Five HR technology trends to expect in 2020

December 11, 2019
Five HR technology trends to expect in 2020

As we approach the end of the year, I thought it might be a good idea to blow the cobwebs off my crystal ball and take a look at what 2020 has in store for the HR tech market.

I’m not a fortune teller, of course. But I do think there are certain trends we will see over the next 12 months. And I’d like to share a few of my observations with you.

1. A general shift towards the employee experience

According to leading HR tech analyst Josh Bersin, 2020 will see the HR technology market push even deeper into the realms of ‘employee experience’. This is especially true where talent management software is concerned.

“These new tools are disrupting the traditional talent management platforms” writes Bersin, in his article HR Technology 2020: Disruption Ahead, “because they are designed for employees first, HR departments second.”

And this focus on employees first is something we are seeing across many areas of business, not just talent management. Perhaps this is happening because of the generational shift away from transactional job roles, and towards roles that require more mental engagement and creativity.

2. More focus on internal employer branding

There is a growing realisation that HR needs to position their organisation as a good employer to the outside world, so they can better attract new talent, and retain existing talent. This is called employer branding, and we are beginning to see this creep into the world of HR technology.

It’s important to note though that I don’t just mean that we are seeing new employer branding technology hit the shelve. I also mean that we are seeing existing technology begin to be adopted and adapted by HR. For example, podcasting technology.

“Brands like Salesforce, Nike and Dell are implementing internal podcasting programs for their workforce” says Neil Garrett, VP of Marketing at ustudio. “From live-streaming company-wide events like ‘town halls’, to offering libraries of skills training for on-the-go learning, HR professionals will begin to leverage podcasting’s benefits in 2020. These benefits include higher retention rates, native mobile content delivery, and integration into popular LMS solutions.”

Neil tells me that we are entering an age where HR professionals are trying to better align workers with company leaders, training goals, values and news. And as such, the desire to develop more employer branding content, such as via the medium of podcasts, is a trend that I think will continue to see some growth as we head into 2020.

3. Dipping deeper into financial wellbeing

When I attended Mad World 2019, one of the things I learned was that employers are beginning to take the financial wellbeing of their employees more seriously. And according to Brin Chartier of LearnLux, one of the top HR tech trends for 2020 will be to blend digital and human financial wellness programs within the workplace.

“A recent survey by PwC says that 55% of employees want help managing their finances” explains Brin. “In 2020, we will see the emergence of independent, digital-first programs with human guidance, to meet this demand.”

Brin tells me that historically, financial wellness programs are sponsored by large institutions with a corporate agenda. But as we move into 2020, she expects to see more HR managers and benefits professionals asking tough questions when evaluating providers. There will be more focus on finding transparent, impartial programs that support financial wellbeing without a hidden agenda.

4. Increased capabilities to automate repetitive tasks

In a 2019 report published by Lighthouse research & advisory, Ben Eubanks writes about the growing trend of HR professionals trying to offload some of their more repetitive HR admin. This sometimes takes the form of outsourcing the HR function to an external provider, but more professionals are now turning to HR technology, as part of their mission to automate the tasks they hate more effectively.  

“Using tools versus sheer labor hours can shift your time and focus” writes Ben Eubanks, author of the report, “allowing you to be more strategic and focused on the needs of the business and its people.”

I expect to see the HR technology market continue to develop along this theme throughout 2020. Basic automation is not new to HR software, but truly sophisticated HR automation is still a young idea that we will see develop rapidly in the near future. Whereas once HR technology was all about being a central point of truth for your HR data, it is now also becoming a powerhouse of automation.

5. Video interviewing for better hiring in an age of remote working

There has been some debate about the effectiveness of video interviewing over the years. Some HR influencers, like Liz Ryan, even say that video interviews are harmful because they dehumanise the recruitment process.

Personally, I think video interviewing can be a good thing, as long as you’re asking the right questions and for the right reasons. But it doesn’t really matter what I think, or even what Liz Ryan thinks. This article is about HR tech trends. So what matters, is whether or not we will see video interviews gain more traction in 2020 – and I think we will.

More companies are using using video interviews as part of their recruitment process. From big companies like the Royal Mail, down to SMEs such as OfficePro.

“We like to hire our IT support people based on character, not just skillset” explains Aaron Udler, OfficePro’s president. “We receive tons of resumes with terrific skillsets. But we also want our Level 1 technicians to be gregarious, empathetic, good communicators, and generally likeable people!  By screening via video, we can get a good idea of a person’s character, and if they would be a good fit for our team – typically in less than 2 minutes.”

I have spoken to other professionals who like to use video interviews to test how well a candidate performs under pressure in their own home environment. And the main reason I think we will see even more video interviewing in the HR tech market in 2020, is because companies are beginning to see its value beyond simply that of a time saving exercise.

Some companies are still using spreadsheets

Despite living in a high-tech era where almost everything is possible at the tap of a screen or the touch of a button, I still see many HR professionals wrestling with spreadsheets, long after their business has outgrown this manual method of HR administration.

If you’re interested in my thoughts on this topic, then read my recent article on why HR spreadsheets are stunting business growth.

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