What a difference a year makes. Held virtually, this year’s HR Technology Conference and Exposition echoed many of the themes that were on the agenda in 2019, such as employee experience, the need for better tech strategies and using data to improve diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) outcomes. However, the lens through which these topics were explored was dramatically different given the effects of a global health crisis and social unrest.
The 2020 conference provided HR practitioners a much-needed pause to think about the considerable challenges the industry has responded to over the past eight months, as well as the changes that lie ahead. For talent acquisition teams, 2021 will require greater attention to DEI, a continued focus on worker resiliency, and stronger partnerships with learning and development.
#1: DEI initiatives need to move forward far more quickly—and more meaningfully.
The spotlight is shining brightly on corporate America’s progress with DEI initiatives, and simply saying that it’s a priority isn’t enough. Employees, especially younger workers, will demand more of employers and expect to see meaningful outcomes. As conference keynote speaker Dr. Tolonda Tolbert noted, one of the biggest mistakes corporations have made is putting their DEI efforts in a silo instead of understanding how they influence every aspect of both culture and the employee experience. To address this deficiency, employers must identify the gaps that exist across pay, opportunities and retention—only then will they be able to create meaningful strategies and select the right technology for improving DEI.
RELATED RESOURCE: Diversity Recruiting Brief—How Technology Mitigates Hiring Bias
From a talent acquisition perspective, recruiters have a tremendous opportunity to improve DEI outcomes by adapting their practices so that more diversity hires are made at all levels of the organization. Finding the right technology to mitigate hiring bias and enhance diversity and inclusion is critical to an organization’s long-term diversity hiring success.
DEI also matters to an organization’s employer brand, and the progress organizations make in fostering a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment will be vital to one’s corporate reputation. FORTUNE announced recently that its 2021 FORTUNE 500 list will include self-reported data regarding diversity and inclusion with the aim of making “corporate diversity disclosure the new standard of doing business. The company will also begin publishing a list of the Most Progressive Companies in Racial Inclusion in 2021.
#2: Interest in workforce resiliency won’t end when the pandemic does.
A conference regular, Marcus Buckingham shared takeaways from the ADP Research Institute’s Workplace Resilience Study, which examines the current state of resiliency within the workplace and the components of the employee experience that influence worker resiliency.
Among the trends that Buckingham spoke to is that individuals impacted directly by COVID-19 exhibited higher resiliency than workers with no direct personal experience of COVID-19. These same workers were also more likely to be fully engaged than their counterparts with limited COVID-19 impacts. Other factors linked to resiliency include trust in one’s manager and senior leaders, as well as job complexity and level.
What this means for talent acquisition teams is that building resiliency assessments into your hiring process can improve the odds of your organization weathering the next crisis because its workforce is more adept at dealing with uncertainty. Structured interview questions designed to understand how candidates have faced and overcome adversity in the past can be a good indicator of resiliency, but it’s also worth looking to data-driven approaches, such as organizational network analysis and people analytics, to arrive at a better understanding of worker resiliency and its correlation to engagement.
#3. Learning and development technology is undergoing massive disruption.
Summarizing the findings from the most recent Sierra Cedar/Sapient Insights HR Systems Survey, Chief Research Officer Stacey Harris highlighted the growing importance of learning and development technology, which has become one of HR’s top tech investment priorities. According to Harris, there’s room for improvement with what’s currently on the market given that most employers say they aren’t satisfied with the learning tools they have in place.
One factor may be that many of the options on the market were designed with traditional learning and development objectives in mind, where employees follow a pre-defined path by gaining the skills required for advancement—an approach that fails to capitalize on the emergence of talent and opportunity marketplaces. Marketplaces emphasize the cultivation of skills that lead to greater mobility across roles and departments and represent an investment in an organization’s workforce. It’s a broader view of the organization as facilitator of career advancement that benefits both the employee and the employer while strengthening an organization’s ability to meet rapidly-evolving changes in the skills that are critical to business success.
Talent acquisition needs to partner closely with learning and development to understand how their organization is reshaping these programs and the impact to both recruitment messaging and candidate assessment. In doing so, recruiters can help ensure that the candidates who are hired possess the growth mindset needed for both parties to benefit fully from a marketplace approach.
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