The fast developing pace of technology is changing the workplace as we know it. It is causing demographic shifts, altering employee needs and is invaluable in meeting the demands of an increasingly flexible workforce. In order to keep up with these changing times, HR professionals across the globe need to offer fresh, forward thinking strategies that enable employers to reap the benefits these changes will bring, both now, and into the future. But what should be top of the agenda?

ADP recently hosted a panel discussion that featured some of the leading HR experts and practitioners. The debate focused on the world of work in the next five years and how it will be impacted by technology. Here are some key observations from the discussion.

Online employee communication hubs

Without an engaged workforce, organisations would battle to retain top talent, employees would lack productivity and absenteeism would increase. To prevent this, HR professionals must be pre-emptive in developing strategies that capture employee interests, motivations and interactions.  

For example, introducing a social media platform that is specifically used within the organisation may facilitate staff engagement. Employees could interact with their colleagues, ask questions and collaborate on tasks, which would encourage staff to connect and thereby increase engagement with one another.

Online communication hubs will also present HR professionals with a wealth of insight into the interaction, needs and requirements of their staff. Using this information, organisations can then ensure they introduce HR strategies that cater to the varying needs of employees and shape a company culture that is reflective of their workforce.

Wearable technology in the workplace

With technology offering a wealth of readily available workplace tools, organisations need to embrace it to encourage staff members to use it in their day-to-day working life.

For example, equipping employees with wearable technology that includes useful features, such as frequent email and messaging alerts enable employees to stay on track with their tasks. Interestingly, wearables can also be useful in monitoring wellbeing and productivity levels, as a number of devices are designed to analyse fatigue and sleep patterns. This could help employees tailor their working day to personal preferences, maximising productivity without having to work long and strenuous hours.

However, when implementing tools such as wearable technology that expose so much personal information, HR professionals need to be transparent in how much of this information is revealed to them and the wider organisation. If employers are using this data to monitor their employees without consent, this poses concerns around privacy and intrusiveness.

Attracting and retaining top talent

By 2025, millennials are expected to comprise 75% of all British employees.[i] This new generation of workers has a fresh set of aspirations, needs and priorities that will reshape the world of work as we know it. It is therefore essential for HR professionals to consider the workplace preferences of millennials and align the organisational culture with their needs, in addition to catering to the needs of existing employees from other generations. This will maximise satisfaction among every employee within the five-generation workforce. 

Flexible working opportunities in particular are an important factor for millennials. So much so that, research by PwC found over a third of millennial employees would give up some of their pay and slow the pace of career progression in exchange for working fewer hours[ii]. This is not only a requirement among millennials, but over 25% of the UK workforce will expect to see flexible working allowances in their workplace within the next year[iii].

Arming employees with technologies such as laptops, work phones, online conference facilities and access to company files enables them to work when and where they choose. This promotes a better work life balance that fulfils their flexible working needs, and will be a key factor influencing their decision to stay on at the organisation.

Not only would this ensure existing employees feel their work life needs are being met, but prospective talent will be more attracted to the organisation as it demonstrates an understanding of their desire for a more balanced working life. The strain of juggling internal and external work needs would be lessened, and employees will remain engaged, productive and satisfied in their roles.

The acceleration of the modern workplace

The workplace has changed considerably in recent years, and we have reached a point where employees will expect technology to enable their life as a whole, not just during work hours. HR professionals across the globe need to use technology to engage with existing staff, ensure productivity is consistent and attract the world’s most talented individuals. By doing this, organisations can remain competitive in today’s world of work and prosper from having the most talented workforce on board.

For more insights, read the latest ADP Perspective Paper on People & Technology.


[i] The Drum. (11 November 2014). Millennials will account for 75% of workforce by 2025 but many employers still stuck in ‘analogue’ mode, says Telefonica UK boss Ronan Dunne

[ii] PwC. (2011). PwC’s NextGen: A global generational study

[iii] ADP UK. (2014). Workforce View in 2014/15