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Ensure a Positive Candidate Experience When Hiring Contingent Talent Remotely

As digitization, coupled with the global pandemic, propels contingent hiring online and with more individuals relying on employer reviewer sites to evaluate businesses, delivering a positive[...]

March 10, 2021

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Get Ready for 2017, Year of the Digital Workplace

In less than 10 days, children around the world will be spinning dreidels and pulling stockings from the mantel. This year, Hanukkah and Christmas Eve fall on the same day. That means the season of gift-giving has shifted into full throttle. It’s always interesting to check out the most in-demand presents during the holidays. As usual, top products fall into the categories you’d expect: toys, apparel and gadgets. And yet we’re noticing that items in those categories are becoming primarily electronic. Consider that the hottest gifts are robotic dogs, Internet-connected Furbies, private drones, smartwatches, personal virtual reality systems, Google Home and Amazon Fire TV Sticks. Even Disney books are eBooks now. Everything that can be digitized -- and plugged into the Internet -- will be. Staffing and HR functions are no different. In fact, 2017 is going to be the year of the digital workplace. Let’s look at some of those trends.

Connecting with the Connected Generation

Just a couple of decades ago, how did the corporate world view professionals at the helm of HR, procurement and contingent workforce program leadership? As functional necessities to support or complement processes. They handled the messy chores that executives hoped to avoid: administering benefits, dealing with employee relations, managing staffing suppliers and placing temporary talent for projects or seasonal demands.

Today, those roles have changed dramatically. From functional to strategic, we are witnessing an era when HR, procurement and contingent workforce leaders have transformed into business partners, with advisory and consultative roles that shape the direction of the companies they support. They will be instrumental as the workplace moves from cubicles to digital ecosystems.

As The Financial Express predicts in its forward-looking analysis of 2017, “The single biggest trend is that your mobile device is becoming the central tool for HR engaging with the work force and using that as a unified platform to communicate and act.” That should come as no surprise. Back in June 2015, we discussed the rise of the connected generation in the evolving workforce.

Because talent today have such an affinity for online socialization, Google dubbed them Generation Connected, or Gen C. It also added a fascinating wrinkle to its explanation: “Gen C is a powerful new force in consumer culture. It’s a term we use to describe people who care deeply about creation, curation, connection, and community. It’s not an age group; it’s an attitude and mindset defined by key characteristics.”

To create the candidate experience, performance expectations, business culture and employment brands today’s skilled talent want, companies will come rely more on HR, procurement and contingent workforce leaders as the architects of this new paradigm.

The Digital Workplace

We can no longer deny the omnipresence of technology or its power as the fuel propelling staffing and recruiting. Throughout the past year, hiring platforms have worked to incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning to inform better decisions. People analytics became a critical consideration for nearly every business in 2016, regardless of size or number of workers. Social recruiting overtook traditional sourcing practices, with old job boards losing ground to online networks. Modern job boards, meanwhile, began rolling out user-friendly, app-based models. And physical office space finally gave way to virtual operations.

So where do these developments point? Toward the mobilization of talent, management and their interactions.

Universal Engagement

One thing we’re experiencing is the anticipated outcome of Moore’s Law, which references a 1965 observation made by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore. He noticed that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits had doubled every year since their invention. By extension of this theory, Moore’s Law predicts that technology will continue to shrink in size while growing in computing power.

The prevalence of mobile devices certainly attests to Moore’s idea. We’re seeing more users interacting with smartphones and tablets than desktop or laptop systems. Talent, whether traditional or contingent, have more on-demand access to their managers. Marketing savvy recruiters gain continuous opportunities to engage with their audiences. Mobile technologies are also allowing HR, procurement and contingent workforce professionals to optimize their own productivity and mobility. Many processes may now be carried at from any location, at any time:

  • Timesheet approvals and tracking
  • Payrolling
  • Widespread communication with workers, colleagues, MSPs, staffing providers and other partners in real time, from any office
  • Video interviews, webinars, live-streaming conferences and even video-based recruitment marketing
  • Performance monitoring, feedback and reviews
  • Offers of incentives such as digital gift cards, shopping discounts, performance awards and more
  • Access to benefits and pay stubs for talent
  • Virtual learning and skills development tools, available in educational videos, digital curricula, forms and more
  • Wearable devices to track wellness, safety and performance

Promoting a tech-driven culture, enhanced by automation and the fluidity of virtualization, will also create a robust candidate experience for Millennials, leading to greater levels of attraction, engagement and retention.

“With convenience at the fingertips of the employees,” Financial Express writes, “employers will be able to leverage advantages of engaging continually which will create an atmosphere of open communication as well.”

Ongoing Feedback

Workers today seek more communication and feedback than their predecessors. They want managers who coach talent and constructively critique areas for improvement, while championing the development of perspective-taking and problem-solving behaviors in a safe environment.

Gone are the days of the annual performance review. Industry leading companies such as Accenture, Deloitte and Microsoft have virtually done away with these traditional appraisals. In his 2015 interview with the Washington Post, Accenture CEO Pierre Nanterme explained that the once vaunted model no longer holds any clout with this generation of talent:

“If you put this new generation in the box of the performance management we’ve used the last 30 years, you lose them. We’re done with the famous annual performance review, where once a year I’m going to share with you what I think about you. That doesn’t make any sense. Performance is an ongoing activity. It’s every day, after any client interaction or business interaction or corporate interaction. It’s much more fluid.”

Mobile technologies allow workforce leaders to provide continuous input and guidance to their talent, especially those workers operating remotely. More importantly, immediate data empowers people managers to act promptly when issues or challenges arise. Annual reviews can’t offer the same kind of urgency or preventative maintenance.

Through digital HR tools, we can routinely hold clear, open discussions about duties, performance expectations and ways to brainstorm improvements or solutions to issues. More importantly, these technologies allow team leaders to perform the appraisals for their talent on the spot. As the nature of work becomes more task and project oriented -- relying on networked teams instead of corporate echelons -- it makes less sense to have executives or department directors show up to grade individual performance.

That brings us to another advantage: the trust factor and strong employee engagement. Clear, open communications develop cultures of trust. When this works well, innovative solutions can manifest. Consider Shopify. As Entrepreneur describes, it has developed “an internal wiki that displays each employee’s strengths and weaknesses. The wiki helps accelerate the process of learning about colleagues and how they work best (and how best to work with them).”

Healthy Talent

As we wrote this August, wearable tech has become a power-packed performance tool for the workplace. The benefits of wearables reach far beyond time-management and motion studies. They have the ability to provide HR leaders and managers with data they previously couldn’t attain, and then measure the analytics to create greater levels of efficiency.

  • They can improve job-related safety and reduce risks.
  • They foster health, fitness and wellness programs, preventing accidents or environments that lead to medical costs, lost time or worse.
  • They increase efficiency by analyzing movement, stress, time spent completing tasks, and providing insights to users.

Wearables aside, telemedicine and digital health platforms are taking wellness to new heights. One of the most intriguing developments to me right now is an Indian company called YourDOST. Students and young workers in the country face mounting pressures to succeed. That’s a great deal of stress. And although they have access to psychological help, many are embarrassed to approach counselors.

YourDOST solves the problem by connecting Indians to over 600 mental health and wellness experts through a digital marketplace -- via website or mobile app. It’s anonymous, immediate and free of charge for web chats. As Forbes notes in its coverage of YourDOST, “There’s a nominal charge of a flat $6 for those wanting to speak to someone over a voice-call, and it’s a $9 fee for anyone wanting a face-to-face session with a locally based counselor.”

Paving the Way for 2017’s Digital Workplace

Although digital tools help foster tremendous work cultures of engagement and performance, they may also become our greatest sources of workforce intelligence.

  • Mobile tech records how workers spend their time, how they interact and how they feel about their jobs. Tracking and analyzing this data gives workforce leaders an incredible understanding of where talent are succeeding or struggling, in real time. The opportunity to address issues instantly could have phenomenal results.
  • As Chris Cancialosi points out in Forbes, “Data could be used to track the work of employees and to help them understand who they should connect with to move the work forward and keep key stakeholders informed in the process.”
  • The AI in the personal assistants most of our smartphones offer can learn to filter out the information we consider most important, even in emails or social communications. These advances could help talent discover the most relevant information they need, at times when it’s most useful.
By actively championing a digital workforce, the people leaders of 2017 will outshine their competitors. That applies to HR professionals, procurement officers, hiring managers and contingent workforce program leaders. They will gain unparalleled access to critical business intelligence, flexibility and output. They will also set the stage for attracting the brightest young workers. If we adopt creative approaches to embracing digital ecosystems and acting on that information, we can build exceptional talent forces for next year and beyond.
Sunil Bagai
Sunil Bagai
Sunil is a Silicon Valley thought leader, speaker, motivator, and the visionary behind the groundbreaking Crowdstaffing ecosystem. Blending vision, technology, and business skills, he is transforming the talent acquisition landscape and the very nature of work. Prior to launching Crowdstaffing, Sunil honed his skills and experience as a business leader for companies such as IBM, EMC, and Symantec. "We need to think exponentially to mindfully architect the future of humanity, civilization, and work. When we collaborate and work together, everyone prospers."
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