Human resources has felt the transformational impact of technological advancement for quite some time now, but this past year consisted of a few significant advances in the world of HR tech. We witnessed companies experiment with virtual reality to recruit new employees, providers — including Cornerstone — introduce new workforce analytics products and the mobile workforce balloon as the number of devices in the enterprise increased by 72 percent from 2014.
The next twelve months hold promise as the market for talent management innovation continues to mature, and the latest technologies expand beyond early adopters to a mainstream HR audience.
What can we expect from the landscape of HR — and HR tech specifically — in 2016? In lieu of a crystal ball, we reached out to a number of industry experts to get their take on key trends: what will take off, what will fizzle and what will become critical for success.
Everyone Wants an HR Analytics Team
While most companies are still in the beginning stages of workforce analytics, HR pros and executives alike recognize the potential of big data in talent management. This may be the year we see interest turn into serious investment.
"More CHROs I'm speaking with are building out data analytics teams to better understand how employees work," says Jacob Morgan, best-selling author and co-founder of The FOW Community. "HR is moving away from just focusing on legal documents, hiring and promotions to truly being the knowledge center for understanding how work gets done."
Actions Speak Louder Than Analytics
Of course, in order to justify an investment in workforce analytics, vendors are going to have to demonstrate their products' impact for customers.
"2016 will be the year predictive analytics vendors will have to prove their systems work," says Bill Kutik, host of the Firing Line with Bill KutikÂ®. "[The] best way is to load prospective clients own data from 18 to six months ago, [run] it through their software and see whether its predictions for the last six months came true! Otherwise, predictive analytics will be the next great thing that went nowhere."
Forget About Those Employee Engagement Apps
In addition to new analytics products, entrepreneurs and established vendors have been quick to jump on the employee engagement train, creating a wave of apps and tools for employers to connect with employees. But to some, the engagement trend is just a fad.
"I see employee engagement as an organizational priority beginning to fizzle out," says Tim Sackett, president of HRU Technical Resources. "We now have enough research, over a long period of time, that is beginning to show us that [our] employees aren't getting more engaged the more we focus on this... I believe organizations will start to focus on who they truly are, and part of their talent strategy will be to find employees who want what [their] organization is, not trying to change [their] organization to what employees want."
Moving Benefits Beyond Free Lunch
One popular result of the laser focus on employee engagement has been a wave of "perks" — from free lunch to on-site dry cleaning to nap rooms, companies provide all sorts of fun offerings for workers. But as perks increasingly become mainstream, companies are looking for more meaningful ways to define their culture with values-based benefits.
"With so many employees concerned about their personal financial situations (and the subsequent detrimental impact on productivity these concerns often lead to), more HR organizations will look for programs and technologies they can offer to help employees in this area... [such as] Questis, a tool that helps employees make sense of their personal finances, and Double Net Pay, a really neat and practical technology that integrates with the company payroll system and helps employees better manage their monthly bills."
The Next Generation of Time Cards
In addition to benefits, simple everyday processes at work are in need of disruption — including how we track hours. As new overtime laws emerge and the line between work and life continues to blur, innovative and flexible ways to track time are needed to keep companies ahead of the curve.
"The new overtime regulations from the Department of Labor ... will require all employees earning less than $50,440 to be declared non-exempt, regardless of duties," says Suzanne Lucas, founder of the Evil HR Lady blog. "This will result in a wave of revamped time tracking procedures. How are you going to handle recording the time of people who are used to answering emails from home and taking phone calls on the weekends?"
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