Oh, how technology has influenced the Human Resources function and its constituents! Cell phones, the internet, social media—these have all forever changed every aspect of life, from home to the workplace. Many things have become much easier with technology, but it has also been a game-changer that is forcing companies to rapidly evolve in ways that might make them uncomfortable. It is nearly impossible to predict what these changes will mean in the future, but it helps to understand the current trends.
Here are 7 key ways technology is impacting Human Resources:
1. Performance Management
HR Professionals have successfully harnessed computer technology to assess and track employee performance, utilizing metrics that align with pre-set performance standards, as well as garner employee feedback. These software programs make it possible for organizations to become more productive, efficient, and profitable.
Prior to the internet, HR professionals were forced to rely on print publications, such as newspapers or recruiting magazines, to post jobs and source candidates. Remember that? It was not that long ago. There was also a reliance on word-of-mouth networking since HR and recruiters had no ability to post a job on a website and have thousands of people see it instantaneously. Thus, HR technology has made recruiting far more efficient.
Technology, such as cell phones, ipods, and PDAs have created the opportunity for millions of people to work remotely. In fact, as of today, 40% of workers worldwide are virtual, in some capacity.1 It is estimated that by 2020 it will be 50%.2 This trend is not only spawned by technology itself, but also because of the increased attention to work/life balance issues, especially for millennials, who as of last year, now make up the largest single generational segment of the workforce. The technology has also made companies more sensitive to needless spending on real estate costs.
Information technology has also enabled HR professionals to train team members in a far more efficient manner. Employees now have easy access to company information and online training programs from remote locations. As such, this eliminates much of the need to meet and train new employees in person or face-to-face. Additionally, updated training materials can be housed online for employees to access 24/7.
5. Security and Privacy Protection
The new technology has had an important impact on both security and privacy protection, raising questions such as: Who “owns” the employees’ email? When do we let employees access the internet? Do we allow employees to access the internet and social media for personal purposes? If the employee is using a company-owned computer, is it acceptable for them to visit certain non-business web sites after “working hours?” Who defines what “working hours” are now that we live in a 24/7 work world? Can and should employers monitor their employees’ online activity?
The right answers to these questions vary depending on the organization, but technology has certainly gotten some interesting discussions started in HR.
6. Data Storage & Retrieval
No more paperwork! What a godsend! The use of electronic imaging and technological storage has eliminated the need for endless paperwork and filing. In addition, the ability to “print-on-demand” means that HR Professionals no longer need to dig through files to find the forms they need. And better yet, employees can fill out online forms, thereby saving trees and reducing waste.
7. Social Media
Technology has also made significant contributions to how HR professionals utilize social media, from its use in recruiting, marketing, branding, and even conducting informal background checks on job candidates. Many employers now make it a point to check out a job candidate’s Facebook or LinkedIn pages to assess professionalism and character. (Note that this practice is not legal in every state.)
Technology’s Future Impact On Human Resources
So, what does new technology portend for the future of Human Resources? Here are a couple of likely scenarios:
– Computer screens that are available directly on eyeglasses, watches, or other accessories will be become mainstream. Futurists also foresee computer screens being placed directly on people’s retinas. (The Netflix show Black Mirror has an unnerving episode about this.)
– Voice-activation technology will allow users to quickly and verbally access multiple databases of information. Real-time answers to any question will be readily available, just like Siri for Google.
– Companies will create mini-Facebooks where employees can quickly flash messages without having to send emails or text messages. Within these systems, “groups” can be established to quickly share confidential information with specific people.
– More companies will use application integration with LinkedIn and Facebook to source employee or candidate profiles, instead of having to re-create them in a corporate system.
Technology as had an enormous impact on the HR function and workplace overall. Have you harnessed the power of technology for your Human Resources team?