Involving Employees in the Journey of Technological Transformation

BY Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza | July 01, 2024

The abundance of new talent-focused tech tools are changing the way human resources practitioners, recruiters, and people operations leaders do their jobs. But as new tools are adopted, it’s often done with HR users in mind, and omitted from the selection and deployment processes is the end user: the employee.

How to create an inclusive dialogue with workers about new tech was the topic of conversation among a panel of talent acquisition leaders during From Day One’s June virtual conference. The group of leaders addressed tech at all points of the employee lifecycle, from recruitment to career development.

The Latest in Recruitment Technology

Thanks to the latest in HR tech, people teams now have the ability to hyper-customize the applicant and employee experiences at the earliest points of interaction. “We’re far beyond the days of just being tailored towards persona,” said panelist Shaunda Zilich, senior director of employer brand and talent attraction at hospitality company Marriott

The application experience can now be tailored to individual applicants. For instance, if a job seeker was looking at a housekeeping job at a hotel in the Atlanta area, “when they click on that job, the whole website can then change to say, ‘Here are some other jobs you might be interested in. They have this same skill set, they’re at the Atlanta location, and here’s an associate’s story that is tagged with that experience.’ I think that helps [applicants] self-select out, help them fulfill their purpose, and help us with retention.”

According to Nico Roberts, the chief business officer at frontline talent acquisition platform Fountain, this level of customization represents the best in employer branding and recruitment. “Those companies that are absolutely crushing it are the ones that are providing a beautiful, personalized experience to the applicants,” he said. 

Testing Tools With the End User Base

When it comes to identifying new tools and use cases, panelists recommended HR teams get deeply involved as users. The companies that provide the best experience, says Roberts, are “those companies that take their entire teams, not just the workers, and put themselves through the process once every six months to see what’s changed. What’s the experience?” he said.

The panelists discussed the topic, "Creating an Inclusive Dialogue With Workers About New Technology" at From Day One's June virtual conference (photo by From Day One)

Zilich involves her team regularly. “I challenge my team all the time: When’s the last time you filled out an application on our website or on our competitors’ websites? We should be out there experiencing the technology firsthand and putting ourselves in their shoes.”

But don’t forget to include the end users in testing and selection. “If you test with the actual workers or applicants, you start to see where they’re getting hung up. At the end of the day, they’re the ones who are supposed to use this,” said Roberts.

Using Tech to Assess Skills and Develop Your Workforce

One of the most popular applications for HR tech is workforce skill development. 

Cheryl Petersen, the talent resourcing leader for the Americas region at engineering consulting company Arup, uses regular assessments to gauge technical expertise and identify areas for improvement. Whatever skills and capabilities are most relevant to Arup’s clients get priority. “With all those insights, you can then evaluate your internal capabilities. You’re then determining appropriate workforce solutions and you’re able to say, ‘Are we going to need to recruit new talent? Do we need to develop upskill or deploy current talent? Are we going to have to utilize temp labor or subcontractors to address skills gaps?’” Petersen said. 

These assessments also help workers identify their current skill inventory–and where they need to develop new skills to stay sharp and relevant. “We want our employees to be improving and focusing on skills development that allows them to be addressing client needs,” she said.

As an employer introduces new tools it expects workers to use, it’s natural to meet some resistance to change and even trepidation about how it might affect workers’ future job prospects. At media company Hearst, senior director of talent programs Maris Krieger works hard to assuage workers’ worries about being replaced by the latest tools, like artificial intelligence. 

“We always are doubling down on this idea that this tool is in your toolbox. It’s not taking over your jobs. It’s not replacing you, it’s augmenting and it’s freeing your time to do more valuable things.” Still, she said, workers should be aware of the skills they need to develop to stay relevant. Long-term resistance could put them at a significant disadvantage. 

Further, don’t overlook internal applications. Krieger pointed out that skill-development tools are just as relevant to boosting internal mobility as they are for recruiting. 

Recruiters and HR practitioners aren’t insulated from worry that their jobs are in jeopardy, of course. There are plenty of HR tech tools leveraging AI to improve processes, and it has some in the department concerned about their roles. But, Zilich says, talent acquisition professionals should see it as an opportunity. In particular, using the recruiting and skill-matching tools to take arduous tasks off their plates.

“If recruiters really think back to why they got into recruiting, they probably got into recruiting for the coaching and the human side of it, the relationship side of it, and helping people find their fit and organization,” she said. “So if they can actually use the skill-matching and see the impact, they’re no longer going through hundreds of resumes, they’re spending their time coaching the hiring manager, coaching the candidate, and helping the person find the right fit.”

Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza is a freelance journalist and From Day One contributing editor who writes about work, the job market, and women’s experiences in the workplace. Her work has appeared in the Economist, the BBC, The Washington Post, Quartz, Fast Company, and Digiday’s Worklife.


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