HR tech trends for 2021

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This has been a year of challenges for HR & Payroll professionals, with unprecedented upheaval thrusting many onto a centre stage in their organisations, while issues like diversity, employee engagement and wellbeing have become a central leadership concern.

So what does our experience of 2020 indicate about the tech trends we can expect to see emerge in over the next 12 months?

Hybrid working is here to stay

Many of the well-known tech giants, Twitter and Square among them, have indicated that home working will be an ongoing thing for their employees, while Microsoft says it will adopt a hybrid approach to work in a post-pandemic world – where employees work some of the time in the office, some remotely.

This allows the important social elements of a workplace, so vital to healthy company culture, to flourish, while still allowing employees to enjoy the benefits of homeworking that many have come to value.

Expect hybrid models of working to be embraced across the knowledge economy in 2021 and expect HR technology, such as mobile compatibility across HR systems, that can ensure a consistent employee experience across those different ways of working.

Diversity & Inclusion takes a lead role

Diversity has become a live issue for leaders as cultural spotlights continue to intensify on brands failing to address issues of diversity and inclusion, and the repercussions for those that do nothing can be great. Many large organisations already employ a director level individual specifically to move them in the right direction on this issue.

Technology has an important role to play, in enabling hybrid models and flexibility in how people work, which will drastically widen the pool of available talent, while analytics will become more sophisticated at detecting and flagging possible bias in recruitment processes.

Analytics fills the gaps

In the virtual world, communicating largely through screens, it’s more difficult for managers and leaders to get a gut-instinct read on how people are doing. We expect people analytics tools to step up in 2021 to help fill some of this void, and communications tools to become more integrated into the analytics stack.

There’s no lack of data, and it can be collected constantly by monitoring public communications channels, collaboration tools, messaging and social media, applying natural language processing algorithms to measure workforce sentiment. We’ve been talking about this for a while, but the events of the past months have sharpened the case for this kind of development.

Communications platforms will become increasingly integrated with collaboration tools and measurement data, fuelling valuable interactions between managers and teams. We predict the emergence of virtual meeting platforms that automatically serve managers insights on the individual they’re interacting with, like performance and skills red flags, wellbeing, customer account status or outstanding tasks.

Virtual recruitment will become more sophisticated

Now recruiters have tasted the viability of a virtual recruitment process, the appetite to return to the old norm is waning. But in a remote world, where the value of such connections have skyrocketed, HR tech teams will start to think more strategically about where they deploy virtual recruitment and where in-person is used.

Additionally, there are questions about how candidate experience and human connection is effectively delivered, while continuing to leverage the cost and time efficiencies inherent in virtual.

Cloud software is no longer a nice to have

The need for remote technology, for collaboration, communication, and for carrying out both critical and administrative HR & Payroll functions, has never been illustrated more clearly than over the past 10 months.

A rapidly changing operating environment this year has showcased cloud HR’s flexibility.
Payroll professionals will remember 2020 as the year their workload ballooned amidst the various government support schemes that were implemented to protect jobs and businesses.

Meanwhile HR leaders have faced urgent questions from leadership on issues like workforce resilience in the face of widespread infection. And those without the support of agile cloud solutions have been hit hardest.

Organisations that were already hosting some or all of their systems in the cloud have been better able to ride the rollercoaster of 2020, and those that weren’t are now making moves to correct this.


“If we hadn’t gone with XCD, Covid-19 might have had a much bigger impact on us.”

If remote HR & Payroll software is a priority for your organisation in 2021, we’d love to show you how XCD helps our customers save time and nurture valuable employee relationships. Book your Demo