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Technology has changed the world as we know it, and as other industries and departments have evolved accordingly, so too has human resources. A strong HR department is essential to every business, and the advent of new tech often promises vast improvements to the field. But when it comes to such a human-centric industry, new technology isn’t always better. Here are four HR technology trends that, for better and for worse, are changing human resources practices.

Employee Portals

There is consensus that employee portals are an excellent digital HR tool that can greatly improve the employee experience and increase engagement. They provide a go-to place for nearly anything an employee may need, and they’re where they can access forms, apply for PTO, download handbooks, find pay stubs, review tax forms, check their healthcare plan, make a complaint, ask a question, view a company calendar of events, and much more. Additionally, with continuous performance management becoming a big HR trend, employees could also see the results of their performance reviews here.

In 2018, neglecting employee portals has a number of negative consequences. Not only can it create confusion and possibly paranoia when employees can’t access the information they need quickly, but it puts a larger burden on human resources employees. HR reps spend all their time fielding requests that become like busywork instead of focusing on executing a well-planned HR strategy. Such a scenario can become unproductive and illustrates the importance of implementing a user-friendly employee portal.

Digital Record Keeping

While an employee portal faces a company’s staff, the bigger strategy of digital record keeping is geared toward internal process improvements. Even for companies that have an online application for their internal jobs, what happens to that data once someone applies? Too often the answer is not much, as the application gets printed out and that’s it. True digital record keeping means eliminating forms and streamlining processes. While the focus naturally begins on the hiring process, this mentality that should permeate all interactions.

Introducing the digital element to onboarding, offboarding, performance reviews, employee surveys, payroll, and everything in between makes an organization more agile. Any document can be brought up and reviewed at a moment’s notice, saving a great deal of time and busywork. Most importantly, appropriately documenting everything (especially complaints, concerns, and other issues) in this fashion makes a significant difference in lowering risk and liability for your organization. Employment law is complicated, but taking the right steps through digital record keeping goes a long way in maintaining compliance.

Digital Training

Many organizations are realizing the importance of employee training throughout their company. Technology is making this an increasingly digital process that Forbes predicts will be an HR disruptor this year. This is a delicate topic because HR is a historically understaffed department. Couple that with training technology, and it can become something that is just putting employees through the motions without instilling anything of substance. Too often in this scenario, and especially when there is little onsite HR presence, it’s easy for a trainee to just wait for a mandatory video to end so they can move on to the next one. Harassment training, soft skills training, and managerial training are increasingly important areas to focus on, and relying completely on digital methods won’t cut it.

Artificial Intelligence & Blockchain

AI and blockchain technologies have already disrupted several industries, and HR is starting to experience this as well. Artificial intelligence is coming to performance analysis, and experts predict that blockchain will be used in HR in the recruiting process in the next 18 months. Even if the apps and tools that come out of these technologies are flawless, it would take years and possibly decades before employees begin to trust and feel comfortable with a computer being so involved in determining the success or failure of their careers.

This will make the human element in HR more important than ever as a balance between technology and people becomes critical. While employee portals and digital record keeping can be fantastic tools for HR, the field should be weary of handing over too much control to technologies like AI that promise too much. This is exactly why at Synergy we put an onsite HR Director inside our clients’ companies; nothing can beat the human presence in this field.

4 HR Technology Trends that Affect Your Business

For small and medium businesses especially, it can be difficult to keep up with today’s HR technology trends. It’s not always easy to determine which to buy into, and even then, the cost of creating an employee portal or digitizing all records can be prohibitive. However, it can also be downright dangerous to risk losing important information or to forget to appropriately document a complaint.