Read about the latest trends in HR under one umbrella


Read about the latest trends in HR under one umbrella

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Fixated by the Forecasts or Tracked by Trends? HR Tech in 2022 and beyond

As 2021 wound down after apandemic induced turbulence as is the norm the last couple of months become a seasonof predictions, forecasts, and the look ahead into future. Media is repletewith reports most often authored by influential thought leaders, consultingfirms and notable industry publications, on forecasts and predictions on justabout everything which should concern us. The idea of planning, in bringing thefuture to the present, means to do something about it NOW.

HRTech is no different.

In here the quote of the notable futurist Alvin Toffler becomes apt - "The future always comes too fast and in the wrong order." It could not have been truer given theuncomfortable grapple we are all having with the pandemic for the last 2 years.Could anyone predict this? If this prediction failed, the cover would be thatthis is an “one in 100 years event” referring to the Spanish flu of 1918.However, the fact of the matter is all predictions or forecasts for the comingyears are lazily being pivoted to the pandemic and its aftereffects.

HRTech is no different.

Any believable prediction of the future would be wrong, and any correct prediction of the future would be unbelievable (credit: Yohji Yamamoto). Predictions were made in the end of 20th century, that by 2013 that we would have flying cars and self-cleaning windows. But by then all we had is the surprise emergence and the subsequent stranglehold of social media which, was beyond the reach of the forecasters.

So, acting on prudence, we would avoid the words “prediction” and “forecast” and we will lean on the word “trend” which could be more manageable and accurate.

Practising HR professionals, would understand and strive to make stakeholders aware of the trends and prepare accordingly.

So, what do the reports suggest?

For this article, the review of the published reports on HR Tech are binned under: Thought Leaders/Research & Consulting firms and Digital Media Platforms; and the HR Practitioners.

Thought Leaders in Human Capital Management (HCM) like Josh Bersin are of the view thatwith the tight job market, the importance of smart recruitment (referred to as“Talent Intelligence”) with the aid of AI based technologies to match, predictand select talent would go mainstream.” Talent Mobility” within organizations,would be facilitated through upskilling and reskilling, so micro learningthrough in-house academies would play a key role. Hiring will be for skills andnot for jobs. Talent acquisition would require the need to create the employerbrand. Keeping the focus on employee well-being which would be emphasised throughemployee engagement would be key. The relevant social media platforms wouldenable this.

Research and Consulting firms like Gartner have taken a different approach. What is refreshing in the report: "Top 5 priorities of HR Leaders in 2022" is the recognition of the need to map Business Priorities to the corresponding HR Priorities. The point highlighted is the organizational need for skills-based and not role-based talent management. The downstream HR Tech investment will be in tools and technologies for skills- development. Naturally, talent acquisition and talent mobility would be adjusted accordingly.

Digital Media Platforms like Unleash (f(formerly HRTech World) have highlighted the emergence of the “hybrid” workforce and the need to have zero touch and robust cloud-based provisioning to meet the infrastructure need. Another key point highlighted by HR Brew (a social media platform focussed on HR Tech) is  the spotlight on the importance of employeeexperience (oft mentioned as a two-way conversation between employer andemployee). This is no longer nice-to have but a must-have particularly in areasof productivity and collaboration. These platforms have mentioned that metaverse could radically change HR with the ideas offully digital meetings powered by extended reality, as seen with AI enablingsmart hiring process, by trying to remove biases.

Dyed-in-the-wool HRPractitioners have been a bit more holistic and cautious in their views. Thecomplexities posed by the hybrid workforce and the corresponding need for cybersecurity, the multigenerational work force, the need for revision in employeeengagement, the documentation of the experience within and outside the cloudplatform and meeting the specific needs of millennials constitute the buildingblocks for the Future of Work. Skills development and internal mobility oftalent within the organization is a definitive trend. Practitioners have notyet called out in their assessment, the possible radical shift which would takeplace with metaverse, as technology adoption would be in a wait-and watch modefor them.

So, what is the pattern emerging?

One can see a definitive pattern as we try to get a sense of the trends presented by Thought Leaders, Consultants aided by Digital Media Platforms one side and the HR practitioners with enterprise cloud platforms on the other

Thought Leaders andconsultants have whipped up the frenzy for the adoption of extended reality(courtesy Metaverse) for Talent Acquisition. It is good to keep a watch on thisleading-edge, consultant-driven development. The consultants would have to showand tell on technologies like metaverse to help go mainstream with a justifiedReturn on Investment. Though at this moment it is looking like solution lookingfor a problem, given the nascent stage.

On the other side of the spectrum,the traditional HR practitioners have been a bit measured in their approach.Pandemic induced transformation has resulting in a hybrid workforce. Hence theneed for employee engagement got enhanced. Performance Management Systems and Rewardsand Recognition would be the key focus areas.

So, the common themes are:

  1. Management of the hybridwork force -brought about by the pandemic and the need for its robust andsecured provisioning
  2. Employee Engagement andExperience — Driven by the remote work and the fallout from the need to have atwo-way communication between employee and employer.
  3. Technology enabled TalentAcquisition while addressing biases in hiring through AI and ML.
  4. Talent Mobility –Effectedthrough upskilling and reskilling with investments in in-house Learning andDevelopment

A couple of observations: Therelevance of enabling technologies like Blockchain, as a distributed,decentralized public ledger in HR process does not come up in any of thereports on trends. While background verification could be a worthy use case,more use cases need to surface to go mainstream.

Also, "The Great Resignation" was simply more newsworthy than its collateral Talent Acquisition.

CHROs are getting business focussed. Hence trends need to be addressed through and driven by business priorities, and not necessarily based on Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). The emphasis on the HR Practitioners as the partners in the business growth, would help in a tighter definition of trends.

Hence, trends need to beidentified and then introspected for benefits derived and prioritised perbusiness to get the practical and timely returns.

Somjit Amrit