ReimagineHR: 5 Ways HR Can Take the Lead in Digitalization

ReimagineHR: 5 Ways HR Can Take the Lead in Digitalization

In his keynote address at the opening of Gartner’s ReimagineHR conference in Orlando, Florida on Sunday, Gartner Group Vice President Brian Kropp shared a very salient figure with the hundreds of HR executives gathered in the room: 67 percent of CEOs tell us that if their organization does not make significant upgrades to its digital capabilities by 2020, it will no longer be competitive. “And if you work for one of the 33 percent,” Kropp told the attendees, “start polishing your résumés,” because those two-thirds of CEOs are probably right.

Digitalization is one of the most pressing challenges facing businesses today, and it’s not hard to see why. When CEOs talk about digitalization—in meetings, in employee communications, and increasingly on calls with investors—they frame it as a means of driving increased efficiency, productivity, and growth, the better to compete in a fast-paced and constantly changing business environment. However, Gartner research has shown that over the past five years, employees are exhibiting dwindling rates of discretionary effort: Just at the moment when organizations need to get the best out of their people, fewer of them are going above and beyond the call of duty. Meanwhile, labor markets in the US, Europe, and around the world are historically tight, so organizations have to work harder to find the right people and hold on to the valuable talent they already have.

As a result of these trends, HR leaders today find themselves in a situation where the CEO is demanding improved performance from employees, while employees are demanding an easier and more seamless experience at work that matches the app-driven, on-demand experience they are increasingly used to in their personal lives. Digital solutions are needed to meet these demands, but those solutions involve much more than merely adopting new technology; fundamental aspects of the way the organization works need to be rethought and redesigned for a digital world. HR has an enormously valuable role to play in ensuring a successful transition into the digital enterprise, but it’s not always obvious how to achieve that goal, and many organizations have been going about it the wrong way.

“What does digitalization mean to you?” Prompted with this question in a poll, Sunday’s audience responded with words like “efficiency,” “easy,” “seamless,” “simplicity,” and “experience.” These answers reflect HR’s unique mission today of driving business outcomes while (or better yet, by) improving the employee experience. Here are five of the key challenges posed by this new environment, and what—in brief—HR can do to tackle them:

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ReimagineHR: How Digital Recruiting Has Changed the Candidate Journey

ReimagineHR: How Digital Recruiting Has Changed the Candidate Journey

“Writing a check,” Warren Buffett famously quipped, “separates a commitment from a conversation.” This used to be true of submitting a job application as well, but not in today’s increasingly competitive, digitally enhanced recruiting environment, Gartner Principal Executive Advisor Dion Love explained at Gartner’s ReimagineHR summit in London on Wednesday. The path most candidates take through the recruiting process has fundamentally changed, which means organizations must also change their approach to recruiting in order to remain competitive.

Prior to the digital era, the typical candidate’s journey looked something like this: They researched companies to find out whether they wanted to work there, narrowed down their choices to a shortlist of preferred employers, applied for jobs, and finally spoke with recruiters. This candidate usually only made it to the interview stage with organizations they had already researched and were certainly interested in joining. Recruiters could assume that a candidate who sent in a résumé was committed to seeing the process through to the end.

Yet whereas the job application used to come toward the end of the candidate journey, it now often comes at the very beginning. Here’s what the journey normally looks like now: A candidate casually applies to a number of jobs they may or may not want, speaks with recruiters, then researches the employers that are interested in hiring them and narrows their choices down to one.

This shift in candidate behavior creates a whole new set of challenges for recruiters.

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Survey: Candidates Prefer Recruiting with a Human Touch

Survey: Candidates Prefer Recruiting with a Human Touch

A study published recently by the Dutch HR consultancy Randstad found that a whopping 82 percent of job seekers found heavily automated recruiting processes frustrating, especially if they never hear back from employers about the status of their online applications. SHRM’s Aliah Wright highlights the report’s key findings:

  • 95 percent said technology should be used to assist the recruiting experience, not replace it.
  • 87 percent said technology has made looking for a job more impersonal.
  • 82 percent said the ideal interaction with a company is one where innovative technologies are used behind the scenes and come second to personal, human interaction. …

Too much technology with too few recruiters has hurt the process, said Dave Marko, managing director, On-Demand Analytics Solutions and Information Management for Acumen Solutions in Washington, D.C. Increasing automation without increasing staff creates an imbalance “that forces people to be less personable.” Every touch point that an organization has with candidates is significant, he said. “The goal is to increase candidates. But with all the technology, there’s not enough [recruiters] to make that human connection.”

These findings jibe with another candidate survey conducted a year ago by the American Staffing Association, a staffing industry lobbying group, which found that over three-quarters of respondents preferred some human interaction in their job search.

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Like Them or Not, Online Employer Reviews Have Power

Like Them or Not, Online Employer Reviews Have Power

Many employers are understandably wary of sites like Glassdoor that allow employees and job candidates to publicly post anonymous reviews of their current or prospective employer, which can create tension between employees’ free speech rights and employers’ rights to be protected against costly defamation. In the age of social media, however, managers who would hope to put a lid on this pot are probably fighting a losing battle, and it is becoming increasingly important for organizations to pay attention to how online reviews affect their employer brand. Last week, CIO’s Sharon Florentine highlighted a recent survey from Future Workplace and CareerArc exploring the influence of online reviews on job candidates’ perceptions of an employer. Candidates are more likely than ever to research a prospective employer online before applying, the survey found, and are making more decisions based on those reviews:

[J]ob seekers increasingly trust reviews from other candidates and current employees to give them the lay of the land before applying. One in three job seekers has shared at least one negative review of a previous or prospective employer, and 55 percent of job seekers who have read a negative review have decided against applying for a position at that company, according to the survey. The survey also found that those employees and job seekers who do leave online negative reviews are 66 percent more likely to spread those opinions on social media, compared to those who only share their opinions directly with a friend or colleague.

And job seekers give more weight to the opinions of their fellow candidates and employees than a company’s official stance. The survey showed that job seekers rank current employees as the most trusted source for information about a company, followed by online reviews from job applicants and former employees, respectively. The CEO or other company executives were ranked the least trusted source by job seekers.

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The Gaps in Talent Relationship Marketing

The Gaps in Talent Relationship Marketing

At ERE, Phenom People CEO Mahe Bayireddi discusses the results of an audit his organization conducted of 600 Fortune 1000 companies in 2016 to “evaluate each company’s talent experience from the perspective of the candidate,” which “identified several consistent gaps in the overall talent experience”:

95 percent of the career sites are failing to provide relevant and personalized content: Today’s candidates expect a personalized touch when they visit a company’s career site, yet a lot of companies are either failing to provide any content or they are providing static, one-size-fits-all content.

97 percent of companies are hiding their employee reviews on Glassdoor: I’m a firm believer in radical transparency; companies should get in front of what people are saying about their company before candidates find it themselves.

86 percent of companies are inconsistently tracking visitor source information: In a lot of cases, companies aren’t tracking source information at all.

Changes in labor market supply and a more open exchange of information have increased the importance of a candidate’s perception of the recruiting process. With broad and diverse candidate pools, organizations could previously afford to ignore Glassdoor and social media comments such as “What a waste of time, I went through several rounds of interviews to be told there wasn’t a role available at this time” or “The recruiting process is broken. I was contacted by two different recruiters from the same organization and decided to progress with another company instead.” However, competition for attracting the best from limited talent supplies has placed the candidate’s experience center-stage in recruiting process design.

At CEB, we’ve been looking into this problem in some of our latest research. In a survey of over 5,000 job candidates, we found that over 60 percent still found the application process frustrating and stressful.

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When a Job Candidate Says No, It’s OK to Ask Why

When a Job Candidate Says No, It’s OK to Ask Why

At the Harvard Business Review, Ben Dattner suggests that employers interview the candidates who reject their job offers, in order to get a better sense of what is and isn’t working in their recruiting processes:

While academic institutions often gather feedback from students who are accepted but do not matriculate in order to improve student recruitment and retention and to better compete with rival institutions, doing so with job candidates in a systematic and consistent manner is rare in the corporate world. As with other kinds of selling and marketing, you may learn as much, if not more, from the feedback of customers who choose not to buy as you learn from those who do. …

However, the feedback that is most likely to be useful and within the company’s control is also likely to be the most sensitive and difficult for the candidate to feel comfortable sharing. It might be hard for a candidate to openly tell a hiring manager or a human resources business partner that she thought the hiring manager was unfriendly or unfocused, that some interviewers conveyed a low level of enthusiasm about working at the organization, that there were too many interviewers in the mix, or that different interviewers seemed to convey divergent ideas about the company’s strategy and plans, the level of authority or responsibilities in the role, the key challenges of the role, or what would be necessary for success.

Therefore, it’s helpful to collect feedback via a third party such as an external search, consulting or research firm; an internal market research, branding or analytics department that is outside of both the hiring area and human resources; and/or anonymously through web surveys or via email.

There is an additional benefit to such interviews, which is gathering candidate intelligence. That intelligence could inform the design of an organization’s employment value proposition (improving talent attraction) and understanding of a candidate’s job search behavior or professional profile (improving sourcing).

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A Chatbot to Handle (and Respond to) Your Job Applicants

A Chatbot to Handle (and Respond to) Your Job Applicants

Candidates may not like getting turned down for jobs, but what really bugs them is when employers don’t respond to their applications at all, as Sarah Fister Gale points out at Workforce:

A recent study from Future Workplace and CareerArc found nearly 60 percent of job seekers have had a poor candidate experience, and of those 72 percent shared that experience on an employer review site, social networking site or with colleagues and friends. This trend should be concerning to a lot of recruiters. … Recruiters may also be surprised to hear what constitutes a negative experience, says Kirsten Davidson, head of employer brand for Glassdoor Inc., the employer review site. It isn’t caused by aggressive interview tactics, or frustrating background check processes. “Most negative reviews come from people who just never heard back,” she said.

And it happens far too often. A whopping 65 percent of job seekers in the Future Workplace survey said they never or rarely receive notice from employers when they submit applications. Similarly, in CareerBuilder’s report job seekers said their biggest frustration is when employers don’t respond to them. “Candidates invest a lot of time preparing an application, yet they feel like the company is investing nothing in response,” [Future Workplace research director Dan] Schawbel said. “That sends a bad message about the company.”

Of course, when recruiters have hundreds or thousands of applications to juggle, responding to every rejected candidate is often too time-consuming, at least without technological assistance. Mya, a digital recruiting assistant released this week by HR technology company FirstJob, was designed in part with that problem in mind, Lydia Dishman reports for Fast Company:

The artificially intelligent recruiting assistant is a chatbot that communicates directly with applicants looking for tech jobs via text, email, or through its own chat platform. …

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