What Is the New Normal Going to Look Like for HR, and What Role Will Technology Play?

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It seems like the idea of a “new normal” has been a moving target for over a year. Businesses were forced to react to a global pandemic in 2020, and many businesses were still in reaction mode heading into 2021. Only recently, as signs of recovery have appeared and restrictions have started to loosen on a broader scale, many businesses have been able to proactively evaluate what the new normal might look like for them. For many organizations, the pandemic has changed the way they operate forever. HR departments must be equipped to support remote workforces, full-time and part-time employees, as well as freelancers and independent contractors. Whatever the new normal looks like for their organization, HR professionals understand that HCM technology is more important than ever. Here are the HR trends for the future that will prove invaluable as the world and economy begin to recover.

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Centralized Training and Development

In hand with AI for recruitment, employee development can be tracked from the moment of onboarding. This allows employees to receive proper orientation and continue to receive training and development as their careers progress. New forms of engaging training and development programs that are self-led use the training method that most appeal to the individual. Organizations can provide personalized training content designed to meet the individual’s needs, providing continuous learning and development opportunities that help reduce turnover challenges.

As the workplace technology changes, people maintain the appropriate skill set as AI in hand with centralized, cloud-based training allows the individual to adjust to technology. Team members continue to meet the demands of changing technology introduced into each job role. This proactive approach to upskilling creates transferable skills and improves competencies that help workers remain relevant in their chosen fields for ongoing success in their careers.

Self-Service Tools

With an employee self-service (ESS) system, employees no longer require endless piles of paperwork and can manage a number of HR-related issues such as:

  • Online pay stub records
  • W-2 forms
  • Employment status
  • Rate of pay
  • Training programs
  • Update personal information
  • Benefits/health plan coverage and more


This becomes even more important with the shift to work-from-home models that make access to such information the best way to improve HR efficiencies.

Cloud-Based HR to Support Remote Work

Demand for remote work left many organizations ill-prepared to remain productive. However, with total workforce management systems, organizations can maximize productivity and profits with cloud-based tools designed to track employee performance. HR departments have control over the management and performance of their remote teams, so they can remain effective in assisting employees in meeting their career goals. This also ensures each individual has access to the tools they need to perform their day-to-day tasks. Remote workforce management assists with:

  • Day-to-day functions
  • Time management integration with systems such as Kronos
  • Employee benefits
  • Paperless HR management
  • Visibility to all levels of management


HR departments can have their systems up and running quickly, allowing them to easily accommodate their remote workforce. Collaborative tools, sharing of documents, training, employee development, performance tracking, and more can all be managed from one centralized workforce management system. These systems are scalable, allowing HR departments to adapt the systems to suit their needs. Everything is managed in real-time so the decision-making process is not disrupted, and all levels of management maintain control over their department’s productivity.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

This has become a must in the new world of recruitment. From posting job openings to filtering applications and from setting up virtual job interviews to onboarding, AI-enabled programs make the entire recruitment process easier. AI will continue to provide invaluable input for recruiters, including:

  • Reducing the number of suitable candidate applications to review through effective application filtering
  • Analysis of the labor market
  • Skills matching
  • Competency identification for internal opportunities
  • Accurate and unbiased job posting/description creation
  • Pre-interview chatbot discussions to qualify candidates
  • Efficient onboarding


These are just a few examples of how AI can accelerate the employee hiring process.

Tech-Supported Turnover Analysis

With the use of AI, HR professionals can become more responsive to turnover challenges by using it to analyze and spot departure trends. It can be used for competitive analysis to identify shortcomings in things such as an organization’s benefits, salary ranges, training programs, and more, allowing HR teams to adjust their offerings to make them more appealing to top talent.

Programs to Suit the Gig Economy

With more organizations and many industries seeing spikes in the gig economy, adaptable HCM technology provides the tools to balance a good mix of full-time remote teams, onsite full or part-time workers, contract workers such as tradespeople for construction, and freelance workers in areas such as marketing. With changing roles and approaches to “hiring”, this new workforce has special needs. HCM workforce management systems provide solutions for common inefficiencies in these gig economy, complex environments.

These HR trends for the future can easily be met using cloud-based technology and customized total workforce management systems.

Headshot of Patrick Sayers
Patrick Sayers

Patrick Sayers is the president of Newcastle Research, a research and advisory company focused on the Human Capital Management market. He leads Newcastle Research’s consulting services, leveraging two decades of industry experience to assist clients with their HCM strategy.

For more information, please visit his website at newcastleresearch.com, and connect with Patrick on LinkedIn.

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