It’s a Monday morning at 8:30 AM. I have checked into work using the time attendance app on my mobile. After logging into my laptop and checking emails, the morning check-incall with the team starts at 9:00 AM. If it was 2 years ago, this would have been over a coffee or a stand-up briefing in the office but now we all are sitting at home, meeting over Zoom and discussing about the engagement pulse survey to be run through online Microsoft Forms, etc.

The way we work has changed tremendously since the beginning of pandemic. Working from home and flexible working with the help of technology has become a norm in our daily working life.With the technology becoming more advanced and available, for many years, business leaders and CEOs have been trying to create a change in organizations to adapt the technology, to become more efficient, flexible and, in a way, more agile in our operations. Many organizations failed to cope with such changes due to one reason or the other. However, pandemic has forced us a “realdigital revolution” to adapt the technology and the new way of work. Laptop and head phone devices become essential for all of us. Video conferencing tools such as Zoom, MS Teams, Webex, etc b ecome our daily working tools.

In line with technology evolution, we, as HR leaders, have been trying to become more innovative and to make use of technology available to improve the efficiency as well as to monitor and improve the engagement and motivation within the organization.

What are current technologies available for the workforce solutions?

There are various types of HR technology solutions available to us:

- Full suite HRIS solutions for Large Enterprise

- Specialized solutions for core HR processes

Full suite HRIS solutions for large enterprise from organizations such as SAP, Oracle, etc have been available for decades now.Many of these comes together with the package of ERP systems and they cover a range of HR processes such as hiring new employees, onboarding, calculating payroll& tax, salary review, performance planning and management, learning management, etc. These solutions follow most-commonly use HR processes in large companies. As the technology evolved, the large enterprise solutions moved to cloud-based software with more flexible and configurable options. It gives large companies the benefit of providing a stable and integrated software solution with ready-made processes to improve efficiency and create smooth information flow between different parts of the organization. As these software packages are commonly used in large enterprise, the skillset also becomes transferable for HR experts working with it. The challenge, however, is that these software solutions, while configurable, can be limited in customization and somewhat clunky. Plus the hefty cost of software means many small and medium enterprise will not have the budget to buy it. Even some large enterprises decide to go for alternative options with better customization due to these limitation. This creates a gap in the market where the specialized solution, typically from smaller software providers, come in.

"Working from home and flexible working with the help of technology has become a norm in our daily working life"

Smaller software and niche solutions are built to solve problems in specific HR processes. For example, the software that purely calculate payroll & tax gives users ability to limit cost to fulfill their specific needs and provides better options for customization. Similarly, time attendance &shift management solutions are available and can be linked up to payroll. With the digital way of work, surveillance & monitoring software also becomes more popular with some employers although they are somewhat controversial due to privacy and ethical issues. Specialized solutions are much most customizable and cost efficient and it can fit the specific needs for HR managers. However, extra effort may be required to integrate with other systems within the organization to have seamless information f low.

What does the future hold for us?                                                                                                   

Pandemic has given us a complete change in our thinking and our priorities in life. With the new normal, the flexible working pattern and working from home is likely to continue for most of the workforce. Digital nomads becomes more common. The f lexibility becomes immensely important. Personal and professional lives becomes inseparable for all of us.

Continuous employee engagement, motivation and social aspect –Without the real social interaction, people managers need to keep engaging and motivating employees at “work”. And how do we ensure to maintain a sound physical and mental health? The technology is available to monitor many aspect of our lives such as iWatch monitoring our steps and pulse, the social platforms with rich user-created contents such as Workplace, Facebook, Youtube, Tiktok, and LinkedIn which we share our thoughts, photos, videos, etc. However, the gap still remains for a solution that will help the HR and people managers to create and monitor their workforce’s continuous engagement and motivation.

HR analytics & prediction models – In the digital era,business leaders are making decisions based on the data and insights. With that, HR analytics has become more and more crucial for HR managers and business leaders. The needs of all of us is to be able to motivate and engage the workforce. To go one step further, if we can predict the motivation and attrition of workforce, we can ensure to improve and maintain the productivity of the organization. The technology such as python, machine learning and AI has evolved well in recent years to create prediction models based on the big data. With the social & technology platforms available, there will be a solution in the near future that will integrate all the data and provide predictions.

Web 3.0,blockchain technology and metaverse – with the web 2.0, the social media with rich user created contents emerged over 10 years ago. Now the web 3.0 has enormous potential with decentralization of information. The metaverse has also been heavily researched and invested by technology companies these days. With the metaverse world, our workplace can be anywhere on the planet while employers can still give employees the same workplace experience.

Human resource management is the most important aspects of all businesses yet the investment in technology to engage and motivate the workforce has somewhat lagged behind in comparison to other investments. However, the “real digital revolution” has arrived and it is here to stay.there will be more innovative solutions with analytics and prediction models becoming available in the HR space. The companies who will adapt the technologies to understand the real needs and priorities of each employees in their business will be the ones who will survive and thrive in such a tough business environment in the future.