In a year that has completely redefined the HR function and HR technology at a rapid pace, it’s no surprise that change was a theme throughout this year’s HR Technology Conference and Expo. Hosted virtually across four days and 136 sessions, this year’s #HRTechConf had no shortage of valuable insight for attendees on how the pandemic and the social and economic disruption of 2020 have accelerated digital transformation, technology innovations and other changes around the people experience at work.
Keynote speakers, analysts and industry experts emphasized how organizations and their use of technology must adapt to support people in the now of work—and beyond.
Here’s what we learned at the event this year:
We’ve Seen a Shift to Adaptable HR and "Work Tech"
In the opening keynote, Josh Bersin acknowledged how 2020 has forced HR into a new operating model, one that is more responsive (efficient) and resilient (adaptive) to the changing needs of business.
"HR, itself, has turned into a much more innovative, adaptable part of a company," he said.
Josh noted that 40% of workers have changed jobs or roles, or have a new manager. A full 90% of companies have instated a work-at-home policy. The need for HR and HR technology to help people be more productive and focused while working remotely is critical. As a result, HR tech is shifting to "work tech" and Bersin likened it to a Swiss army knife ready to support the new world of work.
Making the Right HR Technology Investments are More Important than Ever
Despite the promise these shifts in HR technology trends are bringing, the latest Sierra-Cedar/Sapient Insights HR Systems Survey reveals a 27% decrease in expected expenditures for HR technology this year. Sapient Insights Group Chief Research Officer Stacey Harris cautioned attendees, "if your conversation is all about cost cutting or compliance...you're NOT having the right conversation."
Instead, Stacey emphasized the value of a continuous change-management approach to HR technology investments because it’s linked to better talent and business outcomes.
Building Workforce Resilience is Critical When Disruption is Everywhere
From widespread remote work to increasing automation, disruption is driving cultural shifts and a need for leaders to act with empathy and care.
In their session, 10 Things Leaders Need to Know in the New Normal, Cornerstone’s own Chief Learning Officer Jeff Miller and Chief Talent Officer Kimberly Cassady shared key strategies leaders can use to help their people thrive. A key takeaway? Leaders don’t have to know everything. Instead, Kim and Jeff advised them to "create space. Space for you and your employees to think. Ask for feedback, and ask often."
In his keynote, How HR Can Boost Workforce Resilience, Marcus Buckingham echoed the need for feedback, because it builds trust between leaders and their people. And trust is critical to drive resiliency, which today is at an all time low.
For more tips from Buckingham on boosting workforce resilience, read a full summary of his keynote here.
Organizational Purpose is Here to Stay
In her Day Two keynote, Finding Your North Star: The Importance of Purpose (and Technology) During Disruption, Stacia Garr, Co-Founder and Principal Researcher at RedThread Research, shared how the integration of work and life has many people questioning what makes us human. In short, the pandemic and the social and economic unrest of 2020 is exposing the need for corporations to be citizens—to have an organizational purpose that goes beyond shareholders to encompass all stakeholders important to the business. Stacia shared that there are three reasons why we will see this rise in purpose-driven business persist:
A shift in employee sentiment,
Purpose is good for business, and
A stronger level of commitment from companies than we’ve ever seen before.
For more on why organizations need talent leaders to exert an active role in the conversation around purpose at work, check out this Cornerstone-sponsored research paper from RedThread Research: The Purpose-Driven Organization: HR’s Opportunity during Crisis and Beyond, 2020.
Create Safe Spaces to Drive Lasting Cultural Change
To encourage employee engagement and reduce burnout, leaders need to promote a team mindset. Mental and physical health and safety is the most important moving forward. So too is fostering a sense of belonging and inclusiveness.
In her keynote, Culture Matters: How to Interrupt Systemic Discrimination From the Top-Down and Bottom-Up, Dr. Tolonda Tolbert emphasized the diversity, inclusion and equity (DEI) need to be intentionally embedded into organizational culture.
"By creating a safe place for employees to self-reflect, learn new behaviors and habits and put those skills into practice you are able to drive a lasting culture change," she said.
At the end of the day, employees who feel valued and included at work contribute more, and that supports all business goals. As we face these unprecedented challenges, innovative thinking is the only way to survive and thrive—and creating demographically diverse teams is the shortcut to innovation. Dr. Tolbert emphasized that technology can be a differentiator.
In his keynote, Why Ethics Should Be at the Heart of HR Tech Decisions, founder and principal analyst of HRExaminer.com John Sumser cautioned that the loss of proper boundaries between life and work because of COVID-19 is creating serious consequences. "Where we are now is neither new, nor normal, nor sustainable. In order to navigate the future of our workplaces, we’re going to have to learn how to talk about mental illness."
Sumser shared that ethics is the foundation of safety and health and that HR needs to lean on technology appropriately in order to truly understand and address issues related to employee well-being and safety.
We’re Experiencing the Rise of the Talent Marketplace
Talent mobility and the gig economy are now a reality, and the emergence of the "Talent Marketplace" is accelerating how organizations retain talent and support talent mobility. In the session The Role of Technology in the Talent Marketplace, attendees learned that "gig jobs" within organizations are the way forward to not only unlock unknown talent within the organization, but also enable a better understanding of the skills that already exist. Reskilling and strategic skilling along with the use of AI can surface new development and job opportunities.
Moreover, understanding the employee journey and using technology to support that journey, through this new work experience will be more critical than ever. As Jason Averbook shared in his keynote Digital HR for Business: PLANNING 2021, employees work in journeys. Software vendors create modules.
But organizations deploy journeys and measure the impact of journeys—not modules. Therefore it’s important for HR to partner with their tech vendors to ensure the selection, implementation, and value of the tech investment is driven by the journey they need to deliver. This is HR’s job.
While the Future of Work isn’t Clear, Organizations Must Continue to Transform
Digital transformation, employee experience, well-being, diversity, gigs, AI... the amount of transformation impacting organizations and their people is astounding. The importance of using technology to support people through the accelerated change to the experience of work matters. As Lisa Buckingham & Ken Solon emphasized during #HRTechConf's closing keynote session - "transformation is all about company culture."
Thank you to Steve Boese, Jeanne Achille and the entire team at LRP for putting together a fantastic virtual conference and giving us so much more to think about and practice at our own organizations! See you (hopefully in person) next year!
Are your people equipped with the right skills today to adapt to a new world of work? Learn how the Cornerstone Skills Graph can help you implement "strategic skilling"—the practice of matching skills to people, learning content and job roles—to predict, prepare for and quickly respond to dynamic business changes.
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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