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8 HR technology trends CHROs should investigate in 2020

Many emerging HR technologies are solidly in the realm of 'must-haves,' while others remain hype. Here's some advice to help you discern which is which.

The number of HR technology choices have exploded in the last few years. That means there's more pressure on HR leaders to separate what's hype from what's helpful.

As a chief HR officer, chief people officer or other HR leader, you'll need to identify which software is truly helpful and reject technology that doesn't really bring value. That means choosing the tools that support your strategy and leaving aside those that qualify as "shiny new objects."

Here are eight HR technology trends for 2020 that you'll want to research.

1.     Workforce experience tools

No list of current CHRO trends would be valid without mentioning workforce experience tools. Workforce experience goes beyond employee experience to include the entire workforce.

An optimal workforce experience ensures high productivity, retention and engagement. Your workforce experience systems should include employees and remote workers and contingent workers, who also contribute value to the company. Tools such as Qualtrics or SurveyGizmo represent the types of technologies that can help you gather feedback from employees and contingent workers, view sentiment trends, and provide action plans to enhance your company's workforce experience.

Beware of vendors that market their HR suite as an all-encompassing workforce or employee experience suite. While many HR vendors have or are building out specific experience capabilities, marketing that promotes a system as an end-to-end "solution" is overselling its capabilities.

2.     Candidate experience tools

As the war for talent has heated up over the last few years, more HR leaders have recognized the importance of the candidate experience. If you can't offer candidates a good experience throughout the recruiting and hiring process, you will likely lose top talent to competitors that do provide it.

Beware of vendors that market their HR suite as an all-encompassing workforce or employee experience suite.

Creating a candidate journey map can help you understand important touchpoints. In addition, recruitment marketing and career site software are tools that enable you to optimize and personalize the candidate experience, manage your candidate pool, and gather analytics to help you improve the overall experience. Chatbots can also add a lot of value to the candidate experience during the recruiting process if you use them in the right way.

3.     AI and machine learning

AI and machine learning are two of the most hyped technologies today, and many vendors are increasingly adding AI and machine learning capabilities to their products.

AI tools -- particularly chatbots -- are becoming increasingly prevalent in the recruiting and identifying candidates. Machine learning is complementing AI, since it enables AI to continually learn as companies repeat the hiring process.

You should understand that these terms are overused. In some cases, vendors claim a product has AI or machine learning capabilities when that's not the case. Another issue is that AI algorithms can be based on biased thinking, which in turn create biased results. You'll need to test capabilities to ensure genuine transparent and fair decision-making. And don't forget that the technology is new and isn't always successful.

"Something like 70% of all chatbot implementations get turned off," said John Sumser, founder of HRExaminer, in a video on the state of AI.

4.     Robotic processing automation

As the HR function becomes increasingly strategic, many HR leaders are turning to automation tools. A newer technology area that's getting a lot of attention -- and has a number of use cases -- is robotic process automation (RPA).

RPA software enables HR automation of certain processes that are often time-consuming and laborious, enabling your HR team to focus on value-adding activities. However, since there aren't a lot of proven RPA offerings, you'll need to carefully vet the ones you decide to use.

5.     Employee wellness tools

As part of your employee experience strategy and to maintain a high level of productivity, employee wellness programs and software can be important.

Aside from helping to boost a company's reputation as a good place to work, employee wellness programs provide real benefits to employees. They can help them stay fit and healthy and thus a productive member of the organization. Employee fitness and burnout are some areas where software can help you ensure employees are keeping themselves work-ready. You can even consider offering programs that help ameliorate the stress of modern life. Mindfulness programs and financial wellness programs are two areas that fall into this category.

6.     People analytics

Despite people -- or HR – analytics' status as a hot topic with industry analysts and consultants, few companies and HR leaders have taken analytics as seriously as they should.

An integral part of better decision-making, analytics have become much more accessible for HR and executives in recent years. To this point, you might want to consider researching how analytics could further your company's goals. Many people analytics tools provide predictive analytics and user-friendly suggestions using natural language that are based on data analysis, and don't require a data scientist to decipher results. With that said, training your HR professionals or hiring specialists in data science will help you optimize your analytics use.

7.     Skills management tools

In an economy where virtually every company is fighting turnover and internal recruiting is becoming more important, skills management tools are critical.

You need to accurately measure employee competencies against the ones they need for their roles, as well as ensure your hiring is effective. Your HR system also needs to manage your skills catalog and assign those skills to people and roles. In addition, it needs search capabilities to find people who can fill a role internally. Many vendors are building out skills technology and libraries and you can investigate whether these will add value to your organization.

8.     Integration

Many HR leaders use targeted software, but it's time to focus on integration if you haven't already done so.

Integrating applications can help your team create effective processes and accurate reporting to drive decision-making. If you are using a different applicant tracking system (ATS), onboarding system and core HRIS, then you need to understand how exactly data will flow between these systems. For example, can you hire someone with the data from the ATS or are you going to have manually enter their data in the onboarding system and HRIS? These are real problems that impact the efficiency of how HR operates, as well as the employee experience within your own HR team.

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