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    Rapid advancements in technology are dramatically reshaping the future of HR. Here are the top trends that are redefining the industry.

    Today, there are few sectors, if any, that haven’t had to evolve in order to keep pace with digital innovations. Human resources is no different. While HR departments will inevitably continue to compete against each other to hire and retain the very best talent, advancements in technology have forever changed the process by which HR departments recruit potential candidates, as well as the HR function itself. In addition, the rise of the tech-savvy millennial workforce has resulted in changes in employee expectations.

    So what do all of these things mean for the future of human resources? “HR will look very different. I don’t think there is any argument about that,” Janet Hoffmann, a 20-year human resources veteran and founder of the consulting firm HR Aligned Design, told Kaplan University.

    Here are the top tech trends that Hoffmann and other human resources experts say will continue to shape the role of the HR practitioner over the next decade—and how HR professionals can prepare for them.

    1. Social Networking and Social Media

    Online social networking and social media were only introduced to the public within the last decade or so, but they have without a doubt already made a profound and lasting impact on the way people connect and communicate—and the speed at which they can access and share information. Of the more than 7.2 billion people in the world, 1.32 billion of those are active each month on Facebook—that’s close to 20% of the Earth’s population. Meanwhile, Twitter boasts more than 271 million monthly active users, and professional networking site LinkedIn reports having more than 300 million members.

    From a human resources perspective, these numbers mean more potential job candidates for an organization. “Social media has been very advantageous,” says Hoffman, who encourages the use of social media in HR practices. “All of these mediums have opened up a larger talent pool from which HR departments can explore and choose candidates.” Translation: HR professionals no longer have to wait for talent to come to them, and instead can take a more proactive role in searching out new candidates.

    Social media can be a useful branding tool for a company and bring about more transparency as well, Gregg Garcia, a talent acquisition manager at Quiksilver, Inc., told Kaplan University. Garcia recalls being an early proponent of using Twitter as a way for HR departments to engage with both current and future employees, much like how his company’s marketing department at the time was harnessing social media as a way to talk directly to its customers.

    “I really wanted to put a human touch on what our company was about,” Garcia explains. In addition to posting job listings, Garcia says he would also post what was happening in the office that day, such as how the company had treated its employees to a pizza lunch.

    “More and more potential candidates want to know as much as they can about a company before they go to work there,” Hoffmann adds. A study conducted by LinkedIn backs this up. According to the findings, 56% of people surveyed say a company’s reputation as a great place to work is one of the most important factors in considering a new job.

    The takeaway: If your HR department is not already utilizing social media or social/professional networking sites, learn about them and create accounts—stat! However, Hoffmann and Garcia both warn that it’s important for HR professionals to train employees on the proper guidelines for using social media in order to avoid getting themselves and the company in hot water.

    2. Video Technology

    Nothing will ever replace talking to a candidate in person, says Hoffman, but if the applicant lives too far away to fly in for a quick interview, video conferencing is the next best thing. According to a recent Recruiting Trends study, 47% of the organizations surveyed already utilize two-way video interviews in their recruiting process, and 15% use prerecorded video questionnaires, to which the candidate can record a response to send back.

    Video chat applications such as Skype and FaceTime allow for a much richer experience for both HR recruiters and potential employees than an interview conducted over the phone, Hoffman says, adding, “You can gather a lot more from facial expressions, body language and eye contact. All of these things can help you make decisions around whether you’re going to move forward to the next step. It really speeds up the process.”

    The utilization of video technology doesn’t end with the interview process either. Thirty-seven percent of companies surveyed in the same Recruiting Trends study say they use it for education and training, creating informational and instructional videos to explain certain jobs and job types.

    3. The Cloud and Mobile Applications

    Technological innovations are helping to create more flexibility than ever within the traditional workplace. Industries from health care to information technology to sales and marketing are allowing an increasing number of employees to work remotely or telecommute. According to a study by Global Workplace Analytics, more than three million people in the United States alone telecommuted to work in 2012, up nearly 80% from 2005. This number is only expected to rise as advancements are made in mobile applications and as more managers start to utilize the cloud, not only making it even easier for employees to work just about anywhere, but also making it possible for recruiters to cast a global net.

    “More and more our phones are becoming a necessary tool for how we do business,” Hoffmann says, noting the tech-savvy nature of the millennial generation. “Their phones are their go-to tools. They’re applying for jobs over mobile and learning over mobile.” In fact, Recruiting Trends research found that 70% of job seekers are currently searching for their next career on mobile devices, and nearly 20% are applying for jobs via smartphones and tablets.

    “As an HR practitioner that’s something you really need to think about,” says Hoffmann. “Are your online applications mobile-ready? Mobile is something that is definitely changing the landscape.”

    4. Big Data

    “Big data” is a favorite buzz phrase floating around the HR world, and some experts say it will reshape the HR landscape in an important way. But what is it exactly?

    “These days, all of this technology is gathering all of this data. We’re automatically capturing it now whether we want it or not. But what do we do with it?” Hoffman says. “There are many ways to use this information, but first and foremost, HR departments can analyze the data from various tracking systems, such as for employee performance and retention, and look at it all together to make better decisions and to identify business solutions.”

    5. Back-End Technology and Self-Service Software

    Nearly gone are the days of HR recruiters setting up folding tables at job fairs and collecting paper resumes. Now potential candidates can simply go to a company’s website and upload their resumes or portfolios, effectively speeding up the recruiting process. “I no longer have candidates coming in to interviews with hard copies of their work,” Garcia says. “They come in with a tablet and then we flip through that, or they send me links, and that allows me to forward their work very quickly to any of the company’s leadership around the world. But if that designer is not current in tech or digital, it kind of knocks them out as a candidate and doesn’t keep them at the top.”

    Advancements in self-service applications are also making it easier for employees and managers to take care of administrative functions that were traditionally done by HR departments. This can range anywhere from employees being able to update personal information and change their benefits to accessing pay stubs.

    But will all of this self-service technology take the “human” out of human resources? It’s quite the opposite, says Garcia. “Some people may think, ‘Oh, because employees are more self-sufficient electronically you’re not going to need people in human resources anymore.’ No, you still need people. This will just allow HR to focus on more strategic projects and be more of a business partner, versus having to spend time doing administrative work. We actually have more time now to talk to and coach and counsel an employee on his or her career path. These are things that will always need to be done face-to-face and in person.”

     

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