The new normal

The last four to five years leading up 2018 have been strange times. We book taxis through a company that does not own a cab of its own neither does it employ any drivers. Our holiday rooms are booked through a company that does not own a single hotel on its own. The website that sells us our monthly groceries is the same site that we watch our latest movies on. Will Smith premiers on the app on our smart TV and not at an upscale movie hall. After demonetisation, we may never look at that note in our pockets or at that stash of cash with the same sense of comfort. Central banks now no longer are the sole issuer of currency, neither do they control their volatility.

2017 has been that year where more and more of these strange things became commonplace and they are changing the way in which we do business and manage our employees. That time may not be too far away when an employee’s face is the only password she has to enter on all office systems and she collects her year-end bonus with cryptocurrencies. 2017 has been the year when technology has made this science fiction a reality and is disrupting the way we do business.

The present instability is being driven by the shift from cloud to mobile; the explosion in analytics and artificial intelligence; and the emergence of video, social recruiting and wearables in the workplace. Everything is changing, and quickly — including the types of technology that HR professionals use, the experiences those systems deliver and the underlying software designs — making many of the traditional HR systems purchased only a decade ago seem out of date.

For example, almost all organisation took a long hard look at their performance management systems in 2017. Companies have been throwing away ratings, adding check-ins, developing agile goal systems, and making performance management much more data-driven and team-oriented. This has been aided by at least a dozen companies selling cloud-based, team-centric performance management applications that connect to HR management or enterprise resource planning systems.

Employee engagement has been another area which has been fundamentally revamped in 2017. Instead of the delayed inputs from year end survey done earlier, a lot of employers now survey workers on a quarterly, monthly or even weekly basis, and many modern systems enable event-based feedback that can be gathered whenever there is a major organisational change.

Learning management systems have also evolved in 2017 and are no longer the boring year-end mandatory courses that are a tick in the box. There are new learning platforms which bring YouTube-like video experiences to employees and include features for curation, recommended learning and data-driven recommendations.

In 2017, HR technology has also made bold advances into artificial intelligence, natural language processing and robotic process automation. This huge area covers products that can listen to our voices (Alexa!), augment call centre work and connect many systems into a new workflow. These developments have already made their way into a number of automated assessment platforms for identifying employee potential and development systems.

Going forward, all these changes promise to make the world of 2018 in human resource management an exciting one.