8 HR tech trends to follow in 2021

8 Human Resource Tech Trends That Will Influence Your Business in 2021

By design, Human Resources is all about people. But does it mean that we should keep it away from technology? Quite the contrary. Does it mean that we’ll be using robots to find and hire people? That’s highly probable. Actually, robots in recruitment are already a reality as technology is becoming key in the process of attracting and retaining talents. Automation and AI is just a little section of the latest tech innovations implemented to HR on a daily basis.

As HR is as prone to trends as any other industry, it’s good to have a clue about what’s going on in this area. Why? According to many HR experts, like William Tincup or Anna Ott, HR Tech Consultants, keeping up to date with tech is crucial:

Tech innovation is what keeps HR relevant so we need to be on the frontline.”

So, what’s the next big thing coming down the line in HR tech? From payroll automation and soft skill management to artificial intelligence in recruitment and using technology to improve physical and mental wellbeing and prevent burnout. Uff, there’s a lot of it. In order to make it all a bit clearer, we decided to narrow these trends down to eight that might heavily influence your organization (if it’s not happening yet).

If you want to keep your business up to date and make it thrive, stay with us and have a look at some key motions in the HR tech sector and the specific solutions you could implement in your business.

#1 Remote teams

It’s one of the biggest trends (if not THE biggest, because it has considerable influence over a lot of other trends) that has been taking the industry by storm in recent years. The results of an International Working Group (IWG) study clearly illustrate that remote work is no longer an exception, but is well on its way to becoming the norm across countries and industries. Some companies, like Buffer for example, rely entirely on distributed teams by design, while others are shifting toward hiring more and more remote employees.


The ability to work remotely is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after employee perks, but also quite an administrative challenge—businesses now have to be ready to connect employees in different time zones and take steps to ensure they all have equal learning and development opportunities. On the other hand, it gives employers access to new, previously inaccessible pools of talent while cutting recruitment costs.

Fortunately, technology has countless solutions on hand and will no doubt keep focusing on bringing distributed teams together.

Thanks to collaborative project management and messaging suites like Slack or Trello, as well as cloud-based HR platforms, location is no longer an issue. What technology now has to tackle is making sure we’re keeping the distributed teams connected and productive. Giants like Facebook are tapping into the growing remote work market, while software companies are trying to make inroads into these emerging fields. With tools like Focusmate or PukkaTeam, designed to create virtual coworking spaces, we're now able to fight procrastination, enable employees to use their soft skills and make the remote working experience more social—and less lonely.

What are other ways to facilitate remote work? Taylor Jacobson, Founder and a CEO of Focusmate shared his opinion with us: 

I believe great remote team cultures start with trust. You have to trust that people want to win and want to perform, and then find out what they need in order to do that. Often that comes down to offering structure and accountability, and finding ways to reduce isolation and provide real human connection amongst colleagues. As a result, these things are central to the remote coworking product we're building at Focusmate."

VR conferencing might play a role here, too, gradually replacing traditional video conferencing, which is currently the expected norm for companies with employees scattered around the world.

Remote work obviously changes a lot for recruiters—who have now broader pools to choose from, but also need better, more effective tools to reach the people they want to hire. Sites that connect employers with prospective employees are becoming more popular as they help both recruiters and candidates—examples include well-established companies like Upwork or Fiverr, as well as more innovative platforms like Humans.

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#2 Cloud-based HR

When you have a remote team, your HR department might be remote, too. This is where comprehensive HR platforms in the cloud—the future of resource management—come in. There are already multiple all-in-one HR platforms available, including the one that used by Buffer, that integrate a lot of separate, core aspects of HR management, like payroll, benefits, time management, onboarding, and collaborative software.

Using cloud-based HR software is slowly becoming the norm not only for globally distributed teams. It’s much more scalable, so it’s great for fast-growing businesses, where it allows HR professionals to work with real-time data.

At the same time, the employee self-service model grants employees better control of their data, benefits, and tasks, while giving companies more effective tools to evaluate their engagement and productivity. There’s a clear shift in the industry from using HR software focused on helping HR teams to integrated suites that simultaneously support employees and managers in their jobs.

#3 Employee wellness with a focus on mental health

Employee wellness has an impact on the company as a whole, on team productivity, and job performance. No wonder it’s a huge trend at the moment—there are a number of projects in the works that focus on helping employees avoid burnout and care for their mental and physical wellbeing, ultimately leading to higher employee retention rates.

So we’ll see more personalized health and wellness systems fueled by employee data. Platforms using gamification and wearables will continue to grow, but there is a notable shift of focus towards employee mental health. In the US alone, approximately one in five adults experience some form of mental disorder, and companies are starting to understand what that may mean for their overall performance.

There are already solutions emerging to address these concerns. One example is Lantern, a mental health startup that helps fight anxiety and depression using digital cognitive-behavioral therapy tools and has partnered with large digital health care providers to offer programs that help people learn to manage their anxiety, stress, and body image.


The example of a digital health provider, Omada app, Source: App Store

What might help sustain mental health is also creating a Workplace Strategy (see how it works for Monterail) which makes the office a meaningful space. According to Forbes:

“Organizations creating the right environment for their staff can have a positive impact on employees’ health and wellbeing, as well as their job satisfaction and productivity levels”.

The next thing that influences employees’ well-being is the occasional possibility of working from home which enhances personal well-being, good work-life balance and convenience in everyday issues—also practiced at Monterail.

#4 Employer branding

For years now companies have been using social media to bolster their reputation and image they present to both prospective and current employees. According to LinkedIn, 72% of recruiters agreed that a company’s brand and reputation have a significant impact not only on the recruitment process, but also on the organization’s bottom line, reducing cost-per-hire, and bringing in more qualified applicants.

In short, this is by no means a short-lived trend, but rather an area organizations have to take a closer look at, if they haven’t already. And again, technology can help—from growing job boards and company review sites to career sites integrated with HR software and tools for social media (like an Instagram scheduler). Hyper-targeted social ads with employee stories and job offers help significantly narrow the audience and reach just the right people.

Employee advocacy is a key part of the process of creating an employer brand. Platforms like LinkedIn Elevate or smarp connect employees to relevant, personalized content, and help you encourage your coworkers to become true advocates for your organization by sharing their own.

P.S. Here’s an interesting article featuring HR professionals talking about their favorite employer branding tools.

#5 Enhancing recruiting experiences

Technology is already transforming the entire recruitment lifecycle. Everything’s becoming digitized, from résumés to interviews, and recruitment managers have tools at their disposal that help shape a seamless candidate experience. HR is increasingly becoming all about the “experience”—whether employee or candidate. One significant development we’re seeing in the field is the emergence of candidate experience platforms, like pathmotion: tools allowing for connections and conversations between employees and outside talent.

And this candidate experience mitigates one of the biggest issues of the businesses today—recruitment.

Businesses have some trouble finding qualified employees to fill their open positions, a situation which benefits the employee over the employer. Furthermore, it’s getting increasingly difficult to retain valuable employees, as they’re relentlessly wooed by seemingly countless benefits other companies offer. And that’s where technology comes in, enabling HR teams to tap new resources and solutions to improve their global reach and cater to the individual needs of their employees.

A platform like Honeypot is the example of HR tech adjusted to the modern world of recruitment. It reverses the usual, well-known flow of recruitment where candidates browse through countless offers and apply for those most attractive. Here, employers take the initiative more than ever before and contact specialists registered in the app with the best-fitted offer. Both parties obtain desired results quicker and easier which constitutes the overall candidate experience.

One technology that is currently seeing broader adoption is, specifically chatbots (have a look at the Monterail chatbot peeking at you from the right corner). Of course, we’re not talking about the whole hiring process being led by a bot (not yet, at least), but a skilled recruiter would be able to significantly increase the pace of the candidate screening process with the help of AI. Chatbots bring another advantage to the table, as they can help slash the time the recruiters need to respond to candidate application, and thus create a much more positive experience.

A chatbot can also either take over for or work together with augmented analytics, automation platforms at later stages, managing communications, setting up calls and meetings, asking the right questions, and moving the candidate further in the process—making it (surprisingly) more personal, because you’re not leaving the candidate to wait endlessly for your reply.

#6 Learning and development

Because remote work is one of the biggest HR trends, employee training is moving increasingly to the digital realm, a shift which also allows it to benefit from the latest HR Tech innovations using gamification, AI, and AR/VR. Online employee training is basically a must, with the area developing toward personalized, self-paced courses that fit employees’ individual learning styles.

Technology also presents a lot of possibilities for individualized career pathing, building multiple career path scenarios based on individual employee potential, identifying skill gaps, and reviewing job competencies. Examples of HR Tech tools suited for this purpose include PathSavvy or Talent Guard.

#7 Analytics with AI

In today’s world, everything’s about data—and the importance of data management in human resources is unquestionable, especially as teams grow. Tech and tools available to HR professionals today range from simple surveys and employee feedback tools to complex analytics platforms. Talking about advanced platforms, just have a look at Peakon. This world’s leading platform for measuring and improving Employee Engagement help managers crunch the data to understand what drives and engages employees.

One noticeable trend is augmented analytics—an approach to data that automates insights using machine learning and natural language generation. Experts see augmented analytics platforms as more user-friendly ways to analyze employee data and produce deeper insights. They combine AI capabilities to analyze large sets of data and identify trends or track important metrics. Then, using natural language processing technology, the tools deliver the findings in an easy-to-digest, conversational form. Just like Emma - your Linkedin assistant created by Bunch.io:

This AI-powered Chrome extension gives instant behavioral insights on LinkedIn for prospective hires, sales prospects, and teammates.”

You can see a broad use of AI in such products like MindMatch or HRForecast. Both companies use Big Data and Artificial Intelligence to target more talent more efficiently and answer the most burning questions of HR management basing on data, not a guess.


The app enables easy knowledge sharing among company members, Source: MindMatch 

#8 Increased data security

The times when payroll handed out actual paper payslips are almost entirely gone. And aside from obvious pro-environmental benefits, what this means is that we need to embrace new ways of securing sensitive employee data in the long run. Keeping data in the cloud, the increasing use of employee HR self-service platforms, and the shifts in data protection legislation, like GDPR, all mean that robust data security, as it pertains to both candidates and employees, will be a growing concern for HR and a must for software creators.

That’s why tech vendors need to find and adopt measures to keep the data that clients trust them with intact and secure, while companies need to put systems and procedures in place to ensure the data is correctly managed and processed. This will definitely be a dominant trend in the tech industry as a whole, and existing HR solutions will need a lot of reworking to give people more control over their data.

One of the technologies that experts hope will reshape this particular are is the blockchain. Blockchain transactions can be applied to virtually anything, like personal data, work history, or financial details. It’ll be very interesting to watch the impact that blockchain—alongside other technologies—has on the cybersecurity of our data.

Remain human and embrace technology

Although some people tend to think that automation and similar cutting-edge HR tech trends will remove the human element from the equation, it actually may be the opposite. If we took a closer look at the powerful capabilities they tools offer us in terms of personalization or reaching the right talent, we’d quickly realize they might actually be helping the organizations become more human in the process. How? By letting HR professionals focus on strategic areas and real human contact, and freeing them from repetitive tasks that can easily be performed by software.

It looks like the biggest perk of latest HR tech trends is that it’s not really meant to replace people. Instead, it’s there to help them make more meaningful connections as professionals and coworkers, and to create more satisfying jobs where they can grow.

However, the golden rule when it comes to trends of all types, whatever the industry, is one - never follow them blindly. Has your biggest competitor just implemented a shiny tool for team training or performance (and boasts about it)? Good, ask yourself whether you truly need this exact tool, too. Maybe trying an all-in-one HR tool will perform better? Or creating a customized HR app will meet your employees’ needs more precisely?

How has technology changed HR in your company? Which trends will you be trying to accommodate in the near future? Let us know in the comments.

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