6 key themes from HR Tech 2019 that are changing the world of HR

| Ameya Deshmukh
Future of Work
6 key themes from HR Tech 2019 that are changing the world of HR

I had the good fortune of attending HR Tech 2019 at The Venetian in Las Vegas. There were fascinating discussions happening inside the presentation rooms, and outside in the corridors in between sessions. The world of HR and the world of work as a whole are undergoing a significant transformation. I identified 6 key themes that HR and TA leadership should keep in mind to orient themselves and their organizations toward the future.

#1 Consumerization of the workplace

In the panel AI In the Age of HR with Jeanne Meister, the panelists identified the consumerization of the workforce as the most impactful trend of the moment. Consumerization of the workforce is defined by the adoption and usage of consumer shopping behaviors in candidates and employees’ job search efforts, including the process of evaluating employers.

Think about the way consumers shop for an item today. There’s a vast online marketplace available to them directly from their mobile phones. They use apps to compare vendors and evaluate vendors based on the experiences their peers share on review sites and social media applications. Consumers also expect vendors to be highly responsive in real-time and expect offerings to be personalized to their unique preferences and interests. These behaviors are mirrored exactly in the recruiting and HR paradigm.

Candidates leave reviews about interview experiences on Glassdoor, they tweet about them, or even make videos on Youtube. Employees use the same mediums to communicate about their work experiences. This information is all generated by your workforce and the content people choose to put out is outside your control.

Jennifer Carpenter, VP of Global Talent Acquisition at Delta Air Lines said, “ I owe a great deal of gratitude to the Amazons of the world. Our employees and candidates have this natural expectation that we can no longer afford to ignore. At Delta, our candidates and colleagues are our customers.”

HR leaders and talent acquisition leaders need to shift the thinking of their organizations. Once your teams are bought into the concept of the candidate and the employee as the customer – you’ll be able to affect the right changes to attract and retain the right talent.

Looking for more info on how AI can impact and support consumerization? Learn more about Jeanne Meister’s award-winning course “”Using AI 4 HR””

#2 The open talent marketplace

This ties into the consumerization of the workplace. Just like a consumer is able to go out and find another vendor at a moment’s notice – an employee is able to go out into an open talent marketplace and find a new place to work. Many large organizations today have no easy way for talent to move around internally. For example, an employee survey at Schneider Electric, the world leader for energy management with 150,000 employees across 110 countries, discovered that 47% of employees who voluntarily left the company did so because they could not find their next opportunity internally at Schnieder even though they wanted to.

Andrew Saidy, VP of Talent Digitization at Schneider Electric said, “An 8% employee turnover rate costs us $600 million dollars a year. That’s why we created the open talent market inside Schnieder. It’s a one-stop-shop for career development, curated learning, mentorship, and talent mobility.” The experience is also mobile optimized and gathers data from users through swipe left swipe right interactions. This data is fed into an algorithm that personalizes the content and recommendations shown to users so that it aligns with their goals.

People are going on LinkedIn and leaving your company. If the experiences you create for talent mobility aren’t up to par with the offerings from other vendors on the open talent marketplace – you’re always going to struggle with employee retention.

It’ll take time to create an open talent marketplace at your company. Here’s what Talent Acquisition Leaders can do in the meantime to improve their ability to secure talent.

#3 The end of the traditional career model

In the traditional career model employees can move up through one of two tracks. Workers can become specialists and continue to become highly specialized or they can become managers and follow that path. In his keynote, Josh Bersin said, “The old career model of moving up the left or the right side of the pyramid is over. We are going in a million different directions. To become more effective today, workers are following a generalist track. Generalists are able to see the pattern, see the relationships, and solve problems in more creative ways.”

This change in career pathing is caused by the prevalence of automation and AI. Machines perform highly specialized discrete tasks more efficiently – and as we progress further into the future more of those tasks are going to machines. Today’s leading talent understands that and their response to this disruption is to create new paths.

Roles today are in flux. Not just in HR but across the entire job market. The open talent marketplace has enabled employees to take ownership of their career growth. It is now employee-driven rather than management driven.

HR and talent acquisition leaders need to accommodate the fact that for many careers the path forward is no longer defined. In addition to needing different experiences that provide them with exposure to new skills and thoughts at different stages in their careers, employees will also want different types of jobs during various stages in their lives. HR needs to be a driving force to support that vertical, horizontal, or diagonal movement. Talent acquisition needs to be able to accurately assess talent that hasn’t followed a traditional career path.

Your talent acquisition teams won’t be able to accurately assess the new breed of talent without spending time talking to them. Here’s the changes leaders need to make in their recruiting teams to create an environment where that’s possible.

#4 Adapting to the new workforce demographics

The way humans live and work as consumers, candidates, and employees has changed. What’s also changed is the way companies create a workforce. Previously it was common for companies to have a workforce consisting of employees who worked solely for your company and worked in one location together. Globalization resulted in some distribution of these “central places of work,” but the model remained the same.

Today’s workforce is a mix of traditional “place of work” employees, virtual employees, and gig workers. Each type of workforce needs a slightly different approach to address consumerization, the open talent marketplace, and the end of the traditional career model. For example, consider that 29% of American workers use the gig economy as their main source of income. Gig workers are looking for flexibility and like to come on for projects. How can HR approach their gig workforce and provide them with a consumerized experience to navigate through the projects available to create stickiness so that talent acquisition doesn’t have to constantly re-acquire new gig workers?

But what adds another layer of complexity is the changing generational demographics of the workforce itself. Baby Boomers are aging out of working and moving into retirement. Millennials are entering the workforce and making their way into management. Each generation has very different expectations for employee experience.

Whether they are a gig worker, remote worker, or traditional employee the new generation expects to get transparency from leadership, to have space to contribute opinions and to manage their careers through platforms that provide a consumer-like experience. However, this isn’t always the case with Baby Boomer workers.

Cheryl Johnson, CHRO at Paylocity speaking from the perspective of one of Paylocity’s client companies said, “We are a 90-year-old company with an average tenure of 35 years. As our tenured employees are retiring we’re replacing them with the new generation who wants managers who walk the floor, to know why decisions are being made, to know what we stand for. The older generation doesn’t need or want these things.”

As an HR leader, you need to figure out what your organization can do from both talent acquisition and HR perspectives to manage the different expectations and needs of gig workers, virtual workers, and employees across generations.

CAI can be a way to meet the early stage recruiting needs that candidates have. Here’s what a diverse set of candidates thought about interacting with CAI.

#5 HR takes ownership of the digital strategy

Somehow, somewhere, digital became synonymous with the IT department. Because of the complexity created by the previous 4 themes and the need for people specific knowledge to be present in solutions for the complexity – HR has to take ownership of their digital.

The first thing HR needs to do is to create a seamless candidate and employee experience. The experience needs to be seamless from both the workforce side and the talent acquisition side. Here’s a great exercise to kick start your thinking about seamless experiences. If a candidate or employee ever has to enter in their personal information more than once during their entire journey with your company – your experience isn’t seamless for your workforce. If your talent acquisition team ever has to manually move data from one system to another to maintain data consistency in your records – your recruiter experience isn’t seamless.

Most HR organizations have HRIS that are fraught with faulty experiences. For example, candidate experience isn’t connected to the employee experience, which becomes apparent when an employee has to re-enter their data and work history to access internal mobility. Taking a broader view of the problem – just know this. If you have modules, link farms, and portals – these are all things that candidates and employees don’t want to and won’t use.

Talent acquisition leaders need to take ownership of the digital experiences they create for candidates pre, during, and post-application. HR needs to create seamless digital experiences for transitioning new hires into the workforce and for helping employees have their needs met throughout their employee journey. Without HR taking ownership workforce and HR worker experiences will continue to be fragmented.

67% of executives agree their company must become significantly more digitized by 2020. Use this set of 5 strategies for HR led digital transformation to kick off your brainstorming process.

#6 Responsible AI

Until 2011, female drivers were 47% more likely to be severely injured in car accidents because car companies were not required to use female dummies. This has nothing to do with AI, ML, or any of these technologies. It simply illustrates, that historically as humans we develop technology that works for some and not for others.

With AI similar problems can appear but on a much larger scale. As HR and Talent Acquisition leaders implement AI through conversational interfaces, for analysis of candidate data, or for analyzing video interviews – they need to consider what data sets and governance process their AI vendors are using to train their AI’s machine learning algorithms.

Across the industry, more and more HR and TA leaders are making commitments to being informed about the potential for bias in AI, collectively deciding to prevent it, and partnering with vendors who share their perspective on the importance of keeping AI free from both conscious and unconscious bias. AI has the potential to solve previously unsolvable societal problems including unemployment and underemployment diversity, but that can only become a reality if it’s built with everyone’s benefit in mind.

Creating a diverse workplace is a top priority for many businesses today. Our VP of Product Connie Schiefer shared a few tips on how to build an AI that isn’t subject to unconscious unwanted biases.

A recap of our HR Tech experience

HR Tech 2019 was an incredible experience for me and the rest of the Mya team. We had the chance to meet many of you and had leaders from some very interesting brands come by our booth. Josh Bersin hosted a Q/A session at our booth, our demo sessions were packed, and a handful of lucky winners won Airbnb gift cards and other prizes.

Connect with Mya at our next event

If you didn’t have a chance to connect with us at HR Tech 2019, here’s a list of a few of the conferences we’ll be attending in the near future.

October 14 – 17 Meet Mya at Workday Rising 2019 Booth #510

October 14 – 16 Meet Mya at ERE Fall 2019 Booth #409

October 15 – 17 Meet Mya at ASA Staffing World 2019 Booth #140

Come by our booth at the next conference!

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