Using tech to find, retain best talent

Advances in technology have completely reshaped how companies recruit workers
By Marcus Mossberger
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 07/11/2017

Most organizations are recognizing the significant headwinds impacting their ability to find, maintain and grow the talent they need to meet future demand. North America is experiencing the lowest unemployment rates since the global recession (Canada is currently at 6.7 per cent, the United States is at 4.9 per cent and Mexico is at 3.4 per cent).

Worker demographics have reached a tipping point as millennials begin to replace baby boomers to make up the largest percentage of the workforce. Add on top of this a new administration in the U.S., a global wave of nationalism (as seen with Brexit), questions about trade policy and a protectionist mindset around jobs, and there are serious implications about how employers will need to evolve to survive (and even thrive). Talent technology must play a key role.

Recruitment less reactionary

In the last decade, few areas of HR have changed more than recruiting. Traditional recruitment has been reactionary — someone leaves an organization and then the recruiter gets a call from the manager who needs a new person… tomorrow.

The new talent acquisition has become a combination of workforce planning, marketing, relationship management, sales, employment branding, team-building and recruitment. There is no single technology tool for this new paradigm, so organizations end up with a complicated network of social media platforms (such as Facebook or LinkedIn), a traditional applicant tracking system (ATS), customer relationship management (CRM) tools, budgeting and planning parameters, employment branding and digital design capabilities that require marketing skills rarely found in traditional HR departments.

Technology can now be accessed anywhere, anytime. As a result, businesses and organizations should not only care about what technologies they are using, but how these technologies are being used, according to IBM CEO Ginni Rometty. Employers should consider how technology can improve the speed at which they operate — this is today’s technology differentiator.

What does this mean for talent acquisition challenges such as hiring, onboarding and retention? It means organizations must work quickly and wisely — especially when recruiting and retaining millennials. Given their mobility and constant connectedness to their devices, millennials often expect a quicker hiring process.

With human capital management technology, hiring managers can speed up the process by having the job requisition prepopulate with details such as salary parameters, rules around head count, full-time equivalent (FTE) limits and any other details they would like to track. Assigned position codes will automatically generate similar job postings — like the quick application process enjoyed by the candidate. Recruiters can also merge this information with external databases, and hiring managers can track recruiter progress in areas such as days-to-fill.

Even though many systems are data-driven, they should also encompass the “softer” aspects of hiring. This means including behavioural assessments to gain insights into people’s drive, interpersonal style and work preferences, and comparing these insights to the job they are applying for. If a candidate is not a fit for the job, she may be compatible with another open position within the organization.

Most employers recognize that the best people usually come from inside an organization — either as transfers or referrals. Ensuring existing employees have constant visibility to upcoming opportunities (either for themselves or someone in their network) is critical.

This visibility can be achieved through a central system or network that can be easily accessed by both HR practitioners and company-wide employees.

This network allows HR and employees to track, and share, open positions — paving the way for a more seamless talent acquisition process. Obviously, this highlights the need to integrate existing talent pools with formal succession planning as part of a larger talent acquisition strategy.

And giving recruiters visibility of “silver medallists” (who were strong candidates but not selected) — through the implementation of talent management software — can significantly reduce sourcing time when a candidate with good transferrable skills has already been identified. 

Making it easy (for the applicant and the hiring manager) is key.

For instance, tools such as LinkedIn will highlight any personal connections people have at a specific company if they are exploring opportunities there.

More and more organizations have also begun using video job postings instead of traditional written job postings, where current employees give a 30-second description of what they do and why they love it in a video format to really capture the attention of a potential candidate. 

Once that attention is captured, communication between the individual and organization needs to go beyond simply sending an email. Many people are more likely to read a text than an email, and McDonald’s, for example. is apparently using Snapchat for applications. At a bare minimum, organizations need to have a streamlined, mobile, quick and easy application process. 

Keeping your hires

The best way to retain people is to first understand why people leave organizations. While there is some truth to the old adage: “People don’t leave companies, they leave managers,” the reality is companies can and should be focused on empowering both managers and employees with tools and resources that will provide them with visibility to the next step in their career.

The millennial workforce is not willing to wait a full year for feedback, recognition and direction, so a regular cadence of engagement is necessary.

Through modern HCM software, companies can design training plans based on business goals — ultimately creating development opportunities for top performers and helping to reduce attrition rate. Additionally, mobile “pulse” surveys, social recognition tools and new performance management systems provide the mechanisms for this new model of interaction.

But the bottom line is this next generation has a different set of expectations. It is well-known they will change jobs and, in many cases, change careers several times through their working life. Employers that give these individuals visibility to opportunities to change jobs (or even careers) within the organization will inevitably keep this intellectual capital (and institutional knowledge) longer than average.

This career progression can actually be personalized to each individual by using the same behavioural data that was collected in the aforementioned assessment tool.

Instead of creating one-size-fits-all development plans, individuals can gain exposure to training, experiences, mentors and future positions that are tailored to their unique behavioural DNA. 

Organizations that embrace the use of technology to enhance talent strategies will find themselves navigating this new environment with greater success, while those that don’t will soon discover their talent has moved on.

Marcus Mossberger is senior director of health-care HCM Strategy in Kansas City, Miss.

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