16 must-know HR tech trends for every recruiter

Last updated:
July 22, 2021
December 23, 2021
min read
Brendan McConnell
Table of contents

Today’s recruitment and HR landscape is one of constant change. Companies across industries must consistently deal with tight talent competition, changing workforce dynamics, and game-changing developments in technology. Established and emerging HR tech platforms are helping companies maneuver this challenging landscape, and are providing unprecedented opportunities for automation, process efficiency, and employee wellbeing.

When looking at 2019 and beyond, it’s clear that change will be the only constant. We are in the midst of a massive demographic and technological shift. Consider these stats, for example.

To navigate these changes, HR departments around the globe are looking to tech for solutions. And, thanks to a technological boom of their own, HR ad recruitment tech companies are delivering highly innovative and groundbreaking solutions that are helping to shift how the entire profession works.

This article will summarize some of these exciting trends. But first, a quick overview of what we mean by “HR and recruitment tech”.

What is HR tech?

HR tech platforms comprise a long list of software products that focus on one or many aspects of employment within a business. They can be highly targeted to one specific function (i.e. candidate screening), or they can be larger suites that cover entire HR processes (i.e. performance and talent management). In general, they help to automate tasks, and generate and analyze candidate and employee data to provide insights and actionable items for the HR team. Modern HR platforms aim to improve the lives of employees and candidates, and not just the HR team using those platforms.

There has been a massive boom in companies investing in HR tech lately, (not to mention HR tech events and HR tech influencers) spurred on by a combination of aging HR systems and the advent of cost-effective cloud-based alternatives. They generally cost less to replace and upgrade that older HRIS systems, and often replace numerous, disconnected systems.

Because of this boom, a plethora of tech startups have entered the HR and recruitment market in recent years, joining the traditional heavy hitters. The result is an HR world chock full of options for companies of all sizes and budgets.

It’s also led to a competitive and innovation boom, which is driving some of the biggest HR tech trends we’re seeing in 2019 and beyond.

HR tech trends in 2019

Technological booms in artificial intelligence, processing power, analytics, and social media have contributed to a long list of simultaneous HR innovation trends that will pick up steam in the coming years.

Generally speaking, the main tech trends in HR to follow can be broken into:

  • Tech trends
  • Process trends
  • Industry trends

While some of these trends – such as demographic shifts – are inherent to the industry, these platforms are helping companies navigate these changes. They are also driving factors behind many of the tech trends we’ll talk about here. As such, we’re including those topics in the wider umbrella of “HR tech trends”.

Let’s get started.

Tech trends

These are new tech products and features that are being developed for HR and recruitment functions thanks to innovative new technologies.

1. Augmented analytics

One of the key benefits of tech in HR is the ability to collect vast amounts of data on candidates and employees. The problem, until recently, has been that companies often struggle to find actionable insights from that data. It simply becomes “data for the sake of data,” with no clear path to improvement.

Augmented analytics is a new class of smart software that provides a user-friendly way to analyze and act on data in HR. They are used to automatically go through a company’s HR data, clean it, analyze it, and then convert it into actionable steps and insights. These platforms will help bridge the gap between data collection and tangible results.

2. Nudge-based tech

These are tools that integrate with an employee’s daily workstation and provide them with suggestions and tips based on their behavior, workflow, productivity levels, and so on. They can be used to remind managers to provide employee feedback, to suggest screen breaks, or to help with decision making in specific situations.

3. Robot process automation

Robot process automation (RPA) are platforms that automate specific manual processes within an HR department. They are used to remove menial and time-intensive tasks from the HR staff’s shoulders, freeing them up for more strategic roles.

The aim of RPA platforms is to compress HR processes, making them more streamlined and efficient. For example, an RPA platform could take over creating employee records, gathering documentation, or adding employees to the payroll.

4. Natural language processing

In a nutshell, natural language processing gives AI tech the ability to understand human language and speech. This can be applied to either written text or an actual human voice.

The primary HR applications for natural language processing are screening resumes and cover letters, analyzing speech patterns and word choices in recorded video interviews, or in chatbots that automate early communication with candidates. Again, this tech is designed to automate repetitive communications tasks as effectively as possible, while retaining a level of humanization.

5. Point solutions

While many older systems tend to target as much of the HR process as possible, 2019 is seeing a resurgence of “point” solutions. These are platforms that focus on one specific area of the HR process, such as recruitment, talent management, engagement, and so on. Recruitee, for example, focuses on the recruitment phase in HR.

Modern point solutions in HR are also designed to integrate easily with broader talent management suites, allowing companies to have a series of highly specialized tools that match their exact needs.

Process trends

The fast-paced innovation seen in HR tools in recent years continues to result in a wide range of HR process trends and changes. The overarching trend of each of these is a shift from benefiting companies, to benefit the employee. Tech for HR in 2019 is predominantly a people-driven industry.

6. Workforce planning

Because there is more insight than ever into mission-critical HR metrics, companies are increasingly leveraging HR tech help facilitate intelligent workforce planning. This can include calculating turnover rates, predicting skills requirements, and forecasting ROI from recruitment.

HR platforms are also helping to shift workforce planning from recruitment-only to an emphasis on growth from within the company. Intelligent workforce planning has seen a renewed focus on recruiting from within, and better “bench utilization” to fill employment gaps.

7. Talent management

This has also led to a people-first approach to HR management, thanks to intelligent performance and talent management platforms. New HR platforms are helping to provide clarity around the employee’s impact on the bottom line, and how development and engagement lead to improved results company-wide.

Performance management software, for example, enables dynamic goal setting, continuous performance check-ins, and 360-degree reviews from around the organization. All of this is helping to create improved engagement, future-proofed workforces, and is helping to solve retention problems.

8. Learning and development

Performance, learning, and development are beginning to blend together into the same process, thanks to intelligent workflows and analytics offered in HR innovation. These platforms are enabling managers and employees to match desired career paths with company needs, and track progress towards pre-defined goals in a transparent way.

Modern L&D platforms also help to create a digital, tech savvy workforce thanks to innovative training platforms. Many of these tools harness technologies like virtual reality and gamification to provide even deeper, and more practical, learning environments that can improve hard and soft skills simultaneously.

9. Recruitment experience

The competitive talent environment has prompted tech companies to provide innovative solutions for improving the overall candidate experience. Emphasis is now being placed on creating an engaging and efficient recruitment experience for all candidates.

As a result, the recruitment life cycle has been transformed into an entirely digital and immersive experience, that can include streamlined application portals, chat bots, video interviews, and automated document collection. The goal is to move candidates as quickly as possible through the funnel, while still providing clear communication and an engaging application experience.

10. Visual storytelling

A large part of this emphasis on improving the employee experience is the addition of visual storytelling and communication to HR platforms and processes. With a highly visually-inclined Gen Y now entering the workforce, companies are beginning to integrate visual elements like video, GIFs, or photos into their employment branding and job posts.

Many HR platforms – particularly those that focus on recruitment – are beginning to provide visual-first templates and options for various stages of the hiring process to meet this demand.

11. HRIT role

Lastly, and because HR teams are shifting to a more digital-first operation structure, the role of “Human Resources IT Professional” is becoming an increasingly popular and important position. These professionals are tasked with onboarding innovative HR programs and ensuring their smooth operation.

As teams continue to shift to an entirely digital, innovation-driven workflow, HRIT professionals will become an in-demand commodity for many organizations.

Industry trends

As always, the above tech and process trends are a direct reflection of the current and future states of the recruitment and HR landscapes. HR innovation adapts to industry trends where needed, giving companies the tools they need to be successful.

12. Employee-centric companies

There has been a major shift recently towards focussing on the well-being of the employee and their growth above most other business needs. “Take care of your employees, and they’ll take care of your customers,” says Richard Branson. That sentiment is clearly reflected in the explosion of HR tools focused on improving candidate experience, measuring and improvement performance and engagement, and emphasizing customized L&D programs.

As a result of this employee-centric approach to business, tech startups are focusing their products to the employees within the company, rather than just the HR team. New tech is designed to be easy-to-learn, intuitive, and to avoid adding unnecessary work to anyone’s plate.

13. Tech-savvy HR departments

Similarly, HR departments are becoming increasingly tech-savvy operations that actively leverage automation and analytics to improve their workflows. As teams become more adept at working with HR tools, the market will continuously demand new and innovative solutions to emerging problems.

And, because of this adoption of tech into HR, human resources is starting to become a strategic element in many companies, rather than an extraneous tactic. Intelligent workforce planning and smart recruitment, plus the ability to “show their work” using HR analytics means that these teams will be given a seat at the management table, and called upon to provide strategic input.

14. Employee wellness

HR innovation has also been leading the charge in the employee wellness movement. These are initiatives that emphasize healthy, balanced work lives, help employees avoid burnout and aim to continuously improve engagement. These tools can include fitness incentive management, activity tracking and gamification, and regular pulse checks to measure employee sentiment.

15. Remote workforces

Decentralized and remote workforces save companies a tonne of money in infrastructure and transportation costs, while also giving employees the option to work in an environment that works best for them.

This trend will become easier and more efficient over time, thanks to various developments in video (or virtual reality) conferencing and collaboration tools. AI can also be used to help remote teams prioritize tasks, and to help managers track performance.

16. Goodbye Boomers, hello Gen Y

Lastly, the massive demographic shift of Baby Boomer retirement continues through 2019 and will be reflected in how tech is used and developed. With Millenials fully integrated into the workforce, the next wave of workers will come from Gen Y.

These full digital natives overwhelmingly emphasize mobile connectivity and visual communication as essential to their success. As such, HR tools will need to be fully accessible and workable on mobile devices. It’s also a good idea for companies to think about integrating video into their recruitment, onboarding and training materials, as this will be the medium of choice for the next generation of workers.

As you can see, innovation in HR is very much alive and thriving in 2019. Trends from a variety of different perspectives are helping to drive innovation in this booming field, and HR teams are poised to reap the benefits. If you haven’t jumped on the tech bandwagon yet, then now is the time to meet with your team to discuss where to get started.

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