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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!

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!

Balancing Security with Employee Experience

Over the past 24 months, IT teams have been burdened with many unprecedented challenges. Most notably, a rising number of security concerns. But enhancing security shouldn’t come at the expense of efficiency or employee experience.

Our Guest: Denis O’Shea

On the latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with Denis O’Shea, founder of Mobile Mentor; a company that has helped millions of people unlock the full potential of their technology.

When we hear the word “security,” we think of things like passwords and data encryption. But there is more to it. It’s also about creating a work culture where employees feel safe and protected in addition to ensuring that systems and data are secure. Technical security is critical, but so is work culture and morale.

​​How do we balance the need for security with the need for employee welfare, productivity, and satisfaction? We invited Denis to help us think through this question. Denis explains:

“It is something we can aspire to. It has not been easy in the past because employers often had to make compromises and either put security first or put the employee experience first. But now the technology is mature enough that we can actually be secure and still have a great experience without compromising one or the other.”

Where Security and Experience Collide

People are used to being able to communicate in real-time on any device. This means being able to respond to company emails from a mobile device from any location, at any time of the day or night. As a result, companies sometimes compromise security in order to improve the employee experience and aid in communication. Denis  further explains:

“The one that is probably most common is the use of personally owned devices. So we see this very common in healthcare, education, even in government nowadays, where employees are using personal laptops, personal iPads, certainly personal smartphones. Initially, that presented a huge security challenge to the organization. How can data possibly be secure on the device owned by an employee?”

However, with advances in technology and security, it’s less of a risk to allow employees to work on a personal device. Denis:

“Nowadays companies can actually secure the data and still allow the employee to use their personal phone or tablet or laptop. So we’ve come a long way, and of course what that enables people to do is to work from home, use personal devices, access their company’s resources, be productive, and have a great experience using the technology they choose to use rather than technology that’s kind of forced upon them by their IT department.”

BYOD – Bring Your Own Disaster?

The term BYOD should mean “Bring Your Own Device”. There are circumstances where companies have to allow employees to use their personal devices – smartphones, laptops, tablets.  For example, the recent global chip shortage made it difficult for companies to procure phones and laptops.  But what happens when those devices aren’t set up properly? Denis:

“Then you can have a disaster. Instead of BYOD, bring your own device, we call it bring your own disaster. And they end up in a situation where company information, such as healthcare records, student records, and financial information is on an unmanaged laptop or an unmanaged tablet.”

Add personal downloads of unapproved apps to the mix. Denis further explains:

“And now they’re using an unmanaged app on an unmanaged device to do their work. And so their data is effectively out in the wild, the company data is out in the wild.”

The Balancing Act

There is a balance between security and experience. Companies need security, but they also need to provide the best employee experience possible. Denis:

“Companies should listen to their remote employees and involve them in the decision-making process around technology and process. If they [companies] get it wrong, remote workers are the first to break the rules and find workarounds. If you ask those remote workers for feedback on the next generation of tools, technology, or processes that will empower them,  they will give that feedback.”

There is also a balance between security, employee privacy, and how it’s communicated. If employees feel as if their personal privacy will be compromised by added device security measures, this will have a negative impact on the employee experience. And let’s face it, the younger generation of workers brings an uncompromising set of priorities to the table making it even more challenging to find the sweet spot for employee experience. 

I hope you enjoy this episode of #WorkTrends. To learn more about mobile security, contact Denis O’Shea on LinkedIn. 

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

diversity and inclusion military

Military Hiring – Diversity, Inclusion & Business Success

The job market is more competitive than ever. Between the Great Resignation and the pandemic, companies are scrambling to secure top talent in order to drive the business forward. , they’re starting with prioritizing inclusion and diversity. 

According to Deloitte, cognitive diversity enhances team innovation by 20%. Additionally, it’s a great way to attract standout talent. Glassdoor reported that 67% of job seekers consider diversity and inclusion when accepting job offers.

There is a ready group of diverse and capable candidates that could benefit teams who are willing to think outside the box. SHRM reports that as many as 360,000 men and women leave military service each year. That’s 360,000 capable problem solvers who are highly adaptable team players who can add significant value.

Our Guest: Sarah Peiker, CEO, Orion Talent

On our latest WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with Sarah Peiker, CEO of Orion Talent. She holds over 20 years of global expertise in recruitment outsourcing and talent management. Sarah is bridging the gap in military and civilian careers. She delivers veteran talent at scale. Additionally, Orion Talent has a strong reputation in military and diversity hiring. This is in response to the reality that many veterans remain an untapped resource for employers.

Sarah starts off by explaining the reasons that cause military and civilian divide.

“Many companies don’t understand how to transition service members’ hard and soft skills into civilian roles. As a result, there is a military and civilian divide. Transitioning military personnel may not know how to transfer their skills. Additionally, employers don’t always know to leverage their skills. We speak different languages in the business and military world.”

Obstacles That Prevent Military Hiring

Landing meaningful work has remained a challenge for veterans for several decades. This is mostly due to prejudices of how they think, feel, and act post-service. When it boils down to why this pool of talent is often overlooked, not much has changed. Sarah explains:

“There’s this misconception that a skill must be directly transferable in order for it to be relevant. There are misconceptions about veterans. A lot of people think that veterans can only follow orders. That they have PTSD. That they will be called back to active duty. That they’re rigid.”

Transferring Military Skills to Civilian Roles

There are key skills and principles veterans develop while serving in the military that can directly transfer into the common workplace:

“There’s a mindset of persistent training. As a result, [Veterans] are never too busy to train. Furthermore, they are constantly learning and improving their skills. They think mission-first and they motivate people with clear communication.”

The ‘Never Stop Innovating’ Mindset

Innovation and technology improve business operations as well as the military. This has allowed military workers to quickly adjust to change. Much like corporate employees who have had to maintain performance in the office amidst technical disruption.  

“It’s about embracing technology but still moving forward. The nonstop forward movement is the reality and the only way to maintain a talent advantage.”

It’s assumed that those who serve in the military lack technical experience. As a result, employers are more likely to pass them over. Sarah debunks this myth:

“Veterans are working on electronic systems that have to be maintained in the middle of a desert, an ocean, or a jungle. Technology is critical for them.”

The Advantages of Military Hiring

A growing number of employers are on the lookout for talent with soft skills. Veterans have developed just that during their years of service. Sarah dives into the top soft skills veterans display in service:

“Accountability, reliability, discipline, stress tolerance, adaptability, leadership, and problem-solving. Service members transitioning out of the military have these soft skills. Furthermore, they are also very diverse. The military inherently runs 40% racially diverse. Veterans are also a melting pot of diverse socio-economic backgrounds.”

How To Help Veterans Thrive in the Workforce 

It’s time employers start thinking about ways they can support veterans who are entering the civilian workforce. Sarah explains that this starts with viewing veterans as a valued community:

“Think of veterans as a community like you would any other underrepresented group. That’s what employers need to be thinking about.”

For employers looking to hire military veterans, Sarah leaves us with an in-depth list of tips to do it right.

“Get the buy-in you need from key personnel. From decision-makers, talent acquisition professionals, human resources, and operations managers. It’s also important to make sure everyone supports hiring military candidates. Track and measure results. This includes metrics on hiring performance data and retention rates. Do your homework before determining your hiring model. Build a hiring process that works towards a positive candidate experience.”

I hope you enjoyed this episode of #WorkTrends, sponsored by Orion Talent. To learn more about driving diversity in business through military hiring, contact Sarah on LinkedIn.

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.

Digital Upskilling to Close the Generation Gap

The enterprise and the workplace are increasingly influenced by technology and technology-driven processes. With digital upskilling becoming an increasing priority, this often comes with a new level of competency and a shift in demand on the skills required to fulfill the needs of a job.

This is particularly true in the insurance industry, where we are seeing a confluence of events. Such as accelerated digital transformation, rapidly-changing customer demands, and the migration to hybrid work models.

This has a direct effect on talent and the workforce.

As a result, many companies are increasing their investments in digital upskilling and reskilling their employees to prepare staff to capitalize on this golden market opportunity.

Building a Digital-Ready Workforce

With new digital tools, connected technologies, and better access to real time data, there is a balance between tried and true insurance methods. This includes new ways of analyzing information and insuring risk. Using new digital tools eliminates or automates repetitive tasks to free up talent to analyze and interpret client needs.

Reskilling, upskilling, and training employees is crucial for companies to build digital-ready workforces to carry their businesses into the future. This will lead to industry modernization and inspire teams to develop solutions that meet evolving customer needs.

Adopting Unique Learning Methods

According to Mercer’s 2021 Global Talent Trends Insurance Industry Outlook, insurance companies are 1.5 times more likely than other industries to develop skills related to innovation and adapting existing products. Additionally, insurers look to drive digital innovation and enhance the user experience to meet evolving customer needs.

This is great news for both current and budding insurance professionals. It is also a warning signal for carriers that are not investing the right time and resources in their talent.

New technology integral to the insurance industry presents an exciting ground for recent graduates. This is also true for employees from other fields looking to make a career transition. To take advantage of this opportunity, both employers and employees must take on a proactive learning mindset.

But appealing to everyone and their preferred way of receiving tools and technology training is a huge undertaking. When it comes to learning and development, teams have to think how to engage generations in the workforce today. While older generations are used to classroom learning, Gen Z and Millennials prefer YouTube videos or snippets of learning available. Companywide training programs incorporate different learning combinations, such as lecture, demo, and hands-on lab exercises.

Training to Suit All Ages

Incorporating the following steps, insurance industry leaders can train different generations across the tools required for learning and technology.

  • Determine the organization’s digital workforce goals: Identify the benefits leaders can expect from their digital upskilling investments and the steps that will be critical to the team’s success.
  • Connecting with the whole organization: Reskilling is not an individual project. Make sure training is available to staff across all levels and incorporate different learning styles to stay in tune with how everyone learns.
  • Provide recognition: Learning additional skills on top of an existing workload is not something that should be taken lightly. Rewarding staff for upskilling will help with employee morale, retention, and engagement.
  • Measuring success: Employees must embrace continuous learning so that reskilling does not fade. To mitigate this possibility, a digital workforce strategy must extend beyond learning and development to influence culture and ways of working.

Finding out which skills are missing across your organization and within specific teams will help you create a stronger workforce.

Embrace the Diversity of Different Generations

Having a range of ages on your staff adds value to the organization. As the age of retirement rises, companies need to explore adopting more inclusive policies to accommodate an older workforce.

Younger employees are more accustomed to rapidly developing technology and adapting to the changes it drives. Similarly, more mature employees have knowledge from the duration of their experience that can guide decision-making.

Creating an environment where all generations can learn from one another allows for mutually beneficial mentoring opportunities. When you have multiple generations in the workforce, those with more years of experience can advise younger employees on career development. Additionally, cross-generational mentoring will allow more junior employees to educate mature workers due to their familiarity with current trends and technology.

When it comes to reskilling and upskilling, it is not only about the generations already in the workforce, but companies also need to provide tools for those reentering the workforce. Reentering the workforce includes re-training of both technology and basic workplace skills.

Digital Upskilling is Here to Stay

As technologies evolve, the need for digitally skilled talent is not just for the short term. Insurers must foster a culture of innovation to develop skilled professionals internally – a culture that attracts them from the outside and helps retain them for the long haul.

One thing is certain: the insurance industry will continue to digitize to meet productivity goals and provide customers with an engaging experience. If companies can proactively address digital upskilling; customers, employees and the overall organization all benefit.

The Future Workplace and How to Prepare

I’m often asked to give my predictions for what the new year will bring to the future workplace. We’ve seen changes we never imagined, from the shift to remote and blended workforces to flexible scheduling—not as a perk but a necessity.  We observed just how critical mental health and family benefits are to our employees. We’ve watched millions leave our workplaces as part of the Great Resignation. And they’re still leaving. Our workforces are shrinking.

Looking back on the past two years, I didn’t know what would trigger the shift to an employee-centric dynamic. But I was sure it would happen. I wish it didn’t take an unprecedented pandemic to push the envelope. But it necessitated changes in HR and leadership that we were already talking about.

Workplace Revelations

Thanks to the pandemic, employers see how critical it is to treat their employees as people. They know that they need to recognize that employees have lives and stresses outside the office. And also, that they have needs well beyond having the right equipment and processes to get their work done.

A prolonged health, economic, and social crisis has sent the walls between work and life tumbling down. Employers who don’t support that reality are going to find themselves on the receiving end of an exodus in the future workplace. An August 2021 jobseeker survey found that 55 percent of American employees plan to search for a new job in 2022.

How can you ready your workplace for the changes already happening?

First, acknowledge they’re happening and they’re not going to stop. This is not a course correction or a passing trend. This is a new reality. Second, address the basic needs employees have—the fundamentals that make their work and lives easier. In some cases, we can follow the examples of front-running organizations. They may not be perfect but are nevertheless the ones innovating solutions to better support their workforce. In other cases, you’ll likely be on your own: no two organizations are alike any more than any two people are. The good news is that we can all learn from each other.

Family Support

One of the hardest parts of managing work and life in the pandemic has been somehow navigating caregiving and domestic responsibilities. The pressures of childcare forced a whole cohort—women—to make a terrible decision between jobs and children. Women are the ones leading the Great Resignation. A Lean In/ McKinsey report found that one in three women contemplated changing or leaving their jobs in the past year, up from one in four women in 2020. Forty-two percent of women and 35 percent of men say they are burned out, up from 32 percent of women and 28 percent of men last year. Women are bearing the brunt, the numbers show.

But solutions need to accommodate everyone and need to meet evolving definitions of what family means in the future workplace. This leads me to Amazon (remember I said they may not be perfect?). Amazon’s Family Flex program offers working parents a whole new level of flexibility—customizing schedules, swapping shifts, as well as care and financial resources—to make working easier. Adoptive parents—too often, left out of family support networks—are included here.

Remote Work

If you can offer remote work, should you? The answer is yes. If you can continue to provide remote work options for your teams, do so. And don’t just offer it to employees, offer it to managers as well. According to a recent study of tech professionals by Guru and Loom, both managers and employees have spent nearly two-thirds of their weekly work schedule working from home—64.4 percent of employees, and 66.4 percent of managers. A full 91.6 percent were satisfied with their working environment; 32.5 percent said they experienced a better work/life balance when working from home or in a hybrid setup.

Remote work is sometimes still seen as a perk or a trend—as if people will “sober up” and want to go back to the office. But remote work is a big part of the future workplace. Of course, this only holds true for industries where remote working is feasible. But even there I’ve been privy to discussions where the question isn’t how to enable more remote work, but when to transition people back—as if we’ve all been on some kind of diet or part of a social experiment. 4.3 million people quitting in August and then 4.4 million in September isn’t a fluke. Employees want to feel better about taking themselves to work every day. Becker Friedman Institute for Economics’ survey on some 30,000 employees found that nearly half of employees could work from home, with employers enabling them to do so an average of two days a week. Depending on your industry, if you can provide remote, you should, or you may lose out to a competitor who does.

Job Security

By April of 2020, more than 30 million Americans had filed for unemployment benefits (the highest increase in claims ever recorded). Furloughs, staffing changes, shrinkage, and temporary layoffs left many employees feeling betrayed (and furious).

But some companies took it upon themselves to retain employees any way they could. Inc’s list of top workplaces includes organizations like Autoscribe, who committed to keep all their employees through the pandemic. Likely the move took some extreme budget maneuvering. But the result is a sense of trust that’s going to be priceless in the years to come. When you’re presenting yourself as an employer, how you address the issue of job security is going to be a big deal to skittish talent. Be transparent, dispense with the platitudes, and if you have to, reassess your values and your culture when it comes to supporting employee retention.

Ninety-four percent of enterprises and 93 percent of SMBs reported plans to expand their job opportunities in the coming year. But keeping pace with hiring goals for the future workplace isn’t about numbers. It’s about meeting the needs of people coming to work for you. Every organization has its own culture, structure, and technology. Use these to create the kinds of programs that set you apart. Find ways to provide learning opportunities that extend well beyond the parameters of job skills. Or offer trackable development journeys established between managers and their teams. Other options include financial solutions like student loan benefits or committed DEI initiatives, including leadership development opportunities, mobility, and more.

Key Takeaways

This is a perfect time to do some soul-searching within your organization. Work may have changed for good these past two years—and that may be a good thing. My advice: embrace it. Don’t just ask your employees to bring their best selves to the workplace. Bring your best workplace to your employees. That’s the best way to set up your recruiters and talent acquisition teams for success.

Using Modern Technology to Create Better Workplaces [Podcast: Part 2]

Organizations are heeding the call to transform their work culture in the new remote-first world. They are taking immediate action to better serve employees, and finding ways to maintain a sense of community while working hybrid or remote. To no surprise, embracing modern technology solutions is often the first big step to staying connected.

With that being said, when it comes to maintaining a healthy workplace balance, there is still a disconnect between managers and employees. According to McKinsey, more than three quarters of C-suite executives expect employees to return to the office for the majority of their work week. Yet, most employees prefer to work from home for the majority of their work week. Embracing new technology can offer an alternative, hybrid work balance that suits both employers and employees alike. 

Maribel Lopez and Christian Reilly on Workplace Technology Innovation

On the latest episode of the #WorkTrends podcast, we welcome returning guests, Citrix’s Christian Reilly and Maribel Lopez to discuss modern technology in the workplace.

When asked how organizations could best adopt digital transformation to keep up with the changes in work culture, Christian highlights that the succession of digital transformation in the workplace is dependent on a company’s lifespan and modernity:

“When you’re thinking about hybrid or full-time remote work, it becomes extremely cumbersome to pretend that the technology platform you use inside an office is the same as what you would use outside an office.” 

Making the move to cloud services and software as a service (SaaS), and digital workplaces are all strategies to ramp up IT modernization. Christian shares a new discovery of Citrix research, “The Era of Hyper Innovation,” and discusses the knock-on effects modern technology can have on employees.

“93% believe that increased digital collaboration has led to more diverse voices from across the organization being heard and a greater range of ideas for innovation actually being surfaced.”

Accessible and Individualized Technology will Empower Employees

In this new era of work, many organizations have quickly embraced change. Others are a bit slower to act. According to Christian and Maribel: If your organization isn’t agile, your competitors will eat your lunch. Fortunately, Maribel believes that technology can provide a powerful opportunity to level the playing field among organizations of all sizes.

“Every organization on the planet has access to amazing technology at a fairly affordable price,” says Maribel. “If you’re willing to adopt technology, then it becomes more about your product, your servicing, and your ability to understand customer needs.”

We’re also seeing greater democratization via technology. Maribel says today’s employees enter the workplace with fewer constraints. At one point in time, employees relied on their expert colleagues to help them do their job (such as typing pools – for those old enough to remember them). Now, technology empowers employees to do this themselves.

“Now every individual is empowered to take control of how they work and they have the tools to do so,” Maribel comments. “We have a tremendous opportunity ahead of us to use technology for good.”

I hope you enjoyed this 2-part discussion on #WorkTrends, sponsored by Citrix. To learn more about using modern technology in the workplace, contact  Maribel Lopez and Christian Reilly on LinkedIn.

And, in case you missed it, check out Part One of this podcast here.

Using Modern Technology to Create Better Workplaces [Podcast]

The workplace is becoming more diverse as organizations offer remote and hybrid work options and build a global workforce. With these big changes comes a call for a change in work culture. Employers need to ask themselves how they can create an inclusive, productive, and social atmosphere without the convenience of an in-office environment. The answer to this conundrum? Embracing modern technology.

By staying agile and open to the technological tools available, organizations can not only increase communication and collaboration across teams but promote a healthy and inclusive workplace for everyone, no matter where they are in the world.

Our Guests: Maribel Lopez and Christian Reilly, Workplace Technology Innovation Experts

On the latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with workplace technology innovation experts Maribel Lopez and Christian Reilly. Maribel founded Lopez Research, a market research and strategy consulting firm that researches artificial intelligence, mobile, and hybrid work transformation. Maribel is also the author of John Wiley & Sons book Right-Time Experiences, a contributor to Forbes, and host of the podcast Reimagine Hybrid Work. Christian Reilly serves as VP of technology strategy at Citrix. He leads the organization’s long-term strategic technology decisions across the business and ecosystem. He is also a global keynote speaker and is widely recognized as a technology industry thought leader.

On the podcast, I asked them to share advice on how to help hybrid and remote employees feel more connected at work. The trick to achieving this, Maribel says, is using modern technology to remove communication boundaries.

“On a technology level, people need to be able to seamlessly communicate,” Maribel says. “They have to be able to connect with everybody in the organization and figure out who those people are. Basically, boundary-less communication and collaboration are key.”

Also, Maribel adds, organizations need to understand that if there’s an issue with communication, it may not be an employee’s fault. This is especially true if the tools are counter-intuitive. If organizations want to get employees excited to adopt modern technology, they need to make the tech user-friendly.

“When organizations make workplace tools more intuitive and easy to use, employees see value in them,” Maribel says. “If tech makes their jobs easier, they’re much more willing to embrace it. The biggest mistake organizations make is to hang on to legacy tools that aren’t modern.”

Getting Creative with Modern Technology Adoption

When it comes to employee adoption of technology, it’s different strokes for different folks. Some organizations are going to thrive with simple modern technology adoption, while others may thrive with something more complex.

“If we make modern technology simpler to use, then, of course, we’re going to see adoption rates increase. However, that’s not always the case,” Christian says. “For example, one organization used gamification, where employees tried to win badges for using the tech. I think there’s a fun element to that.”

When designing these systems, creativity in thinking around DEI should be a priority. Organizations must keep in mind the cultural sensitivities of employees from different backgrounds and locations, especially as the workforce becomes global thanks to remote work. Organizations can really shine here by thinking outside the box with how they show employees they care and want them included. Technology can help organizations adjust to individual working styles by offering translation transcription services, recorded meetings, and more.

“Not everybody is a native English speaker. When we think about different teams in different parts of an organization, giving them the opportunity to watch video recordings rather than be present at a live meeting allows them to work at their own speed,” Christian says. “This technology is simple to implement, but very impactful because organizations are recognizing cultural differences and that people thrive at work differently.”

I hope you enjoy this episode of #WorkTrends, sponsored by Citrix. You can learn more about using modern technology to create better workplaces by reaching out to Maribel Lopez and Christian Reilly on LinkedIn. Also, this podcast is part one of a two-part series, with the next episode coming December 3rd, 2021. So stay tuned!

 

Beyond Hiring Algorithms: How to Up-level Your Recruiting Process

For the first time since the onset of the pandemic, the United States experienced a significant uptick in job availability. This resulted in a lot of new talent looking for their next opportunity. Employers across the country added a combined 943,000 jobs to the market in July 2021–the most significant gain in 11 months. This is a relief to the millions of unemployed people still reeling from the pandemic’s impact. However, that doesn’t mean it’s been an easy journey for job seekers. Competition is now greater, and candidates face new challenges and expectations as they submit their resumes.

So what is the leading source of the disconnect between the number of available jobs and the lack of hires? The answer: technology that does not align with an ultra-competitive environment.

It’s a virtual race to the bottom.

Job boards and automation have made it easier than ever to apply for a job. Recruiters have resorted to automation to weed out the noise, leading savvy candidates to keyword their resumes in a never-ending cycle. Something’s got to give. Speed is crucial to success for recruiting agencies. But to quote a high school driving tutorial, “speed kills” too.

For example, most staffing and recruitment agencies utilize software that relies predominantly on incomplete hiring algorithms. These can exclude candidates through assumptions and past “learnings” that may or may not apply to today’s job market. The main issue in using these matching tools is that they are removing many qualified candidates because of the keywords identified–or not identified–on their resumes. Nontraditional candidates then have no opportunity to advance through the process. They are unable to showcase their skillsets because an incomplete algorithm weeded them out as “a bad fit.” This is why many forward-thinking recruiters and hiring managers are reevaluating their recruitment systems so they can look beyond the resume.

The way we work is evolving.

Staffing agencies must adapt recruiting protocols to pandemic market conditions. They should remember that the nature of work continues to evolve with the pandemic. People want to leave current companies or pursue a different career path. Candidates want more flexibility in their work schedules, greater job fulfillment, or a role where they feel safer or more appreciated (financially and otherwise). Those considerations need to be considered, especially in the screening process.

While technology is part of the problem in hiring, it can also be a solution. Staffing agencies can lessen their dependence on automated scoring and outdated matching techniques present at the core of the technology. Or, they can move to scoring that gives insight behind the numbers so recruiters can make their own informed decisions. Agencies can reclaim control over the initial selection of their talent pool.

First, they must determine what kinds of biases are being created by incomplete hiring algorithms. And, also, how these restrictions are limiting opportunities for companies to hire valuable talent. Below are some examples of these restrictions.

  • Education: Companies pass on candidates because of their degree types and from where they were earned. Rather, they should have their experience reviewed to see if it is comparable to the level of education required.
  • Number of years in the industry: This comes into play when someone is changing careers. Some workers might not have direct experience in a role, but do have experience in the industry.
  • Candidate background: Past work experience, titles, and the specific duties they performed should be considered.
  • Employment gaps: There are times when a parent may have taken a few years off to raise a child. Or perhaps someone went back to school to learn a new trade. Uncover these details through nonbiased screening processes and interviews.

The solution beyond technology…

Recruiters can look further than a candidate’s resume to help eliminate these biases. The most valuable concept to incorporate into hiring efforts is “transferable velocity.” This is the probability of a candidate’s continued upward trajectory from one position or career to another. You can evaluate this by looking at the obvious and not-so-obvious benefits and value a person brings to the table. Look at a candidate’s whole story, including where they come from and where they can go next. These are the qualities that keywords and descriptions on a resume can’t showcase, and hiring algorithms can’t grasp.

The next step is to look at activities and initiatives the candidate pursues outside of work. This technique provides insight into a person’s level of transferable velocity. Interviewers will likely uncover what’s important to a candidate. They can also determine where they are willing to invest their time and money. Also, interviewers can learn how these passions may relate to the job the candidate is applying for. This is a good indication of what type of extra work a person is willing to put in to enhance their personal and career goals.

Another necessary element to consider is the need to invest in reskilling and upskilling. Make an effort to appeal to nontraditional candidates. Teach them new skills and techniques vital to the position they’re filling. This investment helps attract valuable talent and retain current team members. Reskilling/upskilling provides them with the tools and resources necessary to move up in the company or to another department. A person’s intrinsic motivation coupled with a robust training program can create the ideal situation for talent to thrive in a new work environment.

The future of work is here.

As businesses wade through hundreds to thousands of applicants during this hiring surge, they must look beyond the resume and move away from algorithms that are inherently regression-based models. Updating hiring and recruitment protocols is a great way to evolve and adapt to the challenges of the pandemic.

Future Workplace Mindset: People, Technology, and Business Intersection

As we all know, flexibility is the lifeblood of HR, especially when it comes to adopting new technologies for attracting candidates. While many are resistant to change in the working world, a willingness to adapt to whatever comes strengthens both HR and business strategies. By understanding that nothing will stay the same, and thus adopting a future workplace mindset, organizations can accept change and also thrive in it.

As technology becomes more important for keeping employees happy and productive, it’s crucial that businesses understand tech’s role in business success. And more importantly, act on this understanding.

Our Guest: Michel Visser, Unit4’s VP of People Success and Enablement

On the latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with Michel Visser, Unit4’s VP of People Success and Enablement. In 2018, he joined Unit4 with the aim of attracting the best global talent. He has over a decade of experience in HR, holding various senior leadership roles. Michel teaches HR at the VU University Amsterdam and has been instrumental in developing creative and innovative strategies for attracting candidates, strengthening employee development, and generating strong engagement strategies.

I wanted to know: how does a company develop a workplace mindset for building a global identity that supports its brand and culture? According to Michel, it’s all about communicating company values. Values not only determine how a business operates, but how people interact with each other. Making values apparent allows candidates to know upfront whether they’re a good match for your organization. Sharing values throughout an organization also takes the transactional aspect out of work, and has everyone working towards a common goal. It helps employees feel like they’re doing something more than just getting a paycheck every week.

“It is absolutely critical to communicate organizational values to candidates because, without clear values, employee experience becomes transactional,” says Michel. “If you make your business’s values very clear, then you give candidates a chance to relate to your mission. You can use values as an instrument to attract and retain talent.”

And HR is fundamental in crafting these values.

“HR is now front and center when it comes to being visible and showing how employees actually deliver value to the business. It’s HR who starts formulating answers to questions like what does the business stand for? What do we value?” Michel says.

Technology’s Role in Communicating Values

Technology can play a big role in communicating values. It’s HR’s responsibility to strengthen the workplace mindset that it’s good to adapt and harness tech to keep employees engaged. And it’s vital to continuously monitor and measure that engagement.

“How do you keep track of employee engagement? If you find a proper tool to do that, how do you start acting on the insights you’ve gathered?” Michel says. “In many cases, you can’t just stop by a coffee maker and ask employees how they feel anymore. You need technology to gauge this.” 

Once tech is adopted, it’s crucial that HR plans to make sure employees engage with the tech. They also need to dive into workforce planning and understand that a two-year workforce plan makes more sense than a five- or 10-year plan. Organizations need to look at the length of time that employees stick around in the modern workforce and adjust to that. They also need to understand what skill sets employees need to thrive, how to create more engagement, and how to stay true to the values that are communicated. In other words, companies can’t just be “all talk.” Businesses have to deliver on promises if they want happy people.

“Everybody will tell you on their website that they put people first. But at the end of the day, you have to deliver and make sure people feel that the company values are true. Every HR professional should focus on putting values into place,” Michel says.

I hope you enjoy this episode of #WorkTrends, sponsored by Unit4. You can learn more about workplace mindset and adopting new technologies by connecting with Michel on LinkedIn. Also, you can learn about how people management and technology can combine to give organizations a competitive advantage by downloading this Unit4 whitepaper.

 

Create a Culture of Cybersecurity: Teach Employees to ‘Catch a Phish’

In 2020, 74 percent of U.S. organizations said they succumbed to a phishing attack. As today’s news cycle fills with ransomware headlines and remote connectivity continues​, it’s increasingly essential for companies to implement action plans for cybersecurity awareness. Phishing can get both people and businesses into all sorts of deep water.

The word “phishing” is commonly used as an umbrella term for a variety of attacks, though the overarching category that phishing falls into is called social engineering. Social engineers prey on human nature with the intent to manipulate a person to take a specific action. Phishing refers to the most common type of social engineering: fraudulent emails sent to many people.

The idea is to cast a wide net with simple bait—fake communication that often impersonates an individual or brand. Phishing works because it taps some of the most basic human traits (curiosity, carelessness, fear of missing out), and scammers know how to use those traits to their advantage. They hook you with an email, text message, phone call, or social media message. Then, they lure you in with a malicious link or attachment and then make the catch–: stolen login credentials or a compromised system.

Many companies attempt to create a culture of cybersecurity and phishing awareness by using scare tactics. These can make employees annoyed at your IT team—or worse, resentful. They may even feel so anxious about phishing that they won’t click on any link or attachment—even important ones. At the end of the day, negative emotions won’t help you build an effective culture of cybersecurity awareness. HR departments should make it their goal to nurture a blame-free, empowering security culture where all employees feel they are contributing to a shared goal.

Create a culture of cybersecurity.

In a well-functioning culture of cybersecurity, employees understand their roles in protecting your company’s data and IT resources. They are active participants in ongoing security conversations. Also, they have the tools they need to maintain good security habits without impeding their work. A blame-free culture doesn’t mean a lack of accountability. Instead of using a punitive model, however, find other ways that motivate employees to follow policies and strong security habits. For example:

  • Don’t instill fear in employees with threats of termination for repeatedly falling for simulated phishing.
  • Do implement a buddy system that appoints a peer to be a team or department’s cybersecurity expert.
  • Don’t require employees to reuse or write down their passwords.
  • Do provide appropriate resources and tools, such as password managers, so employees can use and manage strong passwords.

A recent Dashlane and Harris Poll survey found that 79 percent of employees take at least some personal responsibility for their company’s overall security. Employees want to be part of the solution, and companies need to show them how they can do that.

Implement a cybersecurity education, training, and awareness program.

Phishing trends sound unsettling—but by educating and training your employees, you will empower them with the knowledge to avoid taking the bait. A successful cybersecurity education, training, and awareness program should answer why security matters to your company. It should communicate to employees why they should care about security. Additionally, it should explain how cybercriminals target and attack businesses and what actions employees can take in the course of their day to enhance security.

Conduct simulated phishing campaigns.

To help employees recognize phishing and risky actions through first-hand experiences, use a “show, don’t tell” approach with simulated phishing tests. Phishers may not always have perfect spelling, but they shine at psychology and human behavior. And they’re meticulous researchers. By conducting regular mock phishing campaigns, you can turn employees from a weak link in company security to points of strength.

In addition to serving as practice for employees, the phishing tests measure how many people open the emails, click on the links and attachments, and complete the final action (such as entering their login credentials). You can use these metrics to track the effectiveness of your program over time and identify areas that need additional education and awareness.

Boost phishing defenses with additional tools and processes.

Education and awareness are empowering, but you still need to provide tools and implement strategies that support and promote secure practices. Train employees on how to identify and report suspected security incidents and threats, including phishing attacks. Consider creating a special email or channel for employees to reach out to.

Specifically, businesses must also train employees to recognize phishing attempts and social engineering. In addition, they need to adopt a password manager and multi-factor authentication to improve digital hygiene and security. Cybersecurity is as much about people as it is about technology. Businesses need to educate their entire workforce and provide them with tools they will actually use. Doing so makes their lives easier, both at work and at home. Some quick tips for catching a phish include:

  • Check the subject line of an email for a sense of urgency, scare tactics, or an enticing offer.
  • Ensure the email address matches the sender’s name and/or company.
  • Before clicking, look out for poor spelling and grammar, or unusual/awkward use of language.
  • Don’t be fooled by personalization because scammers can also learn your personal details.
  • Adopt technologies like endpoint security, password managers, and email security.

Many businesses are improving their security technologies and processes to make it harder for phishers to hook their employees. But phishers will continue to find novel, unexpected ways to lure people with social engineering. Your best defense is planning for the unexpected and empowering employees with current knowledge, appropriate tools, and ongoing awareness. Companies can only achieve a culture of cybersecurity if everyone is engaged. Cybersecurity is not something only IT and tech-savvy employees can care about. HR departments need to remember that promoting positive cybersecurity awareness will lead to a culture of security––not scare tactics.

Why Companies Focusing on Workplace Design Thrive

Companies have specific priorities to help them create traction and build better businesses. They make sure their finances are going well, remain competitive, and engage employees for optimal productivity.

However, during 2020, unprecedented shifts happened. The pandemic and quarantine greatly impacted how organizations operated. Chiefly, among those impacts, were shifts in workplace wellness programs.

Companies were in survival mode, but they also had to address physical safety concerns due to COVID-19. They had to set up work-from-home measures and help combat feelings of disconnect associated with a remote workforce. Now that we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, companies are beginning another shift from surviving to thriving. They’re expanding their typical view of employee wellness to fit long-term needs.

How to Improve Well-Being in the Workplace

Last year, we saw a rapid evolution in the workplace wellness space. Many companies are learning that employee well-being can affect engagement, productivity, and the bottom line. They’re also discovering that more than just the typical aspects should be included in their wellness programs. A modern wellness program should go beyond telling individual employees how to improve their physical health, for example.

Today, the following should be integrated into a comprehensive strategy.

  • Physical well-being | This is the most traditional aspect of a company’s wellness program. It’s related to offering activities and support that focus on physical health.
  • Mental health | Employees’ mental well-being has garnered attention and investment recently—especially in light of pandemic stressors.
  • Community and connection | A remote workforce highlighted that relationships and employee engagement need to be redefined and fostered more intentionally.
  • Telehealth and employee assistance programs | Providing remote medical resources and assistance programs helps employees overcome issues more easily.
  • Financial health | A notoriously overlooked, yet critical element of workplace wellness programs includes providing financial planning support, resources, and even extended paid leave.
  • Workplace design | Workplace design is an emerging trend that highlights how employees’ work is actually designed to alleviate stressors, improve engagement, and boost productivity.

Proof That Workplace Design Works

Companies that focus on improving their workplace design are experiencing positive results. Microsoft Japan is a great example of an organization using workplace design as a strategic mechanism to increase productivity. It implemented a four-day workweek, encouraged 30-minute meetings, and emphasized its chat messaging system over email. The results? A whopping 40 percent swell in productivity.

To determine the return on investment of workplace wellness programs such as Microsoft Japan’s, measuring employee engagement is key. An engaged workforce has a slew of advantages. These include greater productivity, fewer absences, and increased retention rates. In turn, all of these benefits of workplace wellness programs that focus on workplace design lead to a more profitable company.

Workplace Design as a Strategic Mechanism

Implementing and integrating a thoughtful and strategic work design with well-being in mind is an important step for organizations that want to be industry leaders. There are three key areas of focus that will help any company improve wellness in the workplace using creative workplace design:

1. Stay up to date on technology trends

Keeping up with new technology that enables employees to work remotely with more efficiency and engagement is key to modern workplace design. By staying abreast of emerging trends and better technology practices (such as virtual private networks and desktop-as-a-service offerings), companies set their remote or hybrid workforce up for success. In addition, setting up Slack channels or Zoom meetings that function as virtual break rooms can increase engagement.

2. Create new cultural norms

Your team won’t know how to improve well-being in the workplace using workplace design without a cultural shift that starts at the top. When leaders model the changes in a company’s modern workplace design, employees are much more likely to follow suit. Set up walking meetings, flexible work hours, and a culture of no-meeting days to combat Zoom fatigue. Also, be sure your leadership team embraces those practices.

3. Allow employees to choose wellness initiatives

Not every wellness practice suits every team member. Some (say, parents) might prefer flexible hours, but others might choose to work from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Make promoting workplace wellness programs part of the company’s day-to-day. But let your employees pick what works for their lifestyles and preferences.

Companies that pivoted to survive the pandemic must continue to be flexible with their thinking and business practices. It’s clear there’s a “new normal” for a company culture that includes support for remote work, intentional employee engagement practices, and investment in employee well-being in general. Embracing modern workplace design is the next step toward creating an organization that doesn’t just survive, but also thrives.

Image by Polina Zimmerman

Tech, HR, and the Future of Remote Work

Remote work is here to stay. In light of estimates that around a quarter of Americans will be working from home in 2021, human resource departments have to be aware of the tech and trends that can support these workers. For every able business, offering remote work brings certain benefits. With indicators that remote work leads to increased happiness and productivity, providing these options to workers has become not just a perk but a necessity. As companies adapt their remote work policies, HR departments need the tech and solutions to take them successfully through the future of remote work. Here’s what you should know about the advancing working world. And the means to promote remote worker success for years to come.

How Remote Work Changed the Playing Field

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the working world shifted quickly. Organizations rapidly threw together approaches to provide remote work options to employees and support safety and social distancing.

This sudden shift enables a host of positive factors in supporting workers. But depending on how they’re implemented, remote workers face unique challenges. For example, some managers fear that their workers will not be working if they’re not in a physical office environment. So they have mandated things like always-on video conferencing.

To mitigate the problems of coordinating an effective remote work approach, HR departments are vital. Your HR team helps support remote work policies that offer the benefits needed to reduce burnout and promote success. A useful approach to remote work means tech-supported flexibility that helps rather than monitors workers. Remote workers especially value flexibility and freedom making them more likely to experience a negative attitude towards their work if they feel they are micromanaged.

With all kinds of opportunities open to a global workforce connected virtually, the playing field has changed for the future of remote work. With workers facing burnout while attempting to juggle work-life balance, HR departments need the tools and resources to prevent problems.

For example, due to COVID-19, one in four women are looking to quit their jobs or reduce hours to manage the strain of a heightened workload. Balancing a host of concerns and responsibilities while working remotely can take its toll.

Fortunately, HR teams can use tech to improve the work experiences of all remote workers.

How HR Can Use Tech to Improve Work Experiences

The shift to remote processes in a digital world means that HR teams have the potential to offer benefits previously impossible. Advancing technology is the reason for these benefits. With comprehensive platforms for tracking, monitoring, and promoting employee success, HR professionals can apply both automation and self-serve options to support their workforce.

In addition, synchronized cloud technology enhances the ability to communicate with workers from wherever they are. As high-tech systems like artificial intelligence become increasingly accessible, businesses can streamline their approach to assisting their workers.

Here are the technologies that will define the future of remote work for HR:

Enterprise Artificial Intelligence

Enterprise AI involves the use of smart algorithms to make large-scale business decisions. These tools are transforming the field of HR, leading to innovations in everything from proficiency tracking to recruitment improvements.

AI is made accessible through Software as a Service (SaaS) options. These help HR teams automate a host of tasks that take up much of their daily time. For example, with the right AI system, HR managers can automate the initial sludge through stacks of resumes and match potential employees through semantic language pairing. As a result, they can more conveniently narrow down their search to candidates with an ideal resume.

At the same time, payroll solutions are possible through the tracking of hours, benefits, PTO, and more. A smart system will be able to perform self-audits and catch more problems before they hit an employee’s paycheck.

Cloud Solutions

But these AI innovations would be difficult to pull off without the help of cloud data systems. More companies are realizing the benefits of a cloud data service that can safely protect their information over a highly encrypted and backed-up network. In the remote working world, this frees up time for developing high-security practices while improving the ability of employees to communicate digitally.

For example, a cloud system can allow a team of workers to communicate and brainstorm in an effective digital space that is synchronized to account for time zone differences. With the help of tools like these, you can improve your brainstorming sessions with digital whiteboards, collaborative editing tools, and group documentation all on a secure platform.

Virtual Spaces

Virtual spaces are the future of remote work. Your ability to keep your teams connected and address worker concerns will come down to how you can interact with one another. HR might feel a bit displaced without in-person, face-to-face interaction with co-workers. But virtual spaces may offer the solutions you need to support remote workers.

From virtual reality (VR) to mobile applications that keep remote workers informed on the go, there are more options for connecting in virtual spaces than ever before. Remote teams can use everything from common instant messaging and work collaboration platforms to virtual offices.

AI, cloud systems, and virtual spaces continue to adapt. HR can innovate with these tools to promote supportive employee solutions. This can mean streamlined payrolls, worker flexibility, and enhanced communication.

The Future of Remote Work

With the right tech strategy, HR departments can close the communication gap to engage a remote workforce. In turn, these teams can save time typically eaten up by extensive data entry and system management concerns.

Remote work is the future. And the future of remote work is dependent on human-centric tech solutions that promote a better working experience. Give your team the flexibility of cloud solutions and allow them to communicate through secure virtual spaces. As a result, you can better address concerns and reduce burnout.

 

Image by Roman Samborskyi

Moving Beyond the Pandemic: The 3 Highest Priorities for Hiring Managers

One year after the onset of the global pandemic, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Economies are opening back up, the vaccine rollout is underway, and companies are finally ready to ramp up hiring again. During the pandemic, hiring managers transformed their processes in surprisingly more efficient ways while providing an improved experience for hiring teams and candidates alike. These leaders are now in a unique position: 

They must plan for the future while also embracing what worked during the year that changed it all. 

We wanted to dive into these leaders’ minds to understand better the changes and challenges hiring teams have experienced over the past year. So our company, HireVue, surveyed over 1,100 hiring managers across the United States, Australia and the UK. The result? Yes, the pandemic’s impact on the global workforce was severe. However, it also provided valuable learnings and opportunities for hiring teams and job seekers alike. More importantly, we learned the three key priorities hiring managers must keep in mind as they move forward.

Hiring Managers: Embracing Technology’s Rapidly Expanding Role

2020 forced organizations to turn to technology to execute most, if not all, day-to-day operations, from hiring to remote onboarding. Our survey showed that HR tech didn’t just get the job done — it actually improved the hiring experience:

  • More than half of respondents (54%) noted that shifting to virtual interviews unexpectedly resulted in a speedier recruitment process
  • 41% say it helped them identify the best candidates
  • 37% of respondents experienced cost savings when incorporating more technology into their hiring practices
  • 36% noticed an increase in the diversity of candidates
  • And 35% were able to increase time spent on candidate engagement

The survey also showed that nearly half of the organizations moved solely to virtual interviewing in response to the pandemic. However, looking ahead, 41% of respondents plan to use a combination of in-person and virtual interviews — an additional 23% plan to move solely to video or virtual interviewing. Finally, 14% of hiring companies plan to automate much of the hiring process with AI, chatbots, and text. 

The pandemic showed us that the acceleration of technology isn’t slowing down. To thrive, companies must be strategic in their tech implementation. Every aspect of people’s lives has moved either completely digital or to a hybrid model. This means the average candidate has greater expectations around their experience. It’s becoming clear that virtual interviews and new candidate engagement methods like text are here to stay as recruiters implement a digital-first hiring process moving forward.

Which brings us to the top three post-pandemic priorities for hiring managers…

Prioritizing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Building a more diverse, inclusive and equitable workforce was brought to the forefront in 2020, so it’s no shock that 100% of respondents listed the topic of DEI as “extremely” or “very relevant” to them, with one-third ranking it as a top and immediate priority. What’s interesting is that 35% of respondents found diversity to be a benefit of virtual interviewing.

Because of safety concerns around COVID-19, businesses turned to virtual technology to vet and interview candidates. Simultaneously, global office closures forced them to expand their searches to include remote workers in a more permanent capacity. These circumstances led to more diverse hiring decisions and a broader candidate pool. But when COVID-19 is in the rearview mirror, HR leaders will need to consider how technology can continue to be used to build a diverse workforce. They’ll need to continue to learn how best to meet candidates where they are — when they’re available — will be critical. In fact, more than half of interviews through HireVue now occur outside of regular business hours, proving just how limited the candidate pool is when you rely on a strict Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 window. 

Using Standardized Assessments to Reduce Bias

Another way to mitigate bias is by using standardized assessments that focus on competencies rather than subjective indicators like resumes. In addition to assessments, chatbots and text capabilities work to remove structural barriers and create channels of communication that are more equitable and engaging for candidates.

Of the respondents with plans to take action on their DEI goals:

  • 62% plan to expand their recruiting network by seeking out candidates from nontraditional places
  • 55% will partner with organizations that connect underrepresented professionals with internships and jobs
  • 53% will recruit from universities with diverse student bodies
  • And 30% plan to use structured interviews to minimize unconscious biases within the hiring process

One of the biggest challenges of recruiting for DEI is the need for a quicker recruitment process. Organizations need to be deliberate and diligent in achieving these specific outcomes, which often takes time. With video-based interviewing technology, the process can achieve efficiency while simultaneously mitigating human bias. Just as important, the technology enables the vetting of candidates at a higher volume.

Pivoting Toward Process Efficiencies

COVID-19 has created a unique opportunity and demand for hiring leaders to innovate and rethink the way they hire. Moving forward, they want to automate administrative tasks — like reviewing stacks of resumes, scheduling interviews, and sharing feedback with their colleagues — so they can spend more time engaging with candidates and improving the hiring experience. In addition to trusting technology to help them streamline and simplify their own workload, 96% believe virtual interviews improve the recruitment experience for candidates. 

Another area we’ll see continue to evolve on the video front is the use of on-demand video interviews in place of real-time conversations. After all, hiring managers and HR professionals spend so much time scheduling and rescheduling interviews — and on-demand interviews free up time and offer more flexibility to both the candidate and hiring team to complete the interview process on their own time. This opens up the pool of candidates even more by not limiting it to those who can interview in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon. The on-demand approach also solves many other issues that come with live, human-led interviews, such as unconscious biases, leading to a more fair and equitable process.

The role of hiring leaders as strategic business partners was front and center in 2020. During that time, the business case for implementing technology that enables greater focus on candidate engagement instead of rote tasks practically wrote itself. Like many other hiring leaders, I believe the future holds less of a return to normal. Instead, I see an opportunity to make business operations more tech-driven, inclusive, and efficient than ever.

 

Image by Olivier Le Moal

Talent Acquisition Requires Better Candidate AND Recruiter Experience

As we start to put the crushing impact of the pandemic behind us, businesses — and the talent acquisition function of HR in particular — continue to face a dilemma.

On the one hand, the hiring process must be efficient. On the other hand, it’s difficult to make hiring personal — more human — when so many potential candidates apply for every job. Any lack of efficiency means your business is trailing the competition. But a lack of personal touch may drive away candidates. Winning the war for talent depends largely on striking a balance in this all-too-gray area. 

This episode of #WorkTrends will help. Today, we discuss HR technology designed to help businesses like yours find that happy medium. 

Our Guest: Alex Murphy, CEO of JobSync

With me today is Alex Murphy, an entrepreneur, investor, and advisor to start-ups and other companies in the Talent Acquisition Technology (TAtech) industry. He is currently the CEO and co-founder of a 2021 TalentCulture HR Tech Award winner, JobSync. At JobSync, Alex and his team create a simple, seamless, and secure hiring experience for employers and candidates. 

I started my conversation with Alex by asking why many of the tools available to HR today fail to meet the needs of candidates and recruiters. Alex described the root cause of the issue perfectly:

“Companies and buyers try to make the decisions that make their teams more efficient. But adding more standalone systems actually makes their teams less efficient. When a company gets to be hundreds and thousands of people, there are often 50, 80, 100 different data points unique to that company.” Alex added that far too often, vendors don’t design those systems to work together. And, despite the best of intentions, it sometimes brings the hiring process to a halt.

“There isn’t enough understanding around how to get that data to come together and to create that interoperability that connectivity we all need.”

Next Level Talent Acquisition: Improving Candidate and Recruiter Experience

Alex went on to say that without that connection, it is difficult at best to serve candidates and recruiters well. As a result, recruiters become Excel jockeys, and the expectations of candidates are left unmet. There must be a better way, right?

“That’s why we exist. We create these prebuilt connections between the various systems to be able to enable that data flow. It’s important… it’s imperative…  it’s a requirement that the company has a company-first and client-first point of view.”

I couldn’t agree more. When it comes to recruiter efficiency and candidate experience, any discussion of talent acquisition must include “and” — not “or” — statements.

So you can learn more about the importance of an HR Tech stack that treats candidates and recruiters well, I encourage you to listen in to this week’s episode of #WorkTrends

And be sure to connect with Alex on LinkedIn and Twitter!

 

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.

 

Image by Daniil Peshkov

3 Ways Recruiting Technology Improves Candidate Experience

The pandemic’s fallout illustrates an impactful point: Employees are more resourceful than leaders sometimes give them credit for being. As employers, our recruiting technology must match their level of resourcefulness or we risk providing a bad candidate experience.

Most of our company went remote soon after the pandemic lockdowns began, and everyone adjusted accordingly. Supervisors didn’t have to hold their employees’ hands or provide additional layers of oversight. Over time, the trust between managers and their teams increased.

Of course, going remote so quickly required having the right people in place and having the infrastructure and technology necessary to support our teams. Especially the technology. An Ivanti survey revealed that 85% of workers believe they don’t have the technology they need to produce effectively — a demographic our team did not want to be known for in a competitive market.

The workforce is becoming increasingly more talent-driven. Even with fewer job openings, qualified candidates are carefully plotting their next career moves. For recruiters, this move means they have to work diligently to create engaging and applicant-friendly hiring experiences. And that’s where a thriving tech stack comes back into the picture.

The 3 Core Benefits of Recruiting Technology

Sourcing, recruiting, and hiring talent requires person-to-person interaction and collaboration. That doesn’t negate the importance of recruiting technology, though. With the use of technology in the recruitment process, hirers can become more efficient, improve the candidate experience, and better serve the people they’re trying to place.

How else could an active recruitment professional complete multiple tasks for multiple clients in various stages of the application process — and still sleep? Below are just some ways emerging online recruitment tools and tech processes help augment candidate engagement strategies.

1. Technology fosters humanity

Contrary to what some people might think, online recruitment tools have improved our personalization with associates. By leveraging solutions like AI chatbots to carry out repetitive duties, we can concentrate on the human element of recruitment interactions.

While a chatbot answers basic questions or helps candidates pick their preferred employment tracks, a live recruiter can conduct in-depth interviews. This keeps everything flowing seamlessly without overburdening recruiters.

Measuring the effectiveness of personalized candidate engagement strategies can take several different forms. Make use of a net promoter score (NPS) and also conduct a survey that asks applicant recipients questions like “What is the likelihood that you will recommend our agency to someone else?” Log and chart your NPS as you incorporate new technological components into the mix to see how they affect the NPS to track the benefits of technology in recruitment.

Another measure of candidate engagement success is your app-to-hire ratio. As you implement new technology and improved candidate touchpoints, you should expect to see this metric trend down as more applicants complete the candidate journey and receive job placements.

2. Technology increases efficiency

Applicants don’t want to linger in the pipeline for too long. With online recruiting tools, we can hasten the cycle from posting an advertisement to locking in the right applicant. It’s remarkable how quickly people can move through frictionless digital systems without going through an old-school manual application process.

The key here is to provide flexibility. After all, you want to keep candidates moving through the process. But not at a pace where they feel like they are being rushed or “sold” into open positions. Let the applicant help determine the pace. The same seems true of Hilton; the hotel and resort chain scaled its hiring processes by leveraging predictive AI and ditching outdated assessments. Their move toward installing hiring software reduced its hiring from six weeks to five days.

To gauge how much the use of technology in the recruitment process improves time-to-hire speed, set and analyze relevant key performance indicators (KPIs). For example, our company uses opportunity centers as in-person recruitment locations where we track how many candidates are submitted to the client we’re hiring for at the time. After adding tech, we have seen our productivity steadily increase. This metric is now 40% better than when we started — and we’re always open for improvement.

3. Technology helps meet candidates where they are

To improve the candidate experience, recruiters must meet applicants on their terms and expectations. Technology helps us keep satisfaction higher by removing common obstacles to developing a positive working relationship with candidates.

Case in point: We’re moving toward omnichannel communication choices to give candidates information where and how they want it. That includes text, email, or perhaps also a direct message.

When you transition to a multichannel recruitment approach, you can often decrease the amount of time between when a candidate gets a message and responds to that message. It’s possible to measure that time frame as a KPI. It is also wise to keep tabs on which channels offer the most direct path toward candidates.

Candidate Experience: The Real Benefactor of Recruiting Technology

The use of recruiting technology is hardly new. Still, it has become so essential that it’s challenging to improve the candidate experience without paying attention to your tech stack. Use technology to augment your recruiters by removing redundant and time-consuming tasks. Ultimately, you’ll free them up to create better people experiences.

You don’t have to add every new advancement that comes along — but keep an open mind. And learn the many ways you can free up your team and improve your brand equity with tech. Your candidates will thank you. And so will your bottom line.

 

Image by Photographer London

6 Trends Hammering Today’s Workplace (And How Employee Surveys Help)

Today’s workplace trends continue to cause a dramatic shift for organizations, employees, customers, and suppliers. Paraphrasing the cliché, “The only real known is that change is a constant.” That’s why constant awareness of what’s going on — and adjusting appropriately — is critical.

We may not be certain of what lies ahead, but we know that six workplace trends mark the early 2020s. And we know we’d better be all over them now in preparation for what’s to come.

Agility

Three-quarters of 2,500 surveyed business leaders rank agility as a top-three priority.

Employees have their ears to the ground through their own networks, contacts with customers, experiences with processes, procedures, and management. What are they seeing and hearing? What gaps in expectations exist? Where are the opportunities for improvement?

Being able to spot patterns and shifts quickly gives leaders the agility to change tack better than less nimble competitors. And a workforce invited to share insights regularly augments the ability to act with agility.

Enabling Remote Work

Remote work stats are as trendy these days as witty memes. Studies indicate 52% of global employees work remotely once a week, and 68% do so at least once per month. Work from Home (WFM) models are relatively new. There’s the physical environment — ensuring people have the tools and resources. And there’s the mental side — specifically, providing support and resources that can help with stress, anxiety, and isolation.

We often get caught up in ensuring everyone has access to the ‘same’ or ‘equal’ opportunities. However, diverse employee populations have different experiences and different needs. While the glass ceiling impedes women and members of minorities, ‘virtual’ walls have now been added into the mix, threatening the progress of current and aspiring employees.

Are remote workers being enabled in a way that works for them — and you? The only way to know is to ask.

Prioritizing Mental Health in the Workplace

Remote workers exposed to the stress of isolation, and on-site employees faced with potential virus exposure, are projected to trigger behavioral health conditions of pandemic proportions. Exhausted, anxious, and often sleep-deprived, many people show up at work — virtually or in-person — despite mental or physical ailments. For many organizations, the result is immense productivity losses and increasing risks.

Today, employers are facing a potential mental health crisis. They need a window into employees’ hearts and minds, especially those absent from the physical work world. At the same time, it’s vital to recognize specific employee populations need more support in dealing with their personal life circumstances than others. For instance, anxiety and depression figures reported in December 2020 are higher for Latinx (46.3%) and Black respondents (48%) than the overall 42.4%average.

How do we know who needs what support? And whether it’s effective?

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI)

Employees have become more outspoken about the discriminatory treatment they’ve observed or experienced in the workplace. Creating a safe environment for people to speak up and feel like they belong is a hot topic among executive leaders.

Employees are your compass when navigating matters of DEI. Their insights point a way forward and help keep your organization informed and on track. But change has never been as fast and as furious — nor as forcefully dominant — as it is today. And employee sentiment is far from immune to this tide of transformation.

Reaching an intended DEI destination depends on continuously checking coordinates — the voice of employees — and making adjustments as the winds change.

Frequent Surveys

Frequently monitoring the pulse of employees is helping more leaders make the right kinds of decisions across issues like agility, mental health, DEI, and more. Here at WorkTango, more than half of the organizations we support that weren’t already offering pulse surveys or using the active listening model have started to shift how they collect input from employees. Those companies now see higher participation than ever, with many receiving upward of 85% to 90% response rates. Why? When surveys are contextually relevant to an employee’s experience, they want to give feedback.

The themes associated with frequent pulsing can be around anything – whatever’s important in the moment. It’s an ongoing process to gather and understand sentiments around all the moving parts of your organization.

The bottom line: Pulsing is a diagnostics tool that gives leaders something they can focus on—and ignites a shift from measurement to action.

Heightened Accountability

Regularly checking in to get employee feedback gives leaders a quick snapshot of whether the actions they’ve taken are working. We then inextricably link accountability with these quantitative and qualitative insights.

With more frequent measurement, leaders tend to listen more. They take steps, actively review progress, make tweaks, and cycle through the process — fine-tuning as they go. The data collected and shared puts the onus on functional leaders and hiring managers. Because seeing their survey score — how they’re trending and their own personal management results (and knowing that data is public to the executive team) — creates built-in accountability.

The thread that links these six trends?

Actively listening to the voice of employees and using scientifically validated data to guide meaningful actions.

Centralized Survey Structures in Today’s Workplace

A centralized survey tool helps your organization measure and adapt to the needs of your human capital throughout the employee lifecycle.  Whether your approach is to gather employee engagement insights annually or to run more frequent pulse surveys, a single survey platform is where the real power of data can be found.

Plus, whether giving feedback or for reporting, it’s easier for employees to use and get comfortable with one platform. So when choosing a survey tool, look for a single platform that eliminates the need for multiple vendors and the time involved to learn and support various platforms.

We’ve been going through more disruptive shifts in the last 15 months than we have in the past 15 years. To paraphrase Charles Darwin this time: “It’s not the strongest or most intelligent that survive, but the ones most responsive to change.”

For organizations, that responsiveness comes from listening to employees frequently and attentively. Using a centralized survey platform to obtain real-time insights into workplace issues that matter now — or point to potential trends and taking pre-emptive action to keep a step ahead — helps make active listening a critical element of your company culture.

 

Want to know more about WorkTango? Listen to our own Cyndy Trivella’s thoughts on this 2021 TalentCulture HR Tech Award winner:

Image by Shao-chun Wang

Digital Fatigue: How to Make Technology Work for You, Not Against You

What is digital fatigue? And how does it impact your business and the people who work there?

Think of how many times you interact with technology each day, whether that interaction was intentional or not. Technology is ingrained in our lives, both personally and professionally. But you don’t need me to tell you that. You also don’t need me to point out that despite the simplicity and positivity it brings to our lives, it also brings stressors and pain.

One of those stressors and pains is digital fatigue.

Just as many of us are experiencing pandemic fatigue, digital fatigue is very real. For many, the multiple systems we all interact with during a day’s work only exacerbate the situation.

Surrounded by Screens

In the past decade, technology has transformed our personal and professional lives in many dramatic ways. The apps and technologies we have access to have generally made our lives much more comfortable and productive. This includes but is not limited to how we communicate, and consume and process information, and how we innovate. Technology has also transformed how to learn new skills, buy and sell, work — and stay healthy.

But not all that glitters is gold. Or, in this case, not all that pings is good.

In our work environments alone, we have surrounded ourselves with screens that continuously push a stream of messages that demand our focus and attention. Emails, social networking, communication apps, kanban boards, video conferencing tools — the list goes on and on. Just thinking of one workday and the multiple mediums you interact with is enough to make your head spin. Not to mention what you use across the entire employee life cycle from pre-hire to retirement.

Even when we step away from the large screens, we carry one or more small screens with us in our pockets or purses. When not at work, we are already conditioned to constantly interact digitally. This proclivity for accessing our new technology sidekicks has resulted in many of us suffering from a malady called digital fatigue syndrome.

Digital Fatigue

So what is digital fatigue?

If you are like me, you are already checking WebMD to see if your symptoms line up with this condition. While a fairly new term, the label gives us a very clear indication of what digital fatigue is.

Vogue recently quoted a holistic wellness practitioner as saying: “If you find yourself with sore, strained eyes, more headaches than usual, and you’re suffering from poor posture or increased neck and shoulder pain, chances are you might be suffering from digital fatigue.”

Let’s face it, we don’t need this list of symptoms to tell us when too much time spent in front of a screen is making us tired. That’s it, folks; we are just tired of spending so much time in front of our screens. Beyond making us physically tired, it’s taking a toll on our well-being.

Thankfully, Vogue also added a little more science to the definition when it said, “Sleep deprivation is a key factor in digital fatigue, since an excess of screen time (and a lack of much else) can suppress the ‘sleep’ hormone melatonin, disrupting our circadian rhythms (or sleep patterns), and reducing REM sleep. All of this adds up to make us much less alert come morning. Much of it is to do with the blue (or high energy visible) light that is emitted by screens — from phone to laptop to television — which affects how our cells react, inhibiting how much melatonin they produce.”

The Pandemic’s Impact on Digital Fatigue

The pandemic has not helped. In the past year, we have all spent more time than we are used to on our technology devices and digitally communicating with the world. According to a Salesforce article, 42% of the U.S. labor force continues to work from home full time, we have heavily increased our reliance on our devices to keep us working, connected, and entertained. In fact, the average time spent with digital media is moving toward 7.5 hours per day.

Believe it or not, even millennials — the digital-natives and technology-trailblazing multi-taskers that they are — are burned out! In a recent HBR article, one of these self-identified millennials says, “My generation — the millennial generation — have proven to be great candidates for this terrible phenomenon (burnout). The pandemic isn’t helping. Without clear boundaries between the office and our homes, more work is always available, and only a hand’s reach away.”

Tidying Up Your Tech Stack

So you might be asking, what is the solution? We cannot simply eliminate screens or technology from our lives, so are we all doomed?

While we cannot remove this “necessary evil” from our lives, we can streamline it.

Combining technology into fewer platforms and channels for your employees will make their lives much easier. It will also make technology less of a disruption and focus blocker — and more of an aid (as it is intended to be).

Take inventory of the different platforms you are using. Is there any overlap? Any ability to combine forces or bring things under “one roof,” so to speak? Chances are, there are some areas where you can consolidate. For example, perhaps you can provide your employees:

  • A one-stop shop where they can take surveys to provide their managers with feedback
  • Recognize their peers (or get a much-deserved shoutout themselves)
  • Access learning tools along with values and culture reminders

This consolidation would boost engagement and minimize confusion, and you guessed it — digital fatigue.

The good news is, many HR technology solutions can help you with this consolidation effort. The bad news is, many HR technology solutions can help you with this consolidation effort. In other words, you may need to spend some time comparing and contrasting options to find the best fit, but at least you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Keep It Simple

Ironically, this brings us back to where we started — technology. Too much of it can lead to burnout, but just the right amount can make our lives a lot easier.

The bottom line is that HR leaders must minimize the distraction of too many technologies. It is costing your organization and is increasing the rate of burnout. As we are all well aware, screens are here to stay, so let’s streamline and simplify.

Consider these wise words from the German-British statistician Ernst F. Schumacher:

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.”

 

Image by MNBB Studio

HR Automation: Understanding the Limits of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence has been infiltrating the business world for the past several years and has also played a major role in HR automation. Today, companies across all industries are using AI to automate a variety of job tasks and replace human capital. And by the mid-2030s, PwC estimates, 30% of all jobs will be automated.

The COVID-19 pandemic only promises to accelerate this trend. Now more than ever, business units are looking to boost their efficiency and save money through automation ‒ and HR is no exception. Automation has the potential to help HR teams recruit, hire, and train employees — and many organizations already use AI-driven software to carry out these tasks.

At first glance, it might make sense to hand some of these repetitive responsibilities to computers instead of humans. But as the executive director of an organization that teaches tech skills and works with companies on talent solutions, I believe these HR functions should remain largely human-driven.

HR automation can — and often does — go awry. Amazon’s HR team experienced this back in 2018, when it was using an algorithm to automatically review résumés. Unbeknownst to them, their AI was penalizing job applicants whose résumés included the word “women.” This bias went on for a solid year before the company noticed, causing the elimination of countless qualified candidates.

This cautionary tale illustrates why HR teams should be wary when implementing automation into their workflows. After all, AI might look like an enticing, cost-effective tool for screening candidates and building teams. But it can also cause your company to waste time and resources.

The Invaluable Human Element in HR

HR is all about humans. It requires a level of knowledge, nuance, and critical thought that simply cannot be replicated by even the most sophisticated AI solutions. As this technology continues to evolve, HR practitioners must remain vigilant about their use of automation. They also must ensure they appropriately devote human minds to the tasks that require them.

Looking ahead, HR teams can play a key strategic role in helping their companies prepare for the automation revolution. Here are three ways they can do so:

1. Futurecast for the Workforce of Tomorrow

According to the World Economic Forum’s “Future of Jobs Report 2020,” automation could displace 85 million jobs and create 97 million new jobs by 2025. No industry will be immune to this massive redistribution.

What skills will your company need one year from now, five years from now, and 10 years from now? HR professionals should steep themselves in market research and trends, and they should start proactively hiring for those skills today. Companies that conduct this analysis early and often will put themselves at a considerable advantage in the future.

2. Identify Opportunities (and Inevitabilities)

HR teams should keep a close eye on where automation is heading in their industries and how other companies are using this technology effectively. They should help their companies identify which positions are solid candidates for automation, which tasks should be driven by humans, and which jobs could be flat-out eliminated.

As jobs are automated and redistributed over time, companies will find themselves continually needing different skill sets across each department. HR practitioners should keep a watchful eye on how their teams are changing and continuously reassess the human skills that matter most. Creating and executing a reskilling program that trains existing employees in these skills will only serve your company well.

3. Evaluating Candidates for Reskilling and Upskilling

After developing an automation road map, HR teams can start reskilling and upskilling high-performing employees for the jobs of the future. First, they should identify adaptable workers who demonstrate a passion for learning new skills. They should encourage these individuals to pursue new roles after their jobs are automated, then provide them with learning opportunities.

This reskilling program must be crafted and carried out by human intelligence. It requires a series of interviews and heartfelt conversations, as well as a keen eye for soft skills. AI might be able to quickly sort through résumés and search for keywords. On some level, AI can also identify people who are qualified for the job — on paper. But AI cannot assess a candidate’s soft skills or persuade them to change their career path. Even newer technology that can detect facial expressions and vocal tones during video interviews cannot accurately assess a candidate’s fitness for a job. Traditional human-to-human interaction is the only way to uncover someone’s intangible attributes and their openness to reskilling.

HR Automation: Proceed with Caution

Automation remains poised to completely transform the industrial world. This incredible technology is forcing millions of companies to rethink their inner workings. It is exciting to imagine the multitude of ways companies can use AI to become smarter and more efficient. And yet businesses should proceed with caution when implementing it in the HR realm.

Team-building is a delicate process, and as we know, automation can present many drawbacks. Leaders must delegate vital HR tasks to human intelligence, not computer code. To help companies cope with the rise of automation, HR teams must use their critical thinking skills to assess the technological landscape, understand talent gaps, and identify opportunities for reskilling.

 

 

Photo by Thomas Reimer

HR Tech: 5 Reasons We Too Often Buy the Wrong Stuff

I spend a lot of time talking with people about HR tech and the best ways to use that technology. As I often say, “Making a technology choice involves endless forks in the road — and sometimes the right path isn’t the most obvious.” Sure, the bells and whistles are sexy. But in the end, shouldn’t technology make our jobs easier and our lives better? 

However, our reality is that as buyers and users of HR technology, we sometimes can’t see what is in our blind spots. We get dazzled by the power of cloud-based offerings, big data, and all those bells and whistles. In the end, we don’t always see clearly. So when you’re making HR tech decisions, watch out for these five blind spots.

Don’t Succumb to Scope Creep

Just because a tech solution can do something that appears amazing doesn’t make it the right choice. So before you start shopping, know your needs. Are you going for recruiting? Payroll? Performance management? Engagement? Recognition? Do you need help achieving better diversity and inclusion? Or maybe seek the newest all-in-one solution? 

If you already have specific systems in place you like and people are comfortable using them, look for focused tech that meets your immediate needs and can be integrated into existing systems. Or if you are really looking for an all-inclusive solution, make sure they check all the boxes on your shopping list — and don’t get seduced by features you didn’t even know you needed. 

In other words, don’t fall into the scope creep trap — set your boundaries, then don’t exceed them.

Don’t Get Distracted by Shine and Buzz

Without knowing what something is or what it does, we hear about it, and we must have it!

At a recent virtual gathering where HR tech was a topic, someone jokingly uttered the word “tyrannobytes” — and half the people on the Zoom call instantly perked up. Of course, there’s no such thing as tyrannobytes. But the concept of a monster-sized unit of data was just too irresistible. Ever since, I’ve referred to this as Tyrannobyte Syndrome: Our innate need as HR Tech buyers to have the latest, fastest, biggest, and greatest.

Instead of succumbing to what can be a crippling affliction, focus inwards. Do you really need enough data storage to rival a seed vault? Is blockchain a vital component of a software solution? Do you absolutely need the latest and greatest — or would a smaller, more-focused niche platform better serve your needs?

Don’t Marry for the Honeymoon

Customer service isn’t just some random concept. In HR tech, reliable service has to extend well past the courtship stage. After initial adoption and for as long as you both shall exist, do you have access to responsive support? Do you get the benefit of any updates, fixes, or improvements the tech company makes? Or is everything an upsell?

The availability of continuous help and support is a critical factor in your buying decision. You must be able to count on your provider for the long-term. So for the lifetime of the tech you’re about to purchase, ask your vendor to set service and upgrade milestones aligned with your short-term needs and long-term projections. If they’re really in it for the long haul, they will not only gladly look that far ahead, but they’ll be transparent about their performance all along the journey.

Make Sure They Love You for You

If you’re a small and lean organization or a scrappy startup, will your HR tech partners still pay attention to you once the sale is completed?

You’re not a big account with scaling spend. As you focus on other parts of the business like people management, you may not increase hiring for the duration of your contract. So what’s in it for them if you stay just the way you are?

If one of the provider’s core values is making their customers happy, you’re in luck. Do smaller companies rave about them in case studies? Sure, the salespeople will tell you what you want to hear, but objective testimonials are far more powerful than a polished brand story. Is there social proof of their commitment to customers? However, don’t stop there; your CFO will want data and analytics that demonstrate this is the right solution — and the right investment — for your organization. 

Expect Easy-to-Use

As veteran HR tech companies trot out their 2.0’s and new tech enters the fray, we see impressive new offerings every year. For example, AI is firmly in the mix and proving immensely capable of certain tasks. But no matter how sophisticated the tech or how customizable the user portals, will your team be able to work with that specific piece of tech?

Your HR tech provider is responsible for making sure the plane stays in the air. But can less tech-savvy members of your HR department steer it and stay on course? If there is a problem, can the provider troubleshoot and help solve it in real-time — as opposed to “let me call my boss” or “we’ll be back Monday” time? Whether it is a software glitch or human error, or both, things happen; that’s Murphy’s law of any technology-based product. When that much-needed piece of technology fails at the worst possible time, will your provider have someone available to talk your team off the ledge and save your data?

The Quest for the Best in HR Tech

Like you, I want the best tech I can find — and I love innovative, front-of-the-pack ideas. But there is much more to buying tech than falling in love with the loudest bells and whistles and the shiniest of objects.

That is why we started TalentCultures HR Tech Awards — and why I’m so proud of the work our Managing Partner, Cyndy Trivella, and her team do to identify the best companies, platforms, and services available. This is our way of giving back to the communities we serve — and a great way to help make your work and life better. This year’s winners all set out to solve a specific challenge within the HR community; each has earned our respect for being the very best at what they do.

Before you invest in new HR technology and perhaps buy the wrong stuff, learn all you can about our 2021 HR Tech Award winners.

 

Photo by Fizkes

[#WorkTrends] Why Recruiters Must Care About Candidate Experience

In a survey conducted in 2019 by Brandon Hall, less than half of the responding companies believe they effectively create a great candidate experience.

That same Brandon Hall survey reported that 73 percent of companies care about delivering an excellent candidate experience. As a former recruiter who painfully lived this issue, this data point warms my heart. It means we can work together to significantly improve the experience job seekers receive as they look for new work. I have to say: it’s about time.

Especially in what can seem like an upside-down, mid-pandemic world, every applicant deserves an excellent candidate experience.

Our Guest: John Salt, Candidate Experience Evangelist

My guest this week on #WorkTrends is John Salt, a passionate advocate for job seekers everywhere. John has over 25 years of experience in the recruitment marketplace, both within large matrix organizations and small to medium-sized businesses. When it comes to candidate experience, John is a go-to guy! I jumped right into our conversation by asking him, “What is wrong with the candidate experience?”

“There’s plenty wrong!” John quickly said. He added what he sees as the most significant issue: “People used to talk about ‘processing the candidate.’ And I think a lot of the experience is still rooted in that process. I’m a strong believer that you don’t process people — you process fish or process vegetables, and you’re trying to do it as quickly and cheaply as possible. With people, you must take your time, same with the candidate experience. Because one of the most fundamentally important things people do in their lives is applying for a role where they can exercise their talent, where they can add value.” In response, John says, the employers don’t always reciprocate with a great experience.  

“Today’s candidate experience is clunky; it’s a hassle. And it doesn’t always work properly, so 96 percent of people that start to apply for a job on a mobile device, for example, don’t finish.”

Improving the Candidate Experience

After agreeing — because we see it all the time, even at some of the best employers — I asked John to tell us about tactics we can use to improve the candidate experience. John’s answer gave me even more hope:

“Well, the first thing I would say is you don’t need to utilize all technologies available when trying to make the candidate experience better because those technologies don’t talk to each other. Plus, too many people involved have been satisfied with blaming others, saying ‘That’s a job board problem’ or ‘It’s an ATS problem,’ or ‘It’s a candidate problem.’ There’s been a lot of finger-pointing, but nobody’s really embraced the available solutions.”

John finished his thought: “I love using sites like Airbnb because they know I’ve made a booking before, and the technology fills in the information for me. So instead of asking an applicant to enter the same data over and over again, as too many sites do, John says, “Use smart technology that enables an employer to say, ‘I know something about this candidate already.’ There are plenty of job platforms that already know a lot about a returning candidate, but do they ever bring that over in a seamless, smart, integrated way? No, they don’t.”

John adds, “Could you imagine if retail or hospitality ran the same way? That company just wouldn’t exist very long.”

The Business Case for a Better Experience

Before our conversation ended, John explained why the companies that offer an excellent candidate experience will attract the best talent, and why the best talent will naturally find their way to the companies that provide an exceptional candidate experience:

“So much is going to be automated; the best hirers will be those that put the human touch into the experience. There are many ways you can do that — some require automation but seem like they have a human touch. We see great examples in shopping, gaming, travel, and hospitality; these are the industries that are leading the experience. HR can catch up quickly!”

Want to learn more about how HR can greatly improve the candidate experience? Be sure to listen to my entire conversation with Josh. I not only learned a great deal, but I was inspired to continue to work even harder this year to help improve this critical component of hiring!

 

Find John on LinkedIn.

 

Editor’s note: We’ve updated our FAQ page and #WorkTrends Podcast pages. Take a look!

 

Photo by Wirestock

2021 HR Challenges: How to Connect, Recognize and Support Employees

We’re all ready to say goodbye to 2020 and hello to 2021. But even though a new calendar year has started, some of our HR challenges are likely to stay with us into the new year. Those challenges include how to best support employees not just in 2021 but in the years ahead.

The reality is that employees are tired and stressed; many are on the verge of employee burnout. HR and People professionals are feeling it too. In a recent survey of 751 HR leaders, 71% agree that 2020 has been the most stressful year of their careers.

Even as we move forward and look toward a better 2021, one of the biggest HR challenges remains: How can organizations best connect, recognize, and support their people as they lead them through this ever-changing, unpredictable environment?

A Focus on Digital Transformation

The data from the survey mentioned above shows just how important this question is to most organizations. Specifically, professionals elaborated on the biggest HR challenges ahead:

HR Challenge

When HR leaders have the tools they need at their fingertips, they have more time to focus on strategic initiatives; they spend less time dealing with administrative burdens. With a customized employee engagement platform, HR leaders can do more with less and make a more significant impact company-wide.

This is a win-win for their people, too. After all, these platforms provide a centralized place for employees to find vital company updates and help them stay connected to their colleagues. And they ensure stability in their sometimes unstable environments.

Making the shift to digital and modernizing your toolkit will set your business up for success in 2021. In a short time, digital solutions will leave you better equipped to face whatever challenges may come next.

Fostering Deeper Connections

mission mondaysUnsurprisingly, as many move into the tenth month of temporary remote work, people feel less connected. During these uncertain times and long periods of isolation, reinforcing your company’s mission, purpose, and values are even more critical.

With a dedicated employee communications tool, you can foster a sense of belonging and unity by sharing updates from various teams or leaders that your people need to hear from. For example, here at Reward Gateway, our CEO Doug Butler posts a weekly blog called “Mission Mondays.” Our people can comment on and react to that post, which helps build connections, boost visibility, and create a sense of community.

These updates are available on any device, at any time. That way, people can read them on their own schedules, whether that’s before their morning coffee, during a work break, or after the kids go to bed.

Keeping Workplace Culture Alive

Boosting morale for remote workers has always been important. And it’s no surprise leaders and co-workers must show appreciation for the hard work of employees. This is especially true now as employees may not be getting in-person contact with their colleagues or manager. Digital tools are also helping organizations improve workplace culture and reward and recognition programs across dispersed team members and support employees.

With an employee reward and recognition platform, HR leaders can spotlight all the excellent work happening across the company – even when others don’t get to see it every day. As shown below, available real-time analytics help HR teams know which departments are sending the most recognition. They also know which ones could use some extra appreciation, which helps boost collaboration and creates a culture of gratitude – even while working remotely.

analytics flow

 

The need to combat employee burnout and stress isn’t going away overnight. In 2021 and beyond, we’ll need to find better ways to connect dispersed employees. An improved reward and recognition program isn’t going to happen organically. But with the right tools, leaders can better face the HR challenges ahead. Specifically, they can connect, recognize, and support their people to set their organizations up for success in 2021.

 

To learn more about how Reward Gateway can help you future-proof your organization, get in touch today.