HR 2021: Trends and Opportunities Report

A growing call for automation and integration with HRMS

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Over the past year, nearly every industry and business function underwent a massive upheaval due to COVID-19 and the subsequent shift to remote and hybrid work environments. Human resource teams were at the centre of the storm. The 2021 HR Trends Report provides an overview of what HR teams had to grapple with over the course of the year, a statistical analysis of human resources in 2020, and a look ahead at how they’re gearing up for the future. 

A growing call for automation

For HR departments, the sudden shift to remote and virtual operations exacerbated challenges they’ve long grappled with: bad candidate and employee experiences as a result of slow, manual and paper-based processes and a growing call for automation. Collecting physical signatures on offer letters, benefits packages and other materials significantly slows down HR operations and negatively impacts candidate and employee relationships. 

The majority of HR teams process 100–500 agreements per month but only 6% of them obtain signatures for all forms electronically. That’s a lot of time wasted chasing documents to secure pen-and-ink signatures. To alleviate the paperwork burden on HR, many had already started to automate and digitize paper processes prior to the pandemic, but COVID-19 greatly accelerated this trend. 

More than three in five survey respondents say adopting new technologies has increased in urgency and raised preparedness 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 say their suite of tools supported the shift to remote work. The 39% of companies that weren’t ready attribute their unpreparedness to a lack of appropriate systems, tools and technology.

Integration maximizes investments

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. When systems are integrated, 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 (Workday, SAP, Oracle HCM) are only partially integrated with their human resource management suite (HRMS).

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

Get the full HR Trends Report.