Why HR directors should think like economists

What would an economist do? It’s a question that more and more organisations are asking themselves.

Economists are good at making sense of markets, trends and behaviours and tend to be experts in collecting data and analysing it. They also develop forecasts on a large variety of topics such as business cycles and employment levels.

Tech companies are increasingly hiring economists and economic teams to advise on strategy, build or improve on products, evaluate economic impacts and build brand awareness.

So why should HR directors start thinking like economists?

To use data to help employers and job seekers find each other
“We’ve quickly gone from a world where there was so little data or information on what’s going on in HR to a deluge of data today,” said Tara Sinclair, an economist with global job site Indeed.

“What we need now is to develop insights from all this information.”

Putting workforce trends into a broader context helps employers understand whether there is something specific about their recruitment strategy or if others are facing similar challenges.

By keeping abreast of data and research trends (and even collecting their own data like economists do), HR managers can become aware of trends such as whether more individuals are looking for flexible working conditions or if candidates are looking for positions in certain locations, and can tailor their job offerings accordingly.

To build credibility and become a thought leader
Economists often use a company’s data as the basis for developing fresh insights about the sector or market the organisation operates in.

With increased competition in the marketplace, companies need to utilise research both for their human capital but also to be prepared for broader changes within the corporate environment. HR directors can communicate these findings via white papers, research reports, blog posts, articles or even by sharing snippets on social media.

To sort the myths from the truth
There are many myths that get perpetuated around the water cooler.

Having a savvy HR director who thinks like an economist and draws on hard data will inform an organisation’s knowledge about how the workforce is actually evolving. “We often hear that everyone is moving to either a start-up or a gig job,” said Sinclair.

“Nope! Actually today people are more likely to work for a large company than they were in the 1970s.”

Sinclair also points to overblown myths around millennial workers being job-hoppers (“Nope!”) and the idea that technology is changing our economy faster than ever before.

“It’s true that we’ve got all sorts of new technology and more than ever before, but its growth rate is slowing and that has lots of economists concerned,” she said.


GDPR: Where should HR start?

When the new regulation comes into effect, the HR department will be responsible for the personal data it collects on applicants as well as current employees.

In just over six months’ time the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be enforced – 25th May 2018 to be exact. We’re quite far through the transition period since the regulation was approved by the EU Parliament, and whilst this new regulation can seem overwhelming, organisations must prepare now or face hefty fines when the regulation comes into force. On a positive note, GDPR requirements are good data hygiene and best practices for data management, and help to limit or diminish risk related to data, surely in the case of a cyber-attack, but also by pushing to improve the quality of the data, and therefore, the value of the data.

The aim of GDPR is to protect EU citizens when their personal data is processed, by keeping it safe and secure and avoiding misuse. Companies are indeed beginning to take action. Some, like the UK pub chain Wetherspoons, are even taking the rather extreme measure of deleting their entire database of customer’s email addresses (Wired 03.07.17). So far, businesses’ focus has predominantly been on ensuring to protect client and customer data, but companies can’t afford to forget that the same rules will also apply to employee data, and that includes potential employees and candidates.

So, what does this mean for HR? When GDPR is enforced, companies will be able to collect personal data on applicants, but only data points that are necessary for the application process, having a major impact on the application process and assessments. For any further data, companies will have to ask for explicit permission and any information provided can only be used for the express purpose it was requested. If the person doesn’t get hired, all the information must be deleted. Likewise, all data collected and stored on current employees must be justified and relevant to the management or role of the employee. Companies must have consent for any data that requires employees to grant their permission (which employees can withdraw at any time) and if an employee leaves the company, for whatever reason, their personal data must also be deleted.

In companies that are processing thousands of data points, being compliant requires meticulous preparation. It can be a rather daunting prospect, but it is never too late to begin, and we recommend approaching GDPR compliance for your employee data in three simple steps. Oh, and you are surely not starting from scratch, many companies have data management processes in place already.

Step one: Privacy by design

The concept of privacy by design is about including data protection requirements when designing systems and processes. To be GDPR compliant, it’s easier to create a new process or system designed with the requirements in mind, rather than “fixing” it later on.

My tip is to start with the data, not the process, and document the justification for those data points. Different territories will require different data points – so it’s important to understand cultural requirements as part of this process. For example, in Germany you must declare your religion, as Church members are required by law to pay tax to fund the church. If an employee indicates membership to a tax-collecting religious community, the employer must withhold ‘church tax’ from their income.

Then, review the processes which relate to the data you really need, and incorporate the privacy requirements and the user rights within those processes.

This will be facilitated by having a clear view on all your data. It’s more efficient to build out and design processes around the data you need, rather than tweaking old processes to fit with new regulation. This is also a perfect opportunity for a good clean-up and you will get the added bonus of demonstrating compliance with the data minimisation principle.

Step two: Privacy impact analysis

Privacy by design could be a lot of work, so how do you prioritise? Conduct an audit of the processes and data you collect and the ‘treatment’ of this data, and perform a gap analysis and identify where higher risk sits. For example, if I were to suffer a data breach, which dataset would generate the worst consequences? Learning transcript or compensation data? You should start with those.

Also, review any data that may be collected automatically, you are equally responsible for the resulting actions of an automated process as well as a manual one.

An audit will help identify any points of weakness and areas of risk – but we are not done yet. It is also important to keep conducting these audits on a regular basis to ensure the quality (and compliance) of the processes is maintained, as well as adapting these to any further legal changes.

Step three: Establishing accountability

The third step is about closing the circle. Businesses need to provide full transparency, including on where employee data is stored and how it is processed, making it clear who can access what data. Once the datasets are clean and the processes have been reviewed and adapted, you now must document and prove how you are compliant. This is called the accountability principle, and essentially translates into documenting the datasets (and how they comply with the data minimisation principle), and documenting your processes (and how they implement privacy requirements and allow users to exercise their rights).

Step three and a half: So, who does all this?

Many companies are appointing general Data Protection Officers who are required to work closely with all departments, but we are now seeing a new role within HR departments. It is in HR’s interest to have a data privacy specialist “in-house”, who works closely with the Data Protection Officer to ensure compliance. Data privacy requires legal knowledge, technical knowledge and business knowledge, and such an expert would provide the much-required expertise around both the local laws and the HR processes of the company.

GDPR is not a straight-forward regulation and it’s important HR prepares now if it hasn’t already. It demands a rethink of certain processes and a review of personal data handling and housing. Even with these three steps in mind, it can feel intimidating to start the process. But I truly believe that the effort pays off with the higher quality of the data, more efficient processes, less risk of fines and penalties, and (much) better employer brand and employee motivation. You want your employees to feel safe and focus on their work, so you need to make sure that their personal data and information is secure and protected.

Compliance is a process, and data protection a culture: once in place, is a very powerful and effective tool.


6 ways of strategising talent management

Most organizations struggle with their talent management, swaying from surplus of talent to shortfall, here are six ways to manage workforce.

Most organizations struggle with their talent management, swaying from surplus of talent to shortfall. Keeping pace with global shifts makes the job extremely complex. Global politics, economic changes and accelerated technology changes all impact the business and consequently talent management.

Indian IT services sector is a perfect case in point. It has been disrupted by Brexit, new US immigration norms, AI, robotics etc. In such an environment how does one build a talent management strategy that will give the best leverage to meet the needs of today and future proof for tomorrow?

We are suddenly talking about an existential crisis in many sectors. Most of these sectors while show a good growth today have a questionable tomorrow. If electric cars come into effect, how will it impact the automobile or oil & gas sectors? How does one anticipate the need for human capital when both the number and nature of talent is highly unpredictable and the cost of getting it wrong is colossal?

In today’s context, the operating principles applied to talent management are rather uncharacteristic.

Here are six ways to strategise talent management:

Abandon long term talent forecasts. Shift to short term simulations – the idea that we can accurately predict talent demand for an entire company several years in advance is a myth. Lifelong employment and job security is not what the new generation of employees are looking for. An optimal approach is developing the internal talent, because it is cheaper, less disruptive and makes external hiring faster and more responsive.

Realize the shift from generic to technical– the job of a manager is becoming redundant, it is about the expertise and individual impact one has on the value chain. One must keep pace with the advancement in technology; it is impossible to build for internally. Technical experts have different aspirations; most of them do not wish to lead a business, and hence their engagement drivers are far from the traditional.

Be young by being relevant to the young. The new generation is special– 80% of them do not aspire to be a CEO. Purpose, impact on the community and learning opportunity mean more to them than job security, benefits and job title. For them a digital workplace is not just about offering flexibility to work from home, it is far more evolved. For the older generation refusing to take a new position was a career-ending move. Today, young employees are clearly looking for challenge and not necessarily the next level; promotion without job enrichment will not help you lure anymore.

Contingent workforce will be the trend – everyone you need in your organization might not be or want to be a full time employee; the freelance economy is growing and gives easy access to a very diverse skillset. This is not only effective to manage your people costs but also helps you manage expectations and deliver better performance. By increasing utilisation one can negotiate the wage, save on training, lessen the burden on office infrastructure and effectively reduce overall costs.

Make RoE count. Improve the return on employee development– by being selective, balancing build versus buy, looking for quality and not quantity companies can become more specific on who and what.
Embrace the misfits. Make diversity of thought your differentiator – our traditional talent management rewards conformity, familiarity and not creativity.. While we are looking for a very distinct “type” that will thrive in our context, the new age skills we need to remain competitive will require us to be exactly the opposite.
If you are lagging behind your competition, chances are your talent management is not working for you. When your CEO says that human capital is their biggest challenge/ risk, they are questioning the effectiveness of the current talent management.

Next time you submit a million dollar plan for your talent management, ask yourself if this is an expense or an investment and how is it going to get you any different results from the previous year. Pause and reset your agenda.


The power of a holistic HCM system

Organizations suffer from disjointed HR processes and scattered employee information across silos of files, spreadsheets, and systems. Compounding this challenge, siloed software implementations (separate systems for recruiting, performance assessment, compensation, learning, core HR, absence management) often fragment data that enable more accurate reporting and improved decision-making.

A survey by Sierra-Cedar found that both data-driven and talent-driven organizations are more likely to adopt holistic HCM systems versus those that are less data- or talent-driven.1 “This shows…organizations leading in HR practices are looking at integrated HCM suites to help them drive these practices. It also supports evidence that talent-driven organizations are more effective, and that having an integrated end-to-end HCM technology suite enables this.

Creating connections between systems allows for complete and accurate reporting and a whole view of each employee from their resume to their most current training certifications. Holistic HCM creates:

  1. Robust recruiting data. Capture resume information and integrate this within both employees’ talent profile and core HR once a candidate accepts a new position.
  2. Essential information at a glance. Each employee’s talent profile needs to show learning achievements, certifications and compliance as well as performance, 360 feedback and compensation. Integrating learning and talent strategies with workforce management communicates to employees that learning and development are central to their everyday experience. An integrated HCM system encourages constant learning and skills development and provides the resources and tools required to impact workers.
  3. Accurate performance assessment. Performance processes must include current learning and development completions and goals as well as development plans and assessment of skills and knowledge.
  4. Forward planning for pipeline development. “You may have the talent in place to meet your operational needs today, but what about tomorrow? Succession planning is a vital exercise to help your company determine critical roles, distinguish what skills will be needed to sustain them in the future, and then identify suitable candidates to develop to take over those positions.”Integrated HCM provides the long-term view required for succession planning.
  5. Support with scheduling. Rostering includes confirmation that an employee has the correct certifications and compliance before they are scheduled for a specific job or new position.

The benefits of holistic HCM systems are numerous. But what about the cost of migrating systems to holistic HCM?

25% of large organizations spend over 25% of their total HR technology budget on integration.4 When information is available in one place using one user interface, workers spend less time looking for what they need, managers spend less time collating data and IT groups spend less time building and maintaining costly integrations between systems.

The cost of integration – While initial costs to integrate systems may seem daunting, actual ROI numbers prove that short-term investment leads to long-term gains. After adopting a holistic HCM system, the New York City Department of Education posted an annual ROI of 279%. Based on the New York City Department of Education example, companies can expect $10.99 returned from every $1 spent.5

The cost of compliance – More than 200 labor laws change each year.6 The cost of manually updating systems and processes is high and leaves organizations open to errors in compliance.7 Leaving your organization open to error is costly: a Pizza Hut franchisee in Australia was recently fined a record $660,020 for underpaying staff almost $20,000.8

HCM systems that are integrated can help minimize compliance risks and ensure organizations are working in accordance with regulations and laws.

Disparate human capital management (HCM) systems make achieving strategic goals near impossible, but when organizations use one holistic platform, they can connect their people with their strategies while also realizing cost savings.


The areas finance bosses have focussed on to gain top millennial talent

Finance bosses may be confident about current retention and recruitment strategies, but that hasn’t prevented them from being victim to the dreaded skills gap.

The millennial workforce is changing the business landscape, with bosses having to ramp up their offerings in the effort of retaining and recruiting a generation easily swayed by the competition. They’re said to value purpose – thus development opportunities – prefer to work flexibly and want to have their opinions heard.

It’s something 97 per cent of financial services executives believe they successfully cater for, according to a Robert Half report. Just over a half (54 per cent) have implemented a flexile working policy, while 50 per cent now offer student loan assistance.

The majority of respondents thought emphasising these areas would help attain Millennial talent with well-developed communication skills, while 42 per cent wanted to recruit someone with the ability to sell or influence others.

But despite their confidence, the finance sector is struggling to find people with the desired skills – 58 per cent deemed it a down-right challenge.

As a result, many companies look to partner with universities, while others work directly with secondary schools to “ensure that curriculum matches the needs and evolution of the industry,” Robert Half pointed out. Social media has likewise become an area of recruitment focus.

With that being said, Robert Half made it a priority to find out which factors respondents thought most attractive.

Some 67 per cent attest that their company’s offered salaries were an appealing factor, while 49 per cent pointed out bonuses as a main draw. On the other hand, 42 per cent claimed career advancement was a main priority.

“Financial services organisations are definitely thinking about how to equip the next generation with the skills and experiences needed to protect the longevity of the industry,” explained Matt Weston, director of Robert Half Financial Services UK.

“Hiring practices are being examined to entice high-calibre candidates. For many, this means reviewing their employer brand alongside offering initiatives that encourage work-life balance, competitive remuneration packages and clear opportunities for professional development.”

Weston added: “Now more than ever, financial services firms are looking to hire graduates who are eager to progress and have the right cultural fit for a successful future with the organisation.”


The Automation of HR: Take Us to Your CHRO

Back in 2014 the Associated Press started using automation software to write quarterly corporate-earnings reports.

This software, known as Wordsmith, is able to produce 3,000 such stories every quarter, which, according to the AP, is a tenfold increase from what its writers and editors were able to produce in the same time period.

By employing automation software to churn out corporate earnings stories, AP journalists are able to dedicate more time on reporting and breaking news. Journalism may not be the only traditionally white-collar field to be affected by automation if software expert predictions are correct.

Automation software — as well as artificial intelligence and machine learning — is on the brink of becoming ubiquitous in offices around the world, taking the repetitive, transactional work out of many traditional white-collar jobs, including many manual functions of human resources roles.

In short, jobs once thought to be immune from automation are likely to be transformed by it within the next 10 years. As automation software begins to creep into more businesses, the role of HR is set for a major transformation. In fact, the Society for Human Resource Management labeled automated HR one of its “Nine HR Tech Trends for 2017.”

“I think there are two ways to think about the implications for HR: How does the department operate, and how does the HR function report to the rest of the enterprise?” said Michael Chui, partner at McKinsey Global Institute, a global management consulting firm.

According to Carolyn Broderick, senior HR information systems analyst at SHRM, HR departments have their work cut out for them when it comes to workforce automation.

“I believe HR has a role for planning in the future. Jobs will have to be redesigned. Certain jobs are going to be enriched if mundane tasks are going to be automated,” said Broderick. “HR has to consider how humans and machines will work together.”

The Wave of Automation

Automated labor often leads to dystopian thoughts of a future where humans in the workforce are rendered obsolete by robots. However, the automation of tasks is nothing new for the American workforce, even in traditionally white-collar sectors. Spell checkers, Excel formulas and out-of-office replies are simple examples of automation already in use that make office jobs easier.

Most occupations have the potential for some automation, and it’s estimated that about half of all the activities people are paid to do in the world’s workforce could potentially be automated by existing technologies, according to a recent report from McKinsey.

“What this says to us is that there is a wide-ranging scope of automation technology, which, over time, will affect every role,” Chui said. “Not just workers who earn lower wages, but MBAs, JDs or MDs. We find the potential for automated work in many occupations.”

The difference between automation already in use and the automation revolution many experts predict is that new advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning are able to automate tasks that were thought to be too difficult for a machine to do accurately.

In other words, it was more efficient, quicker — and ultimately cheaper — for a human being to do them.

“I can automate a lot of things like email, for example,” said Jason Hite, founder and chief people strategist at Daoine Centric, a Virginia-based HR consultancy. “It’s just a ping and an echo. But the difference between automation and artificial intelligence and machine learning is that an email is now read by an AI algorithm. The email you get back is now responding to you with an answer to the question you asked. You’re getting a tailored response.”

Speed and efficiency have always been among the main drivers behind automation in the workforce, as it allows for increased productivity. The same holds true for the current economic climate.

“Automation of activities can enable businesses to improve performance by reducing errors and improving quality and speed, and in some cases achieving outcomes that go beyond human capabilities. Automation also contributes to productivity, as it has done historically,” the McKinsey report states.

It’s possible that automation programs could displace highly skilled jobs in the distant future. But in the near future, the jobs most susceptible to automation are those in manufacturing, accommodation and food service, retail trade and some middle-skill jobs. These jobs share certain commonalities such as physical activities in highly structured and predictable environments, as well as the collection and processing of data.

“There are certain jobs involving data prep or data entry that will be affected. People spend an awful amount time scrubbing data,” Broderick said. “With automation taking over that process, folks can spend more time analyzing data and writing about it. There are already programs that can do that.”

When it comes to HR, Hite said there will be opportunities to automate many transactional tasks and noted that some forward-thinking companies have already started to do so. As an example, he pointed to companies using smart devices to help keep track of employees on leave.

“There are a number of companies that have already integrated with Amazon Echo. As a manager, you can ask it, ‘How many people are on leave today?’ ” said Hite, a 2016 Workforce Game Changer. “There’s no need to call HR about that anymore.”

Experts predict the adoption of automation technology will push HR in new directions, drastically transforming the department’s role within organizations, especially when it comes to artificial intelligence and machine learning.

It’s an Automated World and HR’s Just Livin’ in It

One of the benefits of automating transactional HR tasks is, like AP using Wordsmith to allow reporters to focus on breaking news, that HR departments can focus on activities that bring value to the organization. By adopting sophisticated automation technology with artificial intelligence, HR will have the opportunity to focus more energy on the employee experience.

For example, a benefits expert will no longer need to spend time answering emails with simple questions about the company’s benefits packages. That person can set up a chatbot, which is a computer program that conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods. The chatbot would respond with the correct information while the employee gets to focus on the analysis of how workers are using the organization’s benefits packages.

“The creative part of benefits will need to be handled by humans,” Broderick said. “ ‘What’s the message?’ ‘How do we tailor it and change it?’ and ‘How will people react?’ There should probably always be some kind of human touch point in HR communications. Every company is different, every culture is different. I don’t really see that being taken over by a computer.”

Similarly, automated recruiting programs would allow companies to improve the human element of their talent acquisition processes.

Currently, 82 percent of job seekers are frustrated with an overly automated recruiting experience, according to a Randstad U.S. report released in August. While automation has seemingly created a problem for organizations, it has also created an opportunity for HR to develop a solution that makes the recruiting process more enjoyable for job seekers. In fact, 82 percent of job seekers said the ideal interaction with a company is one where innovative technologies are used behind the scenes and come second to personal, human interaction.

“Even if parts of recruiting can be automated, there are certain things that can’t be replaced. The grunt work can be automated. Entering data about candidates, if that’s automated, recruiters can be more strategic on selecting the best candidates,” Broderick said.

What’s more, automated recruiting technology may help organizations stay compliant with hiring laws since, theoretically, bias and emotional decisions could be removed from the recruiting process. However, Broderick said that would only be true as long as the process, which was first developed by a human, is free from bias to begin with.

Hite agrees with Broderick on this point.

“If the data is bad, the output will be bad. That’s why we need to start thinking about where this is going,” he said. “I think this is really going to be a big moment for HR. It’s going to test who’s leaning forward.”

Change Management

Perhaps the biggest opportunity for HR related to automation technology is managing the change that will take place within organizations. On one hand, processes in place will need to be evaluated and possibly revamped in order for the benefits of automation technology to be fully realized. Furthermore, HR will need people to create communication strategies related to automation changes. And strategies to train — or even re-train — employees to use these new tools will need to be developed.

“Change management is going to be huge,” Hite said. “It’s going to force HR to look at the end user. I really think the break point will be when HR starts to understand how these advances will improve the lives of their stakeholders. If it only complicates the end user’s life even a little bit, that’ll be an issue.”

Higher productivity is a clear benefit of a more automated workforce. However, as organizations stand to gain from this impending technological shift, HR will also need to plan for the negative impact that a portion of the workforce will ultimately endure.


Create a Positive Employee Experience Right from the Recruiting Stage

Creating a positive employee experience begins during the initial screening phase. Job seekers want to know medical sales recruiters see more in them than just the basic skills and experience.

In fact, of the 14,000 global talent acquisition leaders surveyed in the 2017 LinkedIn Inside the Mind of Today’s Candidate study, 63 percent said candidates report feeling valued when a recruiter reaches out.

These candidates want to learn more about the companies they’re applying to, including growth opportunities and how they’ll fit into the company culture. By taking a job seeker-focused approach, you’ll be able to place more top-quality candidates.

Here’s how to keep the focus on the candidate during the recruiting process:

1) Build and maintain trust

Not every candidate will be a great fit for the positions you’re trying to place. However, there are times when you’ll see potential in them for other positions, even if those roles are with another company.

No one likes to be rejected for jobs. However, candidates appreciate honesty. And above all, communication is key. Candidates want frequent and open communication about position status, but also about how they can improve themselves professionally.

They’ll be pleasantly surprised when you recommend another role, or give advice for improvement. This demonstrates that you care about them as an individual, not just as another cog in your job placement wheel.

2) Provide details on the day-to-day experience

Job descriptions are often vague or lacking in detail. Job seekers want to know more information about the position such as responsibilities, pitfalls, and more.

One way to satisfy this is by compiling “day in the life” presentations based on feedback from candidates that have been successfully placed or current employees. This can include everything from lessons learned, advanced skills, client interaction, and more.

While it seems counterproductive to include feedback about pitfalls of the job, candidates will appreciate the realization that the position comes with stressful situations. This information can be presented in such a way that the downsides are weighed against the positives.

For instance, if there is a great deal of travel involved, explain to candidates that this allows them to network with a larger group of clients and co-workers. Above-average compensation can be used a counterpoint to job-related stress, as well.

3) Offer inside knowledge

Most candidates have done their own research before the interview. Without an inside connection, however, they’re limited to publicly available facts. This is an opportunity to provide valuable information and insight.

For instance, the company mission and vision should be readily accessible on the company’s website or social media accounts. However, you can use your inside knowledge to demonstrate how the company actually lives up to these ideals.

This is also an area where you can expound on the company’s culture. If there are several photos of team members at volunteer events, you can confidently tell the candidate that the company is community-minded and share real-life examples. Charitable donations and outreach programs that align with the candidate’s values should also be shared.

Also, if the company schedules monthly celebrations to mark work anniversaries and sales goals, make this fact known. Candidates who thrive on praise and recognition will be attracted to working at the company.

If you’re aware of unique advancement opportunities, give as much detail as possible for the job seeker to factor that information into their decision. For example, some companies pay for training or advanced degrees. Candidates in need of specific skills to advance will be excited to learn about this perk.

By placing the focus on candidates beyond mere skills and experience, you’ll attract well-rounded professionals aimed at bettering themselves both professionally and personally.

Even if those candidates can’t be placed right away, by building trust and providing details and inside knowledge, you’ll build a talent base from where you can draw candidates for other positions.


The Future Of Work: How Artificial Intelligence Will Transform The Employee Experience

Artificial Intelligence is on the verge of penetrating every major industry from healthcare to advertising, transportation, finance, legal, education, and now inside the workplace. Many of us may have already interacted with a chatbot (defined as an automated, yet personalized, conversation between software and human users) whether it’s on Facebook Messenger to book a hotel room or ordering flowers through 1-800 flowers. According to Facebook Vice President, David Marcus, there are now more than 100,000 chatbots on the Facebook Messenger platform, up from 33,000 in 2016.

As we increase the usage of chatbots in our personal lives, we will expect to use them in the workplace to assist us with things like finding new jobs, answering frequently asked HR related questions or even receiving coaching and mentoring. Chatbots digitize HR processes and enable employees to access HR solutions from anywhere. Using artificial intelligence in HR will create a more seamless employee experience, one that is nimbler and more user driven.

Artificial Intelligence Will Transform The Employee Experience

As I detailed in my column, The Intersection of Artificial Intelligence and Human Resources, HR leaders are beginning to pilot AI to deliver greater value to the organization by using chatbots for recruiting, employee service, employee development and coaching. A recent survey of 350 HR leaders conducted by ServiceNow finds 92% of HR leaders agree that the future of providing an enhanced level of employee service will include chatbots. In fact, you can think of a chatbot as your newest HR team member, one that allows employees to easily retrieve answers to frequently asked questions.

According to the ServiceNow survey, more than two thirds of HR leaders believe employees are comfortable accessing chatbots to get the information they need, at the time they need it. The type of questions HR leaders believe employees are comfortable using a chatbot for range from the mundane and factual ones; such as how much paid time off do I have left, to the more personal ones; such as how do I report a sexual misconduct experience.

According to Deepak Bharadwaj, General Manager, HR Product Line, ServiceNow “By 2020, based on the adoption of chatbots in our personal lives, I can see how penetration in the workplace could reach adoption rates of as high as 75% with employees accessing a chatbot to resolve frequently asked HR questions and access HR solutions anywhere and anytime.” Bharadwaj points out how fast we are changing our behavior as consumers, given the dramatic rise of conversational AI technology and its ease of use. For example, Amazon’s Alexa now has more than 15,000 “skills” (Amazon’s term for voice-based apps), nearly all of which were created in the last two years since Amazon opened Alexa to outside developers. In fact, 10,000 Alexa skills were created since fourth quarter, 2016.

As we become comfortable with chatbots in our everyday lives, we will expect to use them in the workplace. There are already a growing number of technology firms targeting HR with artificial intelligence solutions for sourcing (Textio), interviewing (MontageTalent), on-boarding (Talla), coaching (mobile Coach), social recognition (growBot), and employee service centers (ServiceNow).

Capital Group HR: On The Journey To Digital Transformation

Artificial intelligence and chatbots are revolutionizing both the candidate and employee experience. As Diana Wong, Senior Vice President of HR at Capital Group says,”Technology is an enabler to delivering world-class Advisor and Investor experiences to our customers. So, we believe HR must mirror these best in class experiences by leveraging artificial intelligence for all phases of the employee life cycle from recruiting to on-boarding and developing employees.”

Capital Group is piloting a number of artificial intelligence technologies in HR, from using Textio to write more effective and bias free job descriptions to using predictive analytic web based video interviewing through the MontageTalent platform. Wong believes the piloting and usage of artificial intelligence not only improves the efficiency and effectiveness of the candidate and employee experience, but also enables Capital Group to be seen as a modern employer with Millennial workers.

However, there are barriers along the journey as HR experiments with artificial intelligence. I recently spoke about the impact of artificial intelligence to a group of senior HR leaders in Milan last week. This group identified a number of barriers to using artificial intelligence in HR, namely the fear of job loss among HR team members, lack of skills to truly embrace these new technologies and the change management needed to adopt to new ways of sourcing, recruiting, and engaging employees. Wong emphasizes this when she says, “One of the critical success factors to adopting artificial intelligence for HR is the cultural orientation around change and on-going employee communications on how and why the organization is digitally transforming HR.”

As HR leaders begin developing a strategy and roadmap for artificial intelligence, I believe there are five work streams to begin this digital transformation.

1. Embrace artificial intelligence by experimenting with a range of piloting a range of chatbots

Chatbots are already ubiquitous in our lives as consumers, and now they are starting to appear in the workplace. Rather than just read about them, consider embracing a productivity chatbot as your newest HR team member. There are a number of new digital virtual assistants led by Amy, Zoom, and Shae. Each represents new way of working using natural language processing to schedule meetings, automatically generate documents, and provide you with personalized health data. So why not have your HR team pilot these as a way to understand the power of artificial intelligence on behavior change?

2. Develop a shared vision with cross functional stakeholders of HR, IT, Real Estate, Communitarians, and Digital Transformation

Delivering a compelling employee experience is a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining talent. Companies are realizing that transforming employee experience is not an HR initiative, rather it is a business initiative. This means senior C-level executives from HR, IT, Digital Transformation, Real Estate, and Corporate Communications need to develop one common shared vision on what a memorable and compelling employee experience is and define the elements of the employee experience over the short, medium, and long term.

3. Understand the implications of implementation on the technology roadmap

All new technology based initiatives such as using artificial intelligence in the workplace require the design of a technology roadmap outlining the short-term and long-term goals and how the organization will meet these goals. This means the cross functional team of HR, IT, and Digital Transformation will need to agree on a shared vision for employee experience and define the technology roadmap to bring this vision to reality.

4. Identify new job roles needed to fully leverage AI in HR

Adding a number of new job roles is part of the journey to transform employee experience in an organization. This starts with creation of the Head of Employee Experience role. I interviewed Mark Levy, the first Head of Employee Experience for Airbnb in a Forbes column, “The Workplace As An Experience: Three New HR Roles Emerge.” This role is responsible for bringing to life the Airbnb mission of Belong Anywhere to life by creating memorable workplace experiences which span all aspects of work space, recruitment, development, volunteer experiences, and even the menus in Aribnb facilities. Other roles I have seen created during the implementation of an employee experience transformation include Head of Conversational Design at Capital One, which aims to create conversational interfaces for customers to access account information and complete financial tasks. GE Digital has also created the unique role of Recruiting Scrum Master. This role applies many of the scrum techniques used in software development to recruiting by breaking down the massive hiring needs into incremental and iterative steps, where the highest value hiring challenges are addressed first for the hiring manager.

5. Upskill HR team to understand the power of artificial intelligence in HR

Build an expertise on how AI will impact HR within your team. Designate one team member to partner with your IT and Digital Transformation group to provide HR with the latest information on new AI products, services, and how other areas in the organization such as marketing or IT are embracing AI to create more compelling customer experiences.

Enterprise AI adoption is still in the early stages, but the opportunity to develop a concrete understanding of AI, its ecosystem, and the implications of augmenting new HR job roles is massive. We are only at the beginning of this journey where artificial intelligence and chatbots transform all aspects of HR processes. What is your company doing to transform the employee experience using artificial intelligence?


Nextchat: The Candidate Experience

The job description was inaccurate, the mobile application was time-consuming, the receptionist was rude, the interviewer was 45 minutes late and HR never communicated that you didn’t get the job—or why. You never hear from the company again. After all this, you’re glad you didn’t get the job, and you relay your entire horrible experience on Glassdoor to warn others.

This is just one example of what a bad candidate experience looks like, and how it can damage an employer’s reputation.

Competition for talent continues to drive organizations to innovate their talent acquisition strategies. And one of their key targets is the candidate experience.

In her SHRM Blog post Candidates as Customers: Emphasizing the Candidate Experience in Talent Acquisition, post-doctoral fellow in SHRM Research Valerie Streets writes that there are a few key themes that shape the candidate experience, such as employer branding, procedural justice and communication. Feedback and analytics are also important. Streets says that “Seeking feedback from candidates allows employers to understand candidate perceptions of the overall organization, the staff involved in hiring, the user friendliness of your online application, and virtually any other component of the talent acquisition process. Not only will this information allow you to better refine your talent acquisition processes, but seeking feedback keeps candidates engaged and provides another point of communication between the two of you!”

While attention is usually directed at the application process or interviews, few employers consider how candidate rejection can affect not only the candidate experience, but their employer brand. The SHRM Online news article How You Reject a Job Candidate Defines Your Recruitment Strategy, online manager/editor Roy Maurer advises that, “An organization’s HR team can create advocates out of any applicant—even the rejected ones—by ensuring each candidate has a positive experience. … When candidates are rejected in a dismissive manner—or worse, if they never hear back from an employer at all—that news travels fast. … Experts agree that HR should be trained to consider the candidate rejection process a vital piece of the company’s recruitment strategy, with immediate and long-term benefits to the company, if done well.”

Have you ever applied for a job at your own company? The experience may shed some light on why you’re having trouble attracting and keeping the best talent.

If a bad candidate experience is ruining your ability to fill jobs, or if you’d like to make a mediocre experience much better, please join @shrmnextchat at 3 p.m. ET on November 15 for #Nextchat with special guest SHRM Research Post-Doctoral Fellow Valerie Streets @ValerieNStreets. We’ll chat about why the candidate experience continues to alienate so many job seekers and how organizations can work to turn it around.

Q1. In your experience, where are employers failing when it comes to the candidate experience in 2017?

Q2. As an employer, what is your biggest challenge with creating a better candidate experience?

Q3. What is your organization doing to improve the application process for a better candidate experience?

Q4. How is your organization improving the interview process through manager training or other process or procedural changes to create a better candidate experience?

Q5. Communication is key. How is your organization changing the way you communicate with applicants—and all passive and active external job seekers—to improve the candidate experience, from the time you post the job to the time you send the offer (or rejection) letter?

Q6. A robust careers site is a critical component of the candidate experience because it communicates the employer culture and brand. What are some unique ideas for building a compelling careers site?

Q7. How does your organization conduct candidate experience analysis or solicit feedback to improve the process?

Q8. As a job seeker (past or present), what advice can you share with employers about how you think they could make the candidate experience better?


Opinion: Closing the gender gap

It would be easy to conclude that the logistics industry is a misogynistic no-go area for women, but this would be wrong, says Nicky Jones, founder of Vidu Recruitment.

The debate around the lack of gender diversity within the UK logistics industry has rumbled on for as long as most people can remember.

Various schemes and initiatives designed to attract more women to the sector have come and gone yet the industry remains stubbornly male dominated at all levels.

It is estimated that less than 20 per cent of the 2.3 million people currently employed in transport and logistics in the UK are women. Compared to other industries such as retail and technology where women fill a high proportion of key roles, this is a depressing statistic.

It would be easy and, perhaps, understandable to conclude that the logistics industry is a misogynistic no-go area for women, but this would be wrong.
In my experience, the industry is working hard to attract the top talent and gender is no barrier to those seeking to enter the sector or, indeed, progress within it.

Of course, having provided recruitment services to the supply chain business for over 15 years, I have encountered individuals to whom sexism, racism, ageism – and all manner of other ‘isms’ – are ingrained character traits, but, thankfully, such people are few and far between and the overwhelming majority of logistics industry employers relish diversity.

So why is it that so few women opt for a career in logistics? Some believe the perception that most roles primarily involve some form of moving and lifting is to blame. This may be valid, but it is important to remember that, in addition to drivers and warehouse operatives, the logistics industry has a requirement for business development and customer-facing personnel with expertise in the industries in which customers operate and women often thrive in such positions.

Those involved the sector argue that current perceptions of the logistics industry aren’t accurate, but it seems that if it is to attract the right talent and overcome its gender issues, employers in the industry must do a better job of promoting the scope of the opportunities they have available.

Vidu is a new recruit platform that makes this possible. Vidu offers a modern digital approach to recruiting staff in the logistics sector by using video and social media to enable employers to share more about their company and the role they are seeking to fill.

By giving employers a platform to showcase their organisation and explain more about their business environment, Vidu provides an ideal platform for logistics companies to dispel any misgivings prospective employees may have about the industry.

Today, logistics impacts upon every aspect of our lives and the UK logistics industry is evolving to meet the demands of a rapidly changing industrial and business landscape. But, there can be no denying that the industry’s future prospects will be greatly enhanced if it is successful in its efforts to attract a more diverse workforce and it will do this by inspiring and encouraging women into its ranks in ever greater numbers.