How HR Has Changed Over the Last 10 Years

Lori Li
8 min read
Jul 29, 2020


Years ago, the human resources department—often referred to simply as “personnel”—was primarily charged with keeping records, ensuring companies followed regulations and were in compliance with laws, and determining wages, compensation packages, and other benefits.

Over the years, the HR department has evolved tremendously. In fact, the HR department has gone through drastic changes in the last 10 years alone. 

Thanks to the emergence of a slew of technologies that automate much of the work traditionally done by HR professionals, the HR department that exists today looks almost nothing like the ones that came before. 

In addition to programs that can automate payroll and streamline the onboarding process, there are also platforms that simplify the recruiting process and talent management systems that enable companies to quickly determine whether their employees are getting the right training opportunities, among other things.

Instead of focusing on personnel management and administrative tasks, today’s HR departments—at least the ones that are forward-thinking—spend their energies managing employee engagement and strengthening culture. 

They’re also charged with managing the employees themselves to increase the odds they’re happy at work and will continue to stick around for the foreseeable future.

Despite the progress and evolution that occurred in the HR sector over the last decade, 80% of respondents to a recent survey indicated they believe their company’s HR skills are lacking, as reported by Deloitte. A major reason for that, it would seem, stems from the fact that companies are generally wary of change. 

And HR leaders, for example, may be hesitant to embrace new HR technologies simply because they fear they will ultimately be putting themselves out of work.

By investing in new HR technologies and platforms, however, HR professionals can provide even more valuable services to their companies while improving team morale and, by extension, productivity.

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Engaging Employees to Increase Productivity

The vast majority of employees today are not engaged at work. In fact, Gallup recently reported that just 31.7% of employees are engaged—which means nearly 7 out of 10 workers don’t love their jobs and aren’t willing to go above and beyond ever.

Engaged employees are happier at work. They’re also more productive than their disengaged peers. When HR departments focus on increasing engagement, not only does the quality of the work improve on a company-wide basis, employees are more likely to get along with one another. They’ll be in positive, helpful moods—compared to disengaged employees who might have a hard time even cracking a smile.

As our 2019 Engagement Report revealed, coworkers are the number one thing employees like about their jobs. The happier and more engaged workers are, the more likely their peers will be to enjoy their company. In other words, strong engagement helps build a more connected team that has each other’s backs—one that works hard to make sure everyone reaches their full potential.

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Strengthening Culture to Create Long-Lasting Team Bonds

A company’s culture describes its mission, beliefs, values, ethics, and more. Cultures define what is expected from employees.

Culture is one of the top correlated factors to employee happiness, as noted in our Engagement Report. The stronger a culture is, the more likely an employee is to be happy. Because happiness is directly related to productivity, managers would be wise to focus enough resources on improving culture however they can. 

Not only are employees who fit in with an organization’s culture more motivated to do their best work, they’re also more likely to believe in the work your company is doing and treat customers with a serious level of respect. Further, they’ll evangelize on your company’s behalf—even when they’re not in the office. This is one of the latest developments in the evolution of HR.

HR technologies make it very easy to gauge whether employees are happy with company culture and believe that things are working as they should be. 

For example, the results from a pulse survey will make it very clear whether a certain new program or initiative is successful or if it’s making employees feel overworked and stressed. 

Armed with that data, managers can then opt to continue business as usual (when the results are good) or to abandon an idea and steer the company in a different direction (when the results are bad). 

It sure beats waiting six months to find out that a new program is really hurting culture and employee morale.

Managing Talent to Retain Employees

Despite the fact that many of today’s employees are extremely interested in having opportunities to develop and grow at their companies, only 25% of workers believe their organizations offer ample opportunities for career development, our Engagement Report revealed.

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If you want to keep the best employees around, it is imperative that you offer them the ability to acquire new skills and learn new things. You can’t take them for granted and just assume they’ll stick around forever.

Even if you think your employees are all replaceable, you should still be concerned with how much it costs to replace workers who take jobs elsewhere. According to the Center for American Progress, businesses can expect to pay up to $15,000 to replace departing employees. That’s quite the chunk of change for any company.

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What Does The Future of HR Look Like?

The directions in which HR is going change every single day. Whether that’s a result of sudden world events, shifting changes in employee needs, or just emerging technologies that companies are looking to use sooner than their competitors.

Social Media and Employer Branding

Over the past few years, employer branding has caught widespread attention. 

Everyone is doing it to some extent now and the top companies with strong employee retention strategies all have a solid employer branding scheme in place. From showcasing the company’s culture and values through regular blog posts to creating comprehensive programs of promoting their workplace environment and team spirit.

In fact, 47% of recruiters choose social media as their top platform of choice when it comes to their employer branding attempts. Why the preference for these networks in the future of HR? 

For one, that’s where your future hires are. They’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Instagram—which might not seem like the most likely place for you to promote your job opening.

Most job seekers research the company they apply to beforehand. Future employees want to see exactly how life at work is, who they’ll be working with, what benefits they can get, and if there are truly as many great professional growth opportunities as you promise. As many as 75% of job seekers believe companies are trustworthy when their C-suite executives and leadership teams use social media to share their core values, purpose, and mission.

They specifically look at the organization’s online reputation as well as what other past and present workers have said about their experience. Websites like Glassdoor have become popular sources for this kind of information as any employee can anonymously share their thoughts on the work environment, salary, managers, benefits, and even the hiring process.

Technology as the Core of HR Given the Shift to Remote Work

Remote work is here to stay. 

HR managers, though, aren’t fully prepared to hire remotely. While the process and steps are essentially the same, many tools and methods used to understand if a person who’s on the other side of the world is right for your workplace culture can differ. 

Given that as many as three in five employees want to keep working remotely whenever possible in the future, HR teams need to prepare for this challenging mission. Specifically, the hiring process as well as employee management will rely entirely on technology. 

The recruitment process will still mostly be handled via communications tools like Zoom and Slack. Companies might just need a few more extra interview sessions. 

Many fully distributed teams already turn to inviting possible new hires for a test week, getting to see how the teams interact via Slack, and even taking part in their daily standup meetings.

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With the HR role of keeping teams productive, engaged, and happy, your tool stack requires a few extra helping hands. Truth be told, you’re looking at sending regular PEAK assessments and feedback surveys to your employees using a tool like TINYpulse. These will give you insights in real time into how your employees think and what their opinion on the company is so you can take action in a timely manner.

One-on-ones are a core part of remote team management with every single employee getting dedicated time to share their feedback and ideas without interruptions. Look for an employee performance management tool to help you set and track goals for these meetings as well as get a holistic overview at the entire team’s performance.

Improving Workplaces through Analytics Is the Future of HR

Most HR decisions of the future will be backed up by real stats. 

Back in 2017, pundits predicted that by 2020, data analysis would be the second-most in-demand skill for HR managers, trailing social media management. Through that lens, the future of human resources is already here.

Companies turn to reporting and real HR analytics to validate their work culture, retain employees and attract new hires with timely and efficient methods. They also use analytics to offer everything a team member needs in order to deliver their best performance. 

As part of this, organizations are turning to connect their traditional methods to emerging tech to gather employee feedback. For instance, a large part of the HR effort for most successful teams is nailing the onboarding process. Asking the right questions in the first three months helps you get actionable input and benchmark any stats and results for future hiring opportunities.
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Monitoring your analytics also helps you keep up with the status of your HR KPIs. Do remember that it's not just employee performance and hiring capabilities you’re tracking. A large step towards improving the future of the workplace and your HR practice goes into a plethora of other key aspects, including:

  • Employee capabilities
  • Employee churn rate
  • Team culture and leadership
  • Overtime hours
  • Absenteeism
  • Training and professional development costs
  • Productivity

The Evolution of HR: Is Your Organization Prepared?

Thanks to new HR technologies, it’s easier than ever to manage talent and make sure employees are reaching their goals and getting what they want out of work. Talent management systems, for example, enable HR workers to easily keep track of everything. These HR trends include recruiting and performance management as well as learning and development and compensation management. All of the critical data needed to make sure employees are improving and reaching the next level can be accessed from one central interface—streamlining the process significantly.

HR has evolved quite remarkably over the last decade. Instead of being fearful of what the changes mean for the HR department or the professionals working in it, companies would be wise to embrace the modern tools and technologies that enable them to build even stronger companies.

Rather than focusing on records management and compliance-related issues, for example, strong HR departments spend their time focusing on improving employee engagement, building an even stronger and more attractive company culture and managing talent from the recruitment process to the exit interview. 

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The final takeaway? Organizations that embrace these modern HR trends will have happier workforces and happier customers—which all translates into a healthier bottom line.



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