The year 2020 transformed the world as we knew it in a blink of an eye. It proved to be an intense catalyst of change for professionals and companies alike. Remote working, which was on the rise before the outbreak, became the “new normal,” and many businesses went online.

Even brick-and-mortar companies underwent an evolution of sorts. Retail giant Walmart, for instance, tripled its online revenue in 2020 Q3. At the same time, Home Depot Mexico gained 70% of new online customers, topping its US parent. Businesses have pivoted and thrived.

Thanks to multiple Coronavirus vaccination drives across the world, we might finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Yet, companies at large still follow an inconsistent and unpredictable recovery path even in 2021.

More emphasis is given to ensuring that digital job evaluations and other strategic workforce planning tools are used to re-align the company structures with the new business realities in the post-COVID-19 world. That is where HR technology solutions come in.

What has changed for 2021?

As we navigate our way in 2021, HR leaders particularly are expected to use a plethora of tools to deliver a better employee experience and offer tech-driven solutions to address both new and persistent problems in the workplace.

Standard HR tools are used to store company and employee data, automate daily and repetitive processes and leverage analytic capabilities in order to drive strategic decision-making.

Depending on the platform, they manage many functions. From recruitment to onboarding, as well as payroll, performance management, and internal communication.

Let’s explore six digital HR tech trends that are set to rock the New Year:


1. HRMS finds users on a massive-scale

As of 2019, an increasing number of large companies (47% globally) possess a licensed or on-premise HR management system or HRMS.

Moreover, ever since the pandemic swept the world by its feet — not in a good way — and forced professionals worldwide to go remote, many companies are less than thrilled by the lack of control they have over their employees.

Naturally, the Coronavirus outbreak has caused a significant surge in the online interest in remote working policies — and the importance of using HRMS.

On the platform, companies can monitor KPIs to measure employee performance, share files and resources, automate repetitive tasks, and support employees who are pursuing training and development programs.

The latter can feed data via their hand-held tool, consume company-related news or professional development content, and request leaves and track approvals. Employees can ensure transparent communication with their managers and team members

The HR department, on the other hand, can swiftly convey employee-specific vigilance and off-the-record policy updates amongst the now-distributed and remote teams.


2. Gig workers become an integral part of the workforce

For many years, people viewed freelance and contract jobs as supplementary options to full-time employment. However, that is not true anymore. According to a 2019 report, only 8% of companies have established processes to manage and develop alternative workforce sources.

On the other hand, 65% of them already see freelancers and contractors as an essential part of their day-to-day operations. Although HR was involved in sourcing, interviewing, and hiring freelancers only about half the time or less, it is predicted that it will change in 2021.

The good news is 75% of HR departments support sourcing gig workers today, and 66% of them negotiate work arrangements.

HR tools such as Zoho People, Breezy HR, and ADP can be used to manage payout and tenures and necessary activities like tracking attendance and leaves.

Similarly, talent marketplaces like Kaggle help them generate tangible returns for the company regarding the potential and value offered by freelancers and contractors. Full-time employees and freelancers can collaborate to achieve goals.


3. Recruitment leverages Artificial Intelligence

In 2021, we will see HR leveraging data, intelligent algorithms, and social listening tools to make their recruitment drives more effective. Although we have seen application tracking systems capturing the online resume and managing the end-to-end recruiting process before, we have a long way to go.

IBM, for example, uses AI to analyze a potential hire’s social media shares, including their facial expressions and sentences to see if they will be a good fit.

This includes using tools that handle multiple tasks such as posting a job on the careers portal and sourcing applications from different platforms or channels to scheduling interviews and carrying out the post-hiring process — in a bid to increase the strategic value generated from the otherwise dull and long hiring process.


4. Increased support for employees with disabilities

For differently-abled people, finding work is a major challenge. However, that is set to change as an increasing number of companies are recognizing the value of a diverse workforce — especially during the pandemic.

To facilitate these hires, companies can adopt web accessibility solutions to ensure everyone can comfortably access business websites that are ADA-compliant, use project management tools, and leverage cloud storage facilities.


5. Employee wellness takes center stage

During times of social isolation and sickness, it is more important than ever for companies to focus on employee wellbeing. Implementing an online wellness program is one step in this process, made more manageable through an HRMS system.

Companies can use the technology to send auto-reminders regarding general health and wellbeing practices. These can be reminders on drinking water, exercising, or merely doing yoga or meditation amidst the hectic schedule. This could inspire employees to remain in good health and help them be more engaged at work.

Many employee wellness software such as Wellable and Sprout gives employees quick access to holistic health information, personalized workout and diet recommendations, health risk surveys, and online communities.

Not only that — these platforms enable companies to track the progress of employees to identify and reward healthy behaviors at work. Talk about taking employee wellness to the next level!


6. Digital learning and L&D gain emphasis

The remote working culture has created a sense of insecurity and uneasiness among employees due to limited managerial visibility and increased pressure to perform their best. Suddenly, measuring workforce productivity has taken precedence across all departments.

Thankfully, most HR tools allow employees to log in the number of hours against each task undertaken during the day. Combine that with project management capabilities, and employers can track business outcomes and KPIs in real-time and ensure transparent collaboration.

Moreover, annual performance reviews are quickly falling out of style. Managers are keener to make quarterly or monthly reviews with sometimes even more granular weekly check-ins. That makes the employees aware of their performance and goals and gives managers a chance to be more specific in their expectations.


Over to you

Without a doubt — HR technology in 2020 developed at supersonic speed to meet the challenging needs of businesses, making it even more integral in daily operations than ever before. There was no choice!

HR tech tools help streamline and simplify organizational tasks, attract talent that has the liberty to work from anywhere and anyhow they want, and enable stakeholders to make data-driven decisions. That is the need of the hour across sectors and business.

Research shows that companies that do not use any HR software fall behind those that do. The choice is clear — implement HR-related tech solutions now to keep up with the changing world of work and continue to transform in the years to come.

Hazel Raoult

Hazel Raoult is a freelance marketing writer and works with PRmention. She has 6+ years of experience in writing about business, entrepreneurship, marketing, and all things SaaS. Hazel loves to split her time between writing, editing, and hanging out with her family.