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5 HR Tech predictions for 2021

Hari Kolam
Co-founder, CEO
December 2, 2020

Accurately predicting HR technology trends in any given year is never easy. Doing it while the world remains in the grip of a global pandemic makes it even more of a moving target. With that, below are some thoughts on trends I believe will occur in the HR Tech space during 2021. Of course, any predictions are dependent on the efficacy of emerging vaccines, their successful deployment, and Covid-19’s ongoing economic impact.

The expanding remote workforce: HR tech’s major emerging trend

Of all the workforce changes brought about by the pandemic, the exponential growth of the remote workforce easily tops the list. For HR Tech, it means apps and platforms in 2021 will need to continue to innovate ways to support the sudden, dramatic shift to a global remote workforce. In 2021, accurate new algorithms will focus on critical and often elusive HR initiatives, issues such as performance assessment, productivity data, and other metrics. Until now, those metrics have been nearly impossible to measure in a remote work landscape. Plus, in the coming year, HR tech must uncover gaps in critical areas such as talent re-skilling, upskilling, or training. By smartly taking advantage of HR tech products and services, employers will enjoy a sharp competitive edge.

Some of the most advanced people analytics will even be able to identify the employees who are the most successful remote workers. HR can then use data analysis to learn the attributes that make them successful and find ways to impart those attributes to others.

These tools also will help employers access global talent without geographical limitations and, at the same time, help manage remote teams by offering virtual offices, augmented and virtual reality work environments, and advanced multimedia communication tools.

AI and ML take an even larger role in driving successful talent acquisition and management

I’m confident that we’ll see artificial intelligence and machine learning continue to have a major impact on transforming talent acquisition. For one, AI and ML will help determine active from passive candidates immediately after a job is posted – a major advantage for recruiters and employers. AI and ML also will more accurately predict how well a candidate might perform in a certain role. Inside the organization, AI and ML will help employees root out internal jobs they never considered applying for – another acquisition boost. Finally, the holy grail of talent acquisition — successful “blind” hiring — can finally become the rule, not the exception. Hiring decisions will be based on merit and performance, and little else.

AI and ML will also become more widely used for strategic internal talent management decisions. Employers today are focusing on uncovering the capabilities that already exist within their organizations and upskilling employees to help the business meet its goals. With today’s growing remote workforce as context, AI and ML tech will help organizations continue to determine how to measure productivity and talent engagement outside of an in-person, office environment.

DE&I analytics continue to draw attention from HR leaders

HR’s ongoing, intense focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) will continue apace in the coming year. How will HR technology help reach those goals? For one, it will offer new ways of combining demographic data with performance, learning, and compensation data. Plus, there will be improvements in the way hiring and recruitment data is analyzed alongside turnover rates to uncover biases or gaps in the process. Other areas for meeting DE&I challenges include AI helping to analyze the diversity of a talent pipeline, along with strong advances in job posting analytics that can help employers realize their DE&I objectives.

Increased focus on learning & development

When it comes to attracting and hiring new talent – as well as retaining top performers, career development opportunities are table stakes; that need will become even more acute in 2021 as we, hopefully, turn the corner on COVID-19. HR leaders need to ensure that L&D will play a continuing critical role within the company culture. In addition, the bottom-line benefits of up-skilling and reskilling the existing workforce to take on new, emerging business challenges can’t be understated. With that, creative technology including everything from streaming video to virtual/enhanced reality will continue to expand. Finally, not only will the positive impact of tech on L&D bolster the bottom line, but L&D also provides an excellent strategy in providing value to employees beyond salaries. People want the chance to learn, grow, and expand their career opportunities. HR Tech tools exist to help make that happen, and in 2021, they will be more important than ever.

The ongoing heightened interest in workplace culture

Finally, HR tech’s impact on how high-performing, talented employees view the company culture in terms of ensuring their success will continue to grow in 2021. This is a key consideration for potential hires as well. Culture matters. Plus, more and more, HR leaders often are at the forefront of driving cultural change initiatives. A good example is the emergence of the new remote work culture, where tech has greatly facilitated HR in its role of adapting culture by reinventing the ways in which people work. No one is completely sure how that dramatic change will evolve as 2021’s “new normal” unfolds. But one thing is certain, attracting new talent and retaining existing top performers means that HR needs to be plugged into how their workforces feel about the importance of culture as the changes happen. Another prediction is to look for even more focus on company culture in 2021, with an array of tech solutions, especially AI, continuing to have an expanded, major impact.

While there certainly are more ways HR technology will make its mark on the changing workforce in 2021, to me, these five trends look to be among the most critical in driving overall talent success.

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