderstood Human Resource department is spearheading strategic thinking to cultivate competencies, set the vision for the workforce of the future, and make the most of teams that are culturally diverse.

HR Software Systems Bring Together Man and Machine. Here’s How:

The ideal organization structure of the future is a hotly debated topic.

88% of businesses believe that building an organization that can adapt to the trends of tomorrow is critical.

As such, an organization of the future is possible only when it is supported by the technology of the future. Technologies that leverage both the subjective decision making of humans and the objective power of machines.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in its broadest sense is laying the foundation for an HR landscape where the response to external changes is fast and effortless and internal threats are identified and eliminated, without creating a culture of constant supervision.

One branch of AI, Machine Learning (ML) in particular, is making vast inroads where boosting the productivity of the workforce, the HR department personnel, and the entire organization is concerned. ML is integrated into virtual assistants and chatbots that are removing the need for middle-men and handing the ability to manage work-life balance directly to talent.

7 Ways in Which HR Systems Build an Organization of Tomorrow:

1. Fostering Employee Intimacy and Empowerment

The acronym EI has been around for a while now. It started out as Emotional Intelligence. But, in HR, EI has come to stand for Employee Intimacy. Yes, the HR department is a strategic partner to the C suite. But, the HR department needs to be responsible for creating a sense of belongingness and safety where team members feel that Human Resource has “got their back.” As such, it shouldn’t be just the channel to report discrepancies and inefficiencies to the management team.

This is a key element in making groups thrive, according to the research conducted by Google.

Hand-in-hand with intimacy comes empowerment.

When an organization is “intimate” with its talent, trust building is an automatic pay-off. Mistrust can’t exist alongside authenticity and transparency.

Employees go from being 9 to 5 workers to significant contributors who sense tensions and turn them into projects that improve operations.

Giving them the freedom to choose their work hours or book their own holidays, without buy-in from HR managers, is a huge step in the direction of reinforcing their value and keeping them on the same page as the company OKRs.

So, where do HR systems figure in the scheme of things?

  • Tools with advanced language processing and predictive capabilities can launch anonymous polls to gauge the opinion, sentiments, and inputs of employees, then sort them into logical categories and point out future possibilities based on what the pulse of the workforce is saying in the present.
  • These tools also gather recommendations and suggestions from employees, rank them on the basis of robustness and validity, and bring them to the attention of the management. Since the hierarchy is dissolving in companies as we speak, talent is moving away from just being the channel of execution to being an indicator of what’s not working behind the scenes and how it can be fixed.
  • Machine learning and artificial intelligence take on the most human-friendly form in chatbots and virtual assistants. Progressive HR systems like CakeHR boast bots that integrate with team messaging platforms and respond to specific commands. The bots book leaves, schedule meetings, translate time zones, recommend learning resources by role, and give employees everything they need to feel empowered, independent, and in control.

2. Initiating a Shift from Performance Reviews to Performance Consulting

I think we can all agree that performance reviews don’t work. This is mostly because they treat evaluation as a one-time, one-way, and disengaged task that ends with an uninspired dialogue between employee and manager.

One of the top HR trends for 2015 was performance consulting. Not surprisingly, it will be on the radar of HR specialists for the next decade.

The changes that are happening are all pervasive.

  • Performance is now viewed as something that is not as easy to judge as deliverables on time. A lot goes on behind the scenes which, if not accounted for, may leave quiet, hard-working talent in the shadows.
  • Performance reviews don’t play nice with integration and collaboration. This is the reason why the term “consulting” is being used to phase out reviews. Going off of the discussion around employee empowerment, performance consulting is less about stamping a grade on a report card and more about removing productivity roadblocks, equipping talent with resources to evolve, role-fit, and identifying the potential for leadership.

HR systems support this goal with their ability to have an open API and speak with all of the other software platforms being utilized by a business that are a testament to employee productivity.

Importing task completion, due date adherence, prioritization, and execution data from project management tools and using them to remove biases like assuming the employee with the most completed deliverables is necessarily the “best” are proving instrumental in the building of HR-talent trust.

HR systems are also embracing innovation in Learning Management Systems to cement the consultative approach to performance.

Corporate learning is no longer “one size fits all.”

Instead the vast databases of employee preferences, strengths, and aspirations owned by HR, platforms are being leveraged to design completely personal growth journeys where relevant content can be consumed in various formats across a variety of channels—including handheld devices and through chatbots.

3. Learning in Real-Time

Transformative, real-time learning is one of the ways in which HR systems, particularly Learning Management Systems, are looking to support an organization where employees can be rapidly upskilled in response to changing external factors or to capitalize on ephemeral opportunities.

According to the HR Trend Institute, learning in the companies of tomorrow must be collaborative, bite-sized, and just in time to leave a lasting impact and do justice to the investment in content.

Micro-learning platforms like Zunos are tailored to meet the needs of both SMEs and enterprises in this regard with features like gamified leaderboards; customized, self-paced, or instructor-led courses; and the ability to consume content across multiple platforms. Even disruptive technologies like Augmented Reality (AR) have shaken hands with HR systems and LMS alternatives to engage employees and bridge the skills gap by simplifying complex activities, thereby ushering in the 3*3 cross-training model.

4. Identifying Nodes, Peripherals, and Brokers

Organizational Network Analysis isn’t ubiquitous yet. But, if a company wants agility and it wants to make the most of its own people, ONA is a non-negotiable development.

Through Organizational Network Analysis, social profiles of employees, organizational interactions, and acquaintance circles are all taken into account to identify key players who can pass on company news to the widest network of influencers (nodes) or expedite the sharing of ideas and knowledge (brokers).

Quantified evidence of leaderships behaviours
EXAMPLE OF ONA: Quantified evidence of leaderships behaviours (Source: Greg Newman)

On the other hand, ONA can also put the spotlight on exceptional yet introverted individual performers (Peripherals). People who can benefit the entire company if they interact with team members and pass on their expertise.

The result of this exercise—incredible organizational efficiency.

HR systems are the inevitable hub of ONA. They hold insights into work patterns, social profile data, and performance evaluation for employees which can be visualized to assist advanced network analysis.

5. Improving Retention

Retention isn’t a revolutionary concept. HR systems have been built to achieve this objective for a while now.

But, thanks to the use of Artificial Intelligence in candidate screening, the concept of how retention works has been re-defined.

Machine learning with HR can launch an automatic “scraping” of websites like LinkedIn to zero in on profiles that have particular keywords in them.

Custom algorithms crafted to meet hiring needs and company values can automatically reject up to 80% of prospects who fail to pass a threshold score. Unilever has put this to the test, conducting three rounds of ML assisted interviews to present only the best applicants to Human Resource personnel.

Bringing the right people onboard who are a good competence and culture match is half the retention battle won. The other half is entrusted to positive measures like intimacy and empowerment!

6. Focusing on Outcome, Not Department Size

As the focus shifts from middlemen who are responsible for outsourcing or scraping information to HR specialists who have the chops to structure an organization of the future, most departments will shrink in size.

Automation of repetitive tasks and the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to introduce predictive capabilities obviate the need to have Human Resource employees who do not contribute to strategy and are entrenched in mundane execution.

At the end of the day, objectives will still be met. But, thanks to sophisticated HR systems, they’ll be met by a man-machine interface that’s exponentially more productive than the departments of old.

7. Protection Through Security and Privacy

Privacy is an extremely sensitive topic right now—especially with the implementation of the General Data Protection and Regulation (GDPR) act. It went into effect on 25th May 2018 and the world of data processing as companies knew it changed overnight.

While marketing departments have scrambled to ensure that they don’t violate the rights of EU traffic, HR personnel have had to fight the same fight when it comes to employee information.

Most companies store:

  • Financial records
  • Medical records
  • Device-related information like IP addresses

All fall under the tab of Personal Information (PI). The GDPR says that organizations must process this data in a transparent, fair, and lawful manner. Additionally, a few implications of the mandate are:

  • Deleting employee records if they don’t serve an imminent purpose
  • Ensuring the best possible security and encryption for employee records (including storing them on servers in the EU if the employees are EU citizens)
  • Allowing employees the right to view the full range of data businesses have on them, without bureaucracy

The mere thought of pulling this off without a robust HR system is unthinkable. Solutions like CakeHR are specially developed to service organizations around the world, including the EU.

Using a GDPR compliant HR platform is the first step to operating in a privacy conscious talent landscape.

HR systems have come a long way. Since they are created by technologically savvy vendors who are more open to change and innovation, they have been leading the way to the HR of the future for Human Resource departments.

Now, through this new focus on merging the empathy of man (personnel) with the power of machine (AI, ML), a new chapter is being written—one where:

  • Employees will be trusted, empowered, and valued
  • Efficiency and performance will be all about journeys, instead of the destination
  • Talent will be tapped in ways never thought of before
  • Hiring and retention will revolve around starting right
  • The focus will be on key HR objective outcomes, instead of department size
  • Employee privacy and data security will cease to be an afterthought

Are you ready?

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