Three Hot Tech Trends in HR

In the 2019 Compensation Best Practices Report, we see that investing in HR technology is on the minds of compensation professionals everywhere.

How HR Tech Can Help

At times, it can feel as if technology is developing at breakneck speed. What new technologies exist? Where do they come from? Will this new technology help or hinder our ability to do our jobs better? Indeed, there are a number of reasons technology HR tech is helpful. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why it’s important to keep up with HR tech trends.

Cost Efficiency

Technology has the ability to reduce the amount of time needed to do various tasks and, in some cases, eliminate superfluous tasks altogether.

Increased Opportunities

Time saved by using technology can be applied to addressing other business needs, or working to achieve other goals.

Consumer Confidence

Keeping up with technology sends a message to your customers that the services your organization offers are relevant to their needs.

Three Hot Tech Trends in HR

1. Gamification for Training and Learning

Gamification is defined as the “use of game elements in a non-gaming context to drive user engagement and loyalty and motivate the desired action.” The concept of gamification is not new. In fact, companies have been using gamification techniques for years, whether to increase sales or make a boring task more interesting. Gamification is a great way to make make rote tasks more fun and challenging.

One of the most popular applications of gamification is in training. A myriad of industries and companies from Amazon to Zillow have incorporated some type of gaming into their business practices.

Mega retailer, Walmart, used gamification to engage employees in safety training, yielding notable success. Even during their pilot program, they saw reported safety incidents decrease by 54 percent. Knowledge of safety procedures increased by 15 percent, while employee confidence in the material increased by eight percent. Overall, the number of injuries fell and morale was raised.

On the other hand, Cisco, the global technology company, used gamification to train on a different skill set. Social media training on high-level topics such as “social media security and privacy” was provided to both employees and contractors in the form of gaming.

Cisco took a number of aspects from gaming and applied them to their training program.

Progression Levels

The training program consisted of three distinct levels: Specialist, Strategist and Master. Each level had different requirements. In order to pass to the next level, players had to demonstrate expertise associated with each level.

Furthermore, within each level, there were various sub-specializations, such as: Social Media for HR, Social Media for Executive Communication Managers, Social Media for Internal Partner Teams, Social Media for Sales, and so on. Thus, the number of learning opportunities was quite exhaustive.

Friendly Competition / Status

Players/learners were encouraged to join together in small teams. They could participate as an entire organization to complete challenges/certification. Players then earned badges for completing challenges.


Learning new skills provides a catalyst for internal intrinsic motivation. Combining this motivation with gamification intensifies the results. Players derive a sense of self-satisfaction while gaining valuable skills.

In general, gamification techniques can be applied to nearly any number of training concepts. In today’s multi-screen desktop and mobile environment, employees have ample opportunities learn, even while on-the-go. Learning through gamified experiences is fun and most importantly, it produces results.

2. AI – Artificial Intelligence

AI is already in well-embedded in our daily lives. Roughly $1.5 billion is being invested in more than 200 AI-focused companies worldwide. Investment in AI technologies is growing exponentially. By the year 2030, it’s estimated that AI will contribute $15.7 trillion to the global economy.

According to a study by Gartner, nearly $2 billion in online sales were made exclusively through mobile digital assistants in 2016.

Despite dystopian fears of an omniscient Big Brother lurking round every corner, AI will help HR Departments grow in capacity, rather than eliminate human beings. AI in the workplace will likely be similar to the technology of wireless assistants such as Alexa or Cortana that many of us already use at home.

Chatbots Provide Answers to Common Questions from Employees

From banking to airlines, it seems almost every business with a customer-facing interface has some kind of chatbot. As customers, we’ve come to expect a certain amount of information to be readily available at our fingertips, 24/7.

Similarly, HR can use chatbots to address common questions from employees, freeing up time for strategic projects. Chatbot services for HR already exist. For example, a chatbot service named “Jane” was created by the app development firm, Loka. Using already familiar modules such as Slack, employees can easily inquire about any number of HR-related topics, such as “When is our next company holiday?” or “What time is today’s yoga class?” Jane replies instantly and cheerfully (or rather, as cheerfully as she is programmed to). Chatbots can also be used to interface with external customers.

Chatbots to Improve Talent Acquisition

Chatbots can help improve the recruiting process. Scheduling interviews and developing candidate profiles are just some of the ways AI can help with recruiting. Talla is another example of a chatbot that can help the Human Resources department. Talla can analyze the job description, and come up with a set of interview questions based on the role.

“More than half of of the CHROs surveyed believe cognitive computing will affect a wide range of roles in the HR organization, ranging from senior executives to individuals working in service centers.”

-Eric Lesser, Research Director of IBM Institute for Business Value

Other chatbots such as Pymetrics and Textio can help increase diversity and inclusion in the workplace, by introducing bias-free methods of recruiting candidates. Pymetics uses a constantly evolving set of algorithms to match candidates to jobs. Textio, on the other hand, can analyze job posts and emails to suggest bias-neutral language.

Algorithms Improve Compensation Management

Here at PayScale, we’ve created compensation management software that helps free up time and improve benchmarking accuracy. We apply modern data science to the increasingly large data sets being used in compensation benchmarking, interpreting job skills and requirements to predict pay for each job. Thus, compensation professionals are able to devote their attention to more strategic work.

3. Intelligent Automation

What Is Intelligent Automation?

Automation can be a fear-inducing buzzword in the workplace, particularly among well-established union-ranked workers. But what exactly is Intelligent Automation?

Forbes defines Intelligent Automation as a more advanced form of what is commonly known as robotic process automation (RPA). RPA is a “type of software that mimics the activity of a human being in carrying out a task within a process.” Essentially, the software can perform repetitive tasks more quickly and accurately than humans, thus allowing people to focus on tasks where higher-level skills are required, such as customer interaction, reasoning, judgment and emotional intelligence.

Intelligent Automation in the Workplace

One example of Intelligent Automation in the workplace is in the insurance industry. Back-office tasks such as processing a claim can be done in no time. Other time or labor intensive tasks, such as credit verifications, compliance checks or legal evaluations can be done ahead of time, allowing more time for customer interaction.

Healthcare is another arena where Intelligent Automation can dramatically increase efficiency. WellPoint, the health insurance agency, uses IBM’s Watson cognitive computing technology. The technology takes care-providers’ notes (written in plain English) and matches them to a proprietary database of medical policies and guidelines. The output  is consistent, evidence-based information the clinical staff can utilize to provide better-informed decisions for patient care.

PayScale’s compensation data management platform also has software to enable intelligent automation. The software automates the repetitive tasks compensation professionals have to manage, such as matching internal positions to survey positions, weighing data and tweaking job pricing models. In fact, the technology can automate up to 90 percent of manual work in compensation while drastically improving how job evaluation and job pricing are done. To learn more about how compensation software saves you time, check out this article.

Future of HR Tech

The rate of change in the tech industry makes it difficult to predict exactly what new technologies will be developed and where they will make the most difference. However, the line between human and computer interaction will continue to blur and evolve. Meanwhile, it’s up to organizations to decide which types of technology will best serve their employees and customers.

Share Your Thoughts

What kinds of HR tech would you most like to see in your workplace? What kinds of HR tech do you already use?