HR Technology is Changing Fast: 5 Things You Should Know

Business.com / HR Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

How five trends are affecting the future of HR software. Feedback, the performance review, the Internet of Things and more.

HR technology, once a fairly conservative area, is rapidly changing. These changes aren’t about vendors or fancy technology they are affecting people’s inner work lives, organizational culture, gamification and how we think about performance.

In general, the HR function is becoming more objective and real-time. No more subjective performance evaluations based on a manager’s gut feel.

This isn’t just about immediacy or software screens it will have a deep impact on organizational culture and motivation.

These trends will also change how you manage your business or team, and their expectations are in terms of feedback, communication, culture and more.

Here are five key HR trends you should know:

Related Article:Why Performance Reviews Don't Improve Performance

1. Goodbye Performance Review

Last year, Deloitte and Accenture announced they won’t be doing performance reviews for long. What used to be a best practice in HR, putting employees on a normal distribution curve and rating them, using goals that were defined a year earlier, suddenly went out of fashion.

This sudden death of the performance review is attributed to the fact that performance reviews take too long and cost too much. When performance reviews are once-a-year events that refer to year-old targets they also lose the ability to impact employee performance, only justifying why compensation or promotion was given or not. This means that employees feel threatened by the process, and aren’t there to really learn or improve since they are stressed out by the process.

The main point is that performance reviews refer to past performance and goals and ignore the ability to help employees in real time (they are also subjective). What if you can give employees real-time goals and show how they are achieved, also in real time?

This would mean that employee evaluation would be replaced by employee development focusing on showing people what they can do better in real time.

Take this into account when communicating goals to employees or reviewing their performance. Communicate goals and their underlying logic often, keeping employees in the know. Take great care to disconnect employee development by guiding them toward achieving their goals from employee evaluation.

Employees are more responsive and comfortable when you're communicating development and talking about goals and will be more receptive to feedback and to suggestions about how to do better. 

Related Article:Go Big or Go Home: How to Utilize Big Data for Human Resources

2. Hello OKR

OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results. It is used by Intel, Google, Linkedin, Twitter and others. OKRs are taking the world by storm. Everyone wants to see how Google manages its workforce and do the same. In general, employees set objectives and key results.

Employees can see the OKRs of their peers, and how they align with corporate objectives. Companies such as BetterWorks productize OKRs and make goals open, transparent and aligned. OKRs show achievement in real-time, and their transparency drives fairness. Shorter-term OKRs  can help managers focus on employee development, rather than evaluation.

It may take some time to get the hang of setting OKRs properly. There's an entire philosophy behind when to use stretch goals and when not but this practice will be beneficial not only for better goal setting but also to communicate corporate goals and align them with the actual work done by employees.

3. The Internet of Things at Work

The Internet of Things isn’t just about devices interacting but also about following the employees through their badges, smartphones and more. As such, many new HR tech applications appear on the mobile device from onboarding applications, through feedback and “voice of the employee” apps.

Another aspect of this trend is reflecting employee performance like a fitness tracker for work. This real-time feedback encourages employees to understand their performance, reflect on it and improve it. Many enterprise gamification companies take this approach to the workplace.

Try to think about how real-time feedback can be used to drive people to perform at their best, just like a fitness tracker for work.

4. Analytics Have Come to HR

HR is beginning to be less about soft skills and more about hard-core quantitative ones. HR is less fuzzy and has begun to use data science for anything from understanding employee feedback, performance and flight risk. Google is famous for doing so. This isn’t about measuring employees to force them to work better, it is about finding the ways to better develop employees.

Analytics can also help in setting the right goals for certain groups of employees and more, tracking their performance in a personalized way. Thinking of analytics and HR can lead to personalized goal setting for employees, making their inner work lives better balanced.

Related Article:Millennial Takeover: The Workplace Revolution and How It Changes Everything

5. Millennials at Work

As Millennials become the largest generation in the workforce, they are set to be more than half of the workforce by 2020. What do Millennials need? They don’t need video games at work, but they do need digital communication about goals in the workplace impacting workplace design and culture. 

The transparency inherent in the OKR method can work well for Millennials, and the immediate feedback through mobile apps used in gamification at work can drive their achievement. Having their goals tracked at work results in recognition and a sense of an immediate performance loop.

This is why feedback is the killer app for Millennials (a generation which expects feedback) and with digital feedback replacing face to face conversations, they may feel great with the use of gamified performance management in the workplace.

This is where gamification comes in. The practice of using game elements to motivate employees is coming of age, with gamification serving as an activity tracker for work, based on OKRs. This is the defining HR technology for 2016 and beyond.

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