When we talk about talent strategy, we're talking about a responsibility full of moving parts. HR professionals are tasked with finding talent to match a business' momentum, which means they are constantly scaling programs up and down, looking back while thinking ahead, and keeping a close eye on the culture and morale of an organization.
For large companies, the challenge of doing "talent strategy" well is met by a task force of HR pros. But small businesses don't have such a luxury—instead of an entire team of specialists overseeing all of these moving parts, it's usually just one or two people handling everything from hiring to payroll to benefits.
Technology (whether it's an applicant tracking system or a learning management system) can be a saving grace for these small talent teams. But starting the HR tech journey is also quite daunting. After working in both small businesses and as part of a HR tech company that serves small businesses, I've learned a few lessons about what SMBs need when it comes to talent management software.
From my experience, getting HR tech right as a small businesses—which means making sure the tool has a positive impact on your people—comes down to asking the right questions. Here are three things to think about before investing in a new product or tool.
1) Am I ready to invest in a "non-revenue generating" aspect of the business?
The question for small businesses in any investment often comes down to one major trade-off: time versus money. Yes, this applicant tracking system might speed up hiring — but will it be enough to offset the cost?
There's no precise formula to answer this question, but you can do a "gut check." Look at the amount of time your team is investing in administrative tasks. Is this time taking away from more impactful parts of the business? What processes could be streamlined with technology? Perhaps you're spending half your day sorting through applications and resumes, when you could be engaging with candidates.
HR tech will give you a return. It may not be as immediately tangible as an investment in sales or marketing technology, but it will bring positive benefits to your business—bottom and top line. To answer the "time versus money" question, remember that time usually is money. You just need to be in a place where you can set money aside for technology that you know will save your team time—and allow them to be more strategic in the long run.
2) How fast is my company growing?
The next question to ask comes down to your talent trajectory. As companies start to grow, technology can support that growth. To determine what kind of tool and platform you need, think about the skill sets you have as an HR department and the skill sets you want to grow into. Think about your current company culture, how this culture will evolve and who is expected to "manage" this culture.
Tap your employees to help inspire ideas. For example, my current role at Cornerstone was created out of an employee engagement survey—seriously. People said they wanted learning and development. We were growing so quickly that leadership hadn't had the opportunity to take a step back, take a breath and realize how big the company was becoming.
HR tech can help you move forward and "catch up" at the same time. A static company of fifteen people probably doesn't need career pathing, but if you want to grow to thirty by the end of the year, you should have already started planning for how those fifteen people will grow alongside your business and who can fill shoes if someone departs.
3) Do I want to know what I might find out?
Last but not least, you need to be prepared for what HR technology will reveal. Analytics and reporting are an integrated part of nearly every talent management software product. Are you ready to not only handle the insights you'll gain, but take action on them?
If a brand new performance management system points to the inefficiencies in your review cycle, you'll have to be ready to address those challenges. Your team needs to know you're taking talent strategy seriously.
You can anticipate some of these tech-driven insights, of course. Read up on Bersin by Deloitte's latest reports, keep tabs on the best industry blogs (hint: ReWork), and attend meet-ups and conferences.
By answering these three questions, you'll be three steps ahead of your leadership team when it comes to presenting why you want to invest in HR technology and how it can impact your business.
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4 Ways to Expand Your Social Media Recruiting Strategy
Social media is ubiquitous, and companies are using it in many different and innovative ways for enhancing their sales, marketing and customer services. So why is it then that many HR departments still fail to see social media as more than a job board? Outside of the office, the same HR people happily engage with friends on Facebook, share news and ideas on Twitter, look at pictures on Instagram and send snaps on Snapchat. But when they put their work hat on they seemingly forget why they use social in the way they (and hundreds of millions of other users) do every day, and resort back to just posting jobs (in a boring way) on social media! Of course there is nothing wrong with job posting, and it's often an effective approach to reaching an audience, but not all of the time. According to LinkedIn, only 12 percent of the working population are actively seeking new employment. So, if all you do is post jobs on your LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook page, you are consciously ignoring the other 88 percent of the working population who might be interested in hearing more about your company in general. Creating and sharing interesting content about your company such as employee stories or volunteer days help bring your employer brand to life. It might even trigger people to reach out to you and find out more about your job opportunities. In truth, mixing up your social media feeds with a variety of content will provide more depth and candidate engagement. Here are four ways to expand your social media strategy and engage with new potential candidates. 1) Candidate Sourcing With people using an average of more than five social networks, sourcing talent via social media makes absolute sense. Branch out from just using LinkedIn and look to sites like Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to search for and engage with prospective talent. Try search tools like Followerwonk to search Twitter bios for keywords and job titles, a clever Chrome browser extension called Intelligence Search that easily searches Facebook and using the search bar at the top of Google+. They will help you identify new talent. If you are looking to build social media pipelines then try Hello Talent. It is a great free tool that allows you to build talent pipelines from many different social networks by using a browser extension. 2) Competitor Monitoring Social media is a fantastic source of information and data. By using tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, you can monitor the social media activity of your competitors. Both of these tools allow you to set up search columns, where you can enter things like keywords, hashtags, Twitter names and track when any of these are mentioned on sites such as Twitter. You can use the interact or use the insights accordingly. 3) Resources for Candidates Consider your Facebook page (or Twitter channel) as a real-time customer services channel for you to engage and communicate with both new and existing candidates in the recruitment process. Provide links to your social media pages to candidates at all stages in the process and encourage them to visit the pages and ask questions about any part of the process. You can also share useful information about working for the company, including locations, employees and other relevant news. 4) Live Recruitment Events Not everyone can attend the many recruitment events happening every month. But by using social media like Twitter, Facebook Live, Instagram and Snapchat, you can easily provide live commentary for these events you attend or host. Real-time video via Facebook Live and interaction via Twitter chats are superb examples of ways to regularly engage with a live audience of potential candidates. With social media firmly established in our working lives, I question how much more evidence HR departments will need to fully embrace this "new" form of candidate engagement. Photo: Twenty20
Cartoon Coffee Break: Unconventional Recruiting
Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back every two weeks for a new ReWork cartoon. Missed the Recruiting Trends conference? From the state of recruiting automation adoption, to the role that the human element still plays in recruiting, our recap covers everything you need to know. Header photo: Creative Commons
The Latest Office Benefit Is Tackling Student Debt
Modern companies are more than just employers — increasingly, they are also gyms, cafeterias and even laundromats. As perks like yoga class, free lunch and complimentary dry cleaning become the norm, companies continue to push the boundaries on ways to attract and retain top talent by providing much more than a paycheck to employees. The latest in the slew of new workplace benefits? Student loan assistance. In April, Chegg partnered with Tuition.io to give full-time employees extra cash for student loan reduction. Then in September, consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers announced it would provide up to $1,200 to help employees pay off loans annually. As a benefit, student loan assistance programs are certainly still in their infancy— one survey found that only 3 percent of companies offer such a benefit. But experts say that may soon change as companies seek to differentiate themselves in a competitive hiring environment. "We think student loan benefits are poised to be the next big benefit; similar to what 401(k) matching was when it was first introduced," says Dana Rosenberg, who leads employer and affinity group partnerships at Earnest, a lender that offers student loan refinancing and works with companies to create loan pay-down programs. The Burden of Student Debt Such programs could be extremely attractive to debt-laden Millennials. Around 40 million Americans collectively carry $1.2 trillion in student loan debt, and the graduating class of 2015 was the most indebted class in history with an average debt of $35,000 (a superlative they won't hold for long come May 2016.) For employers looking to adjust benefits to correspond to the changing demographics of their employee base, student loan programs hit the mark. "In 2016, our employees will be 80 percent millennials, and we also hire close to 11,000 employees directly out of school each year," says Terri McClements, Washington Metro managing partner of PwC. With student debt often preventing young people from participating in 401(k) plans and reaching traditional life milestones, the benefit could potentially make a large impact on employees' financial and personal well-being. A study from the American Student Association found that 73 percent of people with student loans reported putting off saving for retirement or other investments due to their debt, 75 percent reported delaying a home purchase and 27 percent reported it was difficult to buy daily necessities. "Student loans can be a very stressful thing to deal with, so if we can give our employees peace of mind, that's great," says Caroline Gennaro, corporate communications manager at Chegg. The Allure for Employers Student debt assistance programs aren't just attractive to employees, either. Rosenberg says there are significant benefits for the organizations that offer them as well. "Employers that offer programs to help their employees get out from under their debt load are seeing big benefits: increased retention, more competitive recruiting and, perhaps most importantly, happier employees who have additional cash flow to put towards their life goals," Rosenberg explains. Rosenberg says happier employees are more engaged employees, who tend to be more productive. Studies show that companies with high employee engagement experience lower turnover and have double the rate of organizational success than their less-engaged counterparts. Student loan benefit programs may also lead to a more diverse workforce, attracting employees whose financial backgrounds meant they had to take on more debt for their education. "Diversity and inclusion are also very important to us, so the ability to offer this benefit can help minorities who come out of school with a higher debt burden," says McClements. A Promising Response Companies say the response to their student loan assistance programs have been overwhelmingly positive. Chegg has had more than 80 people sign up since they started their program this summer, and they've already eliminated roughly 86 years of collective loan repayments for their employees. Companies are also finding these programs are a way to differentiate themselves from organizations that may offer more generic benefits. "As a company in the San Francisco Bay Area, we are always looking to attract the best and brightest in the industry, and this benefit is a big draw," says Gennaro. Photo: Shutterstock