Human Resources Technology Conference: A Roundup of Top Trends

HR Technology Conference 2018: Top Trends Roundup

The future of work is now. This was a common refrain shared by industry leaders at this year’s HR Technology Conference in Las Vegas.

Millennials now make up the majority of the workforce, while their younger counterparts in 'Gen Z' are moving into the picture. And, now more than ever, employees are in the driver’s seat when it comes to choice on the culture and place where they work. This is the evolution that’s brought us to the “future of work” – the shifting shape of the workforce and the new employee expectations that come with it.

The HR Technology Conference served as a sounding board for what this means for HR leaders and how technology can (and will) be used to address this shift and shape the future of the workplace. Here are the items on the forefront of HR leaders’ minds as they try to keep pace:

Consumerism Is the Name of the Game

As Randi Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media, shared as part of her keynote, “future consumers aren’t 20 or 30 years off, they’re already here — and they’re driving the way businesses are selling both products and experiences.”

Consumerism has been part of the conversation for awhile now in HR, but the phenomenon's staying power underscores that it has and will forever impact not only individual employers, but the entire idea of the employee experience as we know it.

People are accustomed to the day-to-day interaction they have with consumer technology, like being able to access their bank accounts with the click of a button or buy products from the comfort of their home with just a few finger swipes. That carries over into the workplace, as employees increasingly expect that their experience at work will include technology that provides relevant information, ease of use and leads them to more informed decisions.

This has never been more clear than in employee benefits. Employees want and need a high level of personalization to help them understand the benefits that are relevant to their needs at each stage of life.

With user-focused benefits technology, it’s possible to give employees that level of personalization in the benefit options presented within the enrollment process, as well as in the communication to help them use those benefits effectively.

Find out what it means to protect consumers at every stage of life.

People Analytics: Data Is Power

Employers have the data to drive positive change in the workplace. For those not already using their data to their advantage, the time to start is now.

HR and benefit teams work on some of the most sensitive issues within an organization, and when you consider the shifting dynamics of the workplace and the fact that employee satisfaction matters more now than ever before, data is a powerful way to improve talent management.

Google was a pioneer of people analytics, using it as a foundational building block that informs everything they do to find, develop and retain “Googlers.” They use data to inform challenging people issues (e.g., Are we losing our organization’s highest performers and why?) or important people decisions (e.g., Who should lead this new initiative?). People analytics is also increasingly being used to help organizations uncover the root causes for gender pay gaps.

People analytics is starting to be employed by companies beyond the likes of Google, but another area where HR has a wealth of data is benefits. Today's HR leaders are being asked to curb health care spending while still offering employees competitive total compensation. So, when an analytics-centric culture is applied to benefits, it can go a long way in helping organizations contain health care costs without compromising coverage.

Read our latest blog post on how to take the guesswork out of employer health plan design.

AI in HR: What’s Achievable?

A topic that came up throughout the conference focused on the acceleration of new technologies in the workplace, namely artificial intelligence (AI).

It’s certainly making an impact on our lives at home with technologies like Amazon’s Alexa—a virtual assistant ready to help with a variety of tasks such as playing music, adjusting the lights in your house and unlocking doors. But when it comes to the workplace, it's clear from discussions at the conference that there are many questions surrounding it, such as: Is it the best approach to take? How do we develop a clear strategy around it? What are the obstacles our organization is likely to face with AI?

What was agreed on is that there's potential for AI to support areas within HR, such as recruiting, performance evaluation and employee education.

Recruiters are anticipating the ability to screen job candidates without the limitations of human bias and error. There's also potential within the benefits function in terms of triaging common benefit questions and requests or promoting usage of employee benefits, especially as benefit packages become more diverse. 

However, AI is still at the beginning of its hype in the workplace and there's a lot left to be determined. Overall, the message was to pay attention to new opportunities with technology, but continue to focus on personalized decision support when it comes to benefits.  

What's Next?

Benefitfocus has its own annual HR technology conference, but the content is 100-percent focused on benefits!

Join us next March in Charleston, S.C., for One Place, the annual conference that brings together the world's largest community of benefits professionals, brokers, insurance executives and product suppliers to connect, learn and innovate.