Changes in human resources are driven by a number of overlapping factors, including the demographics of both the workplace and surrounding society; political climate and legislation coming out of it; and the development of new technology.
The rise of tech startups have created a lot of change in business communities and shifted the expectations of employees. Add breakthroughs in cloud services and management software, and authentication into the mix, and it’s easy to see how the tech boom has had a major effect on the procedures and culture of HR.
Hiring and Interview
Finding job seekers is getting easier and easier. On the other hand, as easy as job sites like Indeed and social networks like LinkedIn have made posting ads, they’ve also allowed a larger number of job seekers to respond.
Recruiters and hiring managers must deal with a much greater volume of applicants if they choose to make use of internet job postings. The benefit is that it’s easier to find the right candidate. LinkedIn and resume upload sites have made it especially easy for savvy HR professionals to target the skills they’re looking for and search for candidates more intentionally.
On the interview side, things are changing too. Skype and other video and voice-over IP apps are making remote interviews a more robust and common process. Being able to interview over long distances is exposing recruiters to talent from far-flung places. 43 percent of Americans say they spend at least some time working remotely, according to The New York Times. Remote work is changing office environments, and it’s changing the way companies hire, giving them access to employees hundreds or thousands of miles away.
The hiring process is closely related to company culture, but it’s an idea that goes far beyond the initial hire.
This is where the tech startup world has made a huge influence. “Company culture” has almost achieved buzzword status in job ads. Both prospective job seekers and employers are putting a heavy emphasis on “fitting in” with the company culture.
This has come with advantages and disadvantages. Tech companies in particular have shown how “culture” can be taken way too far. There have been a number of high-profile cases where culture has been used to justify abuse, inaction, or discrimination.
Company culture is a powerful and popular tool to ensure that businesses and employees truly make the most of their personnel. Every work environment is different, and hiring an employee with the right skills but the wrong demeanor can be more damaging than hiring someone who needs extra training.
Contracts and Consent
One of the biggest developments in recent years has been the ability to handle contracts, compliance, performance reviews, consent forms, and anything else that people need to sign digitally. HR departments have been leveraging digital signatures to streamline and more effectively track important documents.
Paperwork that can be signed electronically can be carefully controlled and tracked. A performance review can be signed in order, first by the employee, then by their manager, and added to their digital record without any printing, scanning, or physical transportation. The process becomes shorter and easier to track.
Timestamps recorded on electronic signatures are more accurate, and the digitizing process is better for privacy and compliance because control is kept of the document at all times. It’s easy to track who has access to it. Signing something electronically may not feel very safe, but electronic signatures are built of digital signature technology which provides encryption and verification, making the whole process very secure.
Some companies are choosing to adopt high-tech communications technology within their workplaces as a way to improve efficiency of both employees and HR processes.
Chat applications are one way that companies improve communication, letting employees interact with each other and their managers in real time to discuss topics or pose questions that they wouldn’t ordinarily interrupt one another with.
Another high-tech communications solution comes with digital signage that HR can leverage to cut down on emails, poster printing, and newsletter composition. Announcements of events, important legal updates or performance metrics can instead be simultaneously displayed across a number of devices. That way, employees have information available at a glance without having to open a distracting email whenever there’s a company announcement.
Safety and Compliance
Workplace safety has changed a lot over the years. From the days of steelworkers clambering unassisted on top of skyscrapers and employees handling asbestos, the law and cultural attitudes about safety have made dramatic turns. So too is it with liability surrounding legal rights of employees, such as overtime laws and “theft of employee time”.
One of the biggest changes has been the uptick in retroactive legal action against companies that engaged in unsafe and unlawful practices. Though HR teams were always tasked with compliance and liability limitation, as lawsuits become more prevalent and potentially damaging, Human Resource’s role in protecting the company, and by proxy the company’s employees, has been magnified in recent years.
HR departments work tirelessly to create inclusive, safe workspaces that don’t discriminate or place employees in unsafe situations without a reasonable notice and acceptance of risk. Digital tools are making this process easier and will continue to influence the shape of human resources as we discover new ways to track, authenticate, and communicate.