A+ R A-

3 Emerging Technologies and What They Mean for HR

Like it or not, technology is advancing at an unstoppable rate, and it’s impacting almost everything we do. From waking up to alarm clocks on our smartphones, to streaming music throughout the work day and tracking our workouts on wearable devices, technology has a major impact on our daily processes and activities.


Technology is changing the world as we know it, including how we do business. From supply chain management, to marketing and graphic design, technology impacts nearly every business function. Whether that's for the better is up for debate; nonetheless, if we want to keep up, we must adapt.


HR is one of the many business sectors being influenced by the ever-changing nature of technology and, in the coming years, we will only become further impacted. Just as we’re embracing these cutting-edge technologies in our personal lives, they will also play a role in our professional lives. In fact, total sales for HR-specific technology surpassed $40 billion in the last year alone.


Technology-fueled processes are an inevitable destination for businesses and, as HR leaders, we must guide our teams through this evolution. Below are three of the most influential technologies that will impact the HR role in the years to come.


Although automation was once only associated with advanced manufacturing plants full of robotics, that’s far from its only use today. Regardless of your organization’s size, automation can be a helpful tool. Its capabilities range from providing automatic email responses, to deploying thousands of bots programmed to automate specific job functions.


This is formally known as business process automation (BPA) and is defined as the technology-enabled automation of activities or services that accomplish a specific function or workflow. Business processes can include many different segments of company activities, including sales, management, operations, supply chain, human resources, and information technology. Automation is used to improve an organization’s overall workflow in terms of achieving greater efficiency, adapting to changing business needs, reducing human error, and clarifying job roles and responsibilities


If you’re among the 52% percent of talent acquisition leaders who say the hardest part of recruitment is identifying the right candidates from a large applicant pool, chances are these frustrations are fueled by the mass amounts of paperwork and documentation you’re sifting through by hand. Automation tools created specifically for recruiting have emerged in recent years, which can automate tasks like writing job descriptions and screening candidates.


In addition, there are many automation-powered processes that directly impact HR. Data management is vital to the success of your HR functions. It’s vital for you to take care of the accuracy, privacy, security, and intelligent value of your most valuable asset—your people. Luckily, many technology vendors have begun to equip databases with automation, ensuring valuable company data is consistently secured, without the need for human intervention.

AR and VR

If you’ve heard much about the successes of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) in recent years, you’re likely doubting the role they can play in HR. Although these technologies found their fame in popular video games like Pokemon Go, the functions of AR and VR are being integrated into HR functions like onboarding and employee training.


AR technology overlays information and virtual objects onto real-world scenes in real-time, adding computer-generated graphics to a pre-existing environment. It uses graphics, sounds, and touch feedback to enhance the user experience of the natural world. VR completely immerses the user into a seemingly different dimension. It typically requires some type of wearable headset, in which the virtual world is displayed, while also blocking out any sensory experiences from the user’s physical surroundings


AR and VR are quickly being adopted in the HR field, as they’ve become helpful tools for recruiting and training. German railway company Deutsche Bahn began using VR to attract new employees. They allow potential hires to use a VR headset to experience the job in a “real life atmosphere.” Consulting firm PwC UK also uses VR for training, which according to the company’s head of VR, “allows you to explore workplace scenarios and understand the impact of your choices and actions. It is also an effective tool for hands-on training, letting people perform the actions with their own hands.”


Although blockchain is largely associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, it’s set to impact many HR functions as well. This includes many of the activities associated with hiring and recruiting, especially when it comes to sharing and authenticating candidate information.


A blockchain is a digital, public ledger that permanently records online transactions. It operates by automatically executing “smart contracts” whenever the proper conditions are met, and it records those transactions for all to see. Blockchain’s securely and permanently recorded ledger properties are what make it so valuable outside the realm of cryptocurrency.


Although HR applications of blockchain are still in their infancy, a lot of exciting new possibilities are now emerging. One aspect in which blockchain has become beneficial to hiring and recruiting is in regard to credential and qualification verification. Although many of us know it’s wrong to lie on a resume, many continue to do so when applying for new roles. In fact, CareerBuilder reports 75% of HR managers have caught a lie on a candidate’s resume.


Using a blockchain-based record of candidate qualifications and credentials can help us prevent and identify candidates who choose to lie on their resumes. A blockchain ledger can record academic credentials, professional certifications, and other qualifications that a potential job seeker may want to include on a resume. Colleges, universities, organizations, and other types of certifying institutions can publish this information to the ledger whenever a person completes a course or program, and employers can then check a candidate’s resume against the ledger.

Technology in the HR realm is advancing at a rapid rate. In order to remain successful in our future business endeavors, we must keep up and evolve alongside the emerging technologies, like the ones included above. As HR leaders, it’s our responsibility to leverage technology to drive business value, keep our teams engaged, and foster leadership within our organizations.

Marie Johnson is a contributor to Enlightened Digital, UX Designer and technology writer from New York City. If she's not writing her latest blog post in her kitchen, you'll likely find her strolling through Central Park, cappuccino in hand.