The world of work is evolving at a rapid pace, possibly quicker than ever before. As a business and an employer, it's vital not only to be aware of the latest workplace trends and technologies that are relevant to your organization, but to prepare for how they could impact your people.

By getting your workforce ready for what the future could bring, you can help individual employees feel more secure in their roles and make your company more agile and adaptable.

HR tech trends for 2019

Looking ahead to what 2019 could bring, it will come as no surprise that artificial intelligence and automation are expected to be among the key growth areas where workplace and HR tech are concerned.

While the growth of these technologies inevitably raises questions about human workers being made redundant, there is also potential for AI and automation to help people do their jobs more effectively, and also create entirely new roles.

According to Johannesburg-based IT services firm Dimension Data, one of the main digital workplace trends this year will see employers focusing on empowering and engaging their staff. The company said AI and machine learning can 'play a significant role' in the new model of employee engagement and empowerment.

A key priority for many organizations this year will be finding the most effective ways to combine the potential of AI and automation with the uniquely human skills in their workforce. 

Another trend that is already well-established, but will become even more significant in 2019, is the development of data analytics. As Randstad Sourceright noted in its latest Talent Trends Quarterly report, analytics is now being incorporated into practically every recruitment tool under development.

Jason Roberts, global head of technology and analytics with Randstad Sourceright's Talent Innovation Center, said: 'Bringing together data from all of the HR systems that we utilize today empowers algorithmic prediction like never before. This is what makes data-driven decision-making possible in an age when it has become absolutely essential.'

Over the course of 2019, your business could also witness the growth of technologies that, for many organizations, are still very much on the periphery. Blockchain and virtual reality, for example, were both mentioned among Gartner's top ten strategic technology trends for this year. These will still be alien concepts for many employers, but their potential for HR and the world of work could come into sharper focus over the coming months.

preparing your people

Whatever the future holds for your organization and the world of work as a whole, it's important to move forward in close partnership with your employees to ensure they understand and feel prepared for whatever changes are on the horizon. 

If your business decides to go down the route of process automation and deployment of AI, make sure people are fully aware of what's happening and why. Individual employees and teams should be briefed on how their roles and day-to-day work will be affected, and what the company as a whole stands to gain from these changes.

Next-generation technologies have the potential to improve and reinvigorate people's careers. They can make routine tasks quicker and easier, or create opportunities for employees to move into positions that require uniquely human skills, such as face-to-face relationship building or out-of-the-box thinking.

In the latest Talent Trends Quarterly report, nearly seven out of ten global employers (68%) said smart technologies - powered by AI, machine learning and analytics - will free up knowledge professionals to do more advanced work.

Around two-thirds (65%) of respondents said these innovations will positively impact the candidate experience, while 58% were engaged in reskilling staff to help them move into other roles internally.

The potential advantages of transformative technologies should be clearly communicated to your workers, particularly those who have raised concerns about changes to their jobs. Highlight opportunities for long-term, loyal employees to diversify their skill sets and take on new responsibilities within your organization.

These steps will help you come up with a clear vision of what the future could look like for your business - one that is shared by everyone, from senior management to the newest recruits. 

Driven by the latest technologies, and with an engaged, well-informed labour force making the best use of all available skills and potential, you can set yourself up for success in the fast-moving world of work.