What Will HR Look Like in the Next Five Years? Insights From HRO Today Forum 2018

HR Technology PredictionsLast week I had the opportunity to attend the HRO Today Forum in Washington, D.C., where top HR leaders were honored for excellence in their fields. Congratulations to all the winners and nominees (head on over to the HRO Today website to see a list of the CHRO of the Year Award winners and Leaders of Distinction). 

The Forum also presented the latest in trends and technology in the HR space, with leaders in the field discussing innovations in AI, candidate experience, corporate strategy, the gig economy and more. Here are our top takeaways from the conference.


Within five years, AI will be the preeminent technology used to support HR workflows, candidate experiences, and employee engagement.

We’re hearing about all sorts of exciting innovations in the HR space, and more than one speaker speculated that within five years we will see radical transformation in the way we do work every day. From chatbots to text analysis, AI has given us tools that reduce the amount of busywork we engage in, leaving us free to foster human connection and conversation. 

Takeaway: Automate what you can and put humans back where they matter most.

The talent shortage has created challenges for hiring across all industries.

We’re looking at a 3.9% unemployment rate right now, which means the gloves are off in the war for talent. Technology innovations like resume parsing, candidate scoring, robotics, and chatbots give companies an edge, but many times the deciding factors hinge on culture, engagement, and human connection.

Takeaway: Don’t wait for a scheduled career conversation. Use opportune moments to spark engagement both before and after hiring.

Candidate experience has a huge impact on employee retention.

This theme was repeated throughout numerous sessions during the conference, and it’s something many organizations still don’t do well. Job seekers want to be recognized and valued by the organizations they work for, and that requires intentional communication. Studies show that candidates who don’t hear back from you after an application never want to hear from you again—even as a consumer. And most say their experience on Day One impacts how long they will stay at your company.

Takeaway: Employees are looking for recognition, exciting work opportunities, job security, competitive pay, education and career growth potential, a positive culture, and transparent communication.

HR needs a better way to interact with the gig economy.

Millennials want flexible work and they are optimistic about freelancing as independent contractors. In the next two years, we can expect half the workforce to be contingent workers—but most CEOs aren’t comfortable with that idea. Still, HR needs to find a way to manage gig workers at a standard quality level while minimizing human costs like security and stability.

Takeaway: Employees care about two things: how much they earn and how their earnings vary. Some will trade flexibility for security, and therefore companies can predict work patterns for gig economy workers based on times of day and income variance.

Technology has the greatest impact when it operates in sync with human workers, allowing them to focus their efforts on connection and conversation.

The consumerization of technology has changed the way employees think about the tech they use at work. They want technology to be usable, accessible, and intuitive. They’re also willing to interact with tech to get answers and move a process forward (e.g., a chatbot for answers to benefits questions). Still, there is no replacement for human connection and that’s where companies can stand out in terms of culture. 

Takeaway: Sustainable engagement recognizes the need for physical, social, and emotional well-being. It works to create positive experiences through connection.

What are your thoughts about the future of HR and technology? Tag us on social and let us know!


About the Author: Susan McClure is our resident content marketer at CompareHRIS.com. She writes about HR tech, HR outsourcing, and general employment issues. When she isn't writing, you might find her browsing shelves at the library, exploring a local hiking trail, or digging in the garden with her family and two dogs. 


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