Historically, HR departments have been assigned time-consuming tasks ranging from oversight of onboarding, benefits administration and policy development, to organizing internal training and maintaining employee files. But in the last 20 years, thanks in large part to technology advancements that now automate these tasks, HR professionals are dedicating their time to business-growing efforts like career pathing, employee engagement and talent retention.
"We've moved from the idea of HR being focused on efficiency and back office administration to HR being a tool that helps achieve business outcomes by ensuring that our workforces and their management teams have the information, tools, and environments needed to get the job done," explains Stacey Harris, vice president of research and analytics for IT service company Sierra-Cedar. "Today, it's about engagement and the experience. Even something as mundane as payroll has become about the experience an employee is having."
When employees recognize the value in new HR technology, and actually use it; self-service HR can help increase job satisfaction, improve costs and give HR professionals the freedom to focus on meeting more critical needs for both employees and the business.
We spoke with Harris about some of the latest and most interesting recent trends to come out of Sierra-Cedar's annual HR Systems Survey White Paper in the last few years. Here are four self-service HR developments to keep in mind.
1) Technology Is Helping People Make Real, Strategic Decisions
As the use of cloud-based technology solutions in HR increases, businesses can create better data repositories, tailor the employee experience, and achieve improved talent and business outcomes thanks to more informed decision making.
But Harris doesn't credit the cloud and technology alone for these fundamental shifts: "What's really changing the market is that employees, business leaders, managers and HR itself even, are expecting so much more from their technology."
Rather than seeing technology just as a tool for gathering data and providing analysis, people are expecting it to provide an experience that goes beyond the mundane work of expense reports, data entry and emails, she explains. When technology can help businesses move beyond busy work, it gives both leaders and employees the chance to focus on achieving larger company initiatives.
2) It's All About the End User
People today expect more out of their employer—particularly in learning. Rather than creating a just-in-time curriculum, employees are increasingly asked to define what they need to know and why.
"The big evolution that's taking place now isn't just about how you deliver content or what kind of content you deliver. It's about the end user. What they need, when they need it and what format they want it in," Harris says.
Rather than assuming what the end user wants or knows, more customized delivery solutions paired with individualized content can help organizations create a better user experience. We’ve talked about personalized learning for ages, but now with the most recent innovations in micro and machine learning we are on the edge of true personalized learning.
3) Technology Adoption Isn't Always Easy
The large majority of organizations — over 60% for the last several years —are planning some sort of major initiative around business process improvement. But while these changes can lead to several benefits, such as better HR and talent outcomes, employee adoption can be a challenge.
While the majority of employees don't have a problem adapting to new technology for a process that has been around for a long time, such as a change to payroll, adoption levels drop dramatically when it comes to using new technology for things like career management or succession planning, Harris says.
It's not that people aren't interested in these topics, she explains, rather, there needs to be a defined value proposition on any new piece of technology organizations put into place—a good reason for them personally to use it on a regular basis. The value can’t be defined by what is good for the business or management if they want higher levels of adoption.
"With every piece of technology that we have in our business, we have to ask ourselves: why does the end user want it?" Harris asks.
4) Simplicity Is the Way of the Future
Looking to the future, HR technology will become even more integrated in organizational processes. A few of the Top ranked emerging technologies include predictive analytics, gamification and experience API—all forms of technology that capture big data on human performance and learning.
Already, over 5 percent of organizations are using some form of machine learning, wearables or sentiment analysis tools as strategic parts of their HR systems.
"People are always going to try and figure out how to simplify their lives," Harris says. "As we do more with our phones, wifi and the cloud with our business systems, we're going to expect our HR systems to get simpler and easier to use, transparent to the work that needs to be done. "
Photo: Creative Commons
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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