3 Trends in the Gartner Hype Cycle for Human Capital Management, 2020

November 24, 2020

Contributor: Teresa Zuech

HR leaders can leverage the insights of this Gartner Hype Cycle to identify the innovations that will help transform their HCM technology investments.

By 2025, Gartner forecasts that 60% of global midmarket and large enterprises will have invested in a cloud-deployed human capital management (HCM) suite for administrative HR and talent management. But they will still need to source 20% to 30% of their HCM requirements from other solutions due to gaps in functionality.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to HCM projects and challenges that were unanticipated and accelerated the transformational impact of new technologies,” says Helen Poitevin, VP Analyst at Gartner.

HR leaders and their IT partners can use the Gartner Hype Cycle for Human Capital Management, 2020 to gauge the maturity and capabilities of those new technologies.  

As HR leaders focus on managing their pandemic response and uncertain economic conditions while negotiating the future of work, three Hype Cycle trends are especially relevant:

  • Increased use of technology to track employees 
  • Increased use of technology to connect with employees and support their development and well-being
  • Increased use of technology to conduct workforce planning and to redeploy employees

In preparation for the reset to a post-coronavirus-world, Gartner has identified two technology classes for each of this year’s HCM trends to better support HR leaders. 

Trend No. 1: Increased use of technology to track employees

The flexible workplace and the rapid move to working from home has left organizations curious about the ways in which employee productivity is evolving. Enter next-generation workforce management and employee productivity monitoring, both of which aim to facilitate evaluating employees’ time spent and activities incurred. 

Next-gen workforce management (WFM) 

What is it? Workforce management (WFM) solutions are composed of software, services and (typically) hardware that help organizations manage the operational deployment of their workers.

Specifically, this technology helps manage hourly paid workers — from time and attendance to scheduling, absence and task management. Next-gen WFM has been impacted by trends such as employee experience, virtual assistants and, more notably, the flexible workplace.

Recommendations: It’s critically important to take a closer look at the extent to which WFM can support the new way of working that has come about in response to COVID-19. Develop a business case for a pilot deployment to quantify the ROI of WFM applications, and to justify a wider rollout of the initiative for larger parts of your organization. 

Employee productivity monitoring 

What is it? Employee productivity monitoring technology uses automated data collection and analytics to report on employees' activities — such as how is time spent, work locations and work patterns — to improve workforce productivity.

The digitalization of work has accelerated the ability to automatically track and monitor work activities. And the shift to employees working remotely has significantly increased the level of interest in employee productivity monitoring technologies.

Recommendations: Make sure employee monitoring technology is implemented ethically by testing it against a human-centric design approach. It’s important to mitigate any potential risks by pursuing a carefully communicated strategy.

If not done properly, employee productivity monitoring risks creating a toxic work culture. Employees should be notified about the purpose of the data collection and how measurement is done. They need to understand how this monitoring benefits them and how it can improve their employee experience. 

Learn more: Gartner Hype Cycle Methodology

The Gartner Hype Cycle for Human Capital Management Technology, 2020

Trend 2: Increased use of technology to connect with employees and support their development and well-being

Organizations recognize that employees are more than just workers. Employee well-being and learning development require holistic investments. Listening to employees and the ways in which employers respond has never been more crucial. Tools such as voice of the employee (VoE) and learning experience platforms (LEPs) facilitate continuous education and help foster employee feedback and transparency. 

Learning experience platforms 

What is it? LEPs look to deliver personalized learning paths, channels and collections that enable learners to easily organize, access and share relevant resources. They also offer visibility into additional learning assets that others find valuable. 

COVID-19 has pushed organizations to provide a wider range of learning resources to all of their employees. As the digital workplace evolves, these organizations will continue to look to LEPs as a way to aid learner adoption, increase content creation and collaboration, and drive engagement across a variety of stakeholders.

Recommendations: Evaluate your current LEP strengths, weaknesses and roadmap, with a focus on the various tools needed to determine fit and comparability with other existing technologies. Decision makers should focus on obtaining buy-in from corporate stakeholders and initiating pilot groups that can quickly see the benefits of LEPs in their teams and their own employee experience. 

Voice of the employee

What is it? VoE solutions use engagement surveys, feedback tools and other data sources to gather employee sentiment and infer preferences, opinions and well-being. VoE solutions deliver insights with actionable guidance to help improve employee engagement, experience, productivity and performance. 

The immediate, urgent and forced transition to remote work environments during the first half of 2020 has become an equally compelling driver of end-user demand. Organizations now want to use VoE to communicate care, listen to employee concerns, prioritize investments and quickly take action where necessary.

“ Assess the readiness of your organization to tightly link VoE to other talent processes”

VoE solutions can become a key element of a firm’s “sense and respond” feedback loop when connected with HCM and digital workplace technologies.

Recommendations: Define the degree to which managers will be taking an active role in VoE listening and assess the readiness of your organization to tightly link VoE to other talent processes or work activities. Listen to early feedback from employees and managers. Be prepared to swap out technology components quickly, based on changing business needs and maturity of options.

Trend 3: Increased use of technology to conduct workforce planning and to redeploy employees

Organizations need to consider how the gig economy and rise of the internal talent marketplace can enable them to continue to drive innovation and growth. Additionally, workforce planning and modeling also helps organizations be nimble in how they align talent efficiently and effectively.

Workforce planning and modeling 

What is it? Workforce planning and modeling technology includes tools that enable HR professionals to plan and monitor the evolution of their organization by aligning talent supply and demand to various business scenarios. It has been a critical element for navigating the impact of COVID-19.

Recommendations: Start with the planning approach that is most relevant to your organization to promote an understanding of its structure and workforce composition, and how it will meet current and future demands. Be prepared to explain the time frame and scope of your organization's workforce planning efforts. Invest in a strong talent analytics foundation, which is a prerequisite for workforce planning.

Internal talent marketplaces 

What is it? The "gig economy" relies on marketplace platforms to match customer demand to workers who are offering products, services or solutions. An internal talent marketplace uses similar principles to match internal employees and, in some cases, a pool of contingent workers, to short-term project and work opportunities without the involvement of a recruiter.

“ Establish trust through feedback mechanisms and allow for worker-led innovation”

Where large enterprises can have trouble pivoting quickly and driving innovation due to heavy management and control structures, internal talent marketplaces have the potential to change that. They establish trust through feedback mechanisms and allow for worker-led innovation that helps workers take full control of their careers. They enable much better and more granular tracking of the skills, competencies, knowledge and interest of individual workers. 

Recommendations: Invest in an internal mobility process if your organization is not yet ready for internal talent marketplaces. Use existing HCM and talent acquisition technologies to improve visibility when filling new positions with internal candidates.

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