Trending perceptions of how tech will impact HR have a spooky and a bountiful side, a bit like fall’s two major holidays (Halloween and Thanksgiving.) On the spooky side is what I call the Body Snatcher Fear, that HR tech is poised to replace humans completely, turning people management into a faceless enterprise. Then there’s the bounty side: the Cornucopia Fallacy, that HR tech is an infinite cornucopia of ready-made solutions already laid out on the table, just waiting for us to come and eat; buy the latest HR software management system and just let it run, for instance.
I’ve talked about talent acquisition, where organizations need to optimize tech’s power to first attract the largest and best possible pool of potential hires, and then winnow through for ideal candidates and manage the many phases of recruitment. Data and software functions are a fine matchmaker there. But the higher you climb up the recruitment pyramid from candidate to hire, the more human input and dynamic flexibility come into play. Add the necessary social and mobile aspects, and you’d best make sure they’ve got a human (as opposed to spammy) face.
In talent management, the challenges of retention and its impact on ROI are as old as the very act of hiring. It’s estimated that 35 percent of new hires leave their new job within six months.
While there are myriad possible reasons, less than stellar onboarding is clearly a factor. And tech offers new solutions. Done right, onboarding (often driven by software) dovetails your new hire in terms of organizational culture, as well as function. In all aspects, first impressions are key: even the process of setting up a new IT password can have a big impact. In practical terms, onboarding more quickly facilitates function and productivity. In more nuanced ways, it:
- creates early connections to corporate values and teams,
- builds new hires’ confidence in their abilities to do their jobs.
If your onboarding process is not truly aligned with your organization’s culture and values, the disconnect can be damaging. A recent study of new science teachers, a strata not traditionally known for poor retention rates, is telling. After a training phase that emphasized innovation and creativity, these new hires marched off to work ready to innovate, and got an organizational cold shower. Their onboarding experience included close work with mentors, who stressed the importance of “fitting in,” and conforming to the status quo. Now teachers had to employ the best practices they had absorbed during training on the sly, and the situation was stressful at the very least. Many opted to find new jobs instead.
Here, tech could have been invaluable at comparing the different agendas of training and workplace culture. Had data been gathered on the true nature of the work environment versus the thrust of the training process, the disconnect would have been immediately apparent — data doesn’t lie. Data is a two-way street, and such findings could also have provided a neutral mode in which to point out a problem of workplace values. Here, a stifling status quo trickled down to the onboarding process. But without the data, the training process was unaware of it. And in turn, the best practices stressed during the training phase could not make it back up to the workplace culture: it took an exodus to reveal the problem — after the fact
On the other hand, there’s Google, of all places, an organization so enormous it’s hard to imagine how it can humanize HR. But the company continues to identify and solve workplace challenges on all levels. One result is a more effective onboarding process that optimizes productivity; another is a much-improved retention rate among women, after serious research drove comprehensive improvements on every level. Way to go, gigantic tech behemoth! Why? Humans.
Tech is a tool. To leverage tech’s potential requires human leadership, human innovation and creativity, and human management. Studies like this from Towers Watson show that, despite shrinking budgets in other areas, spending on HR delivery service and technology is actually rising. The more we understand how it can drive HR in all phases, the better the results are going to be.
To learn more about how to empower your new hires on day one, download TalentWise’s latest whitepaper.
TalentWise, is a technology company that’s transforming the way HR manages job offers, screens, and onboards new hires. TalentWise has built a single, online platform that streamlines the hiring process end-to-end with compliance built-in. To find out more about how your organization can onboard better, check out their blog by clicking here.