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Making talent and tech a winning formula

Investors and venture capitalists have significantly increased funding in the human resources (HR) technology market in recent years. To fully leverage the potential of these technologies, it is necessary to inform them with psychological insights and guide HR management with scientific methods. This article delves into the intersection of technology and science in the field of HR and demonstrates how integrating them can enhance organizational performance.

Investors and venture capitalists have significantly increased funding in the human resources (HR) technology market in recent years. To fully leverage the potential of these technologies, it is necessary to inform them with psychological insights and guide HR management with scientific methods. This article delves into the intersection of technology and science in the field of HR and demonstrates how integrating them can enhance organizational performance.

Talent Acquisition
Talent Acquisition (TA) technology aims to provide candidates with a consumer-like experience by utilizing SEO, easy-apply methods, and marketing techniques such as CRM and campaigns. A survey conducted by MHS revealed that 18% of leaders considered their talent acquisition process as advanced or top-notch, 50% thought it was progressing, and 29% thought it was chaotic. The main driver for this was the need to hire quickly and the main barrier was finding talent that meets the requirements of the position (60%) and not having the right skills in the pool of candidates (46%). 

Most organizations are currently using applicant tracking systems (ATS) and referral systems, as well as video technology. In the next three years, ATS, remote/video technology, recruitment platforms, and online assessments will be the most important. AI will automate processes, target candidate searches, prioritize applications, and engage candidates, ultimately helping organizations to process vast amounts of information. To effectively attract top talent, it is crucial for organizations to communicate their unique value proposition and why working for them is desirable. Internal research can aid in understanding what makes a company an attractive employer.

Talent and recruitment decision-making
Our brain has a limited capacity for logical decision-making. Researchers at Cornell University estimate that we make around 226.7 decisions each day on food alone, and the prefrontal cortex shows increased activity during all decision-making processes. Our brain has two modes of decision-making: one is mainly automatic and reactive or based on intuition, and the second mode is more deliberate and makes rational or analytical decisions. The second mode is limited, so we can only make so many logical decisions before our “mental resources” are depleted. Technology can alleviate this by making decisions for us and reducing our cognitive load.

To make effective decisions, organizations should understand how technology can support their recruitment process and make it more efficient. Instead of replacing human decision-making entirely, technology should be used to complement the decision-making process. This will ensure that the right candidates are selected and that the recruitment process runs smoothly. Additionally, technology should be used to create a positive candidate experience, which is linked to employer branding and retaining top talent through the selection process.

We advocate for using technology in a way that complements the decision-making process in recruitment. Organizations should use technology to create a positive candidate experience, market authentically and uniquely to attract top talent, and retain them through the selection process.

Talent Development
Organizations are turning to internal talent marketplaces as a way to retain productive and talented employees and reduce turnover. These marketplaces, often in the form of online portals, allow employees to discover career opportunities within the company, such as gigs, mentoring, projects, and open jobs. This approach benefits both the employee and the organization by allowing employees to plan their future careers and encouraging them to find their next role within the company.

Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs) are also gaining popularity, providing employees with a personalized learning experience tailored to their roles, interests, and locations. However, there are some challenges to this approach, such as the potential for personalization to be overwhelming and the difficulty of finding time for training outside of work hours.

Retention is a critical concern for organizations, as it is estimated that 35% of employees may leave their jobs each year by 2023. The cost of replacing an employee can be significant, and low retention rates can negatively impact motivation, productivity, and performance. Organizational culture and employee engagement are crucial factors in retention, with 77% of employees considering organizational culture before applying for a job. Research also shows that 77% of employee departures are preventable, making retention strategies a vital consideration for organizations.

Organizations should consider retention strategies that foster positive work environments and cultures, promote engagement, and provide learning opportunities. By understanding the importance of culture, engagement, and the role of learning in the retention process, organizations can take steps to prevent employee departures and increase retention.

Talent Engagement
Organizations have increased their use of survey and polling technologies for employee engagement. These technologies have advanced with mobile capabilities, chatbot-based surveys, shorter surveys, better interfaces, and faster processing, but the challenge remains that if employees do not take action on the results, it is a missed opportunity. Surveys can provide valuable feedback for organizations, but they must be designed effectively to achieve meaningful results.

Engagement surveys have been a staple in HR for many years, but new advancements in AI and machine learning have allowed for more in-depth data analysis. Traditional measures such as engagement surveys are still considered valuable, as they are a good predictor of behavior and research shows that asking employees if they plan to stay with an organization is twice as accurate as machine-learning forecasts. Additionally, employees who do not participate in engagement surveys are 2.6 times more likely to leave an organization within six months.

Engaged employees are more productive, effective, and less likely to turn over in a role. Surveys also ensure that employees feel heard and valued, even if the final decision does not align with their feedback. Surveys can also influence the insights and behaviours of those participating, as demonstrated by a study where volunteering rates increased from 4% to 31% after being surveyed about their willingness to volunteer at a non-profit organization.

Despite the effectiveness of engagement surveys, there are limitations to what organizations can do with the data collected. Advancing technology helps organizations analyze data quickly and with deeper insights, but on the human side, there is still a lack of meaningful action based on those insights. When feedback is collected and nothing changes, it risks impacting the trust between employees and leaders and can lead to retention issues.

To combat these issues, leaders need to rethink their goals, priorities, and outcomes related to engagement surveys. They must use the right tools to collect data, develop action plans based on the insights gained, be transparent about the data collected, communicate the action plan to employees and follow through on the plan. It’s also important to design surveys to elicit actionable feedback, rather than empty questions with vague targets. By doing so, organizations can improve employee engagement, foster trust between employees and leadership, and contribute to employee retention. 

Remote Talent
The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly altered the dynamics of work, causing many organizations to rethink their approach to flexibility for employees who largely favour working from home with flexible hours, but still value office presence for socialization and a change of scenery. This shift raises important questions such as: why do some managers resist working from home, primarily senior leaders? Is the idea of “water cooler” conversations in the office overrated, and is there evidence that digital interactions are less human? Why are we replicating the 9-5, mostly synchronous working schedule at home, when many organizations have been operating in a fully distributed mode for years, and much work in the knowledge economy can happen through asynchronous work?

Research has shown that working from home can improve productivity and employee satisfaction. A study by Stanford of 16,000 workers over 9 months found that working from home increased productivity by 13%, and workers also reported improved work satisfaction and a 50% reduction in attrition rates. A survey by ConnectSolutions found that 77% of those who work remotely at least a few times per month reported increased productivity, with 30% doing more work in less time and 24% doing more work in the same period of time. However, there are also limitations to working from home, such as access to fast internet, social interaction and loneliness, and mental health.

Many organizations have adopted a hybrid work model, which is seen as the most effective approach when tailored to the position and the individual. However, there are concerns about “dark leadership” behaviours that can undermine workplace well-being and satisfaction, such as managers projecting their past

In conclusion, the integration of technology and science in HR management is essential for progress in the field. Without technology, science is limited in its ability to drive innovation and without science, technology is without direction. However, we must also recognize the significance of the human element in HR management. The success of our processes relies on the application of human judgment, compassion and collaboration. We must strive for a balance between technological advancements and scientific methods, while also considering the human aspect.

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