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We Surveyed 100+ HR Leaders on Driving Business Value in 2022

Sponsored by: ThoughtExchange

For several months, we’ve been sharing insights from our partner ThoughtExchange. They’ve done some fascinating research on Gen Z employees, employee experience, boosting retention, and driving business value. They’re an essential tool for leaders across departments and industries looking to align and engage their workforces.

We finally got the opportunity to use ThoughtExchange to consult our network of HR and Talent professionals, and you shared some great insights with us and each other. 

We asked:

As HR and Talent professionals, what areas are you focusing on at your organization to increase retention and drive business value?

With anonymity, anti-bias technology, and automatic translation capabilities, ThoughtExchange makes it easy to gather diverse perspectives and have equitable discussions.

What We Heard

Using ThoughtExchange’s tools, we analyzed the thoughts you shared to identify important themes and actionable insights. It’s an efficient way to hear from large groups of diverse people, particularly in a remote setting.

First, we looked at the Summary—an AI-generated snapshot of the top-rated ideas:

Onboarding and orientation – new hires should be set up for success from the start. Effective employee retention improves the productivity and performance of a company. Personal and professional mental health – a toxic work culture can really hurt productivity and business value. Pay equity. Personal wellbeing – avoid burnout.

Overall, you’re recognizing that business value is heavily impacted by employee experience, and you’re focusing on providing a healthy, productive workplace. 

Ideas That Rise To The Top

Next, we looked at the highest-rated answers. ThoughtExchange’s Thoughts tool shows each thought’s rating, and also how ratings change by role. These were the top-rated thoughts for each of the different roles:

Talent Acquisition: Leadership Development. Leaders need to role model behaviors to scale change.”

Recruitment: Employees’ aspirations for career development. These days I noticed fresh graduates and junior employees are switching their careers for any salary variation. Career development enables employees to be competent and get expertise for their future career.” 

Training & Development: Performance appreciation and reward. By acknowledging good work done, it drives up their productivity.”

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Personal and Professional Mental Health. A toxic work culture can really hurt productivity and business value.”

HR Leadership: Employee wellbeing. This helps the employees stay fit mentally, emotionally, and socially.”

What was particularly interesting is that, of the top thoughts for the entire group, none of the top thoughts by role were included. 

  • (4.2*) “Focus employer branding efforts on values and vision. Ensure you can articulate clearly how your company is making the world a better place. People in a group desire belonging. These factors serve as unifying tools and help employees feel that the work they do is not ‘just work.’”
  • (4.0*) “Onboarding and orientation. New hires should be set up for success from the start. Your onboarding process should focus on employee guide to thrive and culture.”
  • (4.0*) “Skills, skills, skills! We want to attract skilled talent, but we need to keep investing in their skills, so people want to stay and grow with us! Caring about the future viability of your workforce means business sustainability. Plus, it’s good for employees, too. Everybody wins.”

The variation in how thoughts are ranked demonstrates how ThoughtExchange can identify team or departmental priorities, but also surface common ground.

Where You Disagreed

It wasn’t all common ground. ThoughtExchange’s Differences tool shows the rating patterns for different groups and finds the polarizing ideas.

In our Exchange, compensation and pay equity was an area of contention. Group A (in blue), mainly HR Leadership, assigned high ratings (in the 4* range) to these thoughts:

Group B (in green), consisting mainly of Recruitment, Training & Development, and Talent Acquisition folks, gave ratings averaging 2*. This may indicate a difference in priorities between HR Leadership and those responsible for hiring and upskilling employees.

The Differences tool doesn’t stop there. It also finds thoughts that Group A and Group B both rated highly. Both groups agreed that employee wellbeing and engagement are top priorities. Holding space for both sides of an issue is vital, but identifying where those two sides agree helps build a strategy everyone supports.

Areas Of Focus

To understand the discussion’s general themes, we used the Theme tool to categorize thoughts into Culture, Performance, and Strategy. 

Thought Exchange Themes

Deeper analysis shows which issues are the most pressing for our community, and identifies actions to improve retention and drive business value.

Areas to Action:

  • Company Culture: clarify organizational values, define employer brand, and consult employees on improving their work experience. 
  • Skills Development: provide employees with skills, career, and leadership development opportunities.
  • Performance Appreciation: improve morale and productivity by rewarding high-performing employees.

What You Told Us

You’re invested in improving and streamlining every stage of the employee lifecycle. You value organizational culture and recognize the importance of robust onboarding and career development. You care deeply for the wellbeing of your employees and want to foster a more supportive workplace.

For us, this Exchange showed how valuable an inclusive, unbiased discussion platform is for identifying team and organizational priorities. 

We can see how ThoughtExchange brings immense value to different kinds of leaders looking to innovate tactics, align on strategy, improve business efficiency, and engage employees.

Want to see how ThoughtExchange can give you mission-critical insights to make better decisions and transform your discussions? Talk to one of ThoughtExchange’s Talent & HR experts today.

Why Employee Engagement is Upside Down

Leaders and managers frequently refer to the famous Albert Einstein quote when something in their organizations isn’t working after repeated efforts. I wonder what Einstein would say about employee engagement?

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

For two decades, the benchmark of benchmarks for employee engagement is Gallup, a world-class research organization. In the past 10 years, the percentage of engaged employees in Gallup’s research has fluctuated. From a low of 30% to a high of 36%.

Much ado was made about the uptick in engagement over the past decade before the pandemic reversed the direction of the numbers.

I’m pretty sure Einstein would agree with my old boss at Cisco. Former CEO John Chambers, who famously described missed expectations at Cisco as:

I never get hard work confused with results.

Moving up just six percentage points over a decade. From such a low number to begin with, is indeed a lot of “hard work” and little enduring results.

The Decline of Engaged Employees

The most recent 2022 Gallup numbers show the percent of employees engaged is down.  U.S. companies are down 32%. It was 30% in 2002 and 2012.

I’m not sure how many billions of dollars were spent on employee engagement measurement and programs during this time, but it is clear from this data it was not a productive investment.

The inertia reflected in the engagement data reflects what I’ve heard over the past three years talking to hundreds of HR leaders about what works and what doesn’t in employee engagement.

Most of the feedback is best paraphrased as:

We are not learning anything new from our employee engagement data.

Competition vs Collaboration

I’ve been lucky to work with hundreds of companies and their leadership teams. Especially after I wrote The Collaboration Imperative, which shared the best practices used at Cisco in its transition from a culture based on internal competition to one based on internal collaboration.

From these listening sessions, I’ve come to believe that certain ideas exist in organizational thinking in the absence of hard evidence. I don’t know how these ideas got started. I just know the ideas are entrenched.

For example – the way leaders and managers think about employee engagement today. It reminds me of the way organizations think about career planning. That it is the responsibility of the employee, despite overwhelming evidence indicating a different reality.

If it is true that employees are responsible for their own careers, why is “my manager” the most cited reason when an employee leaves a company?

Employee Engagement is Upside Down

I want to eat my own dog food by starting with evidence. I’ve spent the pandemic sponsoring a large, real-world research study on what makes an employee want to stay at a company. I wanted to know what it would take to get an employee to recommend where they work.

Our primary research and the large collection of company data captured in the second phase of our research confirm we’ve been measuring the wrong things in employee engagement.

In fact, employee engagement is upside down, according to our research.

Instead of measuring how engaged employees are, we should be measuring how engaged leaders and managers are.

In statistical terms, our evidence-based model demonstrated a strong, positive linear relationship between the degree to which leaders and managers engage employees and the willingness of employees to recommend where they work. In other words, the more engaged leaders and managers are in creating organizational culture with their teams, the greater the likelihood of an employee recommending the employer. Our research conclusions have a 95% confidence interval.

The Impact Leaders Have on Employee Engagement

Just like career planning. It’s time to embrace the fact that leaders and managers are the reasons why people fall in love with a company and its culture — or not. Leaders create the global cultural values of an organization; managers implement those values locally.

Company values are based on human behavior, not a poster on the wall. Values-based behaviors start with role-modeling them as leaders and managers. How can we expect employees to be engaged if their management team isn’t?

If we’re going to innovate in how we think about employee engagement, I want to call upon Einstein again for help.

Einstein was famous for thought experiments.

Here’s one. Management guru Peter Drucker said you can only manage what you measure. What if leaders and managers were accountable for engagement?

What would happen to employee engagement?

How the Era of Hybrid Work Impacts Employee Travel, Spending, and the Workplace Experience

Sponsored by: SAP Concur

The next chapter of the future of work – hybrid work—is underway as businesses return to the physical office in some capacity while honoring employee flexibility to work from home. Hybrid work is new territory, and there’s more to consider than desk assignments. 

With employees working from different locations on any given day, there’s a need to reconsider the processes and policies that govern day-to-day work. Especially when it comes to employee spending. 

Here’s what is important to know about employee spend – through travel and expenses – in the era of hybrid work, and how it impacts the workplace experience.

Work From Anywhere Business Trips

Business travel took new shapes during the pandemic. While many organizations paused formal travel programs, some employees took personal trips with a business component. For example, the “work from vacation home” trend. Workers took advantage of remote work settings by taking trips with long stays. All they needed was Wi-Fi and a charging station, and they could work from Hawaii for a month. 

The flexibility to mix work and personal trips is likely to stick and become an expected aspect of workplace benefits. A recent SAP Concur survey of 1,000 U.S. business travelers found that nearly half of business travelers perceive “bleisure” travel – taking personal time off while on a business trip – as a standard workplace benefit. 

The hybrid workplace is likely to travel as well. Business travelers say that common workspaces during a business trip have included a café or coffee shop (70%), lobby (64%), waiting room (57%), and poolside (31%). Employees are now used to working from the couch or their bed. It makes sense that they’re more accustomed to non-traditional workspaces during business trips as well. Now, they’ll appreciate the flexibility to choose alternative lodging accommodations or casual business meeting spaces. 

As a side note, more than a third of business travelers (39%) have reported working from a restroom. But we’re not anticipating the start of porcelain cafes. 

Bumps in Hybrid Spend Processes

The hybrid work environment calls for adapted spend management processes. Not only are employees spending on new expense categories, like home office equipment, but the associated processes used to manage spending have typically relied on workers being in the office. Now, they’re conducting business from waiting rooms or restrooms, and without proper infrastructures, errors are likely to occur. 

An SAP Concur survey of 100 U.S. finance managers and 1,000 U.S. business travelers found that nearly all finance managers (98%) have seen an increase in non-compliant expenses during the past year. Though most (53%) believe those expenses stem from unclear policies, employees admit to being a bit more mischievous. Nearly two-thirds of business travelers admit to intentionally trying to get reimbursed for personal expenses. In fact, nearly all (89%) have submitted at least one travel expense in the past year that might have violated their company’s travel policies. On average, $3,397 of questionable expenses.

What could be motivating employees to skirt policies? In the past year, 86% of business travelers have reported that their company has been delayed in reimbursing their business expenses at least once. Nearly all agree this impacts their personal finances. Many people have been challenged by rising costs from inflation. As a result, late expense reimbursements that create added stress for workers are an issue.  

The Digital Office

One aspect of work provides consistency: the digital office. No matter where employees are, they’re plugged into digital infrastructures that enable them to do their best work. Travel and expense management solutions should fit within this framework and enable workers to make purchases, on the go, simply. 

Learn how to support and adapt to the future of travel and expense management in our eBook.

How Gamification Can Build Inclusive High-Performing Teams

A productive team is essential if we want to have any success at work. Engaged teams lead to successful endeavors, while a dysfunctional team may force us back to the drawing board, cause layoffs, and high turnover. Unfortunately, building a good team isn’t easy, and the hybrid/remote work culture can make communication and engagement even more difficult. 

At the same time, entry-level to executive employees are wondering how they can better connect with others at work. Gallup shows that $1 trillion is lost due to voluntary turnover. This illustrates that there are still too many employees who are disengaged and unfulfilled at work. The majority say their organizations could have done more to keep them.

Our Guest: Lauren Fitzpatrick Shanks

Lauren Shanks is an entrepreneur, award-winning engineer, tech leader, mother of two, founder and CEO of KeepWOL, and much more. She is the first black woman to graduate from the University of Kansas’ Aerospace Engineering Department, a recipient of the Women in Technology Rising Star Award, and more fabulous accomplishments. 

So, what is gamification, and how important is it for companies to gamify their training and engagement initiatives? Lauren explains: 

So the importance is high, but it’s also important to understand what it all means and make sure that we use the terminology in the right way. With gamification and simulation in games, there’s a continuum. They cross over, but there are still bits of nuances. With gamification, we can think about it as game elements and mechanics of things from games being added to situations that weren’t meant to be a game.

Boost Morale, Gauge Productivity and Development

As humans, we want to win. Some people are not competitive, but they still don’t want to lose or fail. Games hack the human brain and tap into its reward center. Games typically require quick thinking that can disarm individuals and get more into a competitive mindset. It is important to be mindful before implementing gamification, but the possibilities are big:

We’ve worked with teams of all different complexities. That’s what’s really amazing about games and gamification because they can be used to bring people from different generations and different cultures together. We’ve all played games before in our life. We all have that innate desire to not fail. So we’ve worked with matrix-based teams, C suite teams, and multidisciplinary teams. Teams of all makes and molds are utilizing KeepWOL’s game suite to develop exceptional teams.

Future of Gamification

Gamification is not exactly new, but it certainly holds potential for workplaces in the future. Lauren shares a story from the KeepWOL team’s recent booth at the world’s largest conference for talent development:

…on our banner, we had the words, game-centric, and play. People were flocking to our booth because their companies had sent them there on a mission of how do you incorporate some of these new trends, these new things that are going on. Gamification is not new. But it takes a little more time to get things into the enterprise space. And so they’re coming to us, they’re flocking. And they’re like, how do we incorporate this into our talent development initiatives? And just for the future of work, if we’re thinking about this, KeepWOL, we’re using games to bridge that gap between learning and doing.

I hope you found this episode of #WorkTrends helpful and inspirational. To learn more about Lauren Fitzpatrick Shanks and game-centric talent development, please visit https://www.keepwol.com.

Subscribe to the #WorkTrends podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. Be sure to follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on LinkedIn and Facebook, too, for more great conversations!

Background Screening – What you Need to Know

Podcast Sponsored by: Accurate Background

How is background screening impacted in an increasingly remote-first world of work? No doubt, the pandemic has reshaped the workplace. And in many ways, it’s here to stay. A report by Ladders revealed that by the end of this year, 25% of all jobs in North America will be remote. With that in mind, employers need to adapt their background screening practices to the new normal of remote work.

Our Guest: Chief Compliance Officer at Accurate Background

On our latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with an experienced industry professional and SME on background screening, drug testing, and HR Technology from our special guest, Accurate Background. We asked him to tell us the basics every employer needs to know about background checks. He explains:

The best way to open the conversation today is to remind employers that background screening is heavily regulated. We’re talking about federal laws, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and state laws. These are in addition to the responsibilities that employers have under their federal FCRA and even local laws.

The Range of Background Screening

Both employers and candidates must understand the background screening basics and the different types of background checks.

There’s a wide variety of things that employers utilize throughout the screening process. Criminal history information is one. A subset that we call verifications is another. Verifications range from professional life license verification, employment verification, and education history. And then there are things like drug tests, credit reports, and driving records.

Consent – Yes or No?

Background checks are employers’ principal means of securing information about potential hires from sources other than the applicants themselves. Therefore, we asked if obtaining consent from the candidate is required before conducting a background check.

Oh, it’s required, and it’s required, and it’s required again. So employers, beware. Your disclosure is really a critical piece of the background screening process. If you’re going to do a credit report, tell them you’re doing a credit report. In some states, you also have to tell them why. Criminal history checks, personal or professional reference checks…all need consent.

What if a candidate refuses?

Most employers are conducting background checks contingent on an offer. If the candidate doesn’t want to authorize the background check, they don’t move forward with the process. And employers are well within their rights to leverage that, but they should certainly state it in their policy.

Social Media

Social media sites may seem like easy-to-access information about a potential job candidate. But is it acceptable or ethical for companies to scrutinize social media? What are some of the pitfalls that employers need to avoid?

Employers, hear me now, do not go on Facebook or Instagram or TikTok or even LinkedIn and look at your candidates yourself. That’s a big mistake. You want to engage with a professional organization that is doing this in a manner that is consistent with EEOC guidelines.

A professional social media screen will bring back information about whether or not a person is engaged in activities that could potentially present a risk to the organization. Information to help you make a decision that is ultimately about the true risk to the company and not just a personal opinion or unconscious bias.

The Marijuana Culture Shift

Recent years have seen a significant culture shift in how the use of marijuana is viewed. It’s legal in some states and becoming legal in many others. So what should employers be cautious of here?

There are still federal laws and federal mandates in place for drug testing, where it doesn’t matter what the state law is. Under any law where marijuana is legal, an employer does not have to accommodate use in the workplace. There are a lot of emerging state laws or laws currently in place related to whether or not you can test for marijuana pre-employment. Or whether you can use a positive test result for marijuana in an employment-related decision. But each one of those also has exemptions.

Adapting to the Remote Climate

Background screening shouldn’t take a back seat in this remote work climate. It’s important to understand the risk profile of someone who will be generally unsupervised yet still representing your company.

Take some additional due diligence to ensure that you know who your candidates are, that they’ve done what they say they have done, and that there’s nothing within their risk profile that will be destructive to your company’s reputation.

I hope you found this recent episode of #WorkTrends informative and inspiring. For more information on candidate screening and background check solutions, visit Accurate Background.

And, please mark your calendars! On Wednesday, May 25th from 1:30pm – 2:00pm ET, our #WorkTrends Twitter chat focuses on Background Screening in the Hiring Process, sponsored by Accurate Background.

Subscribe to the #WorkTrends podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. Be sure to follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on LinkedIn and Facebook, too, for more great conversations!

Mentoring and the Employee Connection

Podcast Sponsored by: Together

According to a recent Harvard Business Review article, experts believe that high levels of loneliness and disengagement at work caused by the pandemic could be addressed by mentoring. Additionally, surveys have shown that more than 90% of professionals who work with first-generation college students through mentoring and career development programs believe their experience as a mentor has helped them become better leaders or managers at work.

Our Guest: Matt Reeves

On our latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with Matt Reeves, CEO of Together, a software platform focused on enabling companies to run best-in-class internal mentorship programs. Together Software helps organizations run internal mentorship programs that intelligently match every employee with the best person for them to learn from. We asked Matt to tell us what a mentorship program is. He explains:

A mentorship program within an organization is where you’re pairing two colleagues together, usually a more junior employee who’s the mentee with a more senior employee who’s the mentor, for career development and career guidance. Typically, these employees meet on a particular cadence like once a month over a year or even more.

Mentorship programs are becoming more and more in demand by employees who crave a better employee experience and career guidance. In addition, mentorship programs can help companies with employee retention, which helps drive bottom-line results. But, programs are evolving as the workforce changes. Matt:

We’ve seen companies breaking the mold and experimenting with different types of mentorship programs with the common thread being helping their employees learn from their colleagues through conversations.

The Flavors of Mentorship

There are different types of mentorship approaches. Some are more traditional, and some are more out of the box. The best match for a company depends on the needs of the employees.

The traditional approach is a one-on-one program. You have a more senior mentor mentoring a more junior mentee for a specific period. Certainly, peer programs are very common, as well as reverse programs where you have a less senior employee who’s perhaps more experienced in a particular topic mentoring a more senior employee. And then where we see many organizations have a lot of success in breaking the mold is on the duration piece of the program and adding flexibility for the participants.

Benefits for the Mentor and Mentee

Both mentor and mentee have different reasons for wanting to participate in a mentorship program. Matt explains:

I think most people understand why a mentee would want to participate – to learn, develop and progress in their career. I think they want to participate on the mentor side because they are more senior. When you’re more senior in an organization, you are expected to be a people developer and culture carrier.

This is also something participants can bring to performance reviews and use in conversations around promotion and compensation as part of a company’s overall performance assessment of their employees.

Technology and the Mentorship Experience 

Our final question to Matt – we asked him his thoughts on using technology to keep mentors and mentees connected. He answered:

From an administrative standpoint, it significantly reduces the workload. From the employee standpoint, there is a much-improved employee experience. For example, a manual program can take time to match mentor and mentee. Not a great experience if you’re paired with someone who has left the organization. Something easily avoidable if you’re using technology.

I hope you found this recent episode of #WorkTrends informative and inspiring. For tips and ideas on what a mentorship program could look like for your organization, go to togetherplatform.com.

Subscribe to the #WorkTrends podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. Be sure to follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on LinkedIn and Facebook, too, for more great conversations!

Forecasting the Future of Work

Podcast Sponsored by: QuantumWork Advisory

According to McKinsey, the pandemic has accelerated existing trends in remote work, e-commerce, and automation. As a result, up to 25% more workers than previously estimated could potentially need to switch occupations. Both employees and leaders are being driven to upskill. A recent study from the Sloan Management Review found that only 7% of respondents were led by digitally competent teams. So what does the future of work hold? How can we ensure that we’re prepared for it?

Our Guest: Mark Condon

On our latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with Mark Condon, managing partner and founder of QuantumWork Advisory. He is a pioneer in the talent and workforce sector with over 20 years of global experience with both startups and multinationals.

There are maturity traits found in good digital leadership. Mark explains:

Leaders need to engage and protect their organization. When developing new business models, those need to be protected from the broader business. Another is the culture of inquisitiveness and trust, but you have to balance it with rigor. You want your organization to be curious, to have an exploration culture, and one where no one gets fired for experimenting, but you also need the discipline behind that.

Young Leaders in the Digital Age

Companies are balancing the use of technology implemented and used by people. So when we talk about young leaders, what are they facing when it comes to leading in the digital age? Mark:

It’s confusing out there. There are so many great technologies that appear to be wonderful in their own right. But there’s a problem in that digital transformation is really about technology. The technology in a lab looks wonderful, but we have to use it in our businesses. And our businesses are full of people, policies, and processes, which may not help the technology work. So how to make the tech work in practice is a people-centric issue.

Mark also explains:

People used to choose technology on the basis of functionality, but without it being a great user experience, it’s kind of a waste of time. People need to be able to want to use that technology and it has to be easy to use.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion – The Role of Technology

Technology plays a significant role in DEI and talent acquisition and retention strategies. Mark confirms:

This is a huge topic. Around 2020, about $50 billion was going to be spent on the DEI tech vendor space and would grow to around $110 billion by 2024. This is a massive investment.

Technology has its advantages and disadvantages. 

AI is a great enabler of matching, but it also can have a dark side in that if it’s not fed the right data, it can actually make the bias worse. So the problem with AI is it can make things a lot more efficient, but it also can magnify the problem.

The Gig Economy

With the rise of the gig economy, remote work, and flexible work arrangements, the future of work has taken a fork in the road. So where are we going with all this? Mark explains:

A lot of people suffered burnout through COVID, and this is continuing. The burnout rate has been quite damaging for people. People have had enough. I think they’re asking themselves, “Why am I working so hard.” I think a few people are getting off the merry-go-round, not to say all, but I think some are, certainly.

I hope you found this recent episode of #WorkTrends informative and inspiring. To learn more about QuantumWork Advisory and digital transformation in the field of talent and workforce strategy and delivery, please visit https://www.quantum.work/advisory.

Subscribe to the #WorkTrends podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. Be sure to follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on LinkedIn and Facebook, too, for more great conversations!

Unification of HR Systems – Set Up for Success

Podcast Sponsored by: Tydy

Considering a new HR system for your company? Finding the right HR system has become a critical piece to a successful, thriving business. In order to support a company’s talent strategy, there are several distinct types of HR systems available. It might seem difficult to select which one is best for your organization. This is a critical choice because HR systems that contribute to a good employee experience are 1.3 times more likely to perform better. And, who doesn’t want their business to perform well? 

Our Guest: Kiran Menon

In this episode of the #WorkTrends podcast, we unpack the important topic of HR systems with Kiran Menon, the CEO, and co-founder of Tydy. Tydy is an employee experience solution that connects, unites, and automates HR processes and technologies. During his 17 years of experience in consulting and sales, he has worked across multiple locations, leading teams in Europe, the US, and Asia. Kiran states:

“Tydy actually started from an onboarding perspective. What we are doing is we really went out there and reimagined onboarding and redefined what onboarding meant for large enterprises. Our focus is on employers with about 5,000 plus employees. Tydy moved them from cumbersome weeklong processes to quick, simple, and verified onboarding in seconds.”

How Has Technology Impacted the Way HR is Managed?

In the last two years, companies have faced an increased need for better software and improved processes throughout the digital space. With many work teams working remotely from a variety of places, there has been a surge of software options to optimize and manage complex HR procedures across businesses. Kiran explains:

“There’s been a huge proliferation of multiple apps in the workplace. Suddenly post-April 2020 companies globally scoured everywhere to look for different types of applications that could digitize processes and deliver a digital-first experience. What’s really happened is there’s been a sudden influx of too many apps and too many systems. This overcomplicates the process. Technology has impacted HR pretty massively, but also, it’s brought about a lot of concerns, issues, and frustrations.”

HR Systems and Onboarding

One of the most crucial functions of an HR system is the onboarding process. The importance of this process going smoothly directly correlates not only to a company’s success but also to its financial health. Kiran states:

“We work with companies where day one of an individual joining and getting started is billing day, right? This means that the moment the person starts, you actually want them to get onto the floor and start becoming productive. That’s billing hours in whatever that industry may be. Now, if your onboarding system does not enable them to do that, you are actually losing revenue when your assets like your laptops are not ready until day five, or day 10 in some cases.”

With all the benefits of a unifying HR system, are there any drawbacks? Kiran explains some of the challenges:

“One of the biggest questions from an ownership perspective is when you’re thinking about onboarding, who owns asset allocation. Is it HR? And until you understand the plan that ticks off all these boxes, it becomes very tough to think about unification. 

Managing HR in the Future

With all of these quick shifts regarding HR systems, will there be any more major changes in the way that HR is managed in the future? Kiran gives us his prediction:

“You still have about a good decade to two decades of innovation in front of you. We haven’t even touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how data could be used. Or, how you could potentially automate verification systems, or automate even career mapping from a data perspective. So I think there’s a lot more that needs to be uncovered and developed from a future perspective.”

I hope you’ve found this recent episode of #WorkTrends helpful when considering an HR system to elevate your company’s onboarding and overall organization. To learn more, contact Kiran Menon on LinkedIn.

Subscribe to the #WorkTrends podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. Be sure to follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on LinkedIn and Facebook, too, for more great conversations!

Gamification in Recruitment | How it Can Help You Attract and Hire the Cream of the Crop

The traditional hiring process has relied on the basic model for many years. Collecting resumes, sifting through them, evaluating candidates with assessments, and then shortlisting candidates for interviews. However, the hiring landscape has shifted, and employers need to find new ways to attract and assess applicants.

Enter gamification. A concept that uses game theory, mechanics, and game designs to engage and motivate people to achieve their goals digitally. Let’s see how gamification in recruitment can convert dull and frustrating tasks into fun processes for recruiters and candidates.

Top Reasons why Gamification in Recruitment works

Overcome Talent Scarcity by Widening the Talent Pool

Most recruiters select candidates from a very limited talent pool, making for a severe skill shortage. As companies struggle with not having enough candidates to pick from, hiring managers also face the dilemma of separating the wheat from the chaff, even with a small candidate pool.

History will tell us that gamification has helped solve these problems time and time again. Using data analytics and AI to analyze and process more than a billion data points, hiring teams can access people in places they wouldn’t have been able to reach otherwise. Moreover, they can rapidly screen candidates and pick out the best without spending energy and effort on manual resume-sifting.

Level the playing field for all applicants

The right candidate comes in all shapes, sizes, and packages – white, black, old, young, neophyte, or experienced. The recruiter needs to look for talent and ignore the wrapping they come in. That, however, can only be done if the hiring team puts aside unconscious and conscious bias.

Research shows that more than 75% of employers believe the unconscious bias has an impact on their hiring decisions. This results in the loss of top talent. Luckily, this is where talent assessments backed by gamification step in.

Talent assessments, powered by gamification, assess people based on their skills, knowledge, and personality rather than their background and other socioeconomic factors, thus giving every individual an equal opportunity to shine forth and reach their full potential.

Build brand awareness

Knowing where to find the right talent isn’t enough to build a healthy talent pipeline. You need to differentiate yourself from other competitors by building a strong employer brand to attract high-quality candidates. 75% of job seekers consider an employer’s brand before applying for a job.

With gamification, companies can boost their brand and showcase themselves as innovative and tech-savvy employers, making the organization more desirable to talent.

Entice the Digital Natives

The utilization of digital tools plays a significant role in the attraction and retention of talent. The millennial cohort will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, so knowing what attracts and motivates them is essential. Millennials are essentially a tech-savvy generation and have grown-up playing games.

As a matter of fact, the game designer, J McGonigal, believes the average western millennial will have spent 10,000 hours on computer-generated gaming by the time they are 21. A company’s reputation as a digital leader also enormously affects job seekers’ decision to join the company.

Adopt a Mobile-First Approach

More than nine-in-ten Millennials own smartphones and spend a significant amount of time using them, which is why it becomes easier for them to explore exciting job opportunities on the go. It also makes sense why about 45% of them use their phones to search for jobs.

Employers should, therefore, optimize their assessment processes to accommodate the needs of the tech-saturated generation and improve their perception of the company.

Gamification platforms that offer talent assessments typically follow a mobile-first approach, thus giving job seekers the convenience to complete the job application on their phones

Conclusion

In a nutshell, gamification presents itself as a comprehensive solution, allowing employers to establish themselves as digital leaders, pique individuals’ interest in job positions, and accurately predict potential hires’ future job performance.

Author bio: Paul Keijzer is the CEO and Co-founder of The Talent Games. A seasoned HR and Leadership Management expert, Paul is a versatile business leader delivering extraordinary results for organizations globally.

How Small HR Teams Can Punch Above Their Weight

Small but mighty HR teams are under increasing pressure to perform with fewer and fewer resources. Typically, small budgets mean that functions like payroll, time and attendance, benefits administration, HR compliance, and more have to be done manually or with spreadsheets. This stifles smaller HR teams’ ability to consistently punch above their weight.

In a recent survey, GoCo found that 74% of HR professionals feel more pressure from senior leadership to hire and retain top talent amid The Great Resignation. 

And with the arrival of COVID-19, these pressures have only been exacerbated. HR teams must now also deal with the digital transformation accelerated by the pandemic. In fact, according to McKinsey, 85% of companies surveyed are increasing digitization during the pandemic. 

Large companies typically have access to ERP and enterprise-wide technology solutions, supported by large team headcounts. This equips them to handle rapidly evolving future-of-work considerations such as digital transformation or remote work policies. But what about small HR teams? How can they tackle the same issues that large HR teams face with significantly fewer resources? One answer is automation: Leveraging digital tech reshapes how small HR teams function.

Automation technology is increasingly being utilized by small businesses to power their HR functions and to deliver the prowess of a large HR team. 

Streamline HR Work for Efficiency 

When teams are small, it’s critical to optimize efficiencies and reduce errors. Often, small HR teams rely on highly tedious and time-consuming processes for benefits administration or payroll. They tackle complex functions using manual processes. More often than not, this leads to errors or simply monopolizes HR’s time with administrative work. This makes it difficult to tackle new pressing challenges facing HR leaders. Additionally, it becomes nearly impossible for them to take on strategic initiatives. 

Implementing automation technology streamlines core HR functions. Work can then be completed quickly and with significantly fewer errors. When HR practitioners have time to focus on caring for employees and supporting people functions, they provide much-needed value to their organizations. Automating time-consuming and repetitive tasks boosts the productivity of your HR team. An overlooked benefit of HR technology is that for small HR teams, the right tech can alleviate the need to check work or ensure the accuracy of reports. With fewer errors to fix and less paper-work to process or reconcile, small HR teams can flourish.

Staying Compliant

One of the most crucial responsibilities of HR teams is to ensure organizations, big and small, remain HR compliant — adhering to layers of government regulations and financial requirements. A business’s size does not exclude it from compliance requirements. And failure to comply can result in costly penalties at the state, local, and federal level.

Paperwork and manual processes are often the enemy of staying in compliance. Document-focused compliance processes will inevitably result in human error. Small HR teams can succeed at compliance work — but going digital is a crucial step in that journey.

There are many complex moving parts to HR compliance. Small HR teams have a lot to keep up with. Staying aware of constantly evolving and changing regulations when it comes to payroll, hiring, and benefits can feel daunting in one-person or small HR departments. This becomes only more complicated for companies that employ a mix of full-time, hourly, and freelance workers. Adding multiple regional or geographic locations adds further complexity. 

HR automation technology easily streamlines HR compliance and helps them punch above their weight. It improves accuracy and frees up HR to focus on emerging priorities such as employee well-being, hiring, and onboarding new employees.

Flexibility in Tech Is Key

Most small HR departments straddle the world of analog and digital — meaning even when they deploy tech solutions, they still rely on a mix of software, paper systems, and spreadsheets. It’s often a transition from paper to software to cloud-based systems. So, software that has the flexibility to align with how an HR department already operates eases the burden of learning and implementing a new system. Done right, technology can step in to automate certain HR processes to create efficiencies and then leave it up to each unique HR practitioner how they best want to track specific HR functions. 

One of the common obstacles in the way of HR departments that want to go fully digital is the lack of flexibility in many of the tech solutions out there. HR pros spend years, maybe even decades, perfecting processes like onboarding and offboarding. They don’t want technology that’s going to force them to change all of that. So it’s important to find tech that doesn’t force you to conform to a particular process. Rather, look for solutions that trust you to define your own workflow, and that are flexible enough to support that. 

And as small HR departments scale with the growth of their companies, so too must the technology. Platforms that only offer out-of-the-box solutions often have difficulty in scaling with a company’s growth. Flexible systems better match things like headcount growth and complex processes like running payroll in different geographies or supporting multiple EINs.

Optimize and Improve With Data 

When used strategically, HR automation technology is a powerful tool for small HR teams who want to have a big impact. It’s not enough to automate; there’s a growing expectation to leverage people data to make better business decisions. As more and more HR data is stored, modern HR systems can extract useful people insights. These insights drive outcomes such as reduced turnover, better onboarding, and increased productivity.

Small businesses and their HR teams can make better business decisions and improve employee experience with the reports that core HR technology generates. With technology, small HR teams can deliver high-impact, strategic work. Having better data covers compliance, better supports people, and empowers company leadership with key people insights. Small HR teams can be just as integral to business success as large HR teams — when they harness technology.

Designing Hiring Infrastructure to Withstand Employment Litigation Threats

In my experience, one of the biggest HR investments aside from payroll tends to be in performance management. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. After all, a poorly performing employee can be a significant drain on a company’s productivity and resources.

It follows, then, that a significant amount of time and money would be spent ensuring underperformers improve. The alternative, after all, would be undergoing a lengthy process of disciplinary measures before letting employees go. Then restarting a costly and time-consuming hiring process.

This makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is that there is little investment in preventing poor hiring decisions in the first place. In cases where performance management investment is high, hiring is treated almost as an afterthought.

Instead of investing in scientifically designed and validated selection tools, some employers use older and less accurate hiring methods, like unstructured interviews and instinct. Beyond failing to guarantee a quality hire, this also puts companies at risk of litigation for discrimination. Despite this risk, many companies stick with what they know rather than invest in scientifically-backed hiring methods.

Why? In many cases, it comes down to cost. If employers are skeptical about the effectiveness of data-driven pre-employment tests, then they’re likely to balk at the added upfront costs that can accompany them. Instead, they’ll opt to continue with business as usual.

Another Way to Look at Hiring

This mindset fails to look at the big picture. In reality, smarter hiring practices pay for themselves many times over. Quality pre-employment assessments and other strategic hiring tools can cut costs associated with poor performance, reduce the amount of training necessary for new employees, increase a company’s overall productivity, and shield businesses against employment litigation.

This last point is worth emphasizing because a poorly structured hiring infrastructure leaves companies vulnerable to employment litigation threats. Both the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures and existing court precedents lay out a clear road map for employers to follow if they want to prevent discrimination and avoid employment litigation. But to do so, companies need to develop a validated hiring process that focuses on requirements directly relevant to the job. This is only possible through hiring methods based on in-depth job analyses and objective assessments.

Protecting Yourself From Employment Litigation Threats

Companies should implement test development and validation services that can stand up to scrutiny and inform quality, holistic, and equitable hiring. By doing so, they prioritize hiring for excellence and create a pre-employment process that can handle any potential employment litigation.

With that in mind, here are four strategies to help employers improve their hiring practices and ensure they stay firmly on the right side of employment law.

1. Base your selection on a job analysis.

To ensure you’re making objective hiring decisions, define the qualifications that are necessary for a candidate to perform a job well. This requires an in-depth job analysis.

An accurate job analysis combines job observations with the insights of subject matter experts to identify which tasks, knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) are critical for a position. From there, you can create a pre-employment process that will stand up to scrutiny.

Don’t forget to document every step of the test development and validation process—especially that of job analysis. This will provide you with the receipts necessary to prove the objectivity of your hiring decisions.

2. Create a validation report.

When making hiring decisions, every aspect of your decision-making should be tied directly to a critical KSA. Even more importantly, you’ll need to be able to provide evidence of this connection.

Create a validation report documenting the entire pre-employment development process, including who was involved and the data that served as the foundation of your hiring decisions.

3. Perform regular analysis of your selection tools.

No pre-employment test is going to be bulletproof, nor will any test be immune to the passage of time. That’s why it’s so important to analyze your pre-employment assessments regularly. The goal should be to determine whether any aspect of the process results in group performance differences, specifically with regard to gender or ethnicity.

If you see a clear adverse impact for one particular group, dig deeper to determine why that is. You’ll also want to uncover how to reduce this impact without compromising the overall validity of your testing. In this way, you can remove any inadvertent bias into your test development and validation process.

4. Prioritize assessments over intuition.

Even with a validated, data-backed pre-employment process, there’s always a chance that the human element of hiring can throw a wrench in the works. Too often, I’ve seen hiring managers decide that personal intuition is more accurate than the high-quality assessments.

Overruling data-driven results is a good way to open yourself up to charges of favoritism or discrimination. While there is always some room for personal opinion—especially when deciding between equally qualified candidates—the best way to ensure the integrity of the process is to focus on data.

Hiring shouldn’t be a guessing game. Companies everywhere now have access to the data and technology necessary for making smart hiring decisions every time. These decisions will ensure a better hiring track record and help companies reduce (or eliminate) bias or subjectivity in the hiring process.

Re-designing Employee Experience Around Well-Being

Amid the unique shockwaves sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic, HR tech has found itself at a turning point. Mostly, two major trends have brought on this critical phase in HR technology today. Tangible assets such as human-made codes and patents represent 90 percent of the value of the S&P 500 companies. This has increased the strategic position of Human Resources within companies for the past years now. The smaller trend sprung from the COVID-19 pandemic with 70 percent of employees stating they want hybrid work options to stay in place. The need to offer an online employee experience has given way to major investments in HR technology. Companies heavily count on these investments to support the growing demand in office vs. work-at-home experiences.

With digital taking over, a new approach is emerging in terms of Employee Experience (EX). EX today is transformative in the sense of bringing about sustained cultural change. This purposeful change will empower people to be at their best and foster overall health and well-being. Therefore, as companies are adapting to the new realities of the post-pandemic realm, re-imagining work and well-being experience becomes critical. We need to re-architect well-being experience to bring out human strengths such as creativity, connectivity, and innovation to the fore.

The impact of remote and hybrid work on employee experience

Professionals expect the new working models to stay even in a post-pandemic world. Among many others, Josh Bersin, the president of Bersin & Associates, believes that the future of work is remote. Microsoft researchers point out that “work will likely be a fluid mix of in-person and remote collaboration.” We are yet to see whether the downsides of remote working at scale will come to outweigh the positives. Yet, the tech-enabled wellness solutions will certainly be the lifeblood of the HR Tech market to support employee well-being.

Eighty-nine percent of employees in a February 2021 global Harvard Business Review study said that their work-life was getting worse. More statistics from the same study: 85 percent said that their well-being declined and 56 percent said that their job demands increased. Many people are reporting a range of mental health issues, including stress, anxiety, depression, and burnout. More, 94 percent of workers in the U.S. and the U.K. feel stress at work, while more than 50 percent experience sleep loss. Within such a climate, people are looking for more balance and a life with lower levels of conflict and stress. This necessitates that holistic well-being programs be embedded into employee experience management. With this in mind, by adopting holistic employee well-being programs, organizations make a commitment to helping people lead more fulfilling lives.

Key features of a thriving employee well-being program

There is no “one-size-fits-all” well-being solution because every culture and individual is unique. However, the basis of every good wellness program is behavior change. So, what should organizations look for in well-being tech and projects developed by corporate well-being vendors? Further, how is it possible to redesign well-being into the work itself? There are many practices that organizations can take part in to create an impressive well-being experience. For example:

  • Utilizing solutions designed to provide usability, mobility, and accessibility
  • Using gamification to motivate and engage employees to create positive behavioral change
  • Taking a proactive approach to wellness that inspires action through challenges, micro-content, and smooth integration with wearable technology
  • Harnessing the power of friendly competition to build healthy habits, as collective efforts greatly help well-being behaviors “stick”
  • Asking the employees what their well-being needs today are, and empowering them to take their own unique well-being journey
  • Investing in multiple dimensions of well-being.

Strong cooperation between leadership and HR for holistic employee well-being

The dominant view is that HR is the primary responsible party for well-being within an organization. However, it is up to the contributions of the whole organization to promote a culture of well-being. Such collective efforts will create more engaged employees through a transformative employee experience. Richa Gupta reminds us that paying attention to the types of employees you have on staff is key to ensuring a healthier and engaged workforce. In this sense, organizations must commit to well-being programs as a business priority. Leaders should lead by example by creating awareness in areas including mental health, diversity and inclusion, and hybrid work challenges.

In a pandemic-stricken landscape, we find ourselves in a moment of reflection. Thus, ensuring employees remain safe and well-cared-for is vital to deliver a great employee experience. With this in mind, organizations that acknowledge this fact will navigate hard times and emerge stronger in the future. During COVID-19, we have witnessed that fragmented well-being programs fall short of addressing new circumstances. When treated as band-aids for short-term concerns, they cannot provide a whole-of-life experience. It is essential to implement a holistic well-being program integrated into the fabric of organizational culture.

Why Data Literacy is the Future of Work

Many questions remain in the aftermath of COVID-19, with some of the biggest ones relating to the economic recovery. When will the economy rebound and, if so, how long will it take? What skills are needed to ensure the next generation is capable of recovering from the next pandemic? And, are those skills applicable to other black swan events? It is equally as important to ask this question: What role will data play in not only predicting but preventing future problems?

These are all important questions. But, we must reflect before we can use data to unlock a longer-term economic recovery. We should, in effect, examine who will be doing the unlocking: the students of today. The pandemic disruption to their education has been profound, and its impact may be long-lasting.

In the days leading up to World Youth Skills Day, the United Nations shared data highlighting the impact on global education. Between March 2020 and May 2021, schools were either fully or partially closed for more than 30 weeks. Nineteen countries still had full-school closures by late June, impacting nearly 157 million learners. This was in addition to the 768 million learners who were affected by partial-school closures. Another study by Bellwether Education Partners estimates that three million already underprivileged students stopped their education during the pandemic. This widened the gulf between them and STEM careers.

Although the pandemic may have thrown existing plans off course, education is a lifelong journey. It is now time to get back on track. We can start–and come out stronger than ever–by learning how to read, understand and work with data. In other words: we can become data-literate.

Data Skills Are Vital for Any Career

People don’t often think of data as an HR tech tool. But, if we are to overcome the economic challenges of the last year, we have to think outside the box. We will need to have the skills necessary to quickly interpret and act on information as it’s delivered. In order to do that–and become a society that’s led by data, not assumptions–change is in order. Most notably, educational, business, and governmental institutions will need to take a closer look at data literacy.

Data literacy has become a core skill that everyone needs in the modern workplace, not just analysts or C-suite executives. Every individual–from those who are still in school to new recruits and beyond–must be prepared. They need to be able to comprehend the power and potency of working with data. Without that knowledge, they won’t understand the scope of the challenges and opportunities in front of them. And no amount of HR tech tools will change that. They need to know how to digest the numbers, argue with the results, and put data to use. In doing so, they’ll be able to solve problems, invent new solutions, and uncover ways to be more productive.

This is no small matter, and achieving a high level of data literacy will not be an easy task.  Research shows that less than one-third (32 percent) of C-level executives are classed as data literate. Less than one quarter (24 percent) of business decision-makers are confident in their ability to use data effectively. Data literacy is even lower for 16- to 24-year-olds; only 21 percent are able to effectively use and work with data.

Closing this gap will require that data literacy training is embedded in schools and workplaces. And, most importantly, that it is available to everyone throughout their careers.

Career Progression Depends on Data Literacy

Students and young professionals may not yet understand the importance of data literacy. However, if they don’t learn now, it could be too late. Businesses already need and benefit from hiring people who are data literate. They increasingly rely on HR tech tools to ensure the hiring process is as smooth as possible. But, these skills will be table stakes for the jobs of the future. This is why a growing number of universities, colleges, schools, and educators are taking action.

Ensure That Data Literacy Is Part of the Curriculum

Data literacy should not be limited to students in math or analytics-related programs. It should be part of every curriculum, no matter the subject or desired career. Just as English and basic math are essential to virtually every profession imaginable, data literacy has become a must-have skill. It will provide great value to current and future workers. Data literacy will make candidates more attractive and allow those with this skillset to excel with any employer.

Upskill the Masses With Continuing Education

Although it is important that future generations are prepared for the data-driven economy, existing workers don’t get a free pass. They must also possess the skills necessary to read, comprehend and use data to make informed decisions. And, for that, continuing education is a must. Whether delivered by employers, at school, or in a virtual setting, data literacy has become a vital skill set. The Data Literacy Project offers free resources that can help individuals, enterprises, and institutions get started.

Rise Above the Economic Downturn

Data is an essential component of every organization. We need it now more than ever. As we look to rise above the economic downturn, organizations will rely on HR tech tools to find new talent. From automakers and financial institutions to consumer packaged goods and beyond, they’ll be looking for people who are data literate. Businesses have found that they can make more intelligent decisions when relying on accurate information. Data can be the difference between success and failure, especially when a business fails to turn information into actionable insights.

However, most information still goes to waste. A report by IDC shows that organizations use just one-third (32 percent) of the data available to them. Make time to grasp the importance of data literacy to reduce waste. This eliminates guesswork and leads to productive employees and more successful enterprises driven by data. And, that will allow us to come out of the pandemic with an economy that’s stronger than ever before.

The Future of Work: 6 Post-COVID HR Trends to Look Out For

The first time COVID-19 made its appearance, a lot of uncertainty, fear, and doubt ruled many people’s lives. Since all of it was new, absolutely no one knew exactly what to do.

Nearly two years have passed, and we have gathered all the information and forces available to fight against it. The good news is that we have done it effectively to a great extent, and the current recovery situation is looking optimistic.

However, there is no guarantee that we are ever going “back to normal” since what is “normal” has been completely redefined.

From now on, HR professionals will need to adjust to the new normal. Here are some post-COVID HR trends to be prepared for.

1. A bigger focus on remote work

If there is one thing that the pandemic changed for most employees, it’s remote work. With all the video-conferencing calls via Zoom and Skype, the business world is steadily making its way to normalizing remote working.

While reports show that remote working was already becoming popular before COVID, especially amongst the self-employed, it sped up its pace.

The Pew Research Center reports that prior to the pandemic, about 20 percent of Americans were working remotely. Right now, this number has gone up to 71 percent. And out of that percentage, 54 percent want to continue working remotely.

That said, we expect to see working practices becoming more flexible in time.

Some businesses may even need to invest in more permanent communication tools or services. These should help them keep in touch with their employees and be able to support them.

2. Embracing technology

Technology is always at the forefront of change and will play a significant role in post-COVID HR trends.

When it comes to recruiting new talent, emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and blockchain technology will bring more changes in HR. With the possibility of streamlining the hiring process and improving the quality of the hires, the possibilities are endless.

But that’s not all that technology can do. Recruiting tech-savvy candidates that come with digital and transferable skills is more beneficial. This can help create a modern and ever-changing working environment that is adaptable and ready to face any potential challenge.

If you a looking for a winning HR tool, check out the TalentCulture 2021, HR Tech winners here.

3. Prioritizing employee well-being

More and more companies are putting their employees first.

Not only that, but they are also showing a willingness to address any health and safety issues. The trend of adopting a more people-centric company culture as opposed to business-centric is a positive turn of events. Now employers are being more understanding, aware, and flexible in ensuring the well-being of employees.

One way organizations can do this is by providing employees with better rewards and incentives. Time off or holistic benefit offerings can address both their mental and physical concerns.

Many famous companies are leading the way, showing others how it’s done. During the season of reduced demand, Microsoft continued paying their hourly workers who were offering their support. While Starbucks started offering more mental health benefits and therapy sessions to all its U.S.-based employees and family members starting in April 2020.

4. Rethinking current business practices

HR managers need to adapt to changing times, and to do so, they need to do a thorough re-assessment of company policies and practices. They need to look into what worked and didn’t work for employees during the crisis.

While some industries were lucky enough to survive the pandemic, some had cut down staff, or worse, close down.

Deloitte’s Workforce strategies for post-COVID-19 recovery workbook offers a helping hand to all managers who are rethinking their business practices. The workbook focuses on three key pillars: 1) respond, 2) recover, and 3) thrive. Considering every aspect of the business that needs to change, this guide can help organizations succeed.

5. Changing learning and training methods

When it comes to post-COVID HR trends, moving away from face-to-face learning and making use of e-learning resources is likely to be especially valuable.

Online learning has proven to be an effective and reliable method of providing training. In fact, it has been a lifesaver during the difficult coronavirus days. Given that e-learning is inexpensive and more efficient, more businesses will choose to invest in it and replace old training practices.

Webinars, virtual classrooms, online courses, video training, and mobile learning are trending. Many tools that can offer this type of training like LMSs (learning management systems), onboarding tools, and course platforms can improve employee training programs.

6. Relying on data to make decisions

When the financial situation of a business is unsteady, the need to forecast workforce requirements and reduce costs becomes paramount.

In order for HR managers to make well-informed decisions that will help sustain a business, they need to focus on data analytics.

Data analytics will provide the most reliable source of information, helping organizations successfully recruit candidates, as well as measure and monitor employee performance, engagement, and productivity.

A Look Into the Future

All these post-COVID HR trends pave the way for a new direction for the HR industry. New HR practices will soon replace the old, and companies will adopt the ones that will help them grow.

Pay attention to employees’ well-being, exploit all the tools available to you, and make data-driven decisions. Help your company survive through these troubled times and thrive in the future.

Using Ethical AI Technology to Champion DE&I Efforts

Anyone can launch a DEI initiative. The big challenge is to succeed.

What’s the biggest roadblock? Human unconscious biases.

Psychologists have shown over and over in research studies that our biases are ingrained and automatic. Even if we think we’re champions of equality, the associations are likely still there. For example, studies show that it’s not just men that associate being male with being smart. Women do it too.

Why do we have unconscious biases? And why is it so hard to shake them?

Biases are shortcuts. They are quick ways to make choices. That doesn’t make them good ways to make choices. They just help us navigate our world quickly in a way that feels good. These biases become particularly prominent in situations where we have to make a high volume of decisions quickly. There is simply no time to be thoughtful in these cases.

In the world of HR, the steady stream of resumes and constant pressure to hire is the perfect setup for unconscious biases to have free reign. Recruiters hire candidates that feel like the “right fit” and base these choices on biases. There is really no other way for the human brain to process that volume of information in a more effective or objective manner.

So how do we move towards hiring equity and remove these biases? Embrace AI technology.

Using AI technology in HR can be off-putting for two reasons:

  1. Some feel concerned about the “ick factor” of having not enough humanity in the HR process. In other words, who are machines to tell us how to hire?
  2. Others feel concerned about having the worst of humanity hard-wired into the HR process. They wonder: What if the technology learns our bad choices and implements them more broadly?

In either case, the AI technology underpinning any HR solution must stay ethical. In the HR space, there are many AI solutions. But not all of them are created equal. To ensure the technology you’re selecting is part of the solution and not an unethical part of the problem, you must be an active consumer of these technologies.

How to find the ethical AI technology for your team

To keep AI tech providers honest and their solutions ethical, you’ll need to avoid the following common pitfalls:

  • Baked-in biases: Unethical AI can embed inequity into the HR system itself. Make sure you are not codifying biases in hiring and making them more pervasive.
    • How to avoid them: Start with good, bias-free data. Be choosy with the data that your AI learns on. Bad data is worse than no data.
  • One-size-fits-all approaches: Unethical AI tries to be the universal solution for everything. AI doesn’t work well when its expertise is spread too thin.
    • How to avoid them: Narrow your AI’s focus. AI is at its most powerful when targeted to a specific space like human resources. This keeps AI-driven answers fast and accurate.
  • “Black box” systems: Unethical AI lacks transparency and may have unclear or opaque scientific methodology and/or output. This can lead to legal defensibility issues.
    • How to avoid them: Create a feedback loop where the humans that make up your HR team and the AI tech they rely on can learn from each other. Make sure you understand both the science behind the technology and its output.

How to partner with AI technology

We shouldn’t be using AI tech to replace humans, but to augment them. AI can radically alter how work gets done and who does it. It can help humans amplify their strengths, extend their capabilities, and free up their time.

But humans also need to do their part to support AI in return. They need to:

  • Help AI train to perform its tasks
  • Be able to explain these tasks to relevant stakeholders (which sometimes includes the AI itself)
  • Have a level of oversight to make sure these tasks are being completed responsibly

Creating a collaborative process where AI plays an objective gatekeeper role that is focused and transparent will help HR personnel feel confident adding ethical AI to their processes. It will also reassure HR professionals that the humanity of Human Resources will remain intact and can even be enhanced by incorporating AI. When AI and humans stay in the lanes that they excel in, everybody wins. AI gets to do what it does best, and so do humans.

Make sure to keep the lines of communication open between your AI technology and your human team. When AI and humans learn from each other, the people that you hire will feel the difference. And you’ll be confident you’ve hired the best person for the job–bias-free.

Hybrid Work: Transform Your Workplace with Security and Collaboration

The future of work is hybrid–with over 50 percent of people saying they’d prefer to work from home at least three days per week. But many workplaces don’t have the tools in place to make the transition to this new working style.

To implement hybrid work successfully, organizations need streamlined communication and security for safe collaboration and inclusive communication. By selecting the right tech tools and organizational strategies, hybrid work can be a boon for productivity, employee engagement, and even DEI.

Our Guest: Jeetu Patel, Cisco’s Executive VP and General Manager of Security and Collaboration

On the latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with Jeetu Patel, Executive VP and General Manager of Security and Collaboration at Cisco. He leads business strategy and development and also owns P&L responsibility for this multibillion-dollar portfolio. Utilizing his product design and development expertise and innate market understanding, he creates high-growth Software as a Service (SaaS) businesses. His team creates and designs meaningfully differentiated products that diverge in the way they’re conceived, built, priced, packaged, and sold.

To successfully achieve these things, Jeetu stays open-minded and flexible, especially when it comes to hybrid work. In order to ensure that experiences are great for employees, he says organizations need to understand that people typically work better in a “mixed-mode.”

“The future of work will be hybrid. Sometimes people will work from the office, other times, from home. In this ‘mixed-mode’ reality, it is going to be harder than when everyone worked in the office. And the reason for that is there’s more of an opportunity for people to feel left out,” Jeetu says.

To prevent feelings of exclusion, organizations must implement tech solutions for collaboration. At Cisco, they provide various options for remote workers to participate in company goings-on. For instance, they allow people to engage in asynchronous communication, sending stand-alone video messages to contribute ideas. They also use things like Webex and Thrive to make sure everyone is up to date on what’s happening.

“You’ve gotta have the right tools and technology to collaborate in a frictionless manner,” Jeetu says. “You need world-class connectivity and delightful software experiences that can allow you to collaborate, be secure, and not have to worry about someone hacking into your system.”

How Hybrid Work Can Strengthen DEI Efforts

Part of creating a frictionless hybrid work system is focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Jeetu explains that DEI should be prioritized in hybrid work scenarios because it’s the right thing to do.

“No one should feel left out because of their race, gender, ethnicity, geography, language preference, or personality type,” Jeetu says. “Those things shouldn’t make people feel like they don’t have the opportunity to participate.” 

Hybrid work empowers organizations to focus on DEI because it gives global access to talent. Opportunity is unevenly distributed all over the planet, explains Jeetu, while human potential is not. So hybrid work can help make positive changes in the workforce regarding issues of equality.

“Hybrid work allows people of all types to feel that they have a level playing field,” Jeetu says. “People shouldn’t have to feel like they have to choose between where they want to live and having access to a career opportunity. They should be able to do both.” 

I hope you enjoy this episode of #WorkTrends, sponsored by Cisco. You can learn more about integrating hybrid work into your organization by connecting with Jeetu Patel on LinkedIn.

Also, on Wednesday, October 20, 2021, from 1:30-2:00 pm ET, don’t miss our #WorkTrends Twitter chat with Cisco (@Cisco).

During this live chat, our global “world of work” community will discuss how companies can develop an intelligent workplace, how collaboration tools empower the hybrid work model, and more. Be sure to follow @TalentCulture on Twitter for all the questions and add #WorkTrends to your tweets so others can see your opinions and ideas!

How Digital Technology is Changing the Structure of HR

The Human Resources department is one of the essential departments in any company. It is responsible for a number of activities. Some of them include managing the staff, hiring and training new employees, and dealing with employment-related disputes.

This department has evolved over the years due to digital technology. The transformation of HR’s structure has been greatly felt during this pandemic when many companies were forced to embrace remote working. There are several different ways that digital technology is changing HR’s structure.

Online recruitment

Before the Internet era, companies would post job openings in the newspapers or used posters that were placed at the main entrance of a building. The downside of this is that a small number of people would notice the job advertisements and the employers would take a long period of time to select a suitable candidate for the job.

Due to the advancement in technology, this process has changed. Companies have been posting job openings online and job seekers apply for the openings by sending an email or filling an online application form. This process is effective because many job seekers notice the advertisements and apply for the job within a short period of time. Additionally, online recruitment systems have a filtration tool that allows the companies to shortlist the most competent candidates.

During the COVID-19 pandemic when social distancing is encouraged, employers interview candidates on various platforms like Zoom and Google Meet. This system is here to stay since some companies have permanently adopted remote working.

Managing employees and employee performance

Managing employees, especially those who are working remotely, can be an uphill task. Supervising the activities that individuals carry out during working hours is not easy due to the lack of one-on-one interactions. As a result, some employees become lazy and fail to complete tasks on time. Obviously, this will have a negative impact on the company. So, what is the way out? What can the HR department do?

Well, digital technology has eased this process. Employers and supervisors can monitor employees’ performance wherever they are. There exists employee monitoring software that allows managers to monitor all work that is carried out by the employees every hour. Consequently, employees will continue working as efficiently as they did when working in the office. Another advantage of the employee monitoring software is that the HR department can monitor a large number of employees at the same time.

Due to digital technology, the HR department can also handle the benefits that employees enjoy using benefits administration software. If this is a new concept, there are online tutorials that will help supervisors to learn how to use it.

Communication systems

Proximity is no longer a concern when it comes to communication in the office. You can pass information from one individual to the other in a matter of seconds with digital technology. This can happen via phone calls, text messages, emails, and online forums like Skype and Slack. Meetings also take place on online platforms. This has encouraged the HR department to employ individuals from all over the world for remote work. As a result, the most skilled individuals can handle specific tasks.

Conclusion

The roles and responsibilities of the HR department have changed due to digital technology. The good thing is that many of these changes are positive. As such, it is easy to embrace them. We can thus conclude that digital technology has changed, is changing, and will continue to change HR’s structure in different ways.

Is Your Training Content Ready for a Hybrid Workforce?

When it comes to training today’s hybrid workforce, traditional content formats fizzle. Their limitations in flexibility with UI, design, integrations, and analytics can cause learning and development (L&D) initiatives to fall short of expected goals. Improving worker skills in a hybrid setting depends on rethinking the document status quo. To drive experiential learning, adopt interactive training content technology.

It’s a Hybrid World

The future of the workforce is hybrid.

A hybrid workforce is a blended workforce where some work in the office full time, some people are remote full time, and others are in the office part-time and home part-time. As society begins to open up after the pandemic, hybrid workforces have become the norm. For instance, over half of the workforce intends to be in the office 10 days or less a month, according to a Webex study, while Upwork estimates that 26 percent of workers will be working remotely through 2021. Furthermore, they estimate that 22 percent of the entire workforce will work remotely by 2025. That’s roughly 36.2 million people.

So what does this mean for L&D professionals? That complexity will increase the difficulty of running traditional training programs. L&D professionals need to think outside the 2D box to engage and energize hybrid learning. Employees need interactive, engaging, and consistent learning experiences.

L&D professionals need tools that are easy to use to create training content that’s experiential and easily shared among remote workers. They will need to lose the 2D approach and adopt a multimedia approach, including video, polls, and the ability to choose their own personalized learning journey within the training materials.

While it’s important for employees to have an immersive and engaging experience, it is equally important for L&D professionals to easily manage, create, and distribute training materials. It’s especially important for them to be able to make necessary adjustments as time goes on.

How to Drive Experiential Learning in a Hybrid World

What is experiential learning? Experiential learning describes the ideal process of learning and invites you to understand yourself as a learner. It also empowers you to take charge of your own learning and development.

The experiential learning process supports performance improvement, learning, and development. According to David A. Kolb at The Institute for Experiential Learning, “There are two goals in the experiential learning process. One is to learn the specifics of a particular subject, and the other is to learn about one’s own learning process.”

This can’t be done in an engaging way with old training materials—not in today’s hybrid world. You need to have content that’s flexible and powerful enough to fill gaps and support experiential learning opportunities more effectively. Also, The content is important before, during, and after the overall learning experience.

Interactive content is the best solution for experiential learning. It can support multiple media types (e.g., audio, video, etc.). Additionally, it can be customized with polls, quizzes, or other ways to take action and put the new knowledge into practice.

With people at home, at work, or both, training needs to be more self-driven. In other words, interactivity enables self-driven experiences, increasing overall engagement with materials and more freedom for users to learn in the way that best suits them.

You need more powerful digital content platforms to help even the playing field for dispersed workforces. This will help organizations create better digital-first learning experiences.

The Work World Has Gone Hybrid and Your Content Needs to Evolve to Suit It

The shift to hybrid learning is in full swing. Because of this, L&D professionals are in the process of looking at their old training content systems and finding new ways to maintain productivity and meet future goals. The challenge is to deliver consistent development and training materials for hybrid workforces and make learning experiential for dispersed teams. For success, the learning experience must be built to reach participants through as many senses as possible. With this in mind, improving worker skills and capabilities within hybrid workforces depends on rethinking the document status quo. It also means adopting interactive content technology to drive experiential learning.

What HR Departments Need to Know About Employee Surveillance

There’s been a dramatic shift to remote work since the start of the COVID-19. Because of this, managers globally are wondering: how can productivity be measured and maintained outside of the office? As evidenced by the explosive growth in software like email analytics and Hubspot, remote monitoring tools were undoubtedly a popular answer to this question for many companies.

However, while the usefulness of employee surveillance tools may prompt some managers to continue using them once employees go back into the office, organizations should proceed with caution. Ill-considered or poorly thought out monitoring procedures can cause significant issues for any company. Monitoring tools can help make a workplace more efficient and improve the visibility of human resources. But staff are naturally likely to be wary of any procedure that increases surveillance without their consent. To mitigate any negative consequences of employee monitoring, it’s important to be aware of potential issues.

The regulatory risk of employee surveillance is growing

Though the act of monitoring employees, whether on their devices or in the workplace, is generally legal. However, poor storage or misuse of data collected can expose employers to significant fines.

While GDPR presents a clear example of what responsibilities employers in the EU have regarding employee data, regulatory frameworks are evolving elsewhere, as well. For any organization with employees based in California, employee data will have the equivalent protections to consumer information from the 1st of January 2023. Thus, as a requirement, employers must protect any collected data from breaches. They also must allow employees to request the deletion of any information collected about them.

Elsewhere in the U.S., similar legislation is proliferating. Despite the fact that some laws, such as Virginia’s recently passed Consumer Data Protection Act, currently exclude employee data, legislators could eventually expand regulations to include employees. Internationally too, other GDPR-esque legislation, such as Brazil’s LGPD, explicitly includes employee information in their coverage.

Done wrong, employee surveillance can damage organizational culture

Another “hidden cost” of keeping track of employees is the potential danger that monitoring poses to workplace culture.

In one example, efforts by the British bank Barclays to introduce remote monitoring of employees were met with immediate employee backlash. Similarly, Microsoft was forced to backtrack on their attempt to integrate a “productivity score” feature into their Office 365 suite after inciting a barrage of negative media attention.

Ultimately, employees do not like being monitored, particularly when it happens without their consent. As a result, expanding employee monitoring can necessitate an inherent trade-off in trust. Paradoxically, when monitoring is used haphazardly, research from the University of Chicago shows that it can cause real productivity to decline.

Making employee surveillance work

Despite the hazards that doing so invokes, monitoring employees can still have numerous benefits for organizations and even employees themselves if used correctly. Fit for purpose, monitoring can improve cybersecurity, highlight employee strengths, and even reduce harassment within workplaces.

During the pandemic, employee monitoring also became a lifeline for newly remote managers. However, as workforces move back on-site or adapt to more permanent hybrid/remote working arrangements, every organization needs to uncover precisely how much monitoring is necessary.

Because monitoring will inherently impact employee privacy and place burdens on their employers, where possible, organizations should reduce its use and ensure that any temporary measures in place have an explicit sunset clause. Another vital step towards making monitoring fair and fit for purpose is to listen to employees themselves. Any organization that is monitoring employees should prioritize asking their staff about their privacy concerns.

Ultimately, however, any efforts to monitor employees, whether on-site or remotely, need to coincide with carefully crafted policies. Here are three things that any organization that is considering continuing or expanding its employee monitoring program needs to know.

The legal environment surrounding employee data collection is getting more complex

No jurisdiction currently prohibits employee monitoring outright or plans on doing so. Regardless, the legal environment surrounding employee data collection requires an increasingly nuanced approach.

While organizations working under frameworks like the GDPR or CPRA face a legal minefield when it comes to rolling out employee surveillance programs, data privacy legislation exists beyond just these kinds of comprehensive jurisdictions. Notably, across the U.S., specific purpose privacy legislation is increasingly likely to impact how employers can monitor staff.

For example, the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) restricts how companies operating in Illinois can use biometric data such as fingerprints or facial recognition. Impacted companies must give advance notice, receive employee consent, and have a retention and destruction schedule for biometric data collected. Critically, this law also gives employees a private right of action against employers should a violation occur. Similar laws are also in place in Texas and New York.

Other states, such as Connecticut, require organizations to give employees notice of any monitoring. Organizations need to carefully examine whether other laws specifically impact the types of data they plan on collecting.

Transparency and privacy are vital

While many employee monitoring tools are new and questions around data use and storage continue to evolve, the ethical issues they raise have been around for decades. Ultimately, research shows that the process of employee monitoring requires buy-in from the employees themselves. The vital factors in this respect are transparency and consent.

Employee agreement for intrusive monitoring is critical to increasing its acceptance, even when not required by law. The key to getting consent is letting employees know that monitoring their activity is ultimately for their benefit too. Backing up this thesis, a Gartner study found that while few employees were okay with employers observing their email without a just cause, over 50 percent don’t mind being monitored if their employer tells them why they are doing so.

Matching monitoring with workplace privacy is critical

As they surveil employees, many organizations take responsibility for incredibly valuable employee personal information. With both data breaches and incidents of identity theft soaring, this situation is naturally going to raise employee privacy concerns.

To mitigate employee worries, employers can integrate privacy into their workplace by rolling out pro-privacy workplace benefits to staff. On one level, this can mean engaging employees with privacy awareness training that extends beyond what’s necessary to maintain cybersecurity. However, employers can also equip their workforces with privacy tools like password managers and data broker removal services that minimize employees’ chances of falling victim to fraud outside the workplace.

Final thoughts

As companies struggled to adapt to virtual work, employee monitoring soared. However, as things return to “business as usual,” it’s worth revisiting workplace monitoring procedures to make sure they’re necessary.

Deploying digital monitoring tools within the workplace has never been easier. But rolling out or expanding an employee monitoring program is not a process that any employer should take lightly.

Ultimately, employers that monitor employee activity need to consider how monitoring fits into the legal environment they operate in. They also need to consider whether their actions are transparent and proactively mitigate employee concerns. Only then will employee acceptance of monitoring increase.

5 Strategies for Onboarding New Hires Virtually

It is imperative to establish a robust onboarding procedure for building a productive, engaged, and cohesive workforce. However, a small portion of new employees agree that their company does a great job onboarding new employees. Some organizations see a 50 percent employee turnover in the first 18 months of employment.

Onboarding is significant for engaging and retaining your employees for a longer stint. The onboarding process is even more critical for remote or virtual employees. This is because they do not have the advantage of developing relationships with other members of staff. Here are some tips for onboarding new hires virtually.

1. Develop their setup beforehand.

Before your new staff member begins, you need to lay the groundwork for successful integration. Keep in mind that remote workers will not have access to normal company resources such as desks, dedicated workspaces, and computers. Communicate with the new hires to find out their needs and any resources they are missing. Get the new hires to set up the right software, hardware, and access required for performing their duties. You can get help from PRO services for hiring and onboarding new hires virtually. Some of them have employee relocation and global mobility services that are helpful.

2. Adapt current onboarding material for their virtual learning.

If you have never performed onboarding for remote employees before, you may have to adapt the current process for virtual access and training. For instance, convert all contracts, hard copy training manuals, employee handbooks, procedures, and policy packets into normal digital files. Then, give virtual access to those files to the remote employees. Also, you can develop training videos and other learning modules that can be completed by employees independently and track their progress. If possible, maintain all the onboarding material at an accessible location that will allow employees to easily find all the information they need.

3. Complete virtual introductions.

In on-site office settings, you can take new hires around the office to introduce them to colleagues. When onboarding new hires virtually, this isn’t possible. To still encourage social interaction and bonding, set up team-building activities during breaks. Team-building interactions are also significant for the integration of virtual employees. In their first week, you can set up introductory calls with team members. You may have virtual happy hours or coffee breaks for getting new employees to know their colleagues casually. Having the new employees build relationships early can set a foundation for long-term success.

4. Communicate frequently by using one-on-one meetings.

It is critical to have frequent and intentional communication during the onboarding process. This helps remote employees develop a connection with their team and organization. There are several ways of connecting formally or informally with newer hires. For example, get the managers to block time every week to make sure that employees check in. Additionally, ask them to use video conferencing to make these meetings more personal and encourage better team connections. HR leaders and managers need to check in regularly with new remote hires. Keep in mind that remote work means less organic interaction.

5. Have a feedback loop.

Having feedback is an easy yet effective method for uncovering the needs of your employees. It is an important component of employee development and training. Develop a strong feedback culture because it can be crucial during uncertain times. You cannot always predict how these staff members will react or what they may require every day. Ensure that feedback is a part of your culture from their first day at work by including it in the onboarding process.

Conclusion

There are some unique challenges involved in onboarding new hires virtually. You are required to stay ahead of the curve by being aware of various requirements ahead of time and concentrating on feedback, training, and communication. You need to provide them the necessary support and tools required.

Employee Engagement: The New 80/20 Rule That Gets Results

“Engagement” is such a corporate word. It conjures up visions of HR and the perks and policies you hope will ultimately win over employees. If HR leads the parade of free lattes, trendy Facebook pages, and company-branded baseball caps, your people will get on board with your mission, right?

Wrong. It doesn’t work that way, and the stats show it. As many as eight out of every 10 people are disengaged at work. Not exactly the 80/20 rule you want.

Researchers have found that an individual’s immediate boss, not that free latte, is the biggest influence on employee engagement, well-being, and drive. The logic holds that what goes on by day goes home with people by night. The influence of a boss is enormous.

However, bosses have challenges as well. Including the pressure to perform, to enable teams to perform, to meet quarterly numbers, to experiment, and to be more innovative. Leaders, managers, and supervisors have so much coming at them; it’s little wonder employee engagement suffers.

How leaders behave impacts how people engage

So, is it culpability or capability—or perhaps capacity—that prevents leaders from better engaging with their people? I don’t think it’s culpability. Nobody wakes up in the morning and says, “I’m not going to engage my team today. In fact, I’m going to completely ignore their needs and just focus on me.”

No, they wake up and know they need to balance both their teams’ productivity and employee engagement. They simply don’t know how to do it all. People don’t know how to solve the many issues that might be preventing their team from achieving results. They don’t necessarily understand that if you better engage employees to begin with, the results will ultimately flow.

The new 80/20 rule

As a team member, a full 80 percent of your engagement comes from the way your manager engages with you—from their behavior. The other 20 percent of your engagement comes from the corporate ecosystem itself: how effective your workplace is; its processes, technology, equipment, and tools; and if policies and structures work for people, not against them.

This means that as a manager or supervisor, 80 percent of your job should be spent engaging with your people and removing any barriers to success. Spend the remaining 20 percent of your time improving the ecosystem. That’s it! That’s the job. When you do it right, results follow.

What does “engaging” your people look like?

Engaging your people is physical. To start with, it means taking your nose out of your device or stack of reports and connecting, person to person. I’m not talking about a casual, “Hey, how goes it?” but, rather, instituting a formal rhythm to your managerial role.

How do you practice it?

  • Have a presence. | Do you have a visible presence in your company? Be active in your employees’ day-to-day lives. Be aware of what’s happening around you and if your teams have processes and tools that work for them.
  • Think micro and macro. | How do the everyday actions of your team connect with company goals? Communicate the connection between the two—the micro and the macro—so people know what they’re working toward.
  • Be tech-savvy. | Today, everyone needs to be both data and digitally literate. Use data to drive conversations about progress and performance. Create stories from the data itself. Help your people use technology to leverage results and get more out of every workday.
  • Coach routinely. | Do you coach your team members to build their capabilities and, in turn, their confidencePeople thrive when they learn more. Keep in mind: learning comes not only from formal training but also by putting people into situations that create opportunities to learn.
  • Collaborate with people outside of your team. | Do you spend time with the people at the outer edges of your company or with those who don’t report to you? By collaborating and building community, the best and brightest ideas will emerge—rather than ideas from the loudest voices (or the boss).

If you want to be a great leader using the new 80/20 rule, you must first manage to engage.

Image by Gerd Altmann

4 Ways HR Can Help Accelerate Digital Transformations

Companies worldwide are launching rapid digital transformation strategies. Their goal: To keep pace with the increase in customer demand for seamless delivery of products, services, and experiences. So in many circles, the question becomes: How can HR help accelerate digital transformations?

To meet these lofty goals and expectations, departments within these organizations need the right technology and the right people. Otherwise, they might miss the opportunity to discover new ways of doing business and innovating through increased digitization. This means human resource departments have a significant role to play in digital transformation.

HR leaders must work alongside IT leaders to accelerate digital transformations and coalesce around priorities. For leaders to succeed in digital transformation, they must be on the same page while removing the barriers of a top-down, hierarchical approach. Leaders must work together to best reallocate resources and spread work and management of work across teams.

Plenty of well-intentioned companies nail the details of digital transformation. Details such as knowing what makes a good user story, understanding the difference between product and project, and finding opportunities to automate deployments whenever possible. The challenges arise with people, culture, and scale. That’s where HR can play an important role.

As many leaders have already learned, digital transformation affects everyone in an organization. Because they are so focused on the daunting task in front of them, this can be difficult for transformational leaders to think about. Proactively communicating with existing teams about how digital transformations will positively affect them and why it’s best for the organization, though, helps everyone.

Because in the end, digital transformation is as much a cultural transformation as it is a business and technology transformation.

Look No Further

The ongoing pandemic hasn’t slowed digital transformation. Despite layoffs and deep budget cuts at countless companies, a large majority (70 percent) of CIOs say their budgets and staffing numbers underwent reductions of less than 10 percent in the aftermath of COVID-19. The top priority of budgets in 2021? Digital transformation, of course. In fact, 77.3 percent of CIOs ranked this endeavor as the most pressing concern this year (ahead of cybersecurity).

So why should HR departments step in as a source for solutions to these problems? Well, the momentum from IT departments toward digital transformation is significant for HR. The reason is simple: Technology alone cannot make for a successful digital transformation. It’s a total team effort in which HR has a big role to play.

Yes, IT can take care of the technology side of the digital transformation equation. However, HR has a shared responsibility. Attracting, retaining, and reskilling the human actors who understand how to both derive value from technology and innovate new ways of doing business digitally is another piece of the puzzle. Without the right talent, even the biggest transformation budget won’t succeed. Teams need the right human resources in place.

Easier for Everyone

Here are a few tips for HR leaders who aspire to work in tandem with IT to accelerate digital transformation to achieve the ultimate goal of building products that customers want to buy and increase revenue.

1. Talk it out

Communicate with IT openly about the culture change and plan to distribute the emotional load. And start those conversations early. Hold discussions about how the culture might change and how some employees might not love the process of digital transformation. HR, technology, and product teams can also share the responsibilities to make sure digital talent and older business lines work well together.

2. Embrace change

Gain a solid understanding from IT on how roles will change as a result of accelerating digital transformation. As the stewards of human abilities within an organization, HR needs to know what qualities to look for in the next generation of talent. This talent pool will have new skills every year or so, making skills secondary to learning ability and work ethic. As an HR leader, you can help find the next generation of digital talent. Start by changing job descriptions to reflect digital values, such as adaptive learning and grit, rather than hard credentials.

3. Promote retention

In many organizations, HR controls (or has a lot of say in) promotion decisions. Digital transformations are a serious uphill battle for product and technology leaders everywhere. And one of the biggest momentum killers is top digital talent leaving an organization. This is especially disheartening when they leave because they feel transformational work is not rewarded or appreciated by the culture. Work with technology and product teams to rework incentives. Ensure the company rewards digital talent. And keep your focus on retaining the talent required to ensure enough forward progress.

4. Prioritize education

Develop new training programs with IT that promote collaboration, prototyping, and decision-making alongside technical skills. You can also help by preparing digital talent in cross-functional environments. As you do, know that maximizing teamwork will likely achieve better results than maximizing individual performance. Companies can expect to see more success in their digital transformations by training UI/UX designers, product owners, scrum masters, and engineers together. That way, students can practice the handoffs and negotiation skills required in a digital world.

It bears repeating: Accelerating digital transformation requires a cultural shift just as much as it does a technology or business shift. When IT and HR work together, they can create a more stable environment that makes digital transformation easier for everyone.

Image by Olivier Le Moal

The Resilient Workforce: How Psychometric Testing Predicts Adaptability

When building a resilient workforce, adaptability isn’t a nice-to-have quality in employees; it’s an essential component of a workforce capable of accepting and overcoming unexpected challenges. Resilient companies have long shown a higher likelihood of surviving and even thriving through crises — a theme that the pandemic has underscored. Success is related to how quickly and effectively workforces pivot to address change.

Human resources leaders who recognize the power of building a resilient workforce need to seek out adaptable employees. But how can they tell whether a job applicant possesses a high degree of adaptability?

Résumés might give an inkling of potential resilience and under-pressure responses. However, they don’t tell the whole story of how someone will react and adapt in the face of the unexpected and unprecedented. That’s where the power of psychometric testing can come into play for employee recruitment strategies.

Building a Resilient Workforce: Leverage Psychometric Testing

Psychometric testing isn’t a new concept, to be sure. Many businesses have used psychometric assessments for recruitment and selection for decades. In fact, these types of tests — sometimes referred to as personality tests — gained popularity more than a half-century ago with the creation of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

Today, many other psychometric test vehicles are available on the marketplace in addition to Myers-Briggs. Many of them share a general purpose: Identify a person’s key strengths and weaknesses. Once identified, those aptitudes, skills, and abilities can form a picture of what the person will be like in everyday life. And, most important to those involved in corporate human capital, how they will be while at work.

The problem, of course, is that psychometric personality tests can be simultaneously accurate and flawed. Why? They’re usually a good measurement of the test taker’s self-perception. But without deeper interpretation, they may not fully indicate how others perceive the test taker. Case in point: It’s possible for someone to self-assess as a leader. But it is also possible not to be seen as a leader by colleagues.

This doesn’t mean that HR leaders should do away with psychometric tools for recruitment. What it does mean is that the tools require thoughtful planning and implementation. When handled correctly, they help a company build a team of vibrant, versatile performers who can adapt to changing needs.

3 Strategies of Psychometric Testing

If you’re not convinced you’re getting the most out of the psychometric testing you’re doing right now, apply the following strategies. These steps can help you improve the results of psychometric tests and avoid common pitfalls:

1. Look for proof points

Valid and effective psychometric tests will likely be backed by historical research. Look for third-party and proprietary studies from the organization that created the test or outside case studies from companies that have used it. Without data and proof points, it’s difficult to predict whether a test will produce accurate and valuable results for your organization.

As you’re researching options, also be wary of any tests that seem to oversimplify results. Personalities are complex and multidimensional. A test that simply places users into predetermined categories with little additional context in the report likely won’t give you the insights you need to determine true adaptability.

2. Make the test a collaborative effort

Far too many companies adopt a “set it and forget it” mentality when it comes to psychometric tests. They ask candidates or workers to undergo assessments. They then receive a compilation of the outcomes and allow everything to continue as usual. The best testing methodologies, however, go a step further. They incorporate trained interpreters to work with test-takers.

The interpreter can go over the data and co-create results with the test taker. They’ll talk through the data and may even relate results to the individual’s past experiences. Often, this process produces profound self-discoveries. At this point, the interpreter and test taker can use the data to help the employee set goals, such as improving resilience and innovative thinking.

3. Go beyond initial data

Generally, hiring teams should not use psychometric tests as a pass-fail assessment for job candidates or current employees. They are excellent tools to integrate as one element of a comprehensive interview, selection, and training process, but they’re not meant to stand alone. Think of the tests in terms of the insights they can offer to give you a jumping-off point for diving deeper. For example, if a test shows that working under pressure may be a top skill for a candidate, ask the candidate to describe a time they have experienced such a situation and how they adapted to overcome it.

Psychometric Testing: The Goal is Awareness

Remember that the goal is awareness — you want to get the fullest picture of a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses so that you know what to leverage and where to compensate. So when building resiliency in a workforce, use these tests to identify potential areas for training and development. 

For example, If a candidate shows a high aptitude for communication — a great fit for a specific role. But the test also shows their ability to be flexible could use some work. You can then focus on developing the skill of adaptability in their first few months on the job to make them a great asset within for building a resilient workforce.

Working with a team of adaptable employees means you don’t have to worry as much about people digging into their comfort zones and resisting change. Use thoughtful psychometric testing as part of your employee recruitment strategies, onboarding, and continuous improvement processes. The tests can help you create a workforce that’s eager, ambitious, and flexible — even in the face of the unknown.

 

Image from Marvent

Why We Must Unlock the Power of AI for Small Businesses

For all the attention large enterprise organizations get, small businesses have a tremendous impact. According to U.S. census data, companies with fewer than 500 employees make up more than 99% of all businesses. They also account for more than half of all economic and employment activity. This means it is time to unlock the transformative power of AI for small businesses.

Many of the most exciting artificial intelligence (AI) tools available today are targeted at larger companies. Sometimes, much, much larger. While some of that is by design, it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, given the promise and potential of AI, companies that develop these tools should focus on how they can bring them to the small businesses that power such a significant portion of our economy.

We know it won’t be easy.

The Good (And Not So Good) Reasons Small Business Has Limited Access to AI

Unlocking the power of AI for smaller businesses isn’t just a matter of flipping a few switches in a tech solution. There are a variety of reasons why — some good and some bad — so much AI innovation has been focused on the top 1% of businesses.

Let’s start with one of the bad ones: the SaaS business model.

The economic and employment activity associated with large enterprise organizations is gigantic. Getting a big enterprise customer might be worth dozens or even hundreds of companies with fewer than 500 employees. For SaaS business models that depend on growing recurring revenue, often based on the number of employees or users, this model makes sense — at least for them. After all, think about how much easier it is for AI builders to target and service the Fortune 100 or 500 than it is to target millions of smaller businesses.

Although that may make sense from a pure business perspective, it keeps a growing class of buyers from benefiting from the innovation available to larger firms.

A second, less bad reason: Many AI tools are imagined as a way to solve big company challenges. For example, an AI chatbot that interacts with potential customers on your website and answers their questions sounds nice, right? But is it worth the large-scale investment for a company that sells $500,000 a month to a handful of customers? Probably not. Another example: Do organizations need an AI warehouse logistics solution if an employee can jog across their storehouse in 30 seconds? Again, probably not – or at least it isn’t worth the investment required.

While there’s obviously room for niche solutions, many of the limitations are driven by a lack of imagination. But there’s one area that’s ultimately challenging for smaller businesses to compete with…

The One Big Challenge for Small Business: Data

Larger organizations have one key advantage: data – usually, lots and lots of internal data, an incredibly relevant factor to AI.

Even more than just the sheer cost or the possible value AI could deliver to organizations, many tools simply aren’t a good fit if you don’t generate a lot of data from which to learn. For instance, it’s much easier to apply machine learning to a database with millions of customer orders across thousands of different product offerings. This large data set gives a recommendation engine a much richer data set to pull from.

It’s not just the initial setup, either. AI runs better when you are pulling in more real-time data. After all, how can a machine learn about predicted order flow if you’re not taking in hundreds or thousands of orders a day?

For small businesses, the lack of big data is a significant hurdle. But it doesn’t mean there aren’t solutions that can be applied to smaller organizations.

6 Ways Companies Can Cater AI to Smaller Businesses

Although there may never be an AI inventory solution for a small parts manufacturer, there are other areas where AI can serve smaller organizations well. It starts with solution providers and smaller organizations working together to consider their needs and then determine what’s truly possible. Here are just six ways AI companies can better serve small businesses:

1. Focus on finding solutions for more targeted needs

Instead of replacing a major part of the business, how can AI help streamline painful parts of your workflow? You may not be able to get a full AI assistant, but a tool that schedules meetings can be helpful even at smaller organizations.

2. Apply AI insights where internal data sources are not available

There’s an incredible amount of external data out there to drive AI insights. For example, it doesn’t require any internal data at all to leverage a recruiting process for small businesses that uses publicly available information to determine when a small business should reach out to a candidate.

3. Use AI to bring new expertise that a leaner team may not have

AI can also bring expertise that only an experienced team could deliver. For instance, an AI-driven programmatic ad-buying solution could supplement a team with more expertise on broader brand-building campaigns.

4. Be able to ramp up a solution quickly

Small businesses don’t have months to get up to speed. Instead, AI could help those businesses focus on consumer-friendly solutions that can get someone using their platform with very little ramp-up time.

5. Look for organizations that offer different pricing models

Traditional SaaS models are great for SaaS companies – but it’s not always the right model for smaller businesses that only see the top dollar amount on a long-term contract. A flat-rate or shorter-term contract – perhaps with on-off capability – can get people to opt-in to a more affordable, more practical AI solution much quicker.

6. Provide built-in support

You can’t support small businesses the same way you support large corporations. That means including tutorials and walk-throughs with the product is critical. Affordable, all-inclusive service and customization plans would also appeal to smaller businesses.

AI for Small Businesses: They Deserve the Power of AI

The next hire, sale, or customer experience touchpoints are all so important to small businesses. The impact of each on the budget of a small business, as a proportion of their expenditures, is enormous.

Enterprise organizations will always be able to make use of the latest and greatest AI technology. It’s time to apply that same energy to finding solutions for smaller businesses, the lifeblood of many communities across the U.S.

No, it won’t be easy. But by working together, we can help unlock the power of AI for small businesses.

 

Image by Peshkova

ATS + AI: Using Talent Intelligence to Unlock the Potential of Candidates

What is talent intelligence? And how can it help drive the right candidates into your company’s talent funnel?

An applicant tracking system provides the foundation for many corporate talent acquisition departments. These applicant tracking systems do what the name implies: they track applicants. They also store information such as resumes, perform keyword searches, help companies with government rules, etc. And to that end, they do the job.

And yet, many companies need more. 

The reality is that companies design ATSs to hire people who’ve done a job similar to one that’s open today. But for the companies whose businesses are changing rapidly, hiring someone based on specific experience isn’t sufficient. Take, for example, this quote from the recent 2021 HR Tech Market report from the analyst Josh Bersin: 

“I recently interviewed the head of talent acquisition for a large pharma company. She told me that the science of genetics is advancing so fast that they can no longer recruit for specific positions or jobs. Rather, her teams now look for people with advanced scientific expertise and recruit them into jobs needing these skills. This is a big trend in AI, machine learning, and cyber, where the core disciplines are advancing so fast that companies can’t hire for specific positions.”

Like this pharma company, many employers need to be future-ready. They need to hire for jobs that haven’t been created yet. So they need to hire people for potential and capabilities – not experience. Their ATS is not enough.

ATS + AI = Talent Intelligence

A system of talent intelligence, on the other hand, is designed to hire for potential. It considers an applicant’s “adjacent skills” – enabling them to succeed in an open role.

Here are some of what companies can do by pairing an ATS with artificial intelligence:

Add Deep-learning AI to Searches

Adding the deep-learning capabilities of AI to searches helps bring people with the potential to do the job to the surface. By identifying adjacent skills and delivering far more relevant profiles, an employer increases the number of qualified candidates in their talent pipeline.

Use AI to Enable Talent Rediscovery

AI helps find people in a “Talent Network,” which includes past applicants, employee referrals, and “silver medalists” who may not have been a fit before but are now. We’ve found that companies that pair AI with an applicant tracking system find that roughly one-third of new hires coming from past applicants.

Building a Talent Network

A Talent Network is more than a database of past applicants. It can include employee referrals, ex-employees, and even current employees. In fact, we’ve seen from our customers that a Talent Network averages roughly about 200 times the number of employees at a company. So, as a rule of thumb, if you have 10,000 employees, you have something on the order of a 2 million person Talent Network when pairing an ATS with a capable AI platform. And more data equals better search results and more qualified candidates.

Make Matches

With AI, companies can see who the strongest matches are for any job, regardless of whether these matches are past applicants, ex-employees, passive/sourced employees, or referrals with the potential to succeed. This saves time and improves quality of hire. Postmates turned to a talent intelligence platform and saw a 46 percent increase in strongly matched candidates between September 2019 and September 2020.

Focus on Skills, Not Jobs 

An AI platform understands the capabilities, including current skills and learnable skills, of every individual. Without this, with just an ATS, companies often default to “who has done the exact job we’re hiring for” based on antiquated keyword searches.

Personalize a Career Site

Within a career site powered by talent intelligence, candidates can immediately find the right job for them. They’ll also understand the reasons why that job is a fit for their qualifications and potential. This improves engagement and measurably lowers drop-off rates. Companies can also add a chatbot to improve the candidate experience and handle employee queries more efficiently.

At AirAsia, for example, the percentage of recruiting website visitors who eventually applied for a position rose 35 percent after adding talent intelligence to its career site. At Dexcom’s career site, 40 percent of career site visitors now apply for a job, and 42 percent upload a resume.

Improve CRM

Rarely does an applicant tracking system come equipped with the kind of technology you find in leading sales and marketing platforms. (Heck, many of the CRM systems made for the talent industry are lacking as well.) The ATS-AI combination, though, nurtures candidates in a pipeline based on their interests and delivers content of interest to them. Veterans, for example, can receive blog posts or company information about a company’s work with veterans and the military. Nutanix has seen a 70 percent open rate with some of its targeted campaigns. 

NextRoll decided to sponsor the Grace Hopper Celebration, an annual event that draws thousands of women who want to pursue a career in engineering. It sent emails to all women engineers in its database of potential candidates, saying NextRoll would be at the conference. “We got an incredible response that greatly exceeded our expectations,” Global Head of Talent Jody Atkins recalls. “People came up to us and said they received our email and wanted to seek us out. That was really rewarding. And it helped our employer branding, which was the goal of going to the conference.” 

Conference sponsors received an electronic book of resumes from all attendees. In the end, NextRoll uploaded more than 10,000 resumes.

NextRoll has also tailored contacts with individuals identified as high-potential candidates. “You have to engage people multiple times if you want to attract them to your company,” Atkins says. “Our engineers are encouraged to write blogs, and we use Eightfold to identify the subset of people in our database who would be interested in the subject of each blog.”

Improve Diversity

Companies like Postmates also have seen huge improvements in the diversity of their job applicants after combining AI with an ATS and hiring for potential. Postmates increased Black, Hispanic, and female applicants sharply, the latter by 91 percent between September 2019 and September 2020. 

Run Virtual Events and Hire Virtually

Virtual and in-person events are just so much more effective with the AI-ATS combination; it allows companies to spend their event time on the people who are strong matches for your jobs. AirAsia said that “Virtual Event Recruiting improved our recruiter’s efficiency and the quality of candidates through AI-enabled candidate matching. It was a single place to review and manage registration, assessment, and candidate experience.”

Schedule Interviews 

When asked to break down how they spend their days, many recruiters will tell you they wished they were doing a lot more… recruiting. Instead, recruiters get bogged down coordinating schedules. Adding an AI-based interview-scheduling system to an applicant tracking system frees recruiters up to do what’s most valuable and more fulfilling:

  • AirAsia cut recruiters’ coordination time by about 48 percent
  • Conagra  told us it has given “time back to recruiters to allow them to be true advisors to our business leaders.”
  • COIT Group said it has “freed up the recruiters to focus on the part where the human element’s important and allow them to go in and eliminate having to spend all day looking through that database for pockets of gold.”

Measure Results

Augmenting your ATS with the right platform offers ready-to-use, real-time reporting for diversity, CRM, recruiting pipeline, and other talent functions. So, with some legacy systems, a company may just see that it has a “diversity problem” if it can determine how many women, to take one example, work at different levels of the company. You can hone in on the problem with talent intelligence: are people from under-represented groups dropping off at the screening stage? The interview? Not accepting offers? In which departments/managers is the problem the worst? In the end, identifying the specific problem helps get to a solution.  

Pair Your ATS with AI

The bottom line is that, for the most part, an ATS actually does do what humans designed it to do. By definition, it’s a system of tracking and storage that relies on keyword matching based on the candidate’s experience. However, it is not a talent intelligence system – one that provides the ability to hire based on adjacent skills, as-yet untapped potential, and capabilities. 

Pairing an ATS with AI – and creating a talent intelligence platform – can dramatically increase your return on investment. And it can drive the right candidates into your talent funnel. Yes, even for jobs that didn’t exist until now.