After such a turbulent year for many HR teams across the globe, it comes as no surprise that the effects of COVID-19 will linger in 2021.

And although in the short-term businesses may still be struggling to adjust to new ways of working, in the long-run these hurdles provide an opportunity for major value-adding HR technology improvements.

Here are four of the most prominent HR technology challenges that organisations should focus on addressing in 2021 and beyond.

1. Aligning people technology with business strategy

Year upon year the strategic importance of HR steadily rises – so much so that HR is now a key player in the boardroom in most organisations. HR systems can now achieve so much and hold such strategic insights that, when used correctly, can help to inform and execute a powerful business strategy.

However, some organisations struggle to achieve this due to a lack of clear alignment between their software and business needs.

To gain the most out of your HR function, you must first shift the view that your HR software should be primarily features and functionality focussed and instead, consider if it can help address your specific business challenges.

For example, ask yourself, “Does our HR software help our business become more cost efficient? Does it support our risk management and compliance strategies, or help build and retain the highest performing teams?” If it doesn’t, it may be time to look for a system that can. Plus, a truly strategic technology partner won’t just provide you with a checklist of features; they’ll help you identify the specific requirements and challenges to address.

2. Embracing data-driven decision making

COVID-19 has undoubtedly caused high levels of workforce disruption, and this will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future. But one way for organisations to get through this unsettling time more easily is to have a strong focus on using business data and analytics to aid in decision making and the forecasting of future challenges.

However, many are unable to fully embrace data-driven decision making. Some struggle to build a single source of truth due to data being siloed across multiple systems, while others lack an intuitive self-service analytics tools that simplify complex data into usable insights. Without this fact-based analysis, organisations are unable to make the best business decisions in an efficient manner.

This is especially important throughout the COVID-19 crisis, with the urgent need to quickly pinpoint and interpret changes in the workforce. For example, tracking patterns in staffing levels and absenteeism – and understanding how this impacts your team’s work – helps give management oversight to make effective changes to ensure deadlines are met and output remains consistent. Furthermore, predictive analytics can also help management teams anticipate future challenges, and give them the opportunity to plan further ahead.

3. Meeting employees where they are

Another effect of the pandemic is that remote working has quickly become the ‘new normal’. In fact, home working has risen by 800% since February 2020, with 60% of the UK’s adult population currently working from home.

In order to maintain a productive, convenient, and engaging working environment, employers must focus on developing modern, mobile HR systems that serve the needs of a complex workforce comprising office-based, remote, and transient employees.

For example, with the ongoing disruption to travel and social life in general, we’re likely to see a rapid increase in changes to planned holidays, annual leave, and expenses. As such, it’s key that employees can manage these changes as easily as possible – and mobile employee self-service is one of the best ways to do this.

In addition, companies should also consider switching from on-premise to cloud HR technologies, as these not only provide strong levels of security and resilience, but they also provide the ability to access crucial data quickly, no matter where you’re working from.

4. Finding technology that retains, engages and motivates

Trying to balance work and home life along with the reduction in direct colleague interaction, can result in disengaged and unmotivated teams. What’s more, with less face-to-face training and support, the risk of ‘employee burnout’ increases.

However, never has the health and wellbeing of your teams been important as it is today, and employers must know how to keep their colleagues motivated and feeling appreciated. There are a couple of key ways to achieve this through HR technology – by driving strong digital employee experiences, and using reward and recognition apps.

The choice and quality of the HR technology you provide reflects your organisation’s culture. For example, if you equip your teams with excellent digital HR experiences, it shows that you value them. It also boosts your employer brand, and shows that you’re a modern, forward-thinking organisation that is great to work within.

Adopting reward and appreciation apps will also bear a positive effect. Enabling your teams to be easily recognised and rewarded – as well as keeping them connected to colleagues – helps to maintain strong team collaboration and culture at a time when many employees are isolated at home.

A peek into the future of HR technology

Although we were already moving toward a future of HR technology characterised by all these areas, the events of the past year have further accelerated key trends.

Whatever the next few months have in store, one thing is clear: making sure your HR systems are data-driven, employee-centric and, perhaps most importantly, aligned to future business needs and objectives, will be the way forward.

If you want to discover how HR software from Zellis can help you overcome these challenges and more in 2021, get in touch today.