September 25, 2018

Key takeaways from HR Tech 2018

Following the Las Vegas conference, our Senior Manager of Competitive Intelligence provides learnings and insights that are shaping the future of work for HR professionals.

Harsh Kundulli

Harsh Kundulli leads the competitive and market intelligence function at Ceridian. Always curious about how technology can help companies better attract, retain, pay, and engage their people, he drives extensive research and analysis on the HCM industry.

Before the HR Technology Conference 2018, I wrote about my expectations from the conference and identified the following themes I thought would dominate discussions:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) in HR: Opportunities and potential challenges associated with AI in HR
  • The future of people analytics: How analytics has become mainstream and how newer forms of analytics are gaining ground
  • Demystifying employee engagement: How this critical but nebulous term can be defined and measured
  • The power of integrated talent management: How all talent components should come together to produce maximum benefits
  • Making the workplace fairer and more human: How and why diversity and inclusion, and employee wellness, have become top of mind for HR professionals

I am happy to report that all these ideas indeed sparked interesting (and in some cases, very passionate!) discussions during the conference. However, unsurprisingly, I did come back from Las Vegas with not only a few different perspectives on these very concepts, but also a few new paradigms that seem to be gaining ground. They include the following:

The true purpose of AI

HR practitioners have recognized that simply pursuing the "next big thing" isn't going to better the employee experience or drive business performance. Instead, the focus was squarely on using the AI revolution to spark transformation, and not just to automate broken processes of yore. The greatest impact in the near term appears to be to use AI to augment and amplify the actions of humans rather than to replace them.

Democratizing people analytics

People analytics is the most powerful when it is pervasively used in an organization. So, technology that encourages voluntary, uncoerced usage among managers, through personalized nudges, recommendations etc. is the need of the hour.

Employee engagement is multi-faceted

During a roundtable on this topic, Peter Fasolo, EVP and CHRO of Johnson & Johnson, suggested that to ensure engagement, it’s critical to provide employees an experience at work that is comparable to their experiences as everyday consumers.  Ellyn Shook, CHRO of Accenture, described asking the right questions, understanding employees, and acting on their feedback as major steps in enhancing employee engagement and experience.

Connect wellness and productivity

Ariana Huffington put it well in her keynote when she said that employee wellness should always be connected to productivity. That is the only way to prevent this very important concept from being relegated to the world of "nice to have" and inaction. Technologies that can enable wellness and measure its impact on productivity are essential today.

The emergence of the team

According to Josh Bersin, a leading HCM industry analyst, the team is now the fundamental organizational design principle of a company rather than traditional hierarchies. To meet the changing demands of a volatile business environment, organizations of today already have teams coalescing for a project, collaborating across departments, and then disassembling after completion. Companies are, increasingly, feeling the need for technologies that enable these team dynamics and improve collaboration.

 

As these powerful trends shape the future of HR, a strategic approach to HCM that connects HR outcomes to business results, powered by smart and personalized technology, is likely to help companies win the war for talent.

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