Five Takeaways from Unleash London 2018

March 23rd, 2018

Ike Bennion


Unleash, hosted in London’s ExCel Conference Center is a HR conference focused on Europe with interest tracks like learning, technology, recruitment, payroll/finance, benefits and a few others. If you couldn’t make it, here are some takeaways for you:

1: HR is Under Disruption

There are an incredible number of players in the market for a lot of your bread-and-butter HR systems like ATSs, Benefits/Wellness, Payroll, Finance and others. New players were present in Unleash’s start up section of the floor that shows that more and more entrants want a piece of market share. The most disruptive of these systems are those that not only upscale how you do something, like improved UI or features but how your process actually functions. This point was iterated again and again with some sessions focused heavily on artificial intelligence.

2: Brexit is an Increasing Focus as Deadlines Near

A number of sessions were dedicated not only to GDPR but also to Brexit with Daniel Thorley who has been a regular speaker at Unleash taking the podium to not only talk about how Brexit will affect markets but how it will affect HR. The gist of the session was that the UK will face a tighter labor market. UK employers will not only need to be able to recruit better than competitors, they’ll need to be able to be more productive in terms of finding talent. So what to do? I think the advice is generally a good rule of thumb so it’s worthwhile iterating it here regardless if you have UK operations or not:

“The key to success in your business is relationships, partnerships and trust. Never cut costs so severely they will impact relationships with customers, never cut costs so severely they will impact relationships with talent, never cut costs so severely they will impact relationships with partners and never cut relationships so severely they will impact relationships with distributors.”

3: Recruiting is Increasingly Focused on Experience

Many of the sessions around experience focused on a detailed look at who they wanted to work for them and then reverse engineering their recruiting process to attract those people through the process. Overwhelmingly this means cutting steps from the recruiting process, evaluating recruiting assets for clarity and creating a flow that generates experiences between the company and the candidate. Even the companies we talked to at the booth came to us with the same general problem: Our time to hire and candidate drop out rate is too high. One company was taking 190 days to hire.

4: More Tools for Candidate Experience

It’s no mystery that both Facebook and Google want in on the job search. Google co-presented with Johnson & Johnson on their new job site experience bringing better posting search to their candidate experience. The bottom line that many recruitment teams wrestle with is that some jobs are over or under delivered. For instance, a pre-Google search result might return four internships in NYC for J&J and hundreds for oncology research - both which were obviously incorrect. With built-in search logic that helps to infer what the candidate is actually looking for, Google was able to return meaningful results. Other presentations spent time on their efforts to revamp search including Vodafone and their new job sites. It’s hopeful to see more attention played to a simple and fundamental part of the job hunt which - because of our modern ability to search - we just expect it to work. Now hopefully other ATSs will take note and return to that not-so-sexy but essential tool of posting search.

5: Continued Focus on Diversity

A resonant message with those we talked to not only in the booth but also in sessions we attended was the continued need and focus on diversity. Specifically these people and sessions focused attention on one key place in the career lifecycle: the hiring process. This focus played out in our own presentation on our Video Intelligence tool, as Dr. Nathan Mondragon said, “Within 90 seconds an interviewer makes a judgement and with the next 30-45 minutes confirms that judgment.” Training has continued to see poor effectiveness in impacting diversity. Ultimately, it’s impossible for us to exercise objectivity against our own thinking. Another tool is required to help improve the decision making ability of hiring managers and recruiters. Unleash was a good bellwether for how Europe is thinking about the HR space. Concerns about Brexit, GDPR, and the new world of work which trickles down to all parts of recruiting. We’ll get a comparison of these concerns against a US specific audience at their next conference in Las Vegas.