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AdviserPlus | Progress through technology: Understanding current trends

Progress through technology: Understanding current trends
Promoted by Progress through technology: Understanding current trends

The very best advertising slogans stick with you. Audi’s famous ‘vorsprung durch technik’ is more than 30 years old now but it still resonates. Why? One reason is that the translation – progress through technology – sums up the way many people would categorise the current era. From broadband to smart phones and cloud computing, technology has revolutionised our world.

For some businesses, this has been – and continues to be - quite intimidating. HRs not only need to follow the latest trends, but also need to be able to keep their workforce happy. This is a workforce used to intuitive technological platforms that make their personal lives easier. If Facebook can make it easy to organise a weekend away with your friends, why should it be harder to book a day off or check your holiday entitlement at work?

If you’re solving the latter – and ensuring your workforce has an easy-to-use system that serves their needs swiftly and effectively – you will be keeping up with the trends that really matter for a modern forward-thinking HR department.

The key, as Audi’s marketing team would attest, is ensuring there really is progress through technology. Without that focus on progress there’s a distinct danger of investing in technology for technology’s sake and chasing a vanity project. There are plenty of shiny new pieces of tech – backed by slick advertising campaigns – that do little or nothing to improve your business.

It’s important, therefore, to understand what’s going on in the world and how HR departments are using technology to drive progress.

We’ve recently released HR Technology Trends 2019 to set out the state of play for our industry as the new financial year dawns and businesses weigh up investment options.
Setting aside any one innovation, however, one of the most influential trends is in terms of personnel, with a need for greater data literacy. In 2018 we found that more than three quarters of people in HR feel there is a talent shortage of digitally literate people in the industry. It was clear then that people saw there was a challenge to overcome and this is now being addressed in 2019.

There are two ways to boost data literacy – training and recruitment. Existing HRs have to up their game and boost their skills so they’re able to understand, analyse and interpret data rather than merely collect it, and businesses need to buy in people with data and IT backgrounds to boost HR teams. Until this process is complete, HR professionals will struggle to tap into the full potential of current tech trends.

Some key trends won’t be new to many of you. By now, many HR departments have cottoned on to the benefits of self-service and performance management processes. Yet, current technology is allowing for this to be done in a more intuitive way. As stated above, self-service needs to be as easy any other way in which workers manage their lives. The challenge here is to identify and invest in packages every bit as smart and straightforward as Facebook, banking apps and ticket booking platforms. We shouldn’t settle for less any more.
For performance management, tech should be enabling a more flexible system. A massive 86% of employers are unhappy with their current system. Younger people prefer on-the-spot feedback and for progress to be much quicker than a traditional targets-and-annual-appraisal system. If your software struggles to encourage this, you’ll fall behind.

Wellbeing, too, is a trend that continues to grow in 2019, supported by data. While many have accepted the importance of paying attention to their employees’ needs, too few know what to do about it. Only about one in five businesses have a wellbeing manager and only about two fifths have a standalone wellbeing strategy. Those numbers can be expected to rise dramatically, with cross-functional data and in-depth people analytics fuelling this. The time for talk is over, it’s now time to act.

Lastly, we’re finally starting to see widespread practical use of VR in HR. Whether it’s onboarding new recruits or offering real-life training to staff so they feel competent when they go about their jobs, VR is proving its worth in ways that save time and money.

Technology is enabling change for the better, making menial tasks quicker, ensuring decision making is backed up by data and freeing up people to do things that require the human touch. These elements have a strong business value too, with the time and resources saved from tasks that can be automated channelled into wellbeing and, by association, reduced absenteeism and increased productivity.

If we can work smarter and understand our people better thanks to technology, that’ll be progress we can all celebrate in 2019.

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