The impact of COVID-19 on HR tech

We’re all feeling the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and not least in our working lives. Thanks to COVID-19, workforces are scattered and dispersed, employees either laid off, on furlough or working from home or in other unusual circumstances. Given the impact on people, it’s no surprise that HR is in the lead on managing the crisis. Equally unsurprising is that technology is a critical factor.

Three predictions for HR

Reliable HR and business guru, Josh Bersin’s latest research has identified three key issues for future HR:

Remote working is THE key issue. Bersin points out that employee concerns and HR concerns are (or should be) very similar in that health and wellbeing are central. However, once past that, remote working is the big problem for most employers, 50% of which did not have a remote working policy.
Interestingly, the security and compliance challenges that many employers have used as reasons not to support remote working in the past have been overcome relatively quickly. Though more is needed on the welfare side of remote working, most organizations have adopted the strategy successfully and it will feature much more widely in the future.

HR management in the future will be based more on resiliency and how the workforce is supported in a crisis rather than by day to day service delivery. For this, HR needs to consider how it is organized and structured. Flatter control structures with central coordination is the way to go.

Despite the crisis, recruitment and learning and development still continue to be priorities. The growth in the use of distance learning options and virtual classrooms will set a direction for HR and training for the foreseeable future.
All of which raises issues around tech support…

How might technology figure in the future workplace?

Recruitment – According to HR Executive, 80% of businesses are now using video in their recruitment process. Yes, hiring may have slowed for obvious reasons but expect video and other distance-bridging technologies to feature more strongly in future for interviews and assessments.

Remote working – It may seem like the whole world is a Zoom expert now, but expect much greater use of Zoom, Skype, Google Meet and the like. With everyone in isolation (and many are predicting further waves of infection and further lockdowns) communication with colleagues and customers is only possible via technology. Businesses with an HRMS with social collaboration features are a step ahead.

Employee health – The focus is on health and wellbeing and already apps are appearing that enable daily employee health checks. Such remote, questionnaire-based tests can be used as part of monitoring employee health and getting people back into the workplace safely. Furthermore, remote working commonly leads to a blurring of work-life balance and an ‘always-on’ work culture. New ways of supporting employees to manage time and juggle priorities will be on the rise.

Job design – With increasingly dispersed teams, efficiency can suffer, particularly if decision-making is concentrated in a few roles. Flatter structures, with decision-making pushed down to the lowest appropriate level is the challenge, with an impact on job design, and the competencies needed to perform in the new circumstances (those competencies will include use of technology).

Learning – A Forbes survey predicts that we’ll see increased investment in learning and development. This ties in with the impact of new ways of working and the need for new (or a different balance of) competences and skills. As mentioned above, there will be an increased reliance on distance and technological training options, including on how to work efficiently from home!

As with many other areas of life, the spread of COVID-19 will leave the world of work transformed. The exact nature and direction of that transformation can be predicted and guessed at but what is certain is that the solutions will be mainly technological. Expect to see HRMS and other HR system vendors emphasizing their application to a distant world.

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Dave Foxall

About the author…

Dave has worked as HR Manager for the Ministry of Justice for a number of years, he now writes on a broad range of topics including jazz music, and, of course, the HRMS software market.

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Dave Foxall

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