Let's put our heads together



    Let's put our heads together



      Automation vs. The Human Touch – Reflections

      VA185 – Melbourne to Nadi

      I am currently flying at 35,000ft above the Pacific Ocean heading to Fiji, reflecting on the year that has been 2016 and looking forward to 2017 and what it has in store for the HR & Recruitment industry. I confidently predict it will be another year of change and innovation driven mostly by technology and automation that will present new and increasingly complex challenges for HR & Talent Acquisition leaders to deal with.

      2016 Highlights and Major Learnings

      1) Maturity Model 2017 – my participation in the development of the new Corporate Recruitment Maturity Model, to be formally released in early 2017, has opened my eyes to the future of our industry and what we need to think about in order to manage the ever changing landscape of technology, data and workforce trends.

      We hope this model will enable HR & Talent Acquisition professionals to assess their current operating model and provide insights and guidance in ways to develop the recruitment function to better support their organisations business strategy and people plans.

      The maturity model depicts a future where organisations focus more on the ‘consumers’ of the hiring process and the overall experience being created, whilst predicting significantly more linkages between organisations and their respective hiring activities.

      Increasing use of automation and predictive analytics will shift the role of recruiters from a paradigm of Source – Screen – Select to one where the focus needs to be on brand, attraction, engagement, relationship and advocacy.

      Companies will need to develop clear technology and data strategies to support and enable their recruitment functions and advanced brand, marketing and analytics skills will be required as part of Talent Acquisitions’ toolkit.

      The Maturity Model will be released during January 2017……watch this space.

      (Thanks to Australia Post for commissioning this research project, and to PwC for working with me to develop the final model, and to the various Heads of Talent Acquisition and Leaders of progressive vendors who have their time and valuable input into the research phase of this project.)

      2) Vendor Proliferation – someone told me this week that there have been 800 HR Tech start ups launch in 2016, that’s not a typo, it did say 800! I presented to a Talent Acquisition team in Melbourne a fortnight ago and showed a slide detailing the key vendors I managed when I led the ANZ Careers team – there were 9 (an ATS provider, a couple of job boards, a background check provider, a couple of assessment providers and a few key agencies). My next slide showed the companies I had met either for the first time in 2016 or because they are an established business innovating their product / service – there were nearly 40 logos on this slide.

      Included in the 40 were HR Data Analytics businesses, Open Source ATS providers, Sourcing CRM / Talent Community Providers, Referral Apps and Technologies, Predictive Analytics companies, Chat-bot and IVR companies, on-boarding technology providers, mobile first assessment providers, AI and machine learning based technology companies, video assessment providers, digital and video technology specialists, people aggregation businesses, skills based talent community providers, platform and exchange businesses providing access to assessment tools, career coaching and recruiters, reinvented or reinventing job board providers.

      The vendor landscape has changed significantly in the last few years and its much harder for HR & Talent Acquisition leaders to remain current, up to date and across the industries latest developments.

      To help me stay in touch I am heading to San Francisco in February to meet some of the businesses I think will be highly influential in 2017 and beyond, I am looking forward to seeing these ventures first hand.

      Oh, and yes then there is also Facebook and Google who are about to make a big splash in Recruitment…….who knows how this will impact the industry.

      Facebook Launches Jobs Tab



      Google Moves into Recruitment Technology


      3) Homo Sapiens and Homo Deus – I have just finished reading two outstanding books that I highly recommend, the first is Homo Sapiens, a brief history of humankind and the second is Homo Deus, a brief history of tomorrow. Author Yuval Noah Harari.

      The books, particularly Homo Deus have had a profound impact on my view of the world and where we may be heading and I see great alignment with some of our thinking behind the maturity model.

      Homo Deus provides an insight into how humans may evolve in the twenty-first century and beyond and paints a picture of technology and data augmented humans fully upgraded in the pursuit of happiness and divinity. It makes for a very interesting read…..

      However, the future is not here yet and we remain ‘Homo Sapiens’ with our simple need for human contact, communication, relationships and affiliation.

      On a personal level, I still prefer receiving a phone call from a friend rather than an email or SMS. I still prefer meeting someone face to face rather than by phone or by VC. I still prefer calling Telstra and speaking to a person not an IVR. I still prefer the experience of running in the outdoors rather than on a treadmill in the gym and I much prefer the feeling of the wind in my hair and the burn of my legs muscles as I climb a mountain rather than the experience of a virtual reality hill-climb.

      Yes, I am 45, a Gen-X, but I am still relevant and represent a major slice of the workforce and consumer marketplace.

      With the proliferation of technology in our industry, our major challenge for 2017 will be striking the fine balance between automation (robotics) and human interaction and intervention. Too much human intervention will become too costly and inefficient relative to others whereas too little will depersonalise and alienate many participants in the process.

      As an industry we need to encourage innovation and experimentation with new tools and technology, but we need to also measure its impact on engagement, NPS and experience. Every Talent Acquisition function needs to understand its baseline as it stands today so that it can measure the impact of new tools and technology. Recruitment leaders must start paying more attention to the views of their consumers – hiring managers and applicants (internal and external). It still amazes me how many companies are not regularly requesting feedback on the experience being created by recruitment, a simple survey will suffice probing sentiment and feelings of job seekers and hiring managers.

      TQSolutions recently conducted a small survey of job seeker sentiment and asked specific questions about general comfort levels interacting with technology / automation at various stages of the recruitment process. The findings were enlightening and countered some of our original assumptions. We have not released the results of this survey due to insufficient sample size, but we are keen to expand this study next year with a larger number of participating companies. We essentially want to find out where in the process job seekers and hiring managers are comfortable dealing with technology and automation and where they are not – we think the findings will help to inform the true impact and value of the ever increasing array of recruitment tools and technology.

      Remember, for many companies, every candidate is in fact a customer and the experience being created will have an impact (positive or negative) on your company brand. I still remember a bad experience created by a hiring manager at Natwest markets when I was applying for Graduate roles – and 24 years later I still will not become a customer of Natwest or its associated businesses.

      I just wish I had social media, glassdoor or whirlpool back then, I could have inflicted a lot more brand damage as a result of this very negative hiring experience……..yes this is vindictive and yes I do still have a grudge, but your career, applying for jobs is personal and affects us deeply and on an emotional level, we need to remember this.

      Don’t Forget the Human Touch

      2016 has been a wonderful year for our industry – innovation is driving the introduction of new tools and technology across the hiring lifecycle and there are significant opportunities to improve process efficiency, reduce operating costs, raise recruiter productivity and the enhance the experience of users and participants.

      However, we should not get carried away with every new gadget, fad or technology. There are no silver bullets and the ever increasing array of ‘point solutions’ is creating new complexity and inefficiencies in their own right.

      I would therefore challenge every HR & Talent Acquisition leader to first determine the experience they are seeking to create during the hiring process and then to assess tools and technology against this desired experience. If experience is not aligned or improved, question the validity and value of the tool and technology, if experience is improved, measure it and assess the return on investment of the tool and technology.

      Start with the basics, what is your ATS experience saying about you as a brand? How are your candidates being treated as they apply to jobs via your ATS? Does ATS in your company stand for ‘Applicant Turn-off System’?

      Continue to experiment and innovate but never lose sight of the impact on experience and the sentiment of your users. Significant brand damage and bottom line impact can be created by purely focusing on process efficiency and cost reduction at the expense of experience and human interactions.

      Your challenge for 2017 is to balance the increasing need for automation and process efficiency against our basic desire for the human touch and human interactions.

      Enjoy the holiday season and I hope you have a successful and prosperous 2017 !


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