If you work in HR, you know that the HR tech marketplace is absolutely exploding. Your inbox is probably overflowing with marketing emails from vendors that want to help you improve every part of the talent lifecycle, from sourcing to hiring to onboarding to engagement. With all of the (very exciting!) noise and activity in HR tech, which trends are worth watching? We flagged three HR tech developments we’re keeping an eye on.

Better People Analytics

“The continued evolution of HR technology is introducing more granular access to data that shapes decision-making in real time,” says Tom Hammond, vice president of corporate strategy and product management for Paychex. He cites a recent Paychex Pulse of HR Survey that found 86 percent of HR leaders said analytics allow them to be more informed and objective.

“Those who are using analytics are doing so to target HR communications more effectively (64 percent), but analytics are also often used to identify high-potential employees (61 percent) and what they’d like more of from their employer.”

When HR is integrated with technology and analytics, Hammond says, there’s also less room for manual errors and siloed data.

Employee Self-Service (ESS)

The Paychex survey also revealed that 73 percent of employees expect a high level of self-service so they can complete an assortment of HR tasks on their own, and 80 percent would prefer to use a desktop or mobile device instead of paper. However, Hammond says nearly half of business owners don’t offer a paperless self-service option for basic HR-related functions like updating an address or filling out a tax form, even though it would reduce HR’s workload and allow departments to focus on more strategic responsibilities.

“Current trends and consumer behaviors show we’re in the beginning stages of a mobile-strategy shift,” says Kevin Andrews, chief technology officer at benefits-tech company Hodges-Mace. “HR understands that, in order to keep up with employees’ fast-paced, easy-access lifestyles, employers must connect via their mobile devices.” Andrews predicts that more companies will look for mobile-accessible HR solutions as they hear increased demand from employees.

Social Collaboration Tools

Research from Gallup reveals that companies with an engaged workforce perform better, and companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147 percent. Hammond believes that integrating social collaboration tools such as chat rooms, instant messaging and video communication can help companies promote employee engagement.

“Similar to ESS mobile apps, social collaboration tools in the workplace offer a level of familiarity and resemblance to personal apps that helps engage employees from the start,” Hammond says. In private conversations or wider collaboration, social collaboration can improve internal connectivity. “For example, social collaboration allows for streamlined, personalized onboarding, offering employees access to the forms, information and people they need to start on the right foot.”

Realizing the importance of an engaged workforce, Thomas Bradbury, CEO of WorkplaceUX, also believes there will be in increase in solutions and platforms that are designed to increase employee engagement. “Businesses today want and need to keep employees connected so that the workplace is one that is mutually beneficial both to the organization (and its bottom line) as well as to employees, so that they feel valued, experience growth and have a sense of community.”

One element of employee engagement is self-determination, and HR tech will help workers take more control over their own success. “Employees feel more invested in their work and their company’s future when they have a greater sense of ownership in their success, and they see that their performance has a direct impact on the company’s overall goals and objectives,” says Rajeev Behera, founder of Reflektive. “Growth-minded companies are empowering their people with new tools to solicit and provide real-time feedback, build success recognition into the fabric of the culture and ensure that both managers and employees have the resources they need to innovate, grow and perform at their best,” Behera says.

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