It’s no secret that the role of HR and HR technology is changing rapidly. If you want your organization to remain agile and competitive, it’s more important than ever to stay plugged in to the latest trends.

This week on #WorkTrends, we’re talking about the state of HR with Cory Mau and Leah Machado from Paychex. The Paychex team just released their second annual Pulse of HR Survey, and in this episode we discuss what they’ve uncovered.

You can listen to the full episode below, or keep reading for this week’s topic. Share your thoughts with us using the hashtag #WorkTrends.

The Digital Transformation Is Here

There’s no question about it — the digital transformation is also transforming HR. Cory Mau makes the point that employee self-service has gone from being a nice-to-have to a must-have in HR. Paychex found that 73% of employees expect their employer to offer a high level of self-service that allows them to complete HR tasks on their own. “They don’t want to call in; they don’t want to fill out a form; they want to go online,” says Mau. “Employees want tools and solutions so that they can make their workplace more like how they conduct their personal lives.”

Out of all the trends seen in this year’s survey, Mau was most surprised by the fact that over half (58%) of respondents said they are using some form of AI. He believes most businesses are in the early stages of truly implementing and leveraging AI. The question moving forward will be how effective HR professionals are at turning AI solutions into action.

Despite all the gains, the survey showed that businesses could be doing more to leverage automation. Tracking employees’ time was the number two challenge cited by HR leaders. This immediately jumped out to Mau and Machado, who assert that there are many effective time and attendance solutions out there. “If you’re spending even a quarter of your time tracking down employees to record their time, which we know a lot of businesses are still doing via these manual processes, you’re still giving yourself less time to focus on what really matters — strategic activities like engagement and retention,” Mau says.

The Role of HR Is Evolving

This year, Paychex added some timely questions to the survey around crucial movements impacting HR — things like #metoo, #timesup, and the ongoing dialogue around pay equity. They found that 65% of organizations have updated harassment and discrimination policies in the past twelve months and that 67% have reevaluated their pay practices this year with an eye on pay equity. “This is a case of the data really telling the story of the past year for HR leaders,” says Machado. “Harassment and pay equity are definitely top of mind. In fact, requests [from Paychex clients] to review policies in both of these areas came in with much more frequency this year.”

Data from the survey also shows that 80% of HR leaders feel that they have a strategic influence on their organization, something Machado can attest to herself. “HR’s role has continued to evolve as a strategic partner and a critical contributor to the company’s success versus being viewed as just a call center,” she says.

The flip side of this transformation is that higher demands are being placed on HR professionals, and therefore higher stress. While 78% of respondents reported feeling stressed at work in both 2017 and 2018, “about three quarters would still recommend HR as a profession,” says Machado. “That tells me that there’s an increased sense of value and purpose in the profession. The work that HR is doing is rewarding. It’s making a difference in business today.”

Continue the conversation. Join us on Twitter (#WorkTrends) for our weekly chat on Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, 10:30 a.m. Pacific or anywhere in the world you are joining from to discuss this topic and more.

This episode of #WorkTrends is sponsored by Paychex.

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