The biggest challenge I see over the next several years is getting more sophisticated about measuring and optimizing outcomes. We’re already seeing a lot of new solutions for monitoring employee engagement and sentiment. These systems matter because they allow us to monitor and impact critical things like employee retention and motivation. Companies are doing a number of things to try to make improvements on these fronts, including expanding rapidly. All the while, every company is going to see some of its competitors make gains in these areas. This leads to a situation where there’s a greater ability to have an impact, but also a greater need to have the impact. Organizations need to be prepared to make changes and improvements more quickly than in the past.
As the pace of change increases, it’s becoming more and more important to simply be curious. Curiosity about what’s going on in HR technology and staying informed of quickly evolving best practices. The good news is that this curiosity can be boosted in both yourself and your team by finding ways to motivate team members, as leaders always have, and focusing that motivation around technology’s impact in the space. By getting people excited about their jobs and the potential to better technology, the curiosity will follow.
It’s hard not to be excited about Artificial Intelligence right now. For so much of our lives AI has been a hot topic in movies, but not for business people. That’s changing fast. While it’s certainly not the case that robots are running around folding our laundry, we are starting to see very simple AI systems solve problems that just weren’t possible before. Microsoft Cortana and similar ‘virtual assistants’ are able to play a song on command or write an email as you speak. These are small wins but are proving to be very helpful in business. HR chatbots are now capable of answering simple questions like “When are our bonuses paid?” and we’ve even started to see automated scheduling of interviews. As AI takes over these simple tasks, people are gaining back valuable time and are free to focus on bringing in new talent and making the company a great place to work.
Personally, I think the goal is to make sure your life drives technology instead of the other way around. The technology around you should ideally reflect decisions you’ve made about how to spend your time and attention, e.g. reminding you when to go to events you wanted to attend. However, it’s important to maintain the perspective that technology doesn’t only allow us to do more; it should also enable us to do less. Fewer emails need to be read because of automatic filters, and research is faster because information is so readily available. Technology helps us accomplish a lot of simple tasks like these, but my goal is to always utilize the technology around me to clear small to-dos out of the way, quickly, and focus on the bigger tasks at hand. It takes a thorough examination of how you’re using technology to achieve that, but at the end of the day, we shouldn’t be trying to attend more meetings and read more email. We should be aiming to spend more time with friends and families, pursue our interests and hobbies, and in our ways, strive to make the world a better place—those are the things that technology simply can’t do.