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Evolution of HR Technology

A Brief History and Future of HR Technology

If the Terminator film saga (and to a lesser extent, Stephen King’s Maximum Overdrive) taught me anything, is that it’s better to welcome the evolution of technology than be on the other side. Similar to the technical enhancements made to the cybernetic endo-skeletal T-100 in the first Terminator that begat the liquid alloy T-1000 of T2 fame, HR technology has seen a number of improvements in recent years that have made a world of difference. Moving from a set of disconnected processes and legacy systems reliant on manual inputs and characterized by balky technology, today’s HR technology is moving towards more streamlined, user-friendly platforms that can cover a range of HR functions in a more holistic, unified manner. While specialized applications focused on specific aspects of HR, such as employee well-being or recruitment, are also needed, the flexibility of cloud-based systems, mobile technology and design thinking has allowed HR tech to evolve seemingly eons beyond where it was just a decade ago. But let’s take a look back and see what these changes mean for the future of HR technology.

The Birth of the Modern Era of HR Tech

The 1990’s is when the modern era of HR Tech had its start. This time period saw the rise of the first online job boards, which made recruiting easier than ever before but also disrupted traditional employer-applicant relationships. HR recruiters could now easily source and screen hundreds of resumes of potential candidates and pare down applicant pools so that only the most qualified entered the interview process. However, this also had the effect of increasing the competition for top talent. It’s no surprise then that the 2000’s saw a greater emphasis on talent management applications that were no longer locally deployed. These new recruiting and talent management systems began to migrate to the Cloud, making implementation and maintenance a breeze. While these applications were functional they lacked the kind of employee-facing, user friendly interfaces that would be needed for them to become truly “sticky” and the kind of platform that employees actually wanted to use.

Today’s workplace is evolving to become more employee-centric and HR technology is evolving in tandem. In this current era, the focus is on identifying and hiring the top talent, and then keeping them engaged and productive. Recognition, Health & Wellness, Learning and Development – these are a few of the emerging areas of HR tech that have become crucial to engaging and retaining top talent.

Central to this growing suite of tools focused on the employee experience is their ability to positively impact engagement. With Gallup recently reporting that 87% of employees worldwide are disengaged, being able to take action to improve engagement by technological means can clearly holds great promise. Furthermore, with millennials now making up a larger portion of the workforce than ever before, finding measureable and repeatable ways to keep them engaged engagement has become of the utmost importance. With this reality as the backdrop, it’s easy to see why it is so important for companies to adapt and embrace the latest shifts in HR technology before they lose out in the war for talent. Here are a few more ideas as to where HR technology might be heading in the future:

Increase in Learning Management/Career Growth Platforms

According the Gallup study referenced earlier in this blog, 87% of millennials place a high value on growth and development opportunities in the workplace. So it stands to reason that the popularity of Learning Management Systems will continue to grow, with companies adding these to their suite of employee experience tools either as stand-alone offerings, or as an add-on to their existing employee engagement platform via integration with an open API. Access to an LMS benefits both the employer and employee alike; the employee acquires new, marketable skills (along with positive feeling of personal growth that the learning experience engenders), and the employer can expect increased productivity or an expanded skill-set from the employee. This category of employee engagement is going through a disruptive period of its own, with the increased adoption of career mobility platforms. These platforms are more than an LMS; they allow employees to gain an understanding of a new role all within the confines of their current company, sometimes going as far as offering role-specific tasks to complete.

An Increase in Actionable Data

With the proliferation of HR technology, data regarding almost every aspect of the employee experience is being tracked, measured and analyzed. Traditional metrics, such as attendance, do little to predict the future performance of employees, outside of their likelihood to show up every day. But new forms of data are beginning to shed light on drivers and predictors of employee engagement that were never available before. From recognitions given and/or received on an engagement platform, to the results of frequent pulse surveys, today’s employers now have access to reams of valuable employee data to analyze and subsequently act upon. This will only increase as big data continues to work its way into every layer of the business decision making process. By utilizing the wealth of metrics now offered on HR Tech platforms, employers can quickly identify poorly performing employees and possibly re-engage before they leave for another opportunity; or conversely, identify top performers and develop strategies for engaging and retaining them.

Greater Integration with External Systems via APIs

Virtually the entire business world has seen a major philosophical shift through the development and increased use of APIs. APIs afford employers a greater amount of choice in the external platforms they integrate into the workplace. This allows them to offer best in class applications for each aspect of HR, further ensuring the platforms they offer employees are functionally effective and entirely useable. Open API’s and the growth of Single Sign On (SSO) technology also serve to simplify the navigation of day to day HR systems as employees are no longer forced to remember a unique login name and password for every disparate system used in the workplace. Instead, different programs such as health and wellness tools, referrals programs, LMS’s, etc. can be offered in a unified environment.

The HR technology landscape has evolved so much so in the past decades that it can difficult to remember what life was like before the current era – and few of us would want to! With ongoing innovation occurring at an ever increasing pace, it can seem increasingly daunting to keep up with the times. But what remains consistent is the need to identify, hire, engage and retain talented employees. Thankfully, this has been made easier by the emergence of tools focused on the entirety of the employee experience, especially in areas like employee recognition which Aon Hewitt just identified as the top driver of employee engagement in its 2017 Trends in Global Engagement Report.

When thinking about the future of HR tech, don’t be scared of emerging technology and don’t get left behind, or like the countless victims of that famous cinematic cyber-warrior mentioned in the opening, you risk getting terminated.

Learn more about what to look for in an employee engagement and recognition solution. Download the Buyers Guide for Social Recognition Systems.

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About the Author

Iain FerreiraIain Ferreira is the Content Marketing Manager at Achievers. He lives in San Francisco. You can view his Linkedin profile here.

 

 

 

current and emerging HR Trends

Top HR Trends for 2016 with an Eye to the Future

With the sands of 2016 close to completing their journey through the pinched middle of the proverbial hourglass, it is only natural to consider what 2017 has in store. But before the future becomes the present, learning what trends emerged in the HR space in 2016 might help inform, and better prepare us for what’s to come. Below are 5 HR trends that emerged in 2016 that we believe will become more ingrained and ubiquitous in the coming months and years:

1. A More Diverse and Employee-Centric Workplace

The idea of an employee-centric workplace is one that can impact almost every aspect of an organization. From providing mechanisms for employees to directly influence the direction of a company, to facilitating a culture of recognition and engagement, in 2016 businesses were more focused on those in “the trenches” than ever before. For many organizations, the rise of an employee-centric work environment was made evident through the simple act of letting employees express their true selves, rather than stifling the individuality and diversity of thought that each individual brings to the table. As Kety Duron (Chief Human Resources and Diversity Officer at City of Hope, a California-based healthcare system) states in a recently published article on Forbes.com,  “Differences question the status quo and force us to learn from diverse thinking. You have to have people who are agile and can adapt. We can’t say we are open and then create workplaces that do not embrace diversity of thought. If we are trying to select and attract diverse talent to the leadership table and embrace their values, we must continue to encourage and value diverse thinking. When that happens at the leadership level it will cascade to all levels, creating an organization where diversity and inclusion is part of the organizational fabric.”

2. Work Anywhere, Anytime

With the ubiquity of personal electronic devices and growing variety of ways to log on and stay virtually connected, it is easier than ever for employees to work in the places in which they are most comfortable.  According to Jeanne Meister’s article, “Consumerization of HR: 10 Trends Companies Will Follow in 2016,” workplace flexibility is second only to salary when prospective employees are evaluating a job opportunity. Workplace flexibility not only creates an environment of trust between employer and employee, but also fosters a better work/life balance while reducing the costs of commuting. When work is results-driven, it shouldn’t matter where the work is being performed as long as mutually agreed-upon goals and objectives are met.

3. It’s (Still!) All About Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is the measure of how much employees believe in their company, and how much effort they are willing to put in to work toward its success. According to Gallup, in 2016 only 1/3 of U.S. employees reported being engaged at work and this number is little-changed in over a decade. So it’s not surprising that there are a number of solutions on the market focused on improving employee engagement. The most exciting and promising of these are focused on offering a complete employee engagement solution, not only focused on Health & Wellness, Learning & Development, or Rewards & Recognition, but linking all of those, while tying in measurement tools such as pulse surveys along with a robust suite of people analytics. By focusing on the complete employee experience, these emerging tools will provide the greatest ROI for emerging, employee-centric organizations.

4. Frequent, Real-Time Evaluation Tools

With increased emphasis on engagement and greater access to employee generated data and insights through recognition and rewards platforms, 2017 is shaping up to be the “Year of the Employee”. This being the case, it makes sense to invest in tools that can help you measure and act on employee engagement data in a frequent, timely manner. These can be as simple as a daily or weekly pulse survey offered through a centralized platform, or as formal as weekly one-on-one meetings between employees and their managers. By analyzing the results from these evaluation tools, companies can address certain systemic failings almost immediately This trend further emphasizes the transition to the “employee-centric” model by allowing employees to anonymously (in the case of online surveys) express their true feelings regarding their work environment and company priorities on a regular basis and then making that data widely available to help guide the business. Not only was this a trend in 2016, some think this will be a major enterprise in 2017 and beyond.

5. Employees as Cultural Ambassadors

In today’s always-on, mobile, social, transparent environment, rare is the employee lacking an up-to-date LinkedIn page and a Glassdoor premium membership. Couple these trends with greater emphasis on the individual and you have a recipe for what could be a company’s greatest (and perhaps, worst) asset for attracting top talent. With a simple click, employees can share with the hundreds, if not thousands of people in their social networks, the photos of that amazing team-building trip or a well-written blog post published by a company, espousing emergent industry trends in a given business sector. These seemingly disparate instances of social sharing actually form a lattice of social relevancy that serves to inform prospective employees of the pros (and cons) of an organization. A highly engaged, well-compensated employee is a greater recruiting tool than any other used before, as they are not a faceless, monolithic, one-way source of knowledge, but rather an approachable source of “real” insight that candidates can engage with to get an honest look into the inner working of a given organization.

Almost all of the emergent trends of 2016 reinforced the idea that employees are imbued with more power than ever before. From increased and ongoing importance of employee engagement, to trusting employees to get the job done from wherever they please, companies have already taken strong measures to assure they are at the forefront of this transition of power. With historically low unemployment rates, increased transparency, and more democratizing resources such as job boards, employer review sites and career building sites such as LinkedIn, 2017 looks sure to be the Year of the Employee.

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About the Authors

Josh Danson

Josh is Director of Content Marketing at Achievers. An accomplished marketing and communications professional with more than 20 years’ experience in the fields of marketing and PR, Josh worked as a press secretary on Capitol Hill before moving West, and from politics into PR – and on into content marketing. Josh graduated with High Honors in History from Kenyon College and lives in San Francisco with his wife and 9 year-old daughter. In addition to work and family, he is passionate about music, politics and fly fishing (not necessarily in that order).

Iain Ferreira

Iain Ferreira is the Content Marketing Manager at Achievers. He lives in San Francisco. You can view his Linkedin profile here.

 

 

Executive Buy-In

How to Get Executives On Board with Employee Rewards and Recognition Programs

Dr. Donald Clifton’s book How Full Is Your Bucket revealed the number one reason people leave their jobs is because they don’t feel appreciated. But there’s a proven way to address this problem: focus on employee engagement. According to a Harvard Business Review study, 71% of respondents rank employee engagement as very important to achieving overall organizational success and recognition happens to be the #1 driver of employee engagement.

It’s clear businesses need to focus more on employee engagement and recognition strategies. Not only does engaging and recognizing employees make them feel valued, but they are more productive in return. By focusing on employee engagement and happiness, your bottom line results will improve as a result. In fact, the Harvard Business Review recently shared that developing employees’ strengths can increase sales up to 19% and profits up to 29%. And if you’re still skeptical, just listen to our customers. Taken together, it’s pretty clear that both employees and employers stand to benefit when they have the right rewards and recognition programs in place

If this is the case, why do some businesses find it hard to get a successful rewards and recognition program off the ground? It’s not due to a lack of desire from employees, or support from their managers. According to our latest infographic on the state of employee disengagement, 93% of employees hope to be recognized at least quarterly, while WorldatWork reported that 46% of senior managers view recognition programs as an investment rather than an expense. So where is the roadblock? Oftentimes, we’ve found, it comes down to a lack of executive buy-in and support. Gaining executive buy-in is one of the most critical factors for initiating and maintaining a successful employee rewards and recognition program; it is also one of the toughest hurdles for HR to overcome.

With this in mind, we’ve compiled some tips and strategies to help HR professionals get executives on board with employee rewards and recognition programs.

Get their attention with numbers

Numbers don’t lie, so why not show your executives some numbers that’ll be sure to grab their attention. According to the Hay Group, a global consulting firm, “Our research into employee engagement has shown that companies with the most engaged employees report revenue growth at a rate 2.5X greater than their competitors with the lowest level of engagement.” Still not convinced? How about some powerful numbers provided by best-selling author and leading authority on employee recognition, Dr. Bob Nelson. Nelson shares that organizations which have a ‘culture of recognition’ have employees that are:

  • 5X times more likely to feel valued
  • 7X more likely to stay with their company
  • 6X more likely to invest in their company
  • 11X more likely to feel completely committed to their jobs

And if you’re targeting the C-suite, make sure to share this little tidbit: The financial return of Fortune’s Best Places to Work has been shown to be 233% higher over a 6-year period as compared with overall market returns and companies with higher employee satisfaction scores have been shown to have a 700% higher shareholder return.

Win them over with the right program

But getting executive buy-in for your rewards and recognition program isn’t just about convincing them of the potential ROI or how it will lead to bottom line growth. At it’s core, it should be about taking care of your most valuable asset — your employees. With that in mind, you also need to sell them on your vision of an employee rewards and recognition program that reflects your company’s culture and values and keeps employees needs at the forefront. What makes it unique? Why will your employees love it? How is this particular program the perfect fit for your business?

To help guide your pitch, start with the following key points:

  • Reinforces core values. Inc. recently shared why defining company values is important, stating, “Promoting your values throughout your organization can help your employees focus on their goals.” With the right employee rewards and recognition program you can easily tie in your company values with every recognition, reinforcing core values across the organization daily. With such strong reinforcement your employees can better focus on goals and, in turn, be more productive.
  • Results-driven. Recognitions can be tied to specific business objectives, such as rewarding employees for hitting a certain sales target, as well as to broader objectives like a focus on customer satisfaction. Employee recognition is particularly powerful because it can infuse each and every action and interaction in your company with inspiration. Points-based employee recognition underscores the value employees are creating when they contribute to success and do the right things.
  • Data and analytics. Key metrics can be accessed for real-time analytics and reporting. A good recognition and rewards program can give you the ability to track every recognition and reward given or received, allowing you to identify top performers and empowering managers to take action accordingly.
  • Cost-savings. It’s a no-brainer — online, social recognition solutions require less time, effort and cost when compared to trying to create a do-it-yourself solution or continuing to invest in outdated years of service programs.

A critical factor for any business and executive is to draw in and keep top talent. The best way to do so is by focusing on employee engagement and how to make employees happy through the right rewards and recognition program. Remember, companies with the most engaged employees report revenue growth at a rate 2.5X greater than their competitors with the lowest level of engagement. Employee engagement can quickly become top of mind for any executive once they understand how much it directly impacts business revenue.

To learn more, download the Obtaining Executive Buy-In for Employee Rewards and Recognition Programs White Paper.

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About the Author
Kellie WongKellie Wong is the Social Media and Blog Manager for Achievers. She manages Achievers’ social media presence and
The Engage Blog, including the editorial calendars for both. In addition to writing blog content for The Engage Blog, she also manages and maintains relationships with 20+ guest blog contributors and edits every piece of content that gets published. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.

 

The State of Employee Engagement

The Current State of Employee Engagement and How to Make It Better

How happy and engaged are our employees? It’s an important question that every business should want to know the answer to. We hate to break it to you, but according to our latest employee survey, 51% of employees are not happy at work. What does that mean for your business? The less happy and engaged your employees are, the less productive your business will be as a whole. Start focusing on how to make your employees more engaged for better business outcomes. Take at a look at the current state of employee engagement and see what you can do to make it better.

Focus on your mission and vision
Greatness Infographic Mission and Vision

It’s surprising that a whopping 61% of employees don’t know their company’s mission. A mission and vision statement is essentially a summary of the aims, values and direction of your company. Knowing and embracing the company’s mission helps provide employees with a sense of purpose and with motivation to succeed. But if your employees aren’t aligned to, or even aware of, your company’s mission and vision, how can you expect them to move forward as a whole towards the same goals? Focus on your company’s mission and vision, and start strategizing on how to build more awareness of those core, guiding principles within your organization.

Emphasize shared cultural values
Greatness Infographic Culture

Not only are a majority of employees unaware of their company’s mission and vision, but apparently they are also oblivious to their company’s cultural values. Values are important because they help define company culture and reflect what an organization ultimately cares about. You want your employees to embrace your company’s values because by having a personal and emotional connection to what they do, they gain a sense of importance and motivation behind their work. But as our research shows, shared culture can only go so far towards improving overall levels of engagement.

Encourage leadership to nurture trust
Greatness Infographic Leadership Statistic

We’ve all heard the saying, “People join companies, but leave bad managers.” One constant that remains as a contributing factor to employee disengagement is poor leadership. Only 45% of employees trust their company’s leadership and half don’t expect to be in their current job just one year from now. This represents an obvious disconnect between employees and their work, and especially between employees and leadership. According to a Careerbuilder.com study cited in a Wharton management blog, 76% of full-time workers, while not actively looking for a new job, would leave their current workplace if the right opportunity came along. Don’t lose great talent because of a lack of trust in leadership and in their vision for the future. Reassure your employees that your company and leadership team cares about them, as both workers and human beings. Put the emphasis on showing them respect and trust in what they do.

Reward and recognize employees
Greatness Infographic Rewards and Recognition

Results clearly show that employees have a deep desire for employee recognition. A massive 93% hope to be recognized at least quarterly, if not more. Why is it important to recognize employees for their hard work? According to the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program, employees who feel valued by their employer are 60% more likely to be motivated to do their very best at work. A quick recognition, whether from management or a peer, goes a long way and can boost employee engagement by up to 22%. Start recognizing and rewarding your employees for jobs well done and witness the positive impact it makes. Today’s rewards and recognition programs go way beyond tired old plaques and paperweights and should be based on a social media model to encourage the highest levels of adoption and active use. They should link to employees’ existing social networks and other common communications platforms like Slack and Jabber, offer point-based rewards so employees can choose items that are meaningful to them, and most importantly, they should serve to reinforce company values and encourage desired business results.

To learn more, download The Greatness Gap: The State of Employee Disengagement.

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About the Author
Kellie WongKellie Wong is the Social Media and Blog Manager for Achievers. She manages Achievers’ social media presence and
The Engage Blog, including the editorial calendars for both. In addition to writing blog content for The Engage Blog, she also manages and maintains relationships with 20+ guest blog contributors and edits every piece of content that gets published. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.