Tech strategies that create workforce efficiencies while engaging and exciting candidates and employees alike.
By Marta Chmielowicz
Today’s HR leaders face the challenge of becoming a top talent destination, building the workforce of the future, and providing critical insights to key decision-makers. They must manage enterprise-wide digital transformation efforts, introducing new capabilities to better attract, retain, and engage talent—all while improving operational efficiency and enabling a more agile way of working.
The demand for a modernized HR function comes at the heels of an ever-tightening talent market, with Mercer’s 2019 Global Talent Trends Study reporting that 97 percent of executives anticipate increased competition for talent and more than half worry about the time required to fill open positions. Low employee engagement and high turnover are also ongoing issues: Mercer’s survey finds that one-third of employees are considering leaving their jobs even though they are satisfied with their employer.
In this demanding business climate, the importance of the “talent experience” is taking over HR, shifting the mindset of how companies should provide for and engage their employees. “Turnover can be a business killer in today’s labor market,” says Aida Fazylova, founder and CEO of communication software provider XOR Inc. “The growing cost of hiring and backfilling roles is making HR leaders prioritize solutions that help them attract, engage, and retain talent more effectively. More and more, that means employers are seeing huge ROI when they can create employee experiences that exceed expectations and turn their workforce into brand advocates.”
According to Liz Wessel, co-founder and CEO of WayUp, a hiring solution for early career professionals, the emergence of platforms like Glassdoor where candidates and employees are free to publicly share their experience is also heightening the importance of a user-friendly HR technology suite. Dynamic talent management technologies are emerging in response to these growing demands that leverage state-of-the-art solutions to redesign the work experience for both employees and employers.
Innovation is happening everywhere in HR tech—from the core HCM software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms to talent acquisition solutions, digital learning, performance management and feedback tools, and even payroll services. Josh Bersin’s HR Technology Market 2020 Report indicates that traditional integrated HR suites are falling by the wayside, replaced by focused, employee-centric, cloud-based point solutions that provide flexible, on-demand user interfaces.
“Essentially, talent management systems are becoming more engagement-focused than document management-focused,” says David Webb, CEO of BrightMove Inc., a cloud-based leader in the recruitment software industry. “Modern talent management systems had to adapt the way in which they reach the talent pool, both in their focus and the technology they employ. Previous systems focused on text-matching resumes and organizing information in virtual folders by skill code. Today, talent management systems have the capabilities to do a lot of work before the first contact with a candidate.”
Leading talent management technologies are improving four characteristics of the talent experience in order to deliver a competitive advantage.
- Accessible and intuitive. In a world where Amazon and Netflix reign supreme, consumers’ expectation of a quick, convenient, and accessible user experience has extended to the workplace. CareerBuilder’s Chief People Officer Michelle Armer says that because 90 percent of job seekers are on mobile devices, it is more important than ever to leverage technologies that provide an automated, gamified, mobile-responsive interface that delivers timely information and immediate engagement to HR and employees alike.
Mobile tools that leverage augmented reality are a forward-thinking way to engage candidates. For example, CareerBuilder has a tool where job seekers can virtually shop for job openings at nearby businesses. As a user walks down a street or around a mall, they automatically see available jobs and their pay rates through a virtual experience. According to Armer, this functionality will increase in the coming months to include a gamification component where job seekers will earn points and rewards for completing certain actions.
According to Fazylova, the demand for convenience is especially prevalent when it comes to communication. “Candidates and employees are most responsive to mobile-first, on-demand, and personalized conversations,” she explains. “Employees no longer want to log into self-service portals to find out how many vacation days they have left, and candidates no longer want to have to ask the same benefits questions over and over again. They want to be able to send a text message to their company’s AI-powered chatbot and get personalized answers at a moment’s notice.”
ISG’s 2019 Industry Trends in HR Technology and Service Delivery report shows that talent management platforms with self-service functionality have better adoption rates among both employees and managers, with 44 percent of respondents indicating that they prefer direct access. In addition, organizations taking advantage of voice and chatbot technologies for self service reported a higher quality of employee user experience and were more likely to use these tools to improve key moments that matter in the HR process, including onboarding, relocation, or arranging a leave of absence.
And the importance of a positive user interface does not only apply to job seekers; Webb emphasizes that talent management platforms should reflect the industry and deliver an intuitive experience that HR professionals can jump into on day one. “Have recruiters be able to perform a function in one click instead of three,” he says. “Don’t make them think; be intuitive. It’s also critical that the important information is above the fold. A best practice is to be able to apply bulk actions for repetitive tasks.”
- Efficient. The development of consumer-friendly technologies that improve the user experience has had the additional benefit of increasing the efficiency of HR processes.
“Digital transformation is forcing people within the HR space to move quicker while enabling them to think more strategically, thanks to providing HR experts with more data and automating work that was once manual,” says Wessel.
For example, Fazylova explains that chatbots have eliminated HR’s role in answering repetitive questions about the talent acquisition process, freeing up recruiters’ time to focus on solving business challenges and meeting talent goals. These communication tools deliver a more transparent experience to job seekers while collecting valuable data that HR can use to make better workplace decisions.
Armer says that the influx of data also broadens talent pools, allowing employers to find strong talent in unexpected places. “The world of work is changing and a college degree is becoming less important: We found 59 percent of employers are willing to hire candidates who may not be fully qualified, with plans to train them on the job. Also, someone’s resume headline or most recent role may not necessarily translate into what else they can do. Transferable skills are the most useful metrics this data repository provides.”
According to Armer, intelligent talent management tools are also improving other HR processes, including:
• automating resume screening for basic qualifications;
• fact-checking resumes;
• writing gender and tone-neutral job descriptions to increase diversity; and
• ranking job postings based on their appeal to candidates.
These tools allow HR leaders to not only automate HR processes, but also monitor their performance and adjust the technology as needed. For example, CareerBuilder’s “Candidate Appeal Score” measures qualifiers like location and salary to determine the efficacy of a job listing in attracting candidates, places the listing on a map showing similar competing roles, and makes recommendations for how to boost the job post—whether it’s altering the salary or editing the job description.
- Integrated. While HR departments are increasingly relying on best-of-breed, efficient, and user-friendly point solutions, Wessel says that using these tools to their full potential requires integrations within the entire HR suite.
“My suggestion to HR leaders who want their platforms to work well together is to look for vendors that prioritize integrations. Buying an HR tool that doesn’t play nicely in the HR sandbox is, in my opinion, wasteful. You’ll often lose crucial data, which means your team won’t be able to make strategic decisions,” she explains.
By utilizing integrated systems, HR leaders can deliver a unified user experience while also gaining a secondary benefit: a robust database of employee metrics that can guide strategic decision-making. According to the ISG survey, analytics and reporting capabilities are a key priority for 43 percent of HR leaders looking to invest in technology, and providers have been busy building out their data capabilities as a result.
“Today, the best way to recruit top talent is to use data to inform most of your decisions,” Wessel adds. “By effectively using data, you can also solve for a critical pain point we often see clients struggling with: analyzing their recruiting funnel to find where their drop off is.”
- Aligned. While modern talent management technologies are proven to deliver an enhanced employee experience, a great end-user experience does not rely on technology alone. HR leaders need to ensure that their service delivery model and process workflows are aligned with their technology to make that experience a reality.
“The challenge that HR tech solutions produce is ‘marketecture,’” Webb says. “Recruiting can’t be done all via technology, but many systems claim that it can be, which skews its function and renders it out of touch with recruiting. Without proper metrics and workflows in place, the recruiters may realize too late that the software isn’t working the way it used to, and that could cause permanent damage to their careers and/or company.”
Fazylova suggests that this problem can be avoided by encouraging HR, talent acquisition teams, and the C-suite to use the same technology workflows that they expect their candidates and employees to use.
“There is no substitute for putting yourself in the candidate or employees’ shoes and counting how many minutes and how many clicks it takes you to find an answer,” she says. “Yes, you can always send that email asking someone for help, but how many minutes and clicks are you costing them? If it’s not simple and clear to you, chances are it won’t be for your employees either.”