Many of us in HR are convinced that the way HR will bring value to the company will change due to digitization, data and new expectations from employees and managers. The benefits of grasping the opportunities before us, far outweigh the downsides of not adapting to this new normal. As HR we are ideally positioned to steer these changes in such a way that high tech still remains human. 

Now that we have this out of the way, the question remains how to get about it. So many areas to focus on, so many tools to choose from, so many consultants selling yet another model. We are essentially in Unchartered territory, with all its perils, but also opportunities. 

Learn the trends…

On the 13th of December we at the HR Digital community held our yearly trends event to shed some light on best practices and future challenges. Unexpectedly our trend guru, Tom Haak (@tomwhaak), could not make it, but we found a worthy replacement in Hans Mangelschots (@mangel_h) who shared his insights from a survey on trends in HR tech investments. With a privileged perspective on the Belgian start up scene for hr technology, he provided lots of insights in what can be expected in the next years in hr tech. 

As the copy is always worse than the original, I will refer here to Hans recent post where he covered the different trends coming out of the HR Tech Valley survey:

Hear from the trailblazers

One company that has always been innovating in HR is Engie. About 2 years ago they decided to go as digital as possible, taking into account the new available technology. This decision was also in alignment with the groups new strategic direction, where digitization was retained as one of the cornerstones (next to decarbonosation, décentralisation of energy production and decrease of demand). 

The challenge they faced was quite high, due to the complexity due to the groups structure. Engie is comprised of several entities, that before were much more independent, leading to enormous differences in maturity (both in process and in tooling). On top of that, a big part of the hr operations (payrolling) is managed by a group led structure, with its own challenges and agenda. 

They started their journey by drafting key principles. Anything they would do need to

  • Re-enforce the role of HR
  • Increase the cost efficiency
  • Be helpful for the coming global competition for talent
  • Treat employees as customers
  • Address the increasing skill gap
  • And meet the expectations of millennials 

With this in mind, they set out to simplify their HR landscape. The backbone is build by one of the big ERP players, combined with a portal giving employees a seemless experience. Process by process new features and tooling is added, whilst keeping the experience as user friendly and mobile as possible. Up to now about eighthy processes have been added, and the ambitions for 2019 are to add even more processes. 

Every new added process aims to increase the ability of the employees and the managers to be as self- directed as possible, to free up time for HR to switch their focus from transactional to transformational activities. 

Their biggest lesson learned? It is not just an IT riddle to solve, the main challenge lies in changing the mindset and the behaviors of all stakeholders. This is best done by involving them from the start.

This can be written down in the following formula: change manegement = IT stack + adoption. 

What I though was quite refreshing from their story is that they consciously did everything themselves, no consultants were involved to review processes, prepare testing, set up training and communication and so on. And everything was done on top of business as usual… impressive!

Discover the enablers

Finally, Hans Mangelschots of Hr tech valley climbed back on stage to give an overview of the hr tech market. In his eyes the big fishes are eating the smaller fish, which in turn makes room for new small fishes. So what kind of fishes are swimming in the hr tech ocean?

  • Recruitment: in this area it is all about standing out, increasing the speed of the process and stay connected with potential candidates. Hans pointed us to 3 tools: Talentwunder, whyapply and facelytix
  • Hr analytics: comes in different stages: first you build the data, then you analyze the data and finally, you can start building predictive Models. Tools like Crunchr, Visier of Officient can help you with these steps. 
  • Self servicing: More and more tools are aiming to guide the user in their self-servicing ordeal, like Spencer or Volunteer Vision.
  • L&D has clearly been blossoming last years and a myriad of new tools are aiming to make learning fun and sticking. Tools discussed were Whale, Eloomi, Mobie Train and Knowingo. 
  • Finally, some tools are combining different areas such as culture, performance management and rentention. Examples here are Intuo, Thalento or ae-architects


All our speakers made it quite clear again that HR needs to provide a more digital employee experience, especially as the expectations of the younger generations entering the workspace are changing, they don’t accept anymore to be thrown back a decade when working within a company. This experience is more personalized, and as data is more and more abundant and transparent, the right tooling makes this possible. 

This heavily impacts the added value of HR. Whereas before HR could get away with models and approaches based more on gut feeling, data now has a better idea. Luckily, people will remain an asset, also in HR. And when you define an holistic approach with the employee at the center, HR will be able to make a difference for the company, the employee and even society as a whole.

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The HR digital community of Belgium.

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