Now that we’ve flipped the page to the 2020s, it’s a good time to think about what this new decade might introduce for HR teams. Some of the big trends that began gathering momentum in recent years—such as the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and significant growth of cloud-based software—should continue to reshape HR operations for the foreseeable future. And no HR-related trend might be larger than the continued growth of the mobile workforce. IBM predicts that the global workforce is expected to reach 1.8 billion workers by 2022.
With these changes in mind, let’s zoom in on six trends that could fundamentally alter the way HR works throughout the 2020s.
1. The social enterprise
There were several major news stories near the end of the 2010s about executives who felt that the dominance of “shareholder value” as a measure of organizational success was finally coming to an end. For example, the Business Roundtable put forth that bold opinion in August 2019. But what will replace it?
One possibility is the notion of the “social enterprise,” which refers to an organization that pays attention to its societal impact and listens to feedback from a wide range of stakeholders, in addition to just pursuing revenue and profit. Social enterprises, Salesforce is a good example, aim to deliver the best possible experience to employees, contractors, customers, and communities, not just boost their bottom lines – and this is where the HR department can play a pivotal part.
More specifically, within a social enterprise HR may take a more active role in:
- Implementing new learning and development options to help employees continuously refine and expand their skill sets.
- Creating personalized incentives and rewards for the company workforce.
- Better engaging with both new hires and more experienced workers, so everyone can stay current on the latest workplace technologies.
2. Alternative workforces
We touched upon this one a bit already, but it’s worth looking in more detail at how remote and mobile workers are changing HR. More jobs than ever are compatible with telework arrangements, since many of them require little more than access to an inbox and other communication tools like chat applications and online meeting software.
For HR, though, this increase in telecommuting creates some challenges.
First, it can make remote and mobile workers feel more disconnected from the company at-large, with consequences for how they get critical documents and updates from HR. For example, the experience of getting an answer to a key question or fulfilling an HR request can suffer when employees aren’t in the same physical space.
Second, the new distance between HR and employees can also complicate processes such as knowing where everyone is physically located and what tax withholding obligations exist in their respective jurisdictions. Compliance can become much more complex.
Solving these issues requires modern solutions like self-service portals, which make it easier for employees to find what they need from anywhere. Meanwhile, working with an experienced partner like CIC Plus can help simplify tasks like determining tax withholding, as well as creating and managing the various onboarding and ongoing employee forms that workers need to complete regardless of location.
3. The HR cloud
Cloud computing dominated the 2010s. A decade that began with most software still coming in boxes and on DVDs ended with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) being the go-to model for apps like Microsoft Office 365.
HR has also migrated to cloud-based applications, to reap the benefits of greater operational scalability and flexibility with less required investment in costly on-prem IT infrastructure. For HR, using cloud solutions allows for:
- Improved data security, with professional management and oversight of updates/patches.
- Superior end-user experience, thanks to apps being accessible from virtually any internet-connected device.
- Scalable, reliable support for self-service portals, chatbots, and electronic form delivery.
- Lower costs and regular and maintenance-free software upgrades, freeing up more time for serving your organization’s stakeholders.
4. Employee experience and personalization
Cloud software plus the move toward the social enterprise mean that many employees will receive more personalized experiences than were possible under previous HR paradigms. Chatbots show what this future could look like in the coming years.
A chatbot is an AI-powered program with a conversational interface, think of a concierge. So, if an employee has a specific question, like “Where can I find my PTO summary?”, the chatbot can deliver a quick yet accurate response immediately and at any time of the day. ServiceNow found that 92% of HR leaders felt that chatbots would be important to delivering excellent service.
Chatbots free up HR resources and are also especially useful for employees who work remotely. Instead of needing to call or email HR or make a trip to the office, they can just ask the chatbot. Accordingly, chatbots fit in perfectly with other solutions like self-service portals and video conferencing, as ways to enable a seamless working experience from anywhere.
5. Health and wellbeing
Workplace wellness initiatives gained a lot of momentum in the 2010s, thanks in part to the enactment of the Affordable Care Act. But while many organizations now support wellness programs, not all are equally effective.
Some reward trivial behaviors like not checking email or are easily gamed in terms of the metrics they track. The challenge is to develop a program that rewards meaningful improvement. HR’s involvement is vital to the success of any wellness program, as HR teams will evaluate the possible options, contribute to design and implementation, and manage employee outreach and communications.
Technologies like wearables and cloud computing will be integral to wellness program success. HR departments must coordinate the rollout of these components and ensure that employees know whom to reach out to (and how) for assistance.
6. AI and recruiting
Recruiting qualified candidates can be difficult, especially in a tight labor market like the one that took hold in the late 2010s and seems poised to continue in 2020. AI can help in a few important ways:
- AI-driven programs can screen large candidate databases for signs that someone might be a good match.
- Routine communications like interview scheduling notices and reminders can be automated, letting recruiters respond more rapidly to applicants.
- Designed properly, a recruiting-centric AI can potentially reduce bias when screening candidates.
We have written at length about how AI could reshape some basic HR functions, so be sure to take a look at that piece here.
While we all wait to see how our technology trends turn out, our team is available to explore how CIC Plus can help you build a better future for HR and payroll operations at your organization.