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Future of Work

The Essential Role of HR Technology

Understanding talent needs is vital as organizations face a rapidly changing landscape. Emerging technology and data applications are transforming how businesses acquire talent.


Nick Schacht, SHRM-SCP

Chief Global Development Officer, SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management)

We are in unprecedented times. Talent is more essential for an organization’s success than it ever has been before. Economists are forecasting record-low unemployment rates by the end of 2022, which means it will be increasingly difficult for organizations to get and keep the talent they need. 

Human resources professionals can help meet these talent acquisition, development, and engagement challenges by mastering and applying tools, data, and technology that allow them to move swiftly and knowledgeably. 

Organizations today are confronted by a rapidly changing landscape. The talent lifecycle — acquisition, development, engagement, and retention — requires organizations to continuously evaluate and redefine what skills and knowledge are needed, and even where those skills and knowledge may be found. 

Rightsourcing — a new staffing concept — allows organizations to hire both full-time and contract employees, in many cases regardless of location. Using key technologies can help.

Understanding where the talent you need is located is critical for organizations looking to hire. New “big data” applications are emerging that allow organizations to specify needed skill sets and understand where the talent that possesses those skills is located (and the availability of that talent). Similar compensation data helps organizations assess the economic viability of full-time versus contract employment.

Tech to the rescue

In recent years, a plethora of technology and data applications focusing on the talent acquisition process have emerged. Artificial intelligence-powered resume-screening engines can be a godsend in assessing candidate skill sets, particularly as today’s candidates are able to blanket employer application portals, resulting in hundreds or even thousands of resumes submitted for a single position. These technologies can help recruiters quickly zero in on the best fits for open positions in an environment where speed is essential.

Markets, products and customer expectations are changing at a rapid pace, and technology can also help employers ensure a workforce has the necessary skills while also preparing for future needs. 

Automated employee skills inventories are becoming increasingly common. When paired with strategic workforce forecasting of future skill needs, employers can use technology-driven and delivered learning engines that provide skill-based microlearning exactly where and when it’s needed. 

Retaining talent

Talented team members stay with their organizations when they are engaged at work, and HR professionals are finding new technologies and tools that help employers deliver an exceptional employee experience. 

Flexible work-from-anywhere policies that accommodate employee needs or preferences are enabled by robust hybrid and remote work technology platforms that allow employees to be productive regardless of location

Increasingly, organizations are relying on frequent employee pulse surveys to get a quick understanding of employee perspectives (particularly useful in volatile environments), and then rapidly assessing response data and acting where change is warranted. And for those employees who require specific accommodations to support their work, a wide variety of technology-based solutions can enable contributions from under-leveraged talent pools, which can expand the range of talent available to employers.

These are just a few examples of the many ways tools and technology are changing the world of hiring and staffing, but all come with a caution: It’s not enough just to apply new tools to workforce challenges — organizations must also carefully assess workplace and workforce policies and processes, and ensure those policies and processes are appropriate for the new world of work. The new technologies and tools will be most effective on a foundation of sound business processes.

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