TalentHow will COVID-19 accelerate automation in the talent space?

How will COVID-19 accelerate automation in the talent space?

With hiring set to be one of the most important tasks for organisations post-pandemic, it is thought that many will turn to technology as a quicker, more efficient solution. But is this a smart move? Katrina Collier, HRD Thought Leader and found of The Searchologist gives her take on this, explaining why employers must be cautious when it comes to automation.

Automation is and forever will be a crucial element of any workplace. But is this necessarily a good thing?

Whilst automation now feels like a natural approach to areas like online sales and distribution, there is an argument to be made that this is not the case with people-oriented departments like talent acquisition and HR.

Despite this, there is a strong possibility that the pandemic will encourage many employers to tackle their talent concerns with automation. If approached carelessly, this could be a mistake.

It is my hope that if COVID-19 is to accelerate automation, companies simply take the time to carefully consider every aspect of their approach.

This is a good opportunity to take a moment, breath, and make sensible, calculated decisions as to what your organisation needs.

Take time to reassess

Despite the beliefs of many marketers and sales professionals, HR tech simply is not capable of automating the majority of processes.

Right now, many companies have put hiring on pause, which gives recruitment and possibly even the onboarding function the opportunity to step back, look at what they have in place and only keep what is truly adding value.

Technology should be used as an aid to communication and a way to smooth out processes, yet most companies unintentionally create blockages between a potential new recruit and a job by choosing and implementing the wrong HR tech. Choose technology that has been created with the input of recruiters or HR professionals who really understand the complexity of recruiting and retaining people, and only choose tech that your industry peers have used and rate highly.

What’s more, no recruiting or HR department should have tech forced upon them. This happens too often; the needs of the person who will be operating it are ignored in favour of something the IT department insists on.

This is something I discussed at much greater length with Dina Alvarez, Jo Davis and Tara Benton on the HRD Live Podcast last year.

Think first

What processes could you automate to the benefit of candidates, new hires, recruiters, HR and hiring managers? Which of those processes are highly repetitive, time consuming and require little human input?

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Here are some that spring to mind for me:

  • Application processes: check them by applying for a job on your own website using a desktop, tablet and a mobile device. What have you put in the way of the process? What do you need to remove to ensure you truly are bringing in the right people for your company?
  • Accessibility: can people with disabilities apply? Could a tool like Recite Me make it possible for your application process, or even website, to be truly inclusive?
  • Auto-responders: instead of sending cold, dismissive email responses to applicants, consider a tool like ConveyIQ to send a rich media text to the applicant to make the time they spent applying feel truly appreciated.
  • Calendar tools: there are a plethora of tools available for this, so again ask your peers for recommendations, and consider using scheduling tools not only for booking in interviews but also for arranging intake strategy sessions, scheduling feedback and follow up calls with candidates and so on.
  • Interview transcribing: this is becoming more important as we work remotely and one of the best tools I came across while researching for The Robot-Proof Recruiter was a tool called HoneIt. Something like this could save you a great deal of time passing feedback on to hiring managers. In fact, they will hear it first-hand!
  • Pre-boarding: if you really want to stop candidate ‘ghosting’, look for pre-boarding technology that will bridge the gap between offer and start date. This is all about communication and making your new employee feel welcome. Look for a tool that will encourage hiring managers to keep in touch and be ready for their new starter.

Most importantly, you should only choose to replace a process with automation if it will truly save you time, effort and money, and create a better human experience. Remember to seek guidance from your industry peers before you purchase.

As for jobs…

Fortunately, I do not think that automation in HR or Talent Acquisition will impact jobs just yet. Quite simply, the technology is not capable of it and, well, there are still Tellers in the Bank!

If for a mundane transaction like moving cash, some people still prefer people, I cannot see people preferring to interact with a robot for their career.

That said, there are of course parts of our roles that can be freed with the right technology. The time we are gaining as a result of COVID-19 can be used to improve the human experience for candidates, new starters, employees, managers, leavers, and even alumnus.

The virus has created great fear in many people and sadly, also anger and resentment. Post-Covid, there will be people who are genuinely fearful to change roles or return to the office, and it is going to take HR and recruitment professionals using their unique human skills to guide people forward in this new world. Automation will never be able to allay fear in this way.

Humans that take control of technology and use it to put people first and deliver an exceptional people experience, will be best placed for success in the future.

Subscribe to HRD Connect for daily updates on the future of work, including thought leadership, video interviews, the HRD Live Podcast and more.

Join the conversation on LinkedIn and Twitter with the world’s largest community of senior HR Leaders.

For more on effective recruiting amidst crisis, check out Katrina Collier’s brand new programme, The Robot-Proof Recruiter Mastermind

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