The State of HR: Trends and Opportunities

Remote and hybrid work environments were once considered temporary arrangements; a way to stay safe during the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s now clear that work-from-home arrangements are here to stay as cubicles become passe´ and employees increasingly choose hybrid work options.

Human resources underwent a massive upheaval to accommodate fast-changing dynamics, and are continuing to adjust to the new normal.

A recent Docusign HR Trends report provides a statistical analysis of human resources in the not-so-distant past. It also provides a look ahead at how they’re gearing up for the future. 

For HR departments, the sudden shift to remote and virtual operations exacerbated challenges they’ve long grappled with: bad employee experiences as a result of slow, manual and paper-based processes and a growing need for automation.

One area particularly prone to bottlenecks and ripe for automation is HR forms. Collecting physical signatures on offer letters, benefits packages and other materials significantly slows down HR departments and impacts employee relationships. For example, Docusign’s report revealed that only 6% of HR teams obtain signatures for all forms electronically. With the majority of HR teams completing 100-500 agreements per month, the time wasted on mailing documents and obtaining wet signatures adds up. 

To alleviate some of this burden on HR, many had already started to adopt technology to automate and digitize paper processes prior to the pandemic, but COVID-19 accelerated this trend. More than three in five survey respondents say adopting new technologies has increased in urgency as their organizations prepare for future disruptions.

Many organizations were caught by surprise when their work suddenly had to be done digitally—and from home—so the investments couldn’t come soon enough.

  • 41% of organizations that were prepared for the shift to remote work say their suite of tools supported their shift to remote work
  • 39% of companies that weren’t ready for the shift attribute their unpreparedness to a lack of appropriate systems, tools and technology

Even with the right technology in place, there’s opportunity to further improve HR workflows. Despite investments in technologies designed to make HR teams more agile, many organizations aren’t fully unlocking the potential ROI of their toolset. In fact, 91% of HR teams aren’t fully capitalizing on the technology they already own. For 39% of respondents, the biggest obstacle preventing HR teams from fully utilizing their software capabilities is the lack of integration with other systems.

Even when there is integration in place, it’s often partial rather than complete. For example, about a third of respondents say their benefits management, employee performance solution and applicant tracking software, among others, are only partially integrated with their human resource management suite (HRMS).

To remain agile in the face of change, HR departments need digital solutions that not only automate and simplify complex paper processes, but are easy to implement, use and integrate with their other technologies. With digital, well-integrated tools, HR teams will be significantly more prepared for the next wave of disruption—whatever that may be.   

For a deeper look at the changes and opportunities driving the HR industry today, check out Docusign’s latest HR Trends Report. Plus, check out more insights how technology enables HR teams to be more strategic.

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