The theme for 2016âs HRO Today Forums is âTalent Cloud.â We are using that phrase to symbolize the fact that technologyÂ is now integral to HR and to the relationship between employee and employer. The world is not âchanging.â Itâs changed.Â And while we still sometimes think of HR as being all about the people, the bits and bytes are just as important as theÂ heart and the brain. However, we all know what we want to fall out of the talent cloud is the best possible workforce withÂ the highest possible productivity.
We are awash in technology for HR. So much so that it is becoming a jungle out there. At our last event in Amsterdam this pastÂ November, we had 10 HRDs for major global companies share their stories of challenges and innovation, and in each case,Â technology was critical to success and measurement. In fact, the overhaul of infrastructure was core to several of their successes.Â Many of these HRDs were also struggling to interact effectively with their workforce, and one had implemented a mobile appÂ for almost all HR services.
What does this all mean for the future? Frankly, I do not know.
What does it mean for now? It means that running HR is about recognizing fundamental truths and building an infrastructureÂ based on the workforce you will get. It also means that the overused word âinnovationâ is not just about technology, but alsoÂ about practices and how software may or may not be used.
The first thing to consider is the workforce. Welcome to the gig economy. We left the gig economy about 150 years ago duringÂ the Age of Industrialization, but guess what, itâs back. Workers will learn about, interact with, interview through, and engageÂ for brief periods of time over web-based tools. Work Market, a growth phenom in the US (based in New York) that linksÂ independent contractors with employers, has a ticketing system for hiring contractors for âgigsâ not unlike the Uber appÂ for hiring drivers. Only, their contractors are highly educated consultants doing high-tech work for varying durations of time.Â You need something done (insert the word âtalentâ), just click âhere.â
But this imposes new responsibilities and challenges on employers trying to interact with FTEs, PTEs or ICs, or other categories.Â Talent is now highly portable and very global as well. Take Uber, for example. Uber argues, and is doing so in the U.S. courts, thatÂ its drivers are not employees. I hope that this is true. I use Uber often in my home city of downtown Philadelphia and all over theworld. Uber treats their drivers miserably. If someone else comes along with a competing app and a deal with Google LocationÂ Services, all the Uber drivers will just log into that app and ditch Uber. Then watch, Uber will probably argue the converse thatÂ there is some contractual or employment relationship involved rather than just people picking up rides through their app.
The increasingly free-agent workforce still needs to understand corporate mission, align to organizational goals, and feelÂ important in their relationship to the employer. Most companies fear this dialogue and fear tripping over one of the âcoemploymentâÂ wires. However, I continue to criticize contingent labor providers: they must partner with their clients to provideÂ motivation to long term contractors, some of whom will work on a job longer than a newly hired millennial (good luck if youÂ get 14 months). Yet, that new millennial direct hire will get all kinds of orientation and motivation and the long term contractorÂ will get time cards and a hot desk-access card.
Our conference is going to cover these important concepts of innovation of thought and practice, the reality of the technologyÂ that makes HR better, and the best ways to use technology to manage the acquisition and relationship to talent. We are in Chicago May 2-4Â at the Drake Hotel (www.hrotodayforum.com). We are going to debate these hardÂ issues, network with friends, and have some fun. When you seed the clouds, who knows what will fall out?
Elliot H. Clark, CEO