How technology can transform HR and the workplace in 2020


Advanced's group HRD Alex Arundale outlines four key trends for HR technology in 2020

Technology continues to be in a state of constant change. We have seen organisations invest in employee engagement tools – helping improve retention and drive job satisfaction – as well as prioritise artificial intelligence (AI) to speed up HR processes.

What has remained the same is that technology is being used to boost productivity, improve the work/life balance and free up people’s time to focus on things that really matter. There’s no doubt that technology will continue to transform HR and influence the workplace, so here are my top trends in HR technology for 2020.

1. Chatbots will thrive

Chatbots will become a must-have tool in the workplace. According to our latest Trends Survey Report organisations are already seeing significant progress. Nearly a third (29%) are seeing chatbots in their daily working lives – quite a jump from 18% in 2018/19.

The efficiency chatbots will bring to teams is phenomenal. The beauty is that they continue to learn and build knowledge as new questions are asked. Armed with a vast amount of data they grow in sophistication, which not only educates the employees and managers using them but provides valuable insight that HR teams need to create a strong and relevant user experience.

2. Technology will give HR a bigger voice

The role of HRD will now become a strategic partner – and a sounding board – to the CEO. HR leaders can provide an honest, unbiased and unique view of the entire organisation. This will help the CEO understand how the business is performing, where weaknesses lie, whether more efficiencies can be made, and new growth areas.

Data, as ever, is critical for turning ideas into connected strategies. However, for this to be effective leaders need to have a real-time view of the business. Our report shows just 31% of organisations benefit from real-time information when adopting new and innovative technologies. HR teams will therefore need to influence technology decision-making.

Our role will be both broad and deep. It is not just about people data, but also about using our expertise and influence to draw the connections between each area in a simple way. For people to thrive they need the right tools and processes to support them, while presenting an experience that is intuitive and efficient.

3. Reverse mentoring will become common

The younger generation has an important role to play in helping the older less digital-savvy generation confidently adopt new technology to change the way they work. As someone with a team that is 98% considerably younger than me I find this to be highly relevant.

We’ll see more HR leaders listening to the younger generation, which already understands that technology is a key productivity enabler. What’s more, HR leaders will increasingly see this group as an essential ally for driving business growth and performance.

It’s encouraging that according to our survey 67% say they are doing enough to attract the younger generation. This is quite a high figure, but the 33% who have acknowledged they are not doing enough should take heed.

4. Predictive cognitive testing will increase diversity

Unconscious bias exists at every step of the HR process unless managers are trained accordingly. Otherwise people run unstructured interviews unconsciously, making too many assumptions about why a person might be right (or not) for a role. These assumptions are often based on where the candidate was educated, their industry experience, the number of job moves, or whether they have worked for a certain type of company.

At Advanced we use predictive cognitive testing, which means that every hiring decision is made on objective measures, at every level. Everyone follows the same processes, which are about learning capabilities and potential. People cannot ‘unconsciously’ just use their gut feel.

Our strategy is also applied to internal promotions. Sixty-five per cent of our non-entry-level roles are filled by internal promotions, and in every case we rely on predictive behavioural approaches.

More organisations will do the same; identifying potential for future roles in their existing workforce and ensuring that they are promoting people based not just on performance, but also against tangible data points that indicate success in their next role.

Thanks to HR technology anything is possible. It can help HR teams – and the rest of the organisation – work as their best selves. And I for one am really focused on welcoming these trends in 2020 and beyond to reduce the inefficiency in our everyday lives.

Alex Arundale is group HR director at Advanced