People and Technology: The Next Generation of HR

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There was a time — and not too long ago — when punching the clock literally meant punching the clock. Inserting a time card into a machine and getting it stamped was once the height of HR technology. The punch-clock, along with the steam whistle that signaled the end of a shift, reigned for decades as among the most ubiquitous and technology-forward workforce management tools. Payrolls were still kept in paper ledgers and applicants all handed in resumes on paper, only to be filed away (if they were lucky) into sprawling cabinets. Fortunately, HR technology has reached a pinnacle of sorts, with innovation occurring in almost every facet of human resources.

Technologies to Watch

There are a number of innovators in the HR space, both from established companies making new forays into mobile apps, and from scrappy start-ups with much to prove. Here are some of the hottest areas for technological growth in the HR space:

Talent Acquisition

Finding the right talent is something all HR departments struggle with. No matter how good your recruiters are, no matter rigorous your screening process is, there’s always that one bad hire who slips through. Whether he or she is just a poor cultural fit or just doesn’t have what it takes to get the job done, bad hires always happen. Fortunately, several new acquisition platforms are offering algorithm-based services that work similarly to online dating, determining if an applicant is a fit based on a number of criteria. Whether this technology is ready to take the place of your current ATS is unclear, but the idea is certainly promising.

Interviewing prospective hires presents one of the biggest logistical challenges for HR departments, and real solutions have been a long time coming. Most internal recruiters have felt the pain of trying to get a hiring manager and a candidate to connect. The hiring manager is always busy, dashing from one meeting to the next. Meanwhile, candidates — especially those at the Director level and above — may be coming in from out of town solely for the interview.

So it only makes sense that remote interviewing systems are coming online quickly. Many of these are iPhone and iPad apps, making the process as portable as it is efficient.

Schedule Management

While not a pronounced problem in white-collar workplaces, schedule management is a frequent headache in retail, food service, and other businesses that employ hourly employees on variable shifts. But in an increasingly mobile age, why be tied to the calendar in the bosses’ office? That’s why several new technologies allows managers to set, modify, and update shifts from their mobile device and send it their employees’ mobile devices with minimal hassle. Service industry professionals may soon find that the days of the desk calendar full of scribbles and the frantic calls to substitute crew members are long gone.


Last but not least, there’s the task of onboarding. Many HR associates find onboarding to be an exercise in drudgery, but it doesn’t have to be that way. After all, it’s more than just filling out tax and benefit documents. It can set the tone for an employee’s entire tenure at a company. When done well, it can be a beacon of competence for a new employee. When done poorly and perfunctorily, it can be an indicator that the HR team is disengaged or just doesn’t care.

If this sounds like a familiar scenario, it’s probably a sign that your team might need a little assistance. Many innovative new solutions can provide customized onboarding options for companies of varying sizes, decreasing the time it takes to get new employees up and running and easing the paperwork-induced headache shared by new hires and HR associates alike.

While it’s impossible to tell what Human Resources departments will look like a decade down the road, one thing is clear: technology is rapidly stepping up to alleviate the day-to-day roadblocks that may keep HR departments from performing to their peak potential.

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