Outdated Recruiting: Is Your Function a Dinosaur?

March 17th, 2017
Jon-Mark Sabel

Every week we identify the latest and greatest HR news, articles, and insights, compiling them here in a weekly roundup. In this week's roundup we examine recruiting functions stuck in the Jurassic Period, VR in HR, and freelance work trends. We'll also look at seven techniques to decrease employee turnover and some coaching do's and don'ts.

Do You Work at a Dinosaur Recruiting Function? A Quick Assessment Checklist

Dr. John Sullivan, ERE Media

Corporate recruiting functions tend to reside on a spectrum. Some, like Google and the US Army, leverage top-of-the-line solutions to great effect. Others can most aptly be referred to as “dinosaurs.” Dr. John Sullivan of ERE Media provides a 12 step checklist to help determine where on the spectrum your corporate recruiting function resides:

  1. Your function is not completely data-driven. Guesswork and top-notch intuition are no longer the name of the game. Organizations that do not use data to drive and refine their assessment and selection criteria risk falling behind their data-driven peers.
  2. Recruiting doesn’t quantify its business impact in $. “Without being able to prove your direct impact on corporate goals, you will never have enough of a budget to improve or modernize,” says Sullivan.
  3. Your function doesn’t measure quality of hire. If hiring criteria has no way of predicting future job performance, you cannot design a system to identify the best hires.
  4. Less than 50% of your hires come from referrals. Employee referrals are consistently among the highest quality and volume. Embrace and enable them.
  5. Your recruiting function focuses on active candidates. A focus on active candidates is a symptom of a larger problem: an experience that mistreats candidates. Active candidates are more willing to put up with a poor candidate experience, but this tends to repel desirable candidates who are only passively looking.
  6. Your function is not dominated by recruiting technology. “You can’t be a great firm until you have gone 100 percent digital and at least explored the new emerging technologies in automated sourcing, candidate matching, and candidate assessment,” Sullivan says.
  7. All recruiting tools and processes are not available on the mobile platform. Mobile provides flexibility and convenience to both recruiters and candidates. Forcing applicants to apply via computer will put your organization at the bottom of their priority list.
  8. Your function doesn’t have a formal talent pipeline. Relying on “just-in-time” recruiting will only result in longer vacancies and weak applicant slates.
  9. Your function pays only lip service to employer branding. “A powerful employer brand is literally the most effective recruiting tool after employee referrals,” says Sullivan.
  10. Diversity is a legal commitment rather than a business imperative. Tying into the above points on data and employer brand, diversity hiring should not simply be a compliance checkbox.
  11. Your function doesn’t have a data-driven selling capability. Today’s recruiting function needs to know what candidates want. Without data, recruiters are left only to intuition - and gut feeling can only go so far.
  12. Your function has limited capabilities in critical specialty recruiting areas. Weak firms do not distinguish between hiring executives, innovators, or recent graduates. The best firms know that attracting and screening each unique group carries its own challenges, and segment their process accordingly.

HV Analysis:

Wow, what a list! If the talent acquisition professional could only read one article this year, this post by John Sullivan is certainly in the running. There is so much to unpack here, but in the interest of time (and post length) I’ll focus on #6: “Your function is not dominated by recruiting technology.” There are so many recruiting technologies out there these days, so many that each of Sullivan’s twelve points has its own unique, dedicated solution. For the talent acquisition professional locked in a dinosaur recruiting function, the sheer number of options available represent an unnecessary headache. But for the agile, digital TA professional, each new solution offers a new opportunity. Whether that opportunity is identifying and hiring the best talent before a competitor, or leveraging machine learning to increase underrepresented groups in the workplace, those that embrace tech will see results. In a small bit of irony, when the “dinosaur” recruiting function loses their best candidates to their competitors and comes under fire for hiring bias, they won’t even know where things went wrong. They don’t bother tracking relevant data. Wrapping up, it’s important to remember that digital recruiting solutions only provide solutions if they are used. Sullivan’s article seems to address the forward-thinking recruiter locked in a dinosaur function - but what about an innovative recruiting function held hostage by Jurassic recruiters? (Seriously, go read this article in full).

5 Ways Virtual Reality Finally Enters the HR Space

Jessica Miller-Merrell, Workology

“Experts estimate that the virtual reality and augmented reality market will be worth $120 billion by 2022,” says Jessica Miller-Merrell. “So where does the HR and talent industry fit among that $120 billion number?” The “fourth transformation” of computer tech involves a shift from carrying our tech (smartphones, etc) to wearing our tech. Virtual reality is the most conspicuous of new wearable tech, and involves creating an entirely simulated environment (as opposed to merging with the actual environment). Clearly there is a lot of potential for environmental simulation in the gaming and video spheres, but what about HR? Miller-Merrell identifies five ways VR will find application in the Human Resources department:

  1. Interviewing. Simulating the perfect interviewing environment provides engagement and the ability to gain a closer connection with the candidate. With the $10 Google cardboard and a little creativity, it is possible to create an entirely branded and virtual interview experience.
  2. Learning and Development. From a learning retention standpoint, hands-on training is almost always the most optimal - the only issue is connecting the learner with the learning material (due to distance, expense, etc). With VR, this can be done with a simple internet connection.
  3. Candidate Engagement. “While at the SXSW Conference Fair, I stumbled across the Gap job fair booth where they offered visitors an opportunity to explore the San Francisco offices using virtual reality,” says Miller-Merrell. “More than a day in the life and employee video testimonials as part of the recruiting process we have come to expect are those that offer VR technology.”
  4. Employee Engagement and Collaboration. As more organizations offer the ability to work remotely, the workforce is dispersing. “Phone calls and video makes it extremely challenging to develop that personal connection between colleagues,” explains Miller-Merrell. “VR provides an opportunity for remote workers to be involved and engaged.”
  5. Virtual Meetings Supporting Dispersed Workers. As mentioned above, the workforce is dispersing. With VR, not only are travel expenses reduced, long-distance collaboration becomes much more hands-on, personal, and effective.

HV Analysis:

VR often draws comparisons with previous revolutions in tech, but doesn’t seem to engender the same enthusiasm as Apple’s iPhone. It’s been a few years since the Oculus Rift launched its first prototypes, and Google Cardboard has been around since early 2015. Despite the low price and novelty Cardboard provides, it hasn’t really taken off like the smartphone. Where the iPhone was practically ubiquitous by its third year, VR remains a niche product. In this article, Miller-Merrell lists some pretty awesome ways VR can be leveraged by HR on the cheap with tools like Cardboard. The branded VR interviewing experience she envisions seems like it would be a potent way for less well known brands to attract high-tier candidates, particularly for tech roles. Yet it doesn’t seem to have caught on. On the flip side, this means the branded VR space is ripe for adoption. There are many who have yet to experience VR - imagine if an employer offered a candidate their first virtual reality experience.

HR is Turning to Freelancers to Meet Talent Shortage

Roy Maurer, SHRM

The existing talent shortage continues to require outside-the-box thinking on the part of the talent acquisition function. According to Randstad Sourceright’s 2017 Talent Trends Report, nearly two-thirds of human capital leaders are likely to “adopt a workforce composition model that uses more contingent workers” over the next twelve months.” Coupled with research by the Everest group stating that most organizations can expect to save 12% on recruitment costs with a more integrated approach, freelancing seems (at least partially) the future of the workforce. Workers do not seem opposed to this trend either: 46% of surveyed workers chose to become contingent. Roy Maurer outlines the three primary reasons this is the case:

  1. It better fits their lifestyle.
  2. It provides more opportunities to gain skills.
  3. They make more money.

The challenge, then, will be properly integrating these freelancers into existing teams: 41% of human capital leaders indicated this was their biggest concern, followed by accountability at 38%.

HV Analysis:

The concept of “freelancing as last resort” is changing, and as more of the best talent elects to adopt a freelancing lifestyle, HR leaders are right to be concerned about how to integrate them into existing teams. But, given what we just read about VR, perhaps a solution is on the horizon. Where a more onsite workforce might see VR as “nice to have,” it is not unrealistic to assume VR could become “must have” among gig and remote workers. Perhaps a Google Cardboard welcome package?

Best Techniques to Reduce Employee Turnover in 2017

Sheza Gary, TalentCulture

“It’s more costly to lose workers and hire new ones than retain older employees,” Sheza Gary begins. “If your brand has been experiencing high turnover for the past few years, now is the best time to explore smart retention strategies.” She provides seven techniques to build a happier, more productive workforce in 2017:

  1. Be flexible with your employees. “Flexibility at work also happens when top managers allow staff members to bring their work with them as long as they’re connected to the internet - at the cafe or while on vacation,” Gary explains. “People feel empowered to produce better results when they’re given the autonomy to work when they feel most productive.”
  2. Engage your team. After-work activities, team-building exercises, and transparency about results are keys to keeping a team engaged.
  3. Fulfill your workers’ job expectations. When organizations regularly expect their workers to complete duties outside their job description, turnover results. If the job isn’t what they signed up for, why wouldn’t they leave?
  4. Encourage work-life balance. When employees are obviously burnt out, encourage them to take a couple days off and de-stress. Don’t pile additional tasks onto their workload.
  5. Organize company outings. “Company outings are a great investment because they allow your team members to relax and have fun while improving professional relationships,” Gary says. “Friendships established in the workplace can lower people’s stress levels and drive them to stay committed.”
  6. Prioritize your employees’ health. An unhealthy employee is disengaged and constantly on the lookout for new work. If, for whatever reason, you cannot offer health benefits, provide incentives to attend fitness classes and encourage other forms of preventative care.
  7. Provide growth opportunities. People want the opportunity to grow and advance their careers. Jobs that offer advancement and growth tracks will attract the ambitious, motivated people that will drive your organization’s long-term success.

HV Analysis:

Employee turnover continues to be a problem that plagues even the most established organizations. The seven techniques listed in this article are definitely a step in the right direction - Gary provides a great framework around which to build an engaged workforce, but I would add a couple common observations to the conversation:

  1. “Employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers.” A poor supervisor acts as a sort of “root cause” of employee disengagement (and eventual turnover). Bad management practices will have downstream effects on flexibility, health and growth opportunities.
  2. “Work to live, don’t live to work.” Perhaps the age of the “always on” workplace has made this idea antiquated in the eyes of HR thought leaders, but it remains a common attitude among workers on the front lines. If an opportunity for better pay arises, most employees will leave.

Employee Coaching is a Form of Accountability

Sharlyn Lauby, HRBartender

When it comes to coaching an employee, HR should not be in the room. Why? “The whole notion of having a witness during coaching implies that coaching means something bad is going to happen,” Sharlyn Lauby explains. “Coaching isn’t punishment. Coaching is a two-way discussion that’s focused on holding people accountable.” This accountability spans the breadth of expectations placed on the employee: from following rules, to delivering customer service, to creating products and services, to being a team player - all are aspects of work for which the employee should be held accountable. In this sense, coaching (and accountability) goes both ways. Going above and beyond should be just as recognized as failure to perform. Of course, coaching an employee through the latter is far more difficult. To accomplish this, managers need to hold themselves accountable by providing consistent coaching and taking responsibility for mistakes. By establishing this sort of reciprocal accountability, the manager puts him or herself in a position to better coach their team.

HV Analysis:

Lauby provides a perfect example of the problems that arise when coaching becomes dichotomous, rather than a spectrum. In dichotomous coaching there are only options: weighty praise or debilitating admonition. In this form, praise is used as a way to improve the coach’s standing in the eyes of the coachee while admonition is used to break them down (compounded by the presence of HR). Instead, coaching needs to be a mix of praise for a job well done and reflection on what could be done better. Building reciprocal accountability, where both the coach and coachee provide each other feedback, is key to transforming binary coaching to its more productive scaled counterpart.