10 HR Technology Disruptions to Watch for in 2018

These days, the HR technology market is transforming faster than ever, and 2018 is set to bring even more fresh changes. Ten of the biggest disruptions to watch for in the year ahead include the following:

  1. A shift from automation to productivity

The early years of HR technology were strongly focused on process automation: developing and integrating practices like online payroll and record keeping, and software-supported learning management and performance appraisals. But now that automation has become the new standard—it’s no longer innovative to automate HR functions, it’s expected—focus has shifted to the question of productivity. Today’s agile, team-centric organizations face overwhelming workloads, and issues like employee burnout and engagement have become pressing concerns. The situation has left HR technology consumers and creators alike asking the following: Can we develop HR software that really boosts productivity and helps teams work more effectively together?

  1. Ongoing cloud migration

cloud computing

Cloud-based HR services have become very popular over the past five years, but many companies are still pondering the question of when and how to make the transition to the cloud. Typically, given the range of customized HR software and the broad choice of vendors, a large company can take as long as two to three years to complete a cloud migration. And given that only about 40% of today’s companies are using cloud-based, human capital management solutions, we won’t be seeing the end of cloud migration any time soon.

  1. Continuous performance management

There’s no longer any denying that continuous performance management, also known as real-time feedback, is not only here to stay, it’s transforming companies for the better. Supported by a variety of software and online systems, more and more companies are weaving a new, ongoing process for goal setting, coaching, performance assessment, and feedback into their operations. The results are tighter teams, more engaged workers, and stronger connections between management and employees.

  1. Feedback, engagement, and analytics tools


Evaluation isn’t a one-way street any more. Today, it’s just as important for employees to be able to evaluate and give feedback to their employers. As such, a whole dynamic world of real-time survey systems, organizational network analysis tools, and sentiment analysis software has sprung up to support this growing practice.

  1. New corporate learning tools

The next generation of corporate learning tools has exploded onto the HR scene, and companies can’t seem to get enough. From micro-learning platforms to modernized learning management systems to new AI-based technology that helps recommend, find, and deliver educational materials, today’s corporate learning tools are getting smarter all the time.

  1. Ongoing innovation in recruitment


Recruitment is the biggest marketplace in the HR sphere. With companies spending billions annually on strategic sourcing, candidate experience, and employment branding, it’s logical that recruitment has been a prime target for disruption in recent years, and that trend is showing no signs of slowing down. Chatbots and other new tools are automating high-volume recruitment in industries like hospitality and health care; open-source tools are transforming skilled job recruitment; and automated applicant-tracking systems are facilitating connections between candidates and employers.

  1. An exploding well-being market

Employee well-being is virtually inseparable from the question of productivity, so it’s hardly surprising that HR technology, content, and tools focused on well-being are set to become the next major business trend. As corporate well-being initiatives move from emphasizing “health” to emphasizing “reducing burnout” to emphasizing “human performance,” all kinds of tools and data are emerging to help measure employee energy levels, determine why they might be low, and provide personalized recommendations on how to improve energy levels. So far, the rapid adoption of these tools is driving tremendous value for companies.

  1. More mature people analytics


When it comes to people analytics, companies have been experimenting with models for years, but recently there has been an increasing shift towards more serious infrastructure investments that bring all personnel data together to drive measurable improvements. With embedded analytics tools now the standard offering from human capital management vendors, it’s easier than ever for companies to build a manager-level dashboard that provides thorough and accurate insight into how to make the work experience better.

  1. Better self-service tools

An emerging market that is poised for major disruption is the rapidly growing need for self-service employee experience platforms. With employee service centers becoming more automated every day, effective and intelligent self-service systems that integrate case management, document management, employee communications, and help-desk functions are desperately needed. So far, vendors are answering the call with AI-supported tools, including smart chatbots and cognitive coaches.

  1. HR leading the innovation charge

One of the most exciting disruptions to watch for in the year ahead is the level of innovation coming from within the HR field itself. Previously, HR approached innovation in a purely reactive way: waiting for tech companies to invent things and then figuring out how to use these new products. But increasingly, HR professionals are becoming disruptors themselves—experimenting with new systems and models for performance management, learning strategies, or recruitment—and then seeing which vendors offer or can create tools that support those innovations.

talent acquisition

The Most Important Thing to Understand about Talent Acquisition

According to today’s top talent-management professionals, the most important thing to understand about talent acquisition is that it’s not the same thing as recruitment. On the surface, this might seem to be a fairly trivial point—just a question of semantics—but in fact, differentiating these two areas is a critical step in helping companies build a coherent and proactive talent strategy that will lead to a brighter future. Read on to learn more about the difference between recruitment and talent acquisition, and why this distinction matters.

What is recruitment?

Simply put, recruitment is the process of searching for a specific candidate to fill a certain position—often a role that has just been vacated or newly created. In other words, recruitment is a reactive function that seeks to do nothing more than find candidates for existing available jobs. It encompasses activities like sourcing, screening, interviewing, selecting, hiring and, occasionally, some elements of onboarding.

What is talent acquisition?


Although talent acquisition is not the same thing as recruitment, this doesn’t mean that these two concepts are not related. On the contrary, recruitment is a key element of talent acquisition, which is likely the reason why many people often use the two terms interchangeably. However, talent acquisition goes beyond recruitment, taking a long-term view that is much broader in scope. Rather than simply reacting to present circumstances, talent acquisition is all about identifying future business needs and working to build talent pools for those future needs. Whereas recruitment is a linear process, talent acquisition takes a cyclical approach, fostering relationships in order to develop and nurture a long-term talent pipeline.

Some of the key aspects of talent acquisition that make it different from recruitment include the following:

Planning and strategy—Recruitment is tactical, but talent acquisition is strategic; and establishing an appropriate strategy takes a great deal of planning. An important part of talent acquisition involves taking an in-depth look at the nature of the business: considering workforce plans and future workplace needs and examining those needs in relationship to local and global labor markets and other critical workforce trends. In other words, talent acquisition is all about viewing a business’ talent needs in a wider context.

Workforce segmentation—To develop an effective talent-acquisition strategy, it’s vital that HR professionals understand the different work groups of a company, the unique positions within those segments, and how they all perform together. In addition, comprehensive knowledge of the skills, experiences, and competencies needed for success in each position is essential. Note how this broad view approach differs from the way in which recruitment tends to look at an individual position to be filled in isolation from other positions or from the company as a whole.

Employer branding—These days, an employer’s brand is just as important to prospective candidates as it is to potential customers, and an important part of talent acquisition is ensuring that a company’s brand is clear and attractive to targeted talent. Effective branding can advance a company’s market position, attract quality candidates, and paint a clear (and appealing) picture of what it’s like to work for that particular organization. Companies need to precisely articulate and define their image, as well as promote their organizational culture, key differentiators, quality products and services, and overall reputation. This is quite different from recruitment, in which the expectation is usually that interested candidates will seek out the company rather than the other way around.


Talent scoping and management—In today’s workforce, top talent can come from almost anywhere. To ensure that they have access to the best of the best applicants, talent professionals research and recognize the many diverse places where they can source quality candidates. Then, they start to build relationships with those individuals even when no positions are immediately available. Cultivating these kinds of connections helps ensure that there exists a sustainable talent pool that a company can draw from for many years. Recruitment, on the other hand, is more likely to see companies reaching out to candidates only when they have a vacant position.

Metrics and analytics—As with any other type of strategy, talent acquisition depends on the use of key metrics to conduct proper strategic tracking and analysis. Collecting and analyzing relevant information is the first and most important step in making better hiring decisions and ultimately improving the quality of the people a company hires.

Why is it important to understand the differences between recruitment and talent acquisition?

In examining the differences between recruitment and talent acquisition described above, it’s important to understand that the message here is not that talent acquisition is good while simple recruitment is bad; rather, the message is that it can be dangerous to mistake the one for the other. Far too many companies—often for good reasons, like lack of resources or lack of support from executive management—think they are engaging in talent acquisition when they are only recruiting, and then they can’t understand why their company has difficulty maintaining a stable and sustainable pool of high-performing employees. Learning how to tell the difference between recruitment and talent acquisition, however, can help these companies take the first step on the road to launching a proper strategic talent-acquisition approach that will serve their company well for years to come.


7 Basic HR Mistakes Your Company Needs to Watch For

This is a time of dramatic change for the workplace. From rapidly shifting workforce demographics to ever more sophisticated technological tools, HR professionals are having to cope with challenges that were difficult to imagine even just a decade or two ago. But as the HR field races to keep up with the pace of change, it’s important that HR’s basic but still critical functions aren’t left behind. Read on for a look at seven elementary HR mistakes your company needs to watch out for.

Mistake #1: An outdated employee handbook.


An up-to-date employee handbook is an essential tool for every company, regardless of size or industry: the quickest way for a company to end up in HR hot water is not to have its latest dos and don’ts down in writing for employees and managers alike to refer to. The employee handbook doesn’t have to be lengthy or elaborate; all that’s necessary is a few pages containing essential information like code of conduct, employment and termination guidelines, details on compensation and benefits, and company policy on issues like communications and nondiscrimination. At minimum, the employee handbook should be updated every other year to ensure compliance with the most recent legislation, and employees should sign an acknowledgement of receipt of the handbook and an agreement to abide by its policies.

Mistake #2: Not properly documenting performance issues.

Employee conduct is governed by written policies and standard operating procedures, so it’s important to make sure that violations of these policies and procedures are correctly and comprehensively documented. It’s easy to overlook or neglect this step, particularly because many minor performance infractions—like repeated lateness, for example—are often addressed verbally. However, written evidence of these issues is absolutely necessary to support future actions, like the decision to terminate someone for unsatisfactory job performance due to their repeated lateness. Keeping detailed written records of performance issues also helps a company ensure that it is applying and enforcing its HR policies consistently, which can in turn be useful in addressing possible legal actions like discrimination claims.

Mistake #3: Incomplete employee files.

employee fileAll personnel documents connected to employees’ work histories should always be kept safely and securely for compliance reasons. In addition, it’s a good practice to store different types of records separately. For example, leave and disability forms aren’t specifically related to employee performance and contain sensitive personal information, so keeping these in a separate folder safeguards privacy and avoids unnecessary overlap of documents.

Mistake #4: Inaccurate job descriptions.

Crafting a detailed and accurate job description takes time, which is why it’s often glossed over during the all-too-common scenario of making a quick hire. Despite this, the effort is well worth it when you consider the countless hours of future hassle it could save your company. A thorough job description helps you hone in on exactly why you’re hiring and what skills you need in a potential candidate, and it also serves as an important reference if the position ever needs to be modified in the future—as it might if the employee becomes physically disabled, for example.

Mistake #5: Inadequate training.

HR’s responsibility to a new employee doesn’t end on their first day of work, and while it’s not unreasonable to expect a certain amount of learning to happen on the job, it is unreasonable to assume that all that learning can be self-guided. As with assembling a job description, investing time in proper training will more than pay off down the road. Including training as part of the onboarding process not only helps new employees become more engaged and more knowledgeable about how to use their skills to benefit the company; it also helps employees feel that they are valued, which is a big boost for productivity and motivation.

Mistake #6: No internal HR audits.


HR policies are not “set it and forget it” arrangements. Your company needs to stay on top of changing legislation, rules and regulations, and best practices, and that requires a regular review and update of existing policies. This is a task that should be conducted every year, so don’t forget to set time aside for it. Updating the employee handbook, as described in point #1, can also be included as part of this process.

Mistake #7: Failure to comply with employment regulations.

Conducting an annual HR audit, as described above, can help your company avoid another serious HR mistake: non-compliance. Maintaining fluency with evolving employment laws and regulations is one of HR’s most important functions, and is yet another situation in which an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. HR managers must be tapped into the right resources to stay current in the changing employment environment, and to steer clear of costly oversights like misclassifying employees as independent contractors, or failing to comply with industry-specific Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) regulations.


How to Help Employees Solve Their Own Workplace Conflicts

As an HR director, managing workplace conflict is certainly part of your job description, but this doesn’t mean that you need to be personally responsible for sorting out every little issue and complaint that employees have. On the contrary, enabling and empowering employees to solve their own conflicts is a far more beneficial strategy, as over the long term it creates a robust work environment in which everyone understands that they have a role to play in conflict management.

However, this doesn’t mean that you get to simply wash your hands of workplace conflict management altogether. Rather, you’ll need to invest some upfront time and energy in coaching employees to resolve their own conflicts—something that can take considerable effort if your organization has a long history of depending on HR to manage these issues. The following tips can help you get started:

Clearly communicate expectations.

office discussion

Letting employees know that they will be in charge of resolving their own conflicts is an important first step in transferring conflict management responsibility from you to them. Employees need to understand the reasons for such a move (especially the fact that it will free you up to get on with more important work if you’re not constantly acting as a referee for arguments) and what exactly you expect them to do should a conflict arise.

Provide conflict-resolution skills training.

If you want employees to resolve their own conflicts, you need to make sure they have the right tools for the job. Conflict resolution isn’t an easy task, and it’s naïve to assume that employees will intuitively know what to do. Training sessions or workshops on conflict resolution are therefore essential in helping employees feel comfortable with key steps like recognizing conflict, identifying possible solutions for dealing with it, and recognizing their own preferred conflict-management style. In addition, if employees take these training sessions together, they will build a common vocabulary that can help keep everyone on the same page when working through a difficult situation.

Create a procedural framework for handling conflict.


Just as a shared vocabulary can make conflict resolution easier, so can a specific set of guidelines around the steps that people should take when they encounter a conflict; creating a standardized “how-to” framework means that no one will have to let a conflict simmer because they don’t know what to do to address it. Work with your employees to produce these guidelines, and make sure that everyone clearly understands them. For example, the framework might specify that if a team member’s behavior is causing a problem, the first step is for two people on the same team to meet with the “problem” employee to work toward a resolution; if this is unsuccessful, the next move would be to arrange a meeting with the entire team.

Develop an organizational culture that values conflict management.

If you expect employees to be truly successful at resolving their own workplace conflicts, you need to embed conflict management as an important value within the fabric of your organization. Your company should view and support conflict resolution skills as core job competencies for all employees. Job interviews should include behavioral questions that reveal a prospective candidate’s attitude toward and prior experience with negotiating conflicts in the workplace, while performance reviews can incorporate observable and measurable performance criteria for dealing with conflict. Finally, recognizing and praising employees who have managed to successfully resolve conflicts independently also sends a clear message about the type of behavior the organization most values in these situations.

Remind employees to focus on behaviors rather than personalities.


When employees are responsible for resolving their own conflicts, it’s vital that everyone understands how to keep things professional so that the resolution process doesn’t simply become an insult-slinging match. You can help keep employees on the right path by reminding everyone to focus on the problematic behavior instead of the personality of the employee behind it. Workplace conflict management isn’t a popularity contest, and focusing on changeable behaviors (rather than unchangeable personalities) will help keep the process positive and resolution-oriented.

Know when to step in.

As mentioned earlier, empowering employees to take charge of conflict resolution doesn’t mean abandoning them. Employees shouldn’t have to handle serious problems on their own, as this could send the message that management is unwilling to get involved in inappropriate or potentially illegal behaviors. Instead, employees should clearly understand situations in which they should come directly to you with their concerns: these include conflicts involving physical or verbal violence and harassment, theft, or the use or possession of illegal substances. Nonmanagerial employees should never think they have to confront possible violations of the law or enforce company policy without the knowledge or support of HR and management.