Feb 08 2021

Best HR Tech Articles and Resources- January 2021

“Best HR Tech Articles and Resources- January 2021”

by  Swechha Mohapatra, Senior Consultant-Digital HR, Hrtech.sg



Organisations throughout the world have increased their focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) – and to be effective in driving more diverse & inclusive workplace are turning to technology to build in practices, behaviors, insights, and recommendations that address bias by providing insights into their talent. DEIB Tools use cutting edge technology- such as artificial intelligence (AI), deep machine learning, natural language processing (NLP), and organizational network analysis (ONA)––to help leaders manage DEIB agenda better and more easily and are increasingly becoming more accepted as essential tools for people practices.

The latest study Redthread research covers three major areas- the DEIB tech market, talent areas vendors focus on, and what buyers should consider before investing. Some of the key findings of the study include: 

  • Shifting focus of leaders from Gender diversity to emphasis on race/ethnicity; greater attention to inclusion in the workplace; greater understanding of the role & impact of AI in mitigating bias to enhance DEIB tools 
  • DEIB tech global market size is estimated to be $313 million and growing, up from $100 million in 2019 with a 136% increase (from 2019) in the number of HR tech vendors offering features or functionalities as part of solution offering. The total number of DEIB tech vendors increased by 87%, with a total of 196 vendors in the market for 2021, compared with 105 in 2019.
  • Increase in DEIB analytics offerings/solutions as a majority of participating vendors help their customers by addressing the lack of analytics & insights (up from 26% in 2019 to 28% in 2021)
  • Small-sized organisations represent almost 30% of the customer base for DEIB vendors. The industries most likely to be DEIB tech customers are concentrated in knowledge industries, namely technology, financial, banking, and insurance.

 FIG 1- DEIB Tech Market Tool | Source: RedThread Research, 2021 

Access the full study and tool here

II. TRENDS/INSIGHTS: Insights To Guide Organizations In 2021


Dealing with uncertainty may be a certainty for leaders as they approach 2021. To help guide leaders and organizations Analysts from Mckinsey share key insights and observations in a three-part series that focuses on areas like organization design and culture and change, DE&I, Talent management, and reskilling.

The use of technology to inspire individuals & narrow the skills gap has become a key priority & organisations are addressing this through – 1) New methods of digital learning to incorporate bite-size learning in their L&D programs; 2) Increasing technology investments to support flexibility, collaboration ad engagement of a hybrid workforce; 3) Greater integration of analytics and behavioral science in talent management; 4) harnessing the broader ecosystem like tech-driven job marketplaces to support hiring; 5) Embracing open L&D resources to reskill address skill gaps amongst other initiatives.

Read this three-part series from Mckinsey here.

III.TRENDS/INSIGHTS: HR Predictions for 2021


2021 is going to be a transformational year for HR. In his annual report, Josh Bersin shares his 12 HR predictions which are set to be key priorities for HR leaders in 2021 remote work, wellbeing, employee experience, employee listening, digital & HR transformation learning & reskilling, talent mobility and, productivity & workplace safety. Some of the key trends where technology will play an integral role in enabling HR include:

1) Digital Has Become a Way of Life- HR is playing an important role in the Digital transformation of organisations by simplifying, integrating, and using design thinking in work technology to create a single platform experience for employees

2) Employee Experience (EX) Is Now a Corporate Strategy – A cross-functional EX-team (e.g., HR, IT, legal, facilities, finance, and workplace safety) to cater to employee segments in “HR-related moments that matter” and will increasingly focus on all aspects of work, career, and life journeys.


3) Employee Listening, Hearing, and Communications Go Big- Their 2020 research highlighted communication, listening, authentic feedback, and taking action on employee issues as the most important leadership and HR practices & a top driver of success.

4) L&D Will Be Disrupted – With Talent marketplace products, LMS’s maturing to LXP’s, increasing demand & availability of on-demand content & L&D being a focus of HRTech vendors like Workday, Oracle and SAP means the learning market will be a hot space in 2021.

5) HR Transformation Is on the Front Burner- 2021 goal should be to transform HR with a focus on training and reskilling HR teams as People analytics becomes the most in-demand capabilities, followed closely by DEI skills and experience.

Read the other HR predictions here.

IV. RESOURCE: How to Make the Case for Investing in HR Technology


With more organisations embarking on digital transformation initiatives experts suggest that HR tech investments are set to increase to ensure employees have the right tools to maximize their productivity and efficiency. If HR applies its newfound leverage acquired during the COVID-19 pandemic—getting new spending approved for HR technology upgrades or replacements may become easier. To make the top-management “find the value of the investment” HR leaders need to present a strong business case to the C-Suite to ensure buy-ins.

Dan Staley (Global HR technology leader at PwC) shares some frequent mistakes to avoid & some strategies CHROs use with success to gain approval for technology replacements or upgrades.

  • List the quantitative benefits to set credibility & demonstrating ROI (like reducing time-to-fill, increase compliance, save time and money, etc)
  • Link HR technology investment to finance tech investment that brings benefits in terms of support resources, more seamless integration between the two applications, and sharing of common data elements.
  • Tie qualitative benefits to business objectives.
  • Communicate early, don't "under-scope" cost factors that may arise due to interdependence on other business groups to make the implementation successful, and training expenses.

Considering the total cost of ownership (TCO)—which goes beyond per-user pricing costs to include expenses like software configuration, user training, ongoing technical support for upgrades, and more—others might favor a simpler cost/benefit analysis or a mix of quantitative and qualitative benefits a new technology investment might deliver.

Read the detailed blog here.

V. BLOG: The Future of Work Is Through Workforce Ecosystems


Today most organisations have expanded their definition of the workforce to include not only employees, but also contractors, gig workers, professional service providers, crowdsourced contributors, and others. It is becoming increasingly imperative to effectively manage a workforce comprising internal and external players to align with an organization’s strategic goals and consistent with its values is now a critical business necessity. Research by MIT and Deloitte suggests that Workforce ecosystems – defined as a structure that consists of interdependent actors, from within the organization and beyond, working to pursue both individual and collective goals- can enable managers to deal with changes that are driven by technological, social, and economic forces which are often not addressed by current management practices. The blog lists four reasons to focus on Workforce Ecosystems as

  • More non-employees are doing almost 25% of work for enterprises and this is expected to increase in the coming years.
  • Changing nature of work is making way for more short-term, skills-focused, team-based work engagements in which automation and technology free up people’s capacity.
  • Research supports that a more diverse and inclusive workforce leads to better outcomes when enabled by digital collaboration technologies this helps organizations attract diverse candidates and opens opportunities to workers of all types.
  • Workforce management is becoming more complex as contingent resources are being leveraged beyond IT in areas such as marketing, R&D, human resources, customer service, and finance.

Read more here


 VI. CASE STUDY: How HR enables business transformation at Prudential Financial


In his latest Digital HR leaders podcast with Wagner Denuzzo (Head of Capabilities for Future of Work, Prudential Financial) David Green discusses the role of HR in the wider transformation at Prudential Financial; How Prudential Financial is using data to understand skills and career opportunities; How Prudential has undergone a huge transformation & is using data to understand skills and career opportunities, both from an employee & organizational perspective.

Wagner shares about how the use of data has grown exponentially in Prudential Financial, Skills Accelerator platform- internal talent marketplace that uses AI and machine learning, inference of employee skills from their LinkedIn profile through dashboards(using Tableau, Power BI), use of data personalization & visualization to identify skills & capabilities and what the team plans to achieve in future.

Watch the podcast here.

VII. CASE STUDY: FIS onboarded over 4,000 people virtually in 2020


 In his interview with ETHRWorld, Amol Gupta(CHRO – India & Philippines, FIS) talked about the hiring plans of FIS for this year, the workforce composition, key areas of investment FIS has made to acquire HR tech, and how technology can further improve the HR productivity and employee experience.

Amol shared some key areas where his HR team has moved into digital space - conducting virtual interviews including assessment and paperwork, virtual onboarding of more than 4000 employees, use of performance management system that enabled a smooth virtual roll-out of appraisal, use of LinkedIn Learning and Saba Learning platform (WeLearn) for L&D initiatives, using telemedicine platform Practo, wellbeing platform Virgin Pulse and Beacon health for expert counseling for physical & mental wellbeing of their employees.

He also talks about the mindset shift of the people and organization, increase in investment & focus on HR technology, and the exploding HR tech market that is providing a plethora of available HRTech solutions. Read the detailed interview here.

VIII. CASE STUDY: Time to Embrace Idealogical Diversity and AI Can Help


The near-universal shift to remote working is further blending the boundaries between our personal and professional leanings. Today ignoring individual ideological beliefs, has become nearly impossible. Mahe Bayireddi (CEO, Phenom People) in his blog highlights why taking a step back to consider how the complexity of politics has conditioned our engagement with each other—and shares how technology can help address this.

HR has a great opportunity to embrace ideological diversity and play an important role in how companies hire. As the pandemic has accelerated technology’s impact on talent management, HR teams can leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to ensure candidates with different world views receive fair opportunities. To ensure an unbiased approach where each decision from a recruiter or hiring manager contributes to a vast dataset- AI-based platforms utilize these actions and learn the context of companies’ hiring practices. While it is also important to note that this nature may make the AI algorithm susceptible to bias when used improperly, making it extremely critical to deploy AI models that are designed to minimize any adverse impact. To address this Organizations can make sure humans are in the loop and providing feedback, steering AI to learn based on skill preferences and hiring requirements. With the ongoing curation of objective data, AI can help companies achieve recruiting efficiency while still driving talent diversity. One way hiring managers can distance themselves from political bias is by relying on AI to “score” candidates based on factors such as proficiency and experience, rather than data like where they live or where they attended college. In the future, AI might also be able to mask details such as name and gender to further reduce the risk of bias he shares. Read more about it in the blog here.

IX. CASE STUDY: How AI Can Remove Bias From The Hiring Process And Promote Diversity And Inclusion


Diversity and Inclusion(D&I) has emerged as a critically important issue and focus for organizations and business leaders to ensure the success of work cultures. Companies have been struggling with how to mitigate and reduce biases of all kinds in their hiring practices, while attempting to promote diversity and inclusion in their cultures and ecosystems, to help their organizations and employees thrive at the highest levels. But conscious and unconscious biases remain, and some tools that have been used to address bias, even AI ones, have been criticized as ineffective at best and counterproductive and deceptive at worst. Mike Hudy (Chief Science Officer at Modern Hire) shares how organizations can address and remove racial, gender, disability, and other biases in their hiring processes and practices. He shares in order to hire diverse talent; it is important for recruiters to reduce and even eliminate unconscious bias from the hiring process. Using proven, ethical AI in the hiring process can serve to provide objective information to hiring teams so that they focus on what really matters during the hiring process: characteristics of a candidate that are relevant to success in the job. By using only job-relevant data as the foundation of decisions, companies can more effectively remove bias from hiring, ultimately better-equipping hiring managers and recruiters to prioritize improving diversity and creating a more inclusive hiring process within their organizations. Tools like Modern Hire, an AI-powered enterprise hiring platform, are used by 47 of the Fortune 100 companies including Amazon, Walmart, and CVS Health, to hire smarter virtually. Modern Hire enables organizations to continuously improve hiring results through more personalized, data-driven experiences for candidates, recruiters, and hiring managers. Read more here.

X. CASE STUDY: How Companies Are Using VR to Develop Employees’ Soft Skills


Today’s companies are facing a growing soft skills gap with recent studies reporting a majority of hiring managers reported difficulty recruiting candidates with the requisite soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, and leadership. Jeanne C Meister shares how the use of Virtual Reality tools can help businesses enable their employees to develop vital skills in a remote working scenario. She shares case studies from organizations that are using #VR to develop skills in handling difficult customer conversations, practicing sales presentations, and more. The use of Immersive VR training creates highly memorable, impactful experiences — without the potential risk of real-world consequences. Not only can VR be highly effective, but these tools can also reduce both cost and logistical hurdles associated with traditional in-person training. Many employees already have access to mobile or desktop devices in their home offices, and VR programs are often more engaging and thus faster (and cheaper) to complete than alternative programs. Case studies covered include:

  • H&R Block’s use of VR Simulations for Customer Service Training.
  •  Cognizant developed a multi-stage VR-driven training program to Develop Presentation Skills through an interactive digital course on data-driven storytelling that uses a VR Avatar for role play and runs on an AI engine to analyze the presentation on keywords, emotions, tone, and body language.
  • HPE Financial Services (HPEFS) uses VR Simulations for Employee Evaluation to help managers assess current skills for different key competencies, enabling them to more effectively allocate training resources and match skill profiles to job functions.

Read more about them here.

XI. CASE STUDY: How Singapore Uses Skills Data to Support Lifelong Learning (Interview with Wenshan Xu)


Numerous researches have highlighted the widening skills gap and the need for reskilling of the workforce. The Future of Jobs report (World Economic Forum) found that by 2025 50% of all employees will need to be re-skilled and experts believe that the pandemic has only accelerated this progress. In the podcast with Wenshan Xu (Deputy Director of The Skills Development Group at SSG), David Green discusses how SkillsFuture SG is enabling Singapore’s mission to build a skills competitive nation of resilient and confident lifelong learners.

In the podcast, Wenshan and David discuss - How SSG helps re-skill workers in sectors affected by Covid and then helps them transition to sectors that were hiring; How SSG works with employers, education providers, and citizens to create a skill and learning ecosystem that meets the changing requirements of jobs in the country; How SSG is using data, analytics and machine learning to understand the supply and demand of skills now and in the future.

Wenshan also shares about the skills taxonomy developed by SSG (that encompasses 34 skills frameworks, 11,000 skills competencies, and over a thousand job roles) and how all this supports the vision for talent mobility in Singapore. She shares how the pandemic led to a remote & hybrid working arrangement, the role of HR teams to support businesses to engage, develop and motivate their employees, and the impact of technology & automation to lead to job redesign to complement the workforce strategy. She also shares the 4B approach - Buy, Build, Borrow, Bot which businesses can follow and how can HR technology be incorporated to facilitate how we work.

Listen to the podcast here.

XII. CASE STUDY: How tech is laying the foundations for Love Bonito’s future


Brandon Lee (Head of People & Culture at Love Bonito) shares how retail companies like Love Bonito are fundamentally rethinking how business is performed and how they are leveraging innovative HR tech solutions to transform & aid business expansion in the APAC region. Brandon talks about the importance of effective communication & collaboration as they continue to scale and expand in SEA. By using HReasily’s facial recognition tool for deskless employees in retail & warehouse to track time and attendance which then seamlessly translates into payroll to automate the calculation of OTs, CPF & tax calculations. Watch here.

XIII. CASE STUDY: How Singtel embraced the digitalisation of HR to shape the future of work


In this interview Singtel's Singapore HR team from Singtel shares some of its key milestones through Singtel's digital transformation journey – digitalising all employee data on their cloud-based HR management system called HR Central and launching #CURIOUS, a digital learning platform for their employees to customise their learning experience.

Singtel has embarked on a digital transformation journey that has led to the digitalisation of HR organisation and shape the future of work. This has been achieved through a focused approach of streamlining processes, emphasis on more strategic aspects of HR, and investing in deepening the digital skills of people to build more agile teams and drive better decisions about the workforce, which is supported by data insights.

The Singtel HR team shares key initiatives they have embarked upon- HRCentral and CURIOUS. Digitalising all employee data their cloud-based HR management system called HR Central, has enabled Singtel to securely store and access information, effectively gain insights by leveraging people analytics, and serve as a one-stop portal integrating HR processes like performance management, salary and claims. Singtel has also accelerated learning for their workforce through the implementation of L&D platform #CURIOUS that delivers learning in modular, bite-sized digital formats over both mobile and desktop platforms, employees have participated actively in these courses and deepened their competencies at a faster rate.

FIG 3: CURIOUS | Source: Chee Keat Koh, Director L&D at Singtel Group in IHRP & hrtech.sg Tech Talk Series –Leveraging HR Technologies for best-in-class Talent Development

 A 'High-tech + High-trust = High-touch; approach has helped to increase bandwidth of HR teams, achieve greater efficiency in terms of time and cost saving apart from improving the employee experience across the company. For example, by digitising employee records, they have managed to reduce storage space, & cut the time required for filing and their monthly printing volume by 47%. Read more about it here.

XIV. CASE STUDY: AbbVie's Digitalisation journey with HRConnect is relevant today and in the future


Share Lee Tan(HR Director, AbbVie) in this interview with Human Resource Online shares the case study on AbbVie(Research-driven biopharmaceutical company) digitalisation journey through the implementation of HRConnect- an online, self-service platform and culture in place, AbbVie's employees were better able to adapt to working from home.

The HR leadership envisioned the future and took the bold decision to develop new in-house capabilities for a digital-first, ‘employee as customer’ service model called HRConnect. The introduction of the HRConnect platform helped them to rethink how to optimise people, processes, and technology thus freeing up time for employees to focus on higher-value priorities. The implementation journey involved not just building a system, redesigning processes, and deploying new technology. It also involved rethinking people’s roles, remolding their behaviors, and helping them adapt to change.

Within 10 months of the launch of the HRConnect platform, the program saw utilisation rate of over 75% (through 4,500 queries recorded), employees were better able to adapt to working from home, and reduced operational burden on HR releasing bandwidth for strategic tasks. Share also talks about some of the barriers that the team experienced during implementation and how they were able to overcome them. Read more here.

Swechha Mohapatra (IHRP-CP, Associate CIPD) is a Senior Consultant – Digital HR at hrtech.sg and has over 7 years of global experience in various Talent functions. She is a passionate HRTech evangelist, a member of the member of the IHRP HRTech CoP Taskforce and an avid learner who is certified Six Sigma-Green Belt with a background of MBA (Specialization in HR and IT) and Master’s in Labor Laws and Labor Welfare. .


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