As we approach the end of the first full calendar year of living and working in a global pandemic, it’s clear HR leaders will need to adopt technology in new ways to face continuing challenges with hybrid work, vaccine mandates and the Great Resignation.
From adopting the best practices of the gig economy to expanding the use of AI, here are the top five HR tech trends to look out for in 2022.
Hybrid work tech growth. The back-to-the-office debate might be on hold in the wake of the Omicron variant, but HR leaders need to break old mindsets and move away from thinking that employees are most productive when they are in the office. “In 2022, work will be seen as where employees get their best work done, not a place, and companies will give them the flexibility to match their work environment to the outcomes they are trying to deliver,” says Traci Palmer, vice president of people and organization capability at remote technology firm Citrix.
But hybrid work models also bring the fear of splitting workers into two classes: those who work remotely and those who work in offices near supervisors and company leaders. Citrix’s research found that 38% of knowledge workers believe remote employees will be at a disadvantage for not working out of a central office location.
“Companies will leverage digital workspace technologies, supported by new work policies, to provide a common and transparent environment in which employees have consistent access to applications and information to get work done, wherever they happen to be,” says Palmer.
AI presents the big picture. Artificial intelligence fueled by people data will spread beyond the HR office and toward supervisors in order to look at the “whole” employee.
“People data usage will move from HR to front-line managers, and they want to see more than just employee history. Managers want to put people at the center of operational decision-making, rather than it being an afterthought,” says Paul Rubenstein, chief people officer at people analytics firm Visier.
AI will make it easier for HR and middle managers and supervisors to see productivity, engagement, skills, learning, performance, exit risk, and more in one view—and then make better informed financial and operational decisions, he says.
Patricia Sharkey, HR leader for supply chain provider IMI People, says the employee experience is based on quick responses from HR and other leaders. “In today’s always-on digital world, people really like to be responded to almost immediately, especially when they have a concern or formal complaint,” she says. “AI’s ability to immediately acknowledge the receipt and provide updates, without bogging HR down, is truly imperative in a hybrid/virtual world.”
Diversity efforts break new ground. HR leaders and talent recruitment will start actively looking for neurodiverse candidates to fill special roles inside an organization. Mandy Price, co-founder and CEO of DEI technology firm Kanarys, says neurodiversity—the range of variations in how the human brain operates, like autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyspraxia—will be accounted for in DEI tracking in 2022. A Bloomberg Law survey found that 72% of respondents currently have metrics to track diversity or wellbeing, and of that 72%, only 17% reported that their organization is tracking neurodiversity.
The definition of DEI is also expanding to include belonging and HR leaders need to add this to enhance their modern work culture. With a growing focus on cultivating a more diverse team, it’s also crucial that new talent feels like they belong from the very start, says Danielle Brown, chief people officer for HR tool provider Gusto.
“In 2022, we’ll see more people-focused platforms building tech that is inclusive by default, empowering employees to define themselves in the virtual workplace, instead of being defined by presumptions about gender, pronouns and legal names,” she says.
The Great Resignation transforms the standard job interview. Unfortunately, the employee exodus from the current workforce will expand to knowledge workers in the coming year. And managers will feel the impact most, according to Laszlo Bock, CEO and co-founder of team tech provider Humu.
“The perceived lack of growth opportunities will make knowledge workers feel increasingly discontent and disenfranchised. Our research has shown that employees who feel their careers are stagnating are a massive 8 times more likely to look for a new job than their more contented peers,” he says.
Traditional technical interview approaches will soon become a thing of the past for programmers and other knowledge workers, says Vivek Ravisankar, CEO and co-founder of tech hiring specialist HackerRank. He is seeing a shift in the way developers want to be interviewed, and in turn, the prospective jobs they are most drawn to.
“We will see a shift in interview structure and focus toward more real-world scenarios and challenges as hiring companies and teams adapt to keep up with developer demand and practical interests,” says Ravisankar.
General HR tech gets granular. No two employees have had the same pandemic experience, and as a result, the one-size-fits-all approach to employee benefits and perks no longer cuts it. “In 2022, we’ll see increased adoption of flexible perk platforms [that] help companies take an a la carte approach to giving employees the support they need—whether that’s cash for student loans, a cleaning service for new parents, or a spa day,” says Gusto’s Brown.
HR should consider creating a gig worker repository, says Derek McIntyre, COO at scheduling solution provider TCP Software. This typically consists of a consolidated database of vetted freelancers who can be notified when a work assignment arises. “This allows them to choose which jobs to accept and it helps HR teams and department managers ensure projects are completed,” he says.
High-touch employee onboarding will also become increasingly important thanks to 2022 being a job hunter’s market and the proliferation of remote workforces, says Marc Friedman, CEO and founder of Cadalys, a Salesforce app provider.
“Remote employees can’t just lean over the cubicle to ask a colleague a question, so there is a greater need to achieve the kind of self-sufficiency faster that comes with world-class onboarding,” he says, adding that insufficient onboarding can cost a company up to one-third of an employee’s first-year salary in the form of lost productivity and increased attrition.
And finally, given the proliferation of cyberattacks, HR and people teams will have to work closely together to ensure all their employees and people are well educated in cybersecurity. “As the workforce has moved to remote work,” says Claudia Ivanova, head of HR for banking solution provider FISPAN, “there are easier ways for cybercriminals to infiltrate company systems and do damage. HR teams will see the importance of training and simulations and help to keep employees aware and extra diligent in preventative cybersecurity practices.”