Recruitment and onboarding technologies are making headway in the post-COVID business world.
By Simon Kent
As time passes, it is becoming increasingly apparent which areas of HR will remain transformed by the technology that was introduced to cope with the challenges of the global pandemic. Whilst HR as a whole has been impacted by the experience, the front end of candidate recruitment and management is a prime area where new practices could stick.
According to Abigail Scott, APAC managing director of global digital assessment company Sova Assessment, the widely diverse impact of the pandemic has meant that the adoption of HR technology has varied incredibly from sector to sector. For example, aviation went from a huge recruitment drive to redundancy caseloads, whilst logistics and supermarkets saw demand for candidates skyrocket.
“Both extremes have exposed significant flaws in many longstanding but largely outdated HR working practices, leaving HR staff exhausted from being in a permanent state of firefighting,” she says. One result has been a steep rise in demand for machine learning and automation in recruitment.
“The COVID-19 lockdowns have led to a massive increase in requests for our online assessment solutions, especially those that support the processing of high volume recruitment campaigns,” Scott says. “Many organisations were mid-way through graduate recruitment campaigns when lockdown hit, so we worked rapidly with these clients to provide a host of solutions, from CV scanning to digital assessment centres.”
Scott believes that the continuing interest in automation and machine learning will lead to further work on tackling diversity and inclusion in the workplace. “Well-designed, machine-led systems can remove many of the inbuilt biases that can often blight certain aspects of the recruitment process,” she says. “This opens up the potential to create fairer, more diverse, and more successful teams.”
The last 12 months have seen outsourcing of the candidate experience and back-office business processes. Teleperformance India successfully implemented cloud technology, transforming its HR practices. Vinod Mehta, chief HR officer, says the company was already developing and implementing a remote working model to keep dispersed teams connected via centralised command centres. However, the business’ technology now supports a fully integrated digital recruitment process for both domestic clients across India and on an international scale.
Mehta believes the recruitment process has improved as a result. “Going virtual has created new paths for organisations to explore talent pools available in remote locations and create recruitment opportunities widely and globally,” he says, going on to note how the company’s cloud-based infrastructure overcomes geographical constraints to enable hiring, onboarding, training, mentoring, and engaging with employees online anywhere, anytime.
“Tapping into the cloud has enabled Teleperformance to provide a fully digital career path, designed to create consistent experiences for employees beyond the pandemic,” Mehta adds. “Candidates can find remote working opportunities on the job portal, go through a virtual assessment process, and have virtual learning sessions before beginning daily operation activities.”
The approach has diversified the company’s workforce, with people from 55 new cities onboarded and a more gender diverse workforce developing -from 34% in the first quarter of 2020 to 40% a year later. “We aim to cultivate a strong, people-centric, geographically dispersed workforce working remotely but connected socially,” says Mehta. “The various round-the-clock tools work in tandem to allow recruitment to run more seamlessly to that delivered in-office.”
Sonia Navarrete, content analyst at software reviews company Capterra, part of Gartner, agrees. “Automating the onboarding process using relevant software can have many benefits for HR professionals,” she says.
Her company surveyed Australian millennials about employers using artificial intelligence (AI) within their HR function to get a better understanding of the acceptance of the practice. Among the findings were that 61% of millennials were happy with AI screening their CV, as long as a human reviewed it too. Similarly, 49% were comfortable with AI asking them more complex questions, as long as a real person also made a judgement.
“Business owners need to be aware that, based on our study, employees still value human connection when joining a new company,” comments Navarrete. “Therefore, it’s important that new hires have a human point of contact during the process.”
Diversity and discrimination are also flagged by Navarrete as a consideration when using recruitment technology. She points out that technology that analyses video material often relies on measurements such as eye movement, choice of words, and tone of voice. However, this analysis may not always take into account blind candidates, deafness, or disabilities such as autism.
The last year has certainly pushed HR to consider the use of technology within some of the more immediate areas of their work. With the right balances and consideration, technology brought in to cope with the here and now may also be the key to success in the future.