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What Can We Expect from HR Tech in 2016?

Cornerstone Editors

Human resources has felt the transformational impact of technological advancement for quite some time now, but this past year consisted of a few significant advances in the world of HR tech. We witnessed companies experiment with virtual reality to recruit new employees, providers — including Cornerstone — introduce new workforce analytics products and the mobile workforce balloon as the number of devices in the enterprise increased by 72 percent from 2014.

The next twelve months hold promise as the market for talent management innovation continues to mature, and the latest technologies expand beyond early adopters to a mainstream HR audience.

What can we expect from the landscape of HR — and HR tech specifically — in 2016? In lieu of a crystal ball, we reached out to a number of industry experts to get their take on key trends: what will take off, what will fizzle and what will become critical for success.

Everyone Wants an HR Analytics Team

While most companies are still in the beginning stages of workforce analytics, HR pros and executives alike recognize the potential of big data in talent management. This may be the year we see interest turn into serious investment.

"More CHROs I'm speaking with are building out data analytics teams to better understand how employees work," says Jacob Morgan, best-selling author and co-founder of The FOW Community. "HR is moving away from just focusing on legal documents, hiring and promotions to truly being the knowledge center for understanding how work gets done."

Actions Speak Louder Than Analytics

Of course, in order to justify an investment in workforce analytics, vendors are going to have to demonstrate their products' impact for customers.

"2016 will be the year predictive analytics vendors will have to prove their systems work," says Bill Kutik, host of the Firing Line with Bill Kutik®. "[The] best way is to load prospective clients own data from 18 to six months ago, [run] it through their software and see whether its predictions for the last six months came true! Otherwise, predictive analytics will be the next great thing that went nowhere."

Forget About Those Employee Engagement Apps

In addition to new analytics products, entrepreneurs and established vendors have been quick to jump on the employee engagement train, creating a wave of apps and tools for employers to connect with employees. But to some, the engagement trend is just a fad.

"I see employee engagement as an organizational priority beginning to fizzle out," says Tim Sackett, president of HRU Technical Resources. "We now have enough research, over a long period of time, that is beginning to show us that [our] employees aren't getting more engaged the more we focus on this... I believe organizations will start to focus on who they truly are, and part of their talent strategy will be to find employees who want what [their] organization is, not trying to change [their] organization to what employees want."

Moving Benefits Beyond Free Lunch

One popular result of the laser focus on employee engagement has been a wave of "perks" — from free lunch to on-site dry cleaning to nap rooms, companies provide all sorts of fun offerings for workers. But as perks increasingly become mainstream, companies are looking for more meaningful ways to define their culture with values-based benefits.

"I think in the latest version of the War for Talent, more of the battle will shift to the domain of benefits," says Steve Boese, co-chair of the HR Technology Conference, pointing to employee financial wellness as an example.

"With so many employees concerned about their personal financial situations (and the subsequent detrimental impact on productivity these concerns often lead to), more HR organizations will look for programs and technologies they can offer to help employees in this area... [such as] Questis, a tool that helps employees make sense of their personal finances, and Double Net Pay, a really neat and practical technology that integrates with the company payroll system and helps employees better manage their monthly bills."

The Next Generation of Time Cards

In addition to benefits, simple everyday processes at work are in need of disruption — including how we track hours. As new overtime laws emerge and the line between work and life continues to blur, innovative and flexible ways to track time are needed to keep companies ahead of the curve.

"The new overtime regulations from the Department of Labor ... will require all employees earning less than $50,440 to be declared non-exempt, regardless of duties," says Suzanne Lucas, founder of the Evil HR Lady blog. "This will result in a wave of revamped time tracking procedures. How are you going to handle recording the time of people who are used to answering emails from home and taking phone calls on the weekends?"

Photo: Creative Commons

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