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Veronica Frisch is the executive vice president and head of Randstad Sourceright Canada

When people were sent home to work at the beginning of the pandemic, concerns about productivity rose quickly amongst organizational leaders. Would their workforce be distracted, spend less time on their jobs and simply do less work despite saving time on commutes? For the majority of the HR and C-suite leaders, we surveyed in our 2022 Talent Trends research, the opposite was true.

More than half (57 per cent) of Canadian survey respondents said permanent employees who work remotely were more productive than before the pandemic. These gains can be attributed to several factors, including engagement, a rise in hours worked and technology helping people to get work done more efficiently.

The impact of technology on workforce productivity is clear, but companies have an opportunity to use innovation to drive organizational value beyond getting more work done. The next evolution of AI, automation and other technologies is helping businesses put their people front and centre of their well being, but the expansion of HR technology is also helping many employers accomplish more as they execute their talent strategies. Almost half (46 per cent) of Canadians surveyed said they are using technology to improve how work is performed as part of their talent experience efforts.

These tools – ranging from intelligent listening tools like Peakon and Medallia, to collaboration suites including Slack and Asana, to team building apps like Kahoot! and Scavify, among others – reinforce culture and personalize what otherwise can be virtual meeting overload. Organizational use of these technologies have grown rapidly as human capital leaders seek ways to preserve human connection.

Sixty per cent of Canadian survey respondents said they are creating more transparency around their recruitment process, workplace culture and career advancement potential. Integrating point solutions with major platforms such as Workday, Oracle, SAP SuccessFactors and other human capital management platforms, is giving human capital leaders more control and visibility over people management. Robotic process automation is completing repeatable work more quickly than ever before.

New technologies are also transforming the way companies train people. The rise of virtual and augmented reality is accelerating training for many roles, including those with high occupational risks. In fact, Forbes reports that immersive extended reality courses can help improve knowledge retention by up to 90 per cent.

And here in Canada this holds true as 78 per cent of the Canadian survey respondents said AI is helping them create a more personalized experience for talent, and 76 per cent said this kind of innovation is helping them identify needs and gaps within their workforce.

Looking to the future, technology will continue to be the enabler that makes innovation, connection, engagement and smarter talent decisions possible. With scarcity of qualified talent expected to continue adding pressure on resourcing, companies will have no choice but to explore how technology can help alleviate this challenge while giving them the foundation to better attract and retain people long term.

This column is part of Globe Careers’ Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about the world of work. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab and guidelines for how to contribute to the column here.