#HumanForward: how HR tech accelerates experience and empathy.

October 25, 2021 Mike Smith

Randstad Sourceright 5 takeaways from the 2021 HR Technology Conference

my 5 takeaways from this year’s HR Technology Conference

We all know technology is transforming the way organizations attract, hire, deploy and manage people, but are you aware of the many developments that are underway to help you nurture a more engaged, productive and happy workforce? Remote working brought about a massive change in the way we work, and the HR technology marketplace is now hyper-focused on creating a more personalized and satisfying experience for talent and their managers. As an organizational leader, this is a really encouraging development.

Throughout the course of the past 18 months, business leaders have been kept up at night by not only concerns about the health and safety of their people but also how remote work is affecting their psyche, organizational coherence and output. While numerous studies have demonstrated productivity has not deteriorated — in some instances, improvements have been reported — workforce stress and anxiety are rising.

Being quarantined at home for months while juggling work and home responsibilities has been challenging — something I quickly became aware of as the parent of three young children. Moreover, it’s easy to lose that connection with colleagues and customers when you don’t regularly interact in person.

The response from the HR technology market has been concerted and impressive. A growing number of developers are focused on creating a more enriching talent experience. Whether it’s greater integration of human capital management tools, solutions that stimulate employee engagement and productivity, or assessment mechanisms that assess and improve skills, HR technology has become much more people-focused than system-focused.

I recently had the opportunity to attend the annual HR Technology Conference in Las Vegas — the event’s return to a live venue since the pandemic began — and I sensed a turning point in how technology is being deployed to benefit talent experience. Notably, organizations realize it’s more important than ever that their people feel cared for.

As analyst Jason Averbook said in his keynote address, “People have realized what matters to them, and you need to offer them an emotional employee experience where they can feel human. If not, they are not going to work for you.”

As the Great Resignation continues to exacerbate talent scarcity, technology can mitigate some of the challenges. More importantly, innovation will be critical to accelerating the recovery process following this crisis. So here are my observations about the five big technology trends dominating the marketplace now and in 2022.

#1 E is for experience and empathy

Randstad Sourceright HRTech takeaways empathy and talent experienceWhat can be more endearing to talent than knowing their employer has their back? Throughout the pandemic, most enterprises have done a good job looking out for their workers’ interests — in safety, support and resource needs as they transitioned to a remote environment. In fact, Randstad research shows most workers surveyed feel emotionally supported by their employer.

To boost talent attraction and employee retention, companies will need to demonstrate that the care they’ve provided early on was not a temporary reaction. As workers reassess their jobs and careers, they want assurances that they are in the right place.

Technology can play a critical role for doing so. Tools that empower, help workers to innovate and ingrain in them a sense of purpose will elevate the talent experience. Surveying solutions that capture real-time data and encourage continuous conversations are important in today’s rapidly evolving environment. But simply showing empathy is not enough; feedback data must translate into relevant and useful policy changes.

#2 internal mobility accelerates through technology

Randstad Sourceright HRTech takeaways internal mobilityIn his keynote presentation during this year’s conference, analyst Josh Bersin pointed out that talent acquisition will need to look inward as organizations battle the labor shortage. With more talent marketplaces available — platforms that enable internal mobility — companies will be able to shift resources from parts of the organization with slowing needs to those experiencing growing demand. This is what consumer business giant Unilever did early on in the pandemic.

Not only will these marketplaces help talent acquisition find “hidden” skills within their business, but organizational leaders will have a better view of the gaps that exist to determine how to properly resource the business.

#3 the next evolution of learning is here

Randstad Sourceright HRTech takeaways learningThe pandemic revealed that many organizations are way behind in their skilling efforts. Even as some businesses were letting go of people, they were also frantically looking for different skill sets to support expanding digital businesses.

We can expect learning systems to become integral in all aspects of human capital management, including recruitment and as part of the normal flow of work. This means microlearning platforms will help workers stay current with job demands. Skilling platforms will help identify the skills gap of incoming talent and pair them with appropriate content. Assessment tools, such as Randstad RiseSmart’s BrightFit, will offer predictive insights to help people advance in their careers by focusing on the right competencies.

#4 focus on diversity, equity and inclusion intensifies

Randstad-Sourceright HRTech Rebecca Henderson keynote sessionThe HR technology industry has had a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) for some time, but the events of the past two years have underscored the challenges of achieving greater equality for marginalized people.

In her keynote address at the Women in HR Technology Summit that preceded the HR Tech Conference, Randstad Global Business CEO and executive board member Rebecca Henderson pointed out that women are much more affected by the crisis than men, for example. Beyond the crisis for women, companies are strengthening their commitment to equality and inclusion.

Technology and analytics can help employers achieve their goal. For example, the proliferation of AI in sourcing and assessment technologies to minimize bias is helping companies consider more candidates with diverse backgrounds. Tools that help better track metrics and identify high-performing diverse talent give companies more capability to advance these workers into management positions. Others enable businesses to detect areas of their recruitment efforts that may be biased. We can expect to see much more innovation around DEI in the near future.

#5 the creator economy spills into the workplace

Randstad Sourceright HRTech takeaways creator economyA billion hours of videos are watched every day on YouTube. That’s the power of the creator economy. Now that power is expected to spill into the workplace as workers use HR technology to be creators themselves.

Whether it’s an app for their business, or content for learning and development, Bersin pointed out that many vendors are developing tools for creating a myriad of assets. Platforms such as TikTok, for instance, are becoming a more important channel for these creations. Large organizations like Facebook and small startups alike are exploring ways to expand the creator economy as well.

transforming the future of workflow

According to Bersin, 21,000 vendors serve the HR technology market, and their growing numbers underscore the importance of innovation to human capital management. With so many tools at their disposal, human capital leaders have more resources than ever to transform how work gets done and people are deployed.

At the same time, these resources present a variety of challenges such as data management, security, governance and adoption. In no way are these issues minor, but HR today is more ready to address these challenges than any time in the past.

Advancements forwarded by AI, automation, machine learning, data analytics and other developments are changing the way we attract, hire and retain people at a rate we have never seen before. This is all good news as human capital leaders are playing a more strategic role in the success of their business.

Looking for talent attraction and retention strategies that will help you find, hire and engage the people who fuel your business. Explore the global talent shortage checklist.

about the author

Mike Smith

With a 16-year career at Randstad, Mike Smith brings a wealth of experience in the talent acquisition industry to his role as Randstad Sourceright global CEO. Smith joined Randstad in January 2005 as a graduate recruitment executive and has since held various operational and leadership roles for Randstad including managing Randstad’s business operations in Australia, managing director for Southeast Asia, CEO of Randstad UK and managing director of Randstad Sourceright in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. An active driver of Randstad’s “tech and touch” strategy, in his role as CEO, Smith continues to elevate Randstad Sourceright's customer value propositions, seek out ongoing areas for differentiation and embed change through investment in business transformation technology.

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