CEO’s Letter: Challenges Rising

By Elliot H. Clark

As many CHROs know all too well, HR is never short on challenges. Managing culture, maintaining high retention, meeting talent acquisition goals, and ensuring regulatory compliance are all difficult, but many HR departments are handling these issues well and meeting their goals even in a robust global economy.

However, new challenges are arising. Technology, big data, and automation pose significant opportunities, but they also raise significant perils. According to an HRO Today research study sponsored by Alexander Mann Solutions, 62 percent of HR leaders reported that they plan to spend more on machine learning or the mislabeled artificial intelligence (AI) in 2018. The study also found that six out of seven companies are now using AI to help source candidates because it is getting harder to find great candidates and we all know it. Chatbots are being used for many HR functions way beyond recruitment sourcing. Some companies are even experimenting with chatbots to perform first-line employee relations. What used to be automated reception lines are now evolving technologically.

While big data and machine learning can give a new perspective on the workforce, they can also lead to false conclusions and even accidentally reinforce legacy bias issues. Automation can also destroy entire classes of jobs, leaving companies with an ethical dilemma about whether to make workers redundant or reskill them altogether.

Candidate engagement is another consideration. Careerbuilder finds that 78 percent of candidates view their hiring experience as a proxy for how the company treats people. In the same study, 75 percent of candidates said that how they were onboarded is their first measure of how “engaged” they should be with the company. But engagement is a two-way street. The study found that more than 50 percent of new hires said they never heard from their hiring manager between the day of their last interview and their first day at work. If HR teams don’t make improvements to the hiring process, they are going to lose out on top talent.

HR is now also tasked with predicting the future. We are entering an age of what industry pundits are calling “people analytics.” HR is awash in data from hiring, incentives and rewards, employee engagement programs, and job-related performance reviews. This is all being combined into a soup called “people analytics” to build better predictive models of human behavior at work. The data is being used to predict flight risk, select high performers, manage compliance risks, and analyze engagement. But it is also creating pressure on HR to predict things based on still unproven models of causality. So, we live in a world of greater expectations while the tools are still being perfected.

While all of these demands are daunting to say the least, HR has never been one to back down from a fight. As challenges continue to arise, solutions will arise along with them.

Tags: Magazine Article, November-2019

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