Take a look at what the blogosphere is tagging as the “hot’ HR trends of 2018, and they run along today’s cultural and economic fault lines: sexual-harassment training, payroll and taxation, optimizing recruitment, reducing implicit bias in employee screening and training.

The Harvard Business Review succinctly captured a more basic problem in the employment mix: “Companies Are Bad at Identifying High-Potential Employees.”

That position is borne out by other sources too, as reported last year by Human Resource Executive: 58 percent of companies surveyed by talent-acquisition innovator Randstad Sourceright say they use no skills assessments, despite everyone touting their importance. A staggeringly small 20 percent of employers noted in that study by the Society for Human Resource Management and Mercer were fully confident in their screening methods for entry-level job applicants.

Meanwhile, more effective screening methods are being largely ignored. For example, only 2 percent of employers are currently using online simulations for screening.

Turning the corner

2018 appears to be the advent of widely accepted—and increasingly implemented—HR technologies that could close the gaps in skills assessment, hiring, training and retention. Here’s a brief overview of the some of the more promising enterprises.

Screening & Recruitment

    • Simulations: Flight simulators have been a mainstay of military and commercial pilot training for decades. It’s a sad irony that simulations are being introduced only now into other commercial settings. As the Harvard Business Review describes, simulations are effective for both CEOs and entry-level employees; only the depth and scope of the simulations will differ. Companies like Pymetrics uses uses neuroscience games and artificial intelligence to make hiring efficient, predictive, and bias free.
    • Analytics: HBR makes the sensible analogy that predicting which athletes make the best draft choices is not a matter of reviewing their cover letters and asking clever interview questions; rather, it’s about analyzing their stats. That’s why “Google, McKinsey, Korn Ferry and others are similarly investing heavily in analysis of performance metrics to develop predictive talent algorithms, adding a measure of science to the art of assessing ‘fit’ during the recruiting process.”
    • Anonymized recruitment: Anyone who has ever participated in a search committee knows how subjective, even biased, that process can be. Technology can change that. For example, a company called Clustree offers artificial intelligence to make internal and external HR data blind to stereotypes and human bias. Their mission is to build a technology solution that delivers fact-based and proactive decision making for career development and recruitment.
    • Video interview software: HireVue is a new vendor of video software for recruiting and hiring. Their goal is to provide assessments that “identify best-fit talent without the painful experience of traditional assessments.” Their video interviews help to reduce reliance on resumes so employers can make better decisions with structured, standardized interviews.
    • VR and AR: Virtual reality is revolutionizing every facet of our lives, from gaming to childbirth. In a recruitment setting, VR can give candidates an immersive preview of the company and job they’re courting. Just as products can be designed and virtually tested prior to prototyping, or as automated tasks can be tested, so too can new recruits be screened virtually.


  • Blockchain: What would a tech article be without mentioning blockchain? This increasingly pervasive technology can transform HR, assisting recruiters hoping to verify candidates more efficiently, and payroll managers who want to make their organization’s compensation process less costly and more timely, while also offering countless other efficiencies and security.


Onboarding & Training

  • VR and AR: Virtual and augmented realities will follow employees throughout their tenure, long after recruitment. United Parcel Service is one company committed to VR training. In 2017 UPS began using 360-degree street scenes projected inside VR headsets to teach new drivers about basic safety protocols. VR is proving useful elsewhere in training sales associates, manufacturing staff, surgeons, exposure therapists (as in treating anxiety disorders and phobias).
  • Simulations: Mursion is a company putting VR simulation to use in training people to master the interpersonal skills necessary to be effective in high-stress professions. The company reports its technology being used in healthcare, education, hospitality, finance, and other corporate sectors. Critical applications include implicit-bias training, particularly critical in today’s diverse workforce. Online simulations are also a timely innovation for entry-level job applicants who seldom survive standard resume reviews.

Employee management

  • Biometrics: Fingerprints and facial recognition may be used in employment for timekeeping, network logons, and secure building access. Employers need to be cognizant of the many legal implications of how such personally identifying information may be used, and what compliance will look like.
  • People analytics: Metrics applied to leadership development can help employers identify effective leaders already within the company’s ranks. E.g. VoloMetrix, a recently acquired subsidiary of Microsoft as Microsoft Workplace Analytics, extracts and analyzes anonymous data from company email, calendar, social platforms and line-of-business applications. TechCrunch described it “a service that specializes in analyzing organizational performance using anonymized data it gathers from across a company’s corporate communications systems” such as internal email.

As a thought leader in tech innovation, tekMountain continues to focus on the breadth of technologies now synergizing future-facing companies at any stage of development. Watch this blog for forthcoming, deeper dives into emerging HR technologies.

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