We asked some of the leading HR technology influencers and experts to share what they see as the biggest topics and trends influencing the constantly evolving HR technology space right now.
Meet Our Experts
Tim Sackett is the president of HRU Technical Resources, a leading IT and engineering staffing firm, with more than 20 years of combined executive HR and talent acquisition experience. He’s also a speaker and writes for Fistful of Talent and The Tim Sackett Project. Jason Lauritsen, a former HR exec, is an employee engagement and workplace culture expert who also led the research team for Quantum Workplace’s Best Places to Work program. Neil Morrison is the director of strategy, culture and innovation at Penguin Random House U.K.
Here’s what you need to know right now, according to these industry leaders:
What are some of the biggest HR technology topics/trends you are seeing and hearing about right now?
JL: There is a lot of investment going into technology tools that claim to drive employee engagement. This suggests that organizations are searching for solutions to employee engagement, and they are hoping that the right technology mix will help.
NM: The major hot topic still seems to be data and analytics in any shape or form — how do we best obtain, analyze and use data to inform decision making and interventions? Beyond that, talent acquisition is still a big topic of conversation and a serious focus for the industry, combining smart attraction and selection with good candidate experience.
What are some of the most imminent hurdles those in the HR and talent acquisition space are faced with today? What keeps them up at night?
NM: Everyone I talk to is facing some sort of challenge from the increased digitalization of the workplace — whether it’s through consumer behavior, skills development or talent acquisition. We also have a specific challenge here in the U.K., based on our recent referendum vote which is causing a lot of thought, but without many answers.
Where do you see the industry going in the next six months or year?
NM: I think there has to be more consolidation in the HR technology space. At the moment, the number of providers sometimes feels greater than the number of procurers, which can’t be a sustainable model.
There was a lot of talk in the HR Tech sessions about employee experience. Tell us what that means to you and why it’s important. Also, do you think employers are paying sufficient attention to the candidate experience?
TS: Employee experience is about creating a culture and environment where every employee feels like they are valued and the organization is working to try and develop those things each employee is best at.
It’s not about ping pong tables and free snacks — it’s about providing a work experience where the employee feels what they do adds value to the organization and that value is recognized.
JL: Employee experience is about designing a work experience that feels good to employees while setting them up to succeed. Smart companies have been designing customer experience for years, and this thinking is finally making its way to employees and candidates. Employee experience design is where employee engagement meets performance.
NM: Candidate experience is an area that I believe is hugely overlooked in the talent acquisition space. I believe this is going to be one of the biggest differentiators of brands in the years to come. We have to start taking a more consumer-based approach and treat people less like fish in a barrel.
What tips do you have to help your peers strike the right balance between leveraging the right technology while also maintaining that human connection?
TS: Here’s my rule of thumb: Any time you’re using technology to do some part of your process and it would be equally as fast to stand up and walk over to another individual or pick up the phone to complete that part of the process, technology is working against you from the human connection side of the business. This happens constantly in organizations, and many times the technology takes longer than just having a simple conversation. Striking a balance between technology and human connection is all about allowing the technology to complete mass touches, while you complete individual touches. Don’t allow your tech to be you — allow it to be 100 and 1,000 of you, but not you individually.
JL: The most important — and often overlooked — step in identifying HR technology is to define exactly what you are trying to accomplish. If you are selecting a technology to increase employee engagement or candidate experience, what exactly does that mean? And how will you know that you’ve been successful?
NM: Ask yourself: ‘Does this make life better for employees? Does it make life simpler for managers? Does it add commercial value to the business?’ If you can’t answer ‘yes’ to at least two of these questions, you’re probably only making life easier for HR, which isn’t the goal.
Robots are not going to take over the world, right? Phew! But in all seriousness, how do you see the role of the talent acquisition and/or HR professional shifting and evolving with the introduction of overwhelming amounts of data and new technologies?
TS: HR and talent acquisition leaders are confused by artificial intelligence or A.I. They expect some Will Smith iRobots to show up and start doing their jobs and bake amazing pies. The reality of A.I. in a HR and talent acquisition sense is that it is much less sexy. Most A.I. that we’ll use in HR and talent acquisition is centered around ‘bots’ that will take over mass communication-type Q&A. Things like someone applying and having simple questions about a job description, interview directions and times, what they should expect from your process, etc. A.I. can now handle all of these types of communications pretty effectively and it helps to raise your candidate experience.
JL: As we face the reality that humans are really bad at assessing other humans — for performance, abilities or fit — due to inherent biases, there will be a rise of technology to do this more effectively for us. This will create more time to focus on things like experience design and engagement where we can drive performance and retention.
NM: We need to be combining the insight that we get from good data and analytics with the intuition that we get from good hiring managers. We need to listen to both and make informed decisions. For too long we’ve relied just on intuition and, whilst we don’t want to replace it, we do need to complement it.
See if you're putting technology roadblocks in front of your candidates: