Interview with Tom Haak about the HR Tech Scene Response to COVID19

COVID19 has struck the world and also the global economy. But what does that mean for HR and HR Technology as their journey towards The Future of Work was just getting started?

Looking for answers, it was an honor to interview Tom Haak, director at the HR Trend Institute.

How does COVID 19 crisis impact the business reality of the HR Tech Startups you know?

Short term impact, based on the few start-ups I spoke to, very bad. Business and opportunities have slowed down dramatically.

Do you consider the Corona-crisis to be a threat for all HR Tech Startups?

Threat and opportunity. (see Q3).

Do you expect HR and Business in general to use this situation to redesign work and accelerate their digitization process? If yes, what will be on top of their agenda?

It is more a hope than an expectation. In my view the crisis can and will act as an accelerator for many trends that were already ongoing, and the digital (HR) transformation is certainly one of them. I talk more about this in a recent video.

Increasing productivity (more output, less costs) will be a high priority, as we have to get out of the economic crisis. HR will have to focus on interventions and innovations that will contribute to this priority, and fast! We will need people analytics in all cases.

Which people/ teams are most productive? How can we select and keep the best? Which workflows are best (prescriptive analytics). I hope the wellbeing of the workplace will get enough attention. Important is the combination of redesign + digitization.

Often the first part is not properly done (old processes are digitized).

What should HR Tech Startups do in this situation to safeguard and/or boost their business?

Make very clear how they contribute to the main priorities (increasing productivity, keeping customers happy, and the wellbeing of employees).

Work very close to clients and prospects. Be very tight on the money site. Use the situation to hire new people and replace others.

When all this is over, will the World of Work;

a) turn back to "normal"

b) switch focus towards a Big Reset (keep the good, loose the bad)

c) Reboot and shift gear towards the future of work?

It will take a long time before “it” is over. The focus will be on adapting to the new normal (e.g. 1,5 meter economy, less travel etc). And restoring business and productivity.

What is the difference between b and c? I expect a relatively slow reboot (with many casualties) and shifting gear. Shifting gear is not only about technology, but for example also about changing the structure of the labor market.

What is your crucial tip of survival for any HR Tech Startup, with or without this crisis?

Stay close to customers and potential customers.


Tom Haak

is the director of the HR Trend Institute.

The HR Trend Institute follows, detects and encourages trends.

In the people and organization domain and in related areas. Where possible, the institute is also a trend setter.

Tom is also the chief curator of The Museum of HR. Tom is considered to be one of the leading global HR thought leaders.