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HR in the Flow of Work: What Technology Trends are Shaping the Future of HR

Josh Bersin knows something about HR.

About the business, the technology, and the leadership to help others gain insights for running their HR departments.

Same with HR trends.

Josh recently presented HR in the Flow of Work at the HR Technology conference last September in Vegas.

HR in the Flow of Work? What’s that?

It’s about HR apps becoming natural, easy, and integrated into the HR work we do.

So, we can chat, click, or swipe… like so many apps in the rest of the collaboration-business-sphere.

Our HR tools should be just as integrated into our lives. Across emails, text messages, and favorite mobile apps.

For this to happen, vendors must build a more open architecture to integrate with Slack, Office, G-Suite and the like. And, be invisible and intelligent using AI and analytics.

These interfaces should ‘talk to us’ in our own native language, saving us time while communicating clearly.

Here’s a look at a few key trends and takeaways that caught our HR eye.


  1. Better Conversations, Better Productivity

Many of the new workforce tools will work like social networking systems.

Guess what? Workers are still increasing the amount of time they work online. Yet, at the same time there’s a massive and global shift moving away from email.


Because online, conversation-based systems are replacing archaic, static, and stale emails.

Hunting and pecking through emails to find what you need, what others said—what a waste. With everyone else doing the same in their email programs. How old-school.

Better to have a single-source of truth, for everyone to easily find, see, and chime in. Real-time.

Which is why Slack, G Suite, Office 365, Trello, Asana, Basecamp and about a hundred other collaborative apps are nearly ubiquitous.

HR employees will expect the same, to get answers to their questions in new ways.

Look for voice-recognition software like Alexa and Siri to be players. Same with intelligent chatbots, too.

It’s all about conversations in the workplace—across apps, teams, and individuals.

More and more, new tools are looking like social marketing systems. Post pictures, create groups, and alert others immediately from desktop, tablet, and mobile. All designed to foster team-based communication.

With these new tools breaking into HR…

Are your HR people partnering with IT to integrate HR apps into Salesforce, Slack and the rest?

You should. Your competitors are.


  1. From Engagement to Experience

Companies are shifting their thinking.

Moving away from employee engagement, moving towards employee experience.

In other words, …

Less focus on productivity, more focus on well-being.

To do this, you must make it easier, more automatic, and more intelligent for your employees to perform their HR activities.


By using tools that have been made easier to use.

Some developers are working hard at incorporating more design thinking into their apps, to create great outcomes and experiences. Others aren’t. Seek, choose, and use the vendors that are.

Increasingly, users will expect this.

Q: What satisfies users most when using a software system?

A: Ease-of-use.

Deloitte found it’s twice as important than ‘having all the features’. And 80% more important than service and support. Which makes sense. If the product works great and is easy to use, there’s less need to ask for help.

More buyers are comparing HR software based on ease-of-use than features.

Including you, right?

Make sure you thoroughly review any new tools for ease-of-use before making a buying decision. Be smart and safe about it.

“Design is king.” Trite, we know. For a reason. Vendors of poorly designed HR software will fall behind. No need for you to though.


  1. Employees helping themselves
    …with self-service, HR platforms.

Employees expect to easily:

  • Get answers to their questions
  • Submit transactions
  • Look up information
  • Get critical help

Enwisen and Authoria were two pioneers for creating self-service platforms during the last decade (both of which have since been acquired). They created easy-to-use, beautifully designed employee portals, integrated into existing HR systems. They offered a wealth of content and made it easy for employees to find what they needed to do their best work.

Others have since built similar systems. Like Oracle, SAP, ServiceNow, Deloitte, Zendesk, NeoCase, PeopleDoc, Dovetail, Salesforce, and many more.

Still, we’re in the early stages for such cognitive, conversational, and intelligent systems.

But they’re coming.

Hey, have you ever spoken to Alexa, Siri or Google Now?

Pretty amazing how well voice-recognition software can answer your questions.

Imagine asking the same from your HR systems. Getting intelligent and immediate answers, powered by AI and automation.

“Hey HR-Now…”

  • “How can I get my tax forms electronically?”
  • “How do I adjust my tax withholding?”
  • “How do I get a copy of my W-2 from last year?”
  • “When is open enrollment?”
  • “I just got a Tentative Non-confirmation (TNC). What do I do next?”

User-interface design for tabs, buttons, drop-downs and all the other elements have evolved over decades.

Imagine them becoming obsolete with AI-based conversations between users and HR systems.

That’s a lot of HR transactions you could automate.

Chatbots, too, will get in on the AI game.

IBM’s Watson is already powering conversational and intelligent interfaces with its API. One Asian company is using chatbots for every employee transaction.

IBM is using their own to help coach managers, coach employees, and get employee feedback, to name a few.

Keep pushing on embedding AI into your workflows- this is what contemporary and future employees expect.

“So, what does this mean for us?”

While voice-recognition, chatbots, and other conversational AI solutions continue to influence and improve HR departments across the land… automation is here, now and mainstream.

So then, the quick answer to your question is…

Convert from a paper-based to a paper-less workplace.


  • Your team will spend valuable time monitoring changes in regulations
  • Same for having to change forms and procedures when those laws or policies change
  • Paper forms take time to find, change, and store. And, too often they’re incomplete and inaccurate.
  • When completing paper forms, people tend to make more errors and fixing them becomes more challenging for everyone.
  • Employee information sits in file cabinets, unshared, isolated, and not secure.

Paper-based workplaces create risk and uncertainty for getting and staying tax compliant. All that, and more, goes away with an automated, HR software solution.

  • Payroll administrators can access employee information, in seconds
  • Online guidance will direct employees to complete forms accurately, the first time
  • People dedicated to making everything work when tax laws and policies change, can do other work, more core to your business
  • Permissions can be assigned for forms so only the right eyes can see and work with them
  • Administrators can run reports to see how you’re tracking against compliance goals

Ready to go paper-less for your workplace?

Going from a manual, paper-based system to a paperless, automated, cloud-based solution is hardly a choice. It’s the norm.