HR Tech Trends for 2020

Author: Kristina Proffitt

17th December 2019

In 2020, HR tech tools are going to become even more embedded into the lives of employers and employees alike. Their mission will continue to be providing the best possible talent experience.

HR tech isn’t just about automating repetitive tasks and saving money anymore, though. It’s capable of much more than that. It allows you to solve bigger business challenges and improve performance.

One of the biggest issues employees face is arduous, repetitive tasks. 40% of workers say they spend at least a quarter of their work week on them. This costs the US economy $1.8 trillion every year.

Reducing repetitive tasks helps to improve employee mental health, which then improves their productivity in the workplace. Learning management solutions (LMS) are one way that businesses currently achieve this. They often include internal training systems that employees can work through in their own time.

Coaching and mentorship is another way to achieve this. Previously used mostly by top-level executives, it’s now being embraced at every stage of an employee’s journey.

Skills marketplaces are a faster way for employees to connect with the right coach or mentor. These re-engage disengaged employees with coaching, upskilling, and reskilling.

VR and AR can also be used to train employees and have been used to roaring success.

That’s not all, though.

Let’s take a deeper dive into 2020’s upcoming HR tech trends and what they mean for you…

Skills marketplaces

Developing employees’ skills is the best way to keep them engaged. It prevents them from becoming disengaged by encouraging career progression and opening up internal opportunities. They’re then more likely to stay.

There are several ways that companies can do this: coaching and mentorship is one of them. This can come from internal or external experts in the field they’re looking to learn about.

Skills marketplaces connect employees with the right person to train them. Much like vendor marketplaces, they connect users who’d like to learn something new with users who can teach them. The users – in this case, employees – can search for people who have the skills they’d like to learn. They can then connect with a potential mentor or coach via the platform.

The whole process makes it faster and easier for employees to connect with qualified experts. Connecting them faster means they can start learning sooner and therefore benefiting your business sooner, too.

Skills marketplaces can be set up internally to connect employees with their colleagues within the business. For smaller companies or those looking to offer networking opportunities too, they can use external marketplaces such as Gloat. These offer the same features but a wider range of people that employees can learn from. Employees can find the right person to train them based on the requirements they need, or line managers can choose for them.

According to Josh Bersin, “It can cost as much as 6 times more to hire from the outside than to build from within.” It therefore makes sense for businesses to do as much as possible to keep their current employees over hiring new ones.

Retaining employees saves them the stress of job hunting and you the stress of hiring. It also ensures that they’re happier and more fulfilled, and that they have a better quality of life.

However, only 43% of companies offer employees the chance to learn from others. That number is up 35% from 2018, but there’s still a long way to go.

Artificial intelligence (AI)

AI has been becoming increasingly common over the last few years, and it’s set to keep growing in 2020.

New employees often have lots of questions about the company, their role, and the product. AI can be used to answer these questions. It can then learn from the feedback that employees give on its answer. This ensures it’s always improving so that it can provide the best answers to employees.

It can also be used to streamline admin tasks such as booking meetings. 90% of employees claim that they’re stuck with boring or repetitive tasks that could be automated. These simple tasks cost the US economy billions every year. The more that’s invested in streamlining them, the more time employees get back and the more you could save.

AI’s smarter analytics can also be used to track employee engagement. This helps you to find out which employees are disengaged. It can then use this information to predict who might become disengaged in the future, helping you to prevent it.

The same insights can be used in exit interviews to look for patterns. If a particular team has a lot of employees leaving, for example, it can look for reasons why this might happen. You can then use these learnings to improve the team.

Employee feedback surveys

Employee feedback is crucial to helping you grow. It helps you to spot what you’re doing right and where you need to improve. You can also keep track of employee satisfaction and engagement – key metrics when it comes to the talent experience.

Employee feedback software helps you to do this more effectively. You can automatically send out employee feedback surveys based on how long someone has been at the company, or at set intervals throughout the year.

AI analyzes the information within the survey to look for patterns. You can then act on the information it provides, such as offering more remote working options if that’s what many employees want, or rewarding line managers that have been praised for their performance.

To further discuss an employee’s answers, you could offer them the chance to book a call or meeting with a HR representative at the end. This is particularly useful if the answers are kept to multiple choice or short responses. While this means more people are likely to fill in the survey, it makes it difficult for employees that want to go into more detail to do so.

They may also have issues that they would prefer to discuss in person. A meeting is therefore the perfect way to talk about these things. Allowing employees to book the meeting at the end of the survey means that they’ll book it while it’s at the front of their mind.

If the survey software is linked to a HR representative’s calendar, it means that employees can book calls in real time without the risk of anything being double-booked. It reduces the barriers to speaking to someone who can help them with their issue meaning it’s more likely to be dealt with.

Chatbots

Chatbots are becoming more and more common. They’re a big part of recruitment tech, but why stop there? They can be a huge help at every stage of an employee’s journey.

For example, they’re the perfect tool to answer an employee’s questions during onboarding. This helps to fill in gaps in the onboarding process. It also saves line managers time, getting new hires up to speed faster. They could even be useful for long-term employees who need a quick answer to a simple question.

Chatbots are also useful for training refresher courses. Information and questions can be sent via the chatbot, allowing employees to complete the training in their own time.

As natural language processors becoming more advanced, questions won’t have to rely on multiple choices, either: employees will be able to give in-depth answers that can be interpreted using AI.

The biggest thing that chatbots can be used for is to streamline admin processes. For example, it could be used to book paid time off from with the HR software employees use every day.

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)

VR makes employees that work remotely feel more engaged and part of the team, which is important for remote-first companies. However, this technology is both niche and expensive. When done well, though, it can make a huge difference.

Anything conducted via VR is more immersive. Training conducted in this way allows an employee to experience the situation first-hand, instead of via video or written accounts like they would in traditional training. They’re therefore more likely to act how they would when faced with a situation in real life, for instance if a customer service representative had to deal with a difficult customer.

It can also help employees to prepare for difficult situations. Walmart have done this with huge success.

Walmart thanked VR training for how its employees handled a shooter in El Paso last summer. Employees had not just studied how to deal with a situation like that, they’d experienced it in a familiar environment using VR. Because of this, managers and employees knew where they needed to be, what they needed to do, and believe that lives were saved because of this.

Verizon have used the same software to prepare employees for what to do during a robbery.

While neither of these scenarios are things we’d like to think about, they do happen. Employees and customers have a greater chance of survival if they’ve been prepared for what to do in an emergency like an active shooting.

VR can also be used to train employees remotely. This reduces the distance between people, ensuring remote employees are more engaged.

AR is a cheaper alternative to VR and therefore more accessible, particularly as more of us adopt smartphones with AR functionality. Much like VR, it can be used for training staff in different scenarios. It isn’t as immersive as VR, but it still provides greater visualization and immersion than traditional training methods.

It could be used to train interior designers or architects to visualize how something will look based on their specifications. It’s also valuable for office managers looking to rearrange the space to make the most of the space that they have.

Wellbeing technologies

As companies look to retain top talent, looking after them will become increasingly important. Employees want to know that they’re valued parts of the company, and protecting their health and wellbeing is a key way to do this. It also ensures that they’re happier and healthier, and therefore more productive in their role.

According to HR Grapevine: “2018 research from Accenture revealed that nine in ten workers have been touched by mental health challenges – whether this is directly or indirectly – while 66% have personally experienced mental health challenges. There is also empirical evidence to indicate the widespread prevalence of mental health. With modern day ‘always on’ cultures and 24/7 communication causing an increase in work-related stress for today’s workforces, employers must ensure that staff are given the right support and tools to help floss out their anxieties and improve their employee experience whilst at work.”

Employee wellbeing goes much further than providing basic healthcare to your employees. It covers things like mental health, financial health, stress reduction, and employee engagement platforms. The more you do to benefit your employees’ health, the bigger the difference it can make to your business.

Users of Virgin Pulse, the biggest employee engagement platform on the market, have found that using the software increases employee productivity by 65% and reduces compensation claims by 29%. The difference tools like this make can’t be understated.

Wellbeing technologies also help companies to attract and retain more diverse employees. Employees with mental health issues are more likely to get help because it’s more accessible to them. Disabled employees know that their healthcare issues will be looked after, regardless of how complicated they may be.

Investing in these new forms of healthcare demonstrates to prospective candidates that you’re invested in your employees and there to help them. Over time, you can attract and retain more diverse employees, creating a happier and more productive workforce.

It’s been proven in the past that businesses that are more diverse are also more profitable. It should therefore be a no-brainer that it’s worth investing in employees’ wellbeing.

Collaborative tools

As more and more of us work remotely, collaborative tools that allow teams to stay in touch with each other will become more and more important. This goes a step beyond what Slack or even Zoom enables us to do. It’s things like several people editing a document at the same time, such as with Notion. It’s treating everything that happens with a remote-first mindset to ensure that wherever someone is based, they feel like a part of the team.

Connecting the software you use helps with team collaboration. For instance, connecting Slack to Zoom so that Zoom meetings can be scheduled from within Slack. Simple things like this can save employees small amounts of time that add up over the year to big savings.

All-in-one workspaces help employees to keep everything in one place while making it as easy as possible for them to collaborate with their team members. Tools like Notion take what Google Docs can do to the next level. It’s easy to design tables, Kanban boards, and more, all from the same interface. The navigation is also easier as you don’t need to leave the tool and come back into it to find the document you’re looking for. Tools like this also have more advanced search options, making it easier to find documents and files quickly.

Conclusion

Better connecting to employees so that you understand their needs inside and outside of the workplace will be key in 2020. The closer the relationship you foster with your employees, the more you’ll be able to help them. You can find out what they want and need from you by using employee surveys and analyzing the data from it with AI.

Some of what you can do includes better employee healthcare, remote working options, and better training options. All these things offer a better talent experience, helping you to retain employees of all levels.

The more value you offer your employees, the more likely they are to stay. Upskilling and reskilling employees keeps them engaged and helps you to retain employees and their soft skills. This saves you money on hiring, allowing you to invest it in other areas of the business instead.

Good employee experience doesn’t just help with retaining talent, though. It can also be used to attract talent. The better the employee experience, the higher the ratings on sites like Glassdoor will be and the more applications you’ll receive when you hire. This means you get more people to choose from and a higher quality of candidates. The person you choose will then go on to become a valued part of the team who will hopefully stay for a long time.

The steps you put into place to protect your employees’ wellbeing are crucial to attracting and retaining that talent, though. A poor talent experience will mean they’ll leave and go to your competitor, putting you at a disadvantage.

Every piece of technology you invest in – or don’t invest in – reflects how you want your employees to feel. It has an impact on their productivity levels, their skills, and their overall wellbeing. It’s therefore crucial that you choose the right piece of technology for your company not just for now, but for in the future, too.

Avatar of Kristina Proffitt

Kristina Proffitt

Date: 17th December 2019 | Category: HR Tech