Future of HR: Getting Strategic on Talent

Companies are struggling with talent management. But new digital tools are about to help HR leaders take control of their processes and become more strategic. HR&DigitalTrends talked to Karen Cariss, the chief executive officer and co-founder of Singapore-headquartered PageUp on the future of talent management.

How have digital tools transformed recruiting?

Cariss: Across 20 years of experience, PageUp has seen talent management transformed by digital tools that focus on elevating the candidate-to-employee journey. There is now a focus on providing a seamless digital experience throughout the talent lifecycle - from recruitment to onboarding, learning, and performance and development.

Recruiters can now launch job ads to multiple job boards and their career sites from one platform. They can bulk-respond to candidates and schedule interviews, have candidates complete online testing and background checks, and even do video interviews -- all online. A digital approach also means recruiters are collecting more data than ever before on the most effective sourcing channels, time-to-hire, and more.

The heavy lifting that software solutions do for recruiters also frees them up to spend more time on strategic tasks, and the candidate - employee journey.

Has this meant that the recruiting industry gets it right more often or simply that it is more cost efficient?

Cariss: Digital tools make recruiting more cost-efficient. The insights and analytics gained from the use of talent management technology are far more impactful than merely reducing costs. Technology and analytical tools can surface valuable, actionable insights about the effectiveness of recruitment, which helps organizations to see what's working and identify areas for improvement. Twenty years ago, it was almost impossible to measure how successful the recruitment process was.

For example, offer-acceptance-rate is one metric that tells an important story about the effectiveness of recruitment. This metric refers to the percentage of candidates that have accepted a formal job offer. PageUp research has found that the average offer acceptance rate across industries is 94%, while top-performing organizations average 99% year-in, year-out. Talent management technology has helped organizations we work with to surface valuable insights into their offer acceptance rate. Those who found they had an offer acceptance rate under the industry benchmark were able to brainstorm reasons why and come up with solutions. Some found it was because they weren't an employer of choice, others discovered their benefits and compensation were not competitive enough, or their recruitment process wasn't fast enough to secure talent.

Technology and analytics can surface other metrics, including sourcing channel effectiveness, the impact of mobile applications, and time-to-apply rates. These provide organizations with valuable insights into the effectiveness of their recruitment process.

To what extent is artificial intelligence a game changer in recruiting?

Cariss: PageUp’s new partnership with PredictiveHire is just one example of how AI can transform and streamline recruitment and pre-hire screening processes. PredictiveHire’s AI helps clients identify the traits of high performers at their company. It then uses these traits to screen the first round of applicants. This saves hiring managers considerable time and effort, especially in roles that receive high volumes of applications. PredictiveHire’s blind applicant screening can also reduce bias to help recruiters make decisions that are informed by data, rather than gut feel.

Beyond recruitment, there are many opportunities for AI to enable better performance management and create a stronger internal culture. For example, AI could be incorporated in internal collaboration tools like Slack and Trello, social networks and even email to identify how employees interact and work with each other. This data can then be used for continual performance and culture management.

Talent management is about managing people. Do you think that digitization has changed anything in the nature of talent?

Cariss: Talent management has certainly evolved alongside the changing needs and nature of people. With millennials expected to make up the majority of the workforce in the next decade, their expectations of a consumer-grade, mobile-optimized experience have contributed to the rise of new and more efficient digital talent management solutions.

That said, the human side of human resources remains paramount. The number one piece of feedback we receive after an implementation is that HR teams now have time to focus on the strategic initiatives. They've always known these initiatives were essential but didn't have time to get to them. Whether that's succession planning, employee engagement initiatives, or change management during digital transformations in other departments, there's plenty for people to do. HR technology is an enabler of people, not a replacement.

Where is talent management going, and how do you see its future under the influence of automation and AI and other digital tools?

Cariss: In 2020 and beyond, the HR SaaS industry is set to grow. With technology driving efficiencies in recruitment, we’ve seen major improvements across all aspects of the talent management life cycle. Our customer research has shown us that time-to-hire rates are decreasing, and offer-to-hire rates are increasing across all industries. Automation is now giving HR practitioners back hours in a day to focus on value-added strategic activities like improving employee experience and developing talent.

Predictive analytics will be the next hot topic for early adopters in HR. The data required to feed the algorithms exist. It's just a matter of gathering and analyzing the data in a sophisticated way and looking at the right metrics to make decisions. Many of the HRTech companies with whom we partner are already offering this. We're not far off being able to forecast the likely tenure of a new hire, or the time to competency of a new addition.

Alongside this hunger for faster, better and more technology-enablement, is a real desire for human connection and authenticity. The smartest employers will be those who balance both.