Blog Post

Using technology to propel HR’s changing strategic priorities

Cornerstone Editors

HR’s strategic priorities are shifting. According to a recent survey, HR’s number one focus in 2021 is "employee wellbeing and mental health," replacing the 2020 top focus, "employee experience in the workplace." An emphasis on DEI and the need to manage remote workers are also new on the list of top priorities for HR teams.

The top 5 HR strategic priorities for 2021 compared 2020
1) (2021) employee wellbeing, mental health | (2020) employee experience
2) (2021) DEI | (2020) leadership development
3) (2021) leadership development | (2020) learning transformation
4) (2021) employee experience | (2020) next-generation leaders
5) (2021) managing remote workers | (2020) people analytics

The survey — conducted by Lyra Health, Boston University and Future Workplace — suggests this shift has hinged on the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought to the fore the need for strong leaders, equal representation within the workforce and the rise of hybrid work. But with these changes, the emphasis on technology solutions to support HR activities remains low: just 37% of survey respondents said they would want to improve existing technology if budgets allowed.

Rather than viewing technology as a "nice to have," HR leaders must look to technology as an essential tool to meeting any strategic goal — even as priorities change over time. By leveraging technology, HR leaders can create a connected experience and reach their strategic objectives. Here’s a closer look at how HR tech can address some of HR’s most urgent priorities.

Online learning supports employee mental health and wellbeing

Employee health and wellbeing has suffered during the pandemic. And as the world learns to manage the reality, and uncertainty, of COVID-19, employees are starting to prioritize their mental health. For employers, this is a good thing, since overall employee wellbeing actually increases productivity.

Technology is a valuable tool to give employees the support they need. Digital learning content can be a resource to help employees find work-life balance, across topics like stress management or mindfulness and meditation. In fact, Cornerstone’s own research showed an increase in employees taking advantage of personal wellness courses during the height of the pandemic; topics like "Time Management: Working From Home" were among the most popular.

You can access free employee wellness courses through Cornerstone Cares.

Technology drives successful DEIB initiatives

There’s no shortage of research to suggest the value of diversity, equity inclusion and belonging at organizations, which can drive everything from performance to innovation. With the right technology tools, companies can drive DEIB across the organization.

For example, say an organization is looking to strengthen inclusive hiring practices as part of its DEI initiatives. While HR professionals can intend to interview a pool of candidates with a variety of backgrounds, diverse applicants aren’t applying. Artificial intelligence can help flag biased language and improve job descriptions and attract a wider pool of candidates. Combined with analytics, AI can also identify whether salary and promotion decisions are equitable at an organization — and help HR leaders address any inherent bias in the organization.

Moreover, learning content can also be a valuable tool to drive DEIB internally, helping educate employees about their unconscious biases and supporting them in taking steps to address it.

Learn more about how you can use Cornerstone’s diversity content subscription to support a more inclusive and equitable workforce.

AI and analytics bolster skills development

Leadership development remains near the top of the HR priority list — and overall skill development is becoming increasingly necessary for organizations to drive growth and retain employees eager for career opportunities. Technology that leverages employee data strengthens the quality of resources HR teams can offer employees, and ultimately help move the needle on strategic goals.

Analytics platforms will be a boon for HR teams to understand and meet the development needs organization-wide. Whether it’s leadership training or other skills courses, AI and employee data together can ensure the most relevant learning opportunities are delivered at the point of need. Enlisting a technology platform that offers online training is critical to driving leadership and other skill sets, especially as organizations operate remotely.

Take a closer look at the Cornerstone Skills graph, which uses employee data, analytics and AI to make intelligent recommendations around organizational skills.

Connected technology as a driver for progress

The real value of technology tools in HR doesn’t just come from addressing these individual challenges. Instead, a true tech solution for HR’s evolving needs is one that is connected, rather than siloed. Today, HR teams face a saturated market of offerings that solve different needs: One solution for learning, one for recruiting, one for performance, etc. It’s no wonder then, that a majority of talent leaders using HR tech report adoption challenges.

As HR’s strategic priorities change, technology solutions evolve alongside them: The global HR technology market is expected to grow significantly by 2028, reaching $35.6 billion from today’s $24 billion.

To see the benefits of these tech tools, HR teams need a connected solution — one that fosters a cohesive experience and allows HR departments to expend time and energy productively, without the need to toggle between platforms for different tasks or choose between solutions that support one goal over another.

Circumstances like how we connect with our teams and perform our jobs will continue to shift, and so will strategic priorities. A comprehensive, connected technology tool will prepare any company for the future.

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