Technology is transforming the workplace and helping to redefine the role of human resources. No longer hamstrung by paperwork, phone calls and administrative busywork, HR professionals are beginning to leverage cutting-edge solutions in order to improve everything from employee recruitment, engagement and productivity to company culture, best practices and efficiencies.

Nowadays, HR professionals are actively looking for technology that allows them to manage, develop and refine a company’s human resources. That’s not an easy task, given how many innovative solutions are already out there or about to hit the market.

HR isn’t just about hiring, making payroll and managing benefits anymore. It’s about staying ahead of the technology curve and using data to help the company make informed decisions. That’s why it’s critical to understand what HR tech trends can potentially drive the results you’re looking for. Here are four to follow this year:

AI is changing recruitment

In the age of all things digital and mobile, traditional interviews aren’t always the most effective way to recruit the best and brightest. Phone calls and snail mail have been replaced with email, online job postings, video interviews and online applications.

These days, 86% of recruiters and 62% of employers feel the labor market is candidate-driven, so it’s more critical than ever for HR professionals to stay on top of the latest innovations. New tools like Workable, Breezy HR, HireVue and Jibe, as well as more traditional tools like LinkedIn, allow recruiters to target and search for candidates with specific qualifications or experience, and quickly assess their skills.

And of course, there’s AI, which is fast becoming one of the dominant HR tools. Intelligent recruitment platforms and chatbots can cut through the forest of resumes and gather information that answers questions like “Is this applicant a good fit?” “Does the position take advantage of her strengths?” “Is he a team player?” and “Does she work well independently?” AI tools like Textio can help increase the diversity of candidates, narrow the field after the initial review, and even avoid using certain words that could put off women and minorities. Platforms like Talla, whose AI-powered assistant helps to simplify the onboarding process, and Culture Amp, which uses surveys to collect employee feedback with the goal of improving company culture, now occupy more prominent positions in the HR landscape.

Productivity-boosting technology

When companies embrace the effort to ensure positive employee experiences, the payback comes in increased employee engagement, productivity and retention. With that goal in mind, HR professionals are starting to think of the employee experience as an entire brand experience that offers employees the opportunity to connect with each other while also strengthening the relationship between employee and employer.

Companies across the country are utilizing flexible technologies like Trello, Yammer, G-Suite, Flowdock and Slack that help employees connect, collaborate and work better. There are also team management apps like Smartsheet, which lets you share files in real time and manage projects of all sizes from any device; and Airtable, a cloud-based project management solution geared largely toward data organization and collaboration. These technologies can be key to providing exceptional experiences through which employees can handle and complete tasks, manage scheduling, update records, access or enroll in benefits plans and more.

Mobile Apps

These days, all HR initiatives have to be mobile friendly. Younger employees, in particular, expect to access technology in the workplace as often as they do in their personal lives. With a growing percentage of the workforce doing business on their smartphones, it’s critical for companies to keep up with the latest developments in mobile apps.

On any given day, HR professionals juggle tasks related to recruiting, onboarding, payroll, benefits, performance tracking, compliance and more. By embracing the advantages of mobile apps, HR professionals can focus on making the entire employee journey more interactive and positive from the outset. Apps to watch in 2019 include:

  • Jobvite. A cloud-based applicant tracking system (ATS), this app allows users to build a branded site for job candidates, and manage the hiring and onboarding processes. It even features a CRM and recruitment marketing solutions through which HR can organize talent pools of potential future hires.
  • Zenefits. Another cloud-based app, Zenefits features a comprehensive human resources information system (HRIS) complete with benefits administration, core HR functions, user dashboards, onboarding and more. There’s also a self-service portal for employees. One unusual perk: Zenefits tweaks the app every week based on user feedback and input,
  • BambooHR. This app’s HRIS includes an ATS as well as tools for managing the employee lifecycle. HR professionals can track company data like employee turnover and retention, and give employees as much or as little access to the system as needed.
  • Namely. This app offers a single cloud-based system for everything HR, including talent management, administering integrated benefits, payroll and compliance. Namely’s HRIS also boasts an employee database as well as a central location for storing employee information.

Big insights with big data

There’s a vast universe of data out there to help companies of all sizes make smart choices about almost everything. More importantly, the quantity and quality of data, as well as data collection and analytics, have improved dramatically over the past several years. What does that mean for HR professionals? It means they have information at their fingertips—in fact, huge volumes of data—that’s been collected and analyzed by a variety of intelligent tools and software. 

That data provides important insights on factors like employee attitudes towards company policies, or current trends in compensation and benefits—things that matter not only to your workforce but to C-suite executives as well. Things that can impact a company’s bottom line. The data comes from a variety of sources, including social media, websites and online forms. What matters is that because the data we have now is so much more accurate and integrated, HR teams can use it to make better hiring decisions, understand what drives employee engagement and productivity, prevent bad hires, and address issues like diversity & inclusion. 

What’s more, HR professionals can take it a step further by leveraging analytics to address challenges that might be hindering the company’s performance.

Eye on the future

With more than 12 million companies and 160 million employees in the U.S., it’s no surprise that HR technology continues to advance and change quickly. It’s more important now than ever for businesses to stay on top of evolving trends to ensure that the technology they use is adaptable, flexible and capable of carrying them into the future.