hr tools 2021

HR is a constantly evolving field, with new responsibilities and opportunities becoming available as digital transformation takes hold and companies start to rely on human resources to do more than just mediate between employees and the organization. All of this change requires learning new skills, honing old ones and leveraging the technology that is now omnipresent throughout HR to make all of the many facets of the role more streamlined. With that in mind, below are 6 must-have HR tools in 2021, broken down by functionality. 

Rewards and Recognition Software

Rewards and recognition software grew in popularity throughout 2020 as companies searched for ways to try and build and strengthen positive company culture while employees acclimated to remote work. One of those methods was through the creation of what is increasingly being referred to as a “culture of recognition,” which is to say, making it routine and easy for employees to be congratulated and recognized when they accomplish something, whether personal or professional. 

There are recognition software providers that make it easy to create this kind of culture regardless of whether you are a remote, entirely in-office or hybrid operation. 

Recruitment & selection tools

Recruitment tools are anything used to help with finding, acquiring and even assessing human capital. They included AI-assisted tools for screening and shortlisting candidates, video interviewing tools, recruitment CRM, applicant tracking systems, testing and assessment tools and job aggregators which can either be third party or proprietary ones from within the company. 

The recruitment process is complex and with a global pool of labour applying for jobs, sending applications and trying to make themselves known to organizations, automation and technology are must-haves for HR in 2021. Applicant tracking systems like SmartRecruiters, Greenhouse, and iCIMS work to make hiring easier, less labour-intensive and much more targeted. 

Performance management tools

Performance management tools are HR software designed to track and measure employee performance. One of the major applications of this software is towards ensuring optimized cross-functionality within an organization, which is to say that all departments are working together towards the same business objectives. 

Performance management helps visualize and quantify performance in ways that allow for better strategic decision-making and managers to better understand the individuals on their team, how they are performing, where they are lacking and how to boost performance and productivity. 

Learning & development tools

The necessity of learning and development tools in 2021 speaks to the more active role that HR has come to play in the development of human capital. HR departments are not only administrators of people but are increasingly being tasked with helping steward employee professional development and talent deployment throughout the organization. 

Not only do organizations want to make better use of their workforce and create value through professional development, but it is an increasingly important part of job satisfaction and employee retention across industries. Training opportunities have been shown to be an important part of an employee’s decision to stay with a company, so they are strategically useful on multiple levels. Learning and development tools like CIPHR LMS and Digits are two L&D tools that have grown in popularity over the last year and will continue to make an impact on HR throughout 2021.

Succession planning tools

Succession planning tools are those which enable an organization to perform two key HR tasks: identify candidates that would be good fits for critical roles as leaders retie and leave the company and help plan for the former’s transition into the new roles prior to and during the switch. 

More Baby Boomers retired in 2020 than in the previous eight years and the trend has continued into 2021 and will likely not stop. The vacancies they are leaving behind need to be filled and those taking the reins must be up to speed and prepared for the job. Succession planning tools allow organizations to preempt these events and help automate the switch when they happen.

Compensation and benefits tools

Compensation and benefits tools help administer both of these within the organization and at different levels. They are important because they allow HR departments to stay on top of both of these important business facets from one centralized location while tracking important data regarding benefits use, performance and sending reminders to employees of the steps they must follow to take advantage of their perks and benefits. 


HR has been dramatically changed by digital transformation, the shift to remote work and a more active management role in finding and allocating human capital. All of these functionalities require new digital tools to do effectively and to seamlessly integrate into other business segments, sharing information and collecting it from throughout the organization. From rewards and recognition to learning and development to succession planning and compensation and benefits software, the above are some of the most important HR tools for 2021. 

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