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Five UNLEASHed HR Tech Ideas from HRTechWorld

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Last week’s HRTechWorld in Amsterdam, or UNLEASH as it now known, did not disappoint, my only regret being that two days wasn’t enough time to see everything and meet everyone I wanted to. As well as the established vendors being present, sharing their new product updates, there were plenty of start-ups showing how they are changing the face of HR/payroll. Analytics, automation (including chatbots) and consumerized mobile technology are now the new norm. Here I focus on some of the technology on show that addresses the specialist areas of wellbeing at work, employee productivity & engagement, employee collaboration, and diversity & inclusion.

Wellbeing

There has been a lot of recent publicity about mental health, especially in the workplace. Performetric has developed a non-invasive real-time mental fatigue detection system to reduce absenteeism and stress-related illness. Taking an office worker as an example, the Performetric software learns the typical key strokes and mouse movements of the employee, say, over the period of a week. Then, throughout a working shift, the software (using AI) can detect deviations in the employee’s normal pattern, such as a slowdown in movements/erratic movements, which may indicate fatigue is setting in.

Where this tool can add value is in shift work: e.g. if a call center employee consistently performs less well whilst working a night shift versus a day shift, then the tool would recommend that the employee is only scheduled for day shifts. The improved productivity of an entire workforce, based on building working hours around each individual’s optimum productivity levels, could be quite considerable. 

Employee productivity & engagement

Employee performance and productivity can be linked to engagement in the job. People first (from MHR) is an open-people mobile-enabled platform aimed at improving performance, productivity and keeping employees engaged. A range of third-party apps are linked to the platform to ensure its users can address issues as they arise. If a job is not utilizing an employee’s skills or offering enough of a challenge, then the employee can become disengaged. Or, an employee who has a very challenging job may become anxious. Similarly, an employee who is not utilizing their full skillset could become bored in their job.

People first want its client organizations to have engaged employees who are ‘in the flow’. The platform captures details about employees based on a ‘whole person’ profile: both work-related and non-work-related information. Analytics enable flagging up of employees who are at different levels of anxiety/boredom in the job, and so are a potential flight risk. An autonomous intelligent chatbot acting as a personal assistant can contact an employee offering solutions such as automatic job crafting (through personalization of job needs going forward), and augmented check-ins (booking a catch-up session with their manager).

Some of its fun features include making video profiles which are automatically generated from an employee’s whole person profile. These can act as a next generation CV, comprising key personality elements, memberships of groups, favorite place, favorite thing, favorite movie, etc. A tool which can negate flight risk and be fun to use at the same time potentially has a key role in reducing employee turnover in a world where skills shortages are likely to get worse.  

If the thought of another employee engagement survey fills you with dread, then fear not: the Culture Amp platform can measure employee engagement, employee experience (e.g. onboarding) and employee effectiveness (performance feedback). It integrates with leading HRIS, enterprise messaging, and identity and access management (IAM) solutions, and has been enhanced with a suite of analytics to understand an organization’s data.

Focusing specifically on employee engagement, an organization can choose from a library of questions (or develop its own) to measure drivers of engagement, using rating bars and adding comments. The results highlight hotspots across teams and demographics, and can be benchmarked against other organizations. New analytics, just released, measure the impact of the drivers (high, medium, low) on the organization’s employee engagement, highlighting the five poorest scores (with highest impact) on which to base an action plan to deliver the biggest improvements in employee engagement. A driver with a poor score, but low impact, for example, is not worth prioritising for any action. The tool automates the findings and gives an organization a suggested plan for improvement, without the organization having to make those decisions.

Employee collaboration

At a time when skill shortages abound, organizations could do more around sharing skills and/or knowledge among employees. Talking Circles is a start-up offering a platform to enable employee collaboration/knowledge sharing, with the aim of resolving workplace issues/skills shortages quicker and keeping employees motivated.

Employees who wish to pass on knowledge/skills are matched with employees wanting to learn that knowledge/skills. Case studies to date, backed up with analytics, have shown that skills/ knowledge sharing has brought remote or siloed teams together, increased employee knowledge about their organization, increased work efficiency, improved net promoter score (NPS) and increased the skills of its employees. This is one way to think more creatively about addressing skills shortages.

Diversity & inclusion

There are tools and tech available to remove unconscious bias from the talent acquisition process, with the aim of being more diverse and inclusive. But how long is it before some element of bias creeps into the process, e.g. as soon as a phone conversation starts or a video interview begins?

softfactors has developed its own tool which it hopes will significantly minimize the risk of unconscious bias. It starts with a job description outlining the hard and soft attributes required for success (discussed with the client organization). The application process takes 15 minutes and assesses a candidate on their own thoughts as to the required attributes for success through gamification (with 87% application completion rate to date).

A matching algorithm compares job requirements with candidate profiles to determine best-fit candidates in ranked order. Pre-selected candidates at this stage then go through a 45-minute online assessment using 15 unique instruments, for which another algorithm measures best candidate match to the job requirements, ranking them in order. Interview questions can be created in softfactors, to ensure all candidates are asked the same questions at interview. The questions, along with the data presented in softfactors, should enable the hiring manager to make a better hiring choice, and only need a face-to-face interview at the final stage of the selection process.

Summary

Whilst this is just a snapshot from HRTechWorld in October 2017, it is clear that there is now such a wide range of tools and tech available to enable the HR function to do their jobs better, that HR really needs to embrace it! In a profession that has received a bad reputation for being too admin-focused, now is the time to use technology to automate many of those transactional processes and focus on value-add HR activities. If HR wants a seat at the executive table in the future, a good start would be to have an input to their organization’s overall technology strategy. Here’s to UNLEASH (London) in March 2018.  

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