By Marc Privett*, General Manager of Simplify.hr
There is no doubt that we have all been impacted by the perfect storm of the pandemic accelerating the inevitable march towards the 4th industrial revolution, a failing economy driving record unemployment rates and new data privacy laws demanding a paradigm shift in how we manage personal information. While these events have impacted businesses as a whole, it has profoundly impacted how human resources departments attract, hire and manage talent. Without the adoption of recruitment technology, companies face significant reputational and compliance risks and can easily fall into remote hiring booby traps in this changing landscape.
This need to find innovative solutions to new people management problems is fuelling a boom in the HR tech space. The HR tech market is estimated to be worth a whopping $24Bn annually and seeing significant growth. In the first six months of the year alone there has been over $3.6bn in venture capital raised to support innovation in the HR tech space, which is a clear indication not only of the need, but also the impact that HR technology is having on our evolving workforces.
Closer to home we have seen new entrants into the market such as Wamly.io, the South African based video interviewing platform that not only caters for the specific needs of our market, but is also priced accordingly. Simplify.hr is a full-featured cloud-based recruitment management solution for businesses of all sizes. In a short space of three years Simplify.hr has seen significant growth and attributes their success to the fact they cater to the specific needs of the SA market and are extremely attractively priced in comparison with on-premise and international solutions.
HR technology is a key component of the success of an evolving HR function. Here are a few key reasons why your organisation should be leaning on HR tech platforms and services to manage your hiring and employee management efforts.
The Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI Act) that came into effect in July this year places a significant onus on businesses to responsibly collect, store, manage and delete data which includes candidate personal information collected during hiring and employee information of current and previous employees. Failure to act in accordance of the provisions of the act could result in hefty fines from the regulator and significant brand reputational damage. Here are three data considerations when dealing with personal information in the HR space:
Consent must be obtained by the data subject. You are required to obtain consent to collect and store personal information from each data subject, in our case candidates and employees. This especially applies to candidates when applying for positions. In addition you are required to prove consent should the regulator request so. Unless you have a mechanism to record such consent (and consent may not be implied) you could be in breach of the Act. This means that collecting paper-based CVs are an absolute no-no. Most applicant tracking systems can manage the consent for you. It is important that consent management must tie in with the data policy for your organisation.
Data can only be processed for purpose. Personal information must only be used for the purpose in which consent was granted and be kept only for as long as the initial purpose remains relevant. In the case of an applicant, the purpose is to be eligible for a specific opportunity. By the strict letter of the law, you may only keep a candidate’s personal information until it is no longer needed, which means when the position has been filled. If you would like to keep the record for longer, say for future hiring opportunities, you would need to obtain consent from the candidate. This can be covered in your terms of service and should also align with any organisational privacy and data policies. A good recruitment management system will do the heavy lifting for you here.
Personal information must be safeguarded and access must be restricted. The POPI Act places considerable emphasis on safeguarding personal information. In the context of HR, candidate and employee records must be stored in a safe and protected environment where access is recorded and controlled. This cannot be practically done using paper-based systems, which includes accepting physical CVs. Leading HR technology solution providers focus on data security to ensure that stored personal information is done so in a controlled and safe central repository. Quite frankly, it is unfair to expect that HR teams carry the significant burden of data security, but outsourced tools and services allow for the HR function to focus on what matters the most, people management.
Although many organisations adopt recruitment and people management platforms to gain efficiencies and cost-savings, these platforms play a crucial role in ensuring data privacy compliance.
The changing digital workspace
The pandemic has changed the nature of work, with an initial enforced work-from-home requirement. Many organisations will continue to adopt some form of blended working environments to cater for the short and medium term requirements under the veil of covid, but also to the changing demands of the talent that they wish to attract. On the one hand, the “fringe benefit” of being able to work from home is becoming an increasingly important consideration for prospective hires, especially in some of the scarce skilled sectors like software development where proximity has no bearing on productivity. On the other hand, forward-thinking organisations are seeing the opportunity of adopting telecommuting as a way to tap into previously unavailable pools of talent in other regions. The negative knock-on effect in the South African context is that more and more offshore based multinationals are fishing in our talent pool, offering higher than market related salaries for scarce skills, pushing the cost of talent through the roof.
The new challenges of remote work has required HR departments to adapt quickly. Everything from attracting, engaging and hiring new talent to onboarding, managing and retaining team members has had to have a rethink. Here are some areas where HR technology is paving the way for a better experience.
South Africa is a strange dichotomy where we have the highest unemployment rate in the world, but conversely have significant shortage of skills in certain areas such as engineering, software development and sciences. This reality drives eye wateringly high numbers of applications for advertised roles, but a shortage of suitable candidates. Any recruiter can attest to the amount of time wasted in scanning irrelevant CV’s. A good recruitment management system will be able to help weed out non-suitable candidates so that you can focus your time on the ones that matter. Simplify.hr has added over 26,000 hours of productivity to clients by streamlining the candidate shortlisting process.
On the other side of the spectrum, in-demand candidates have become far more selective in engaging with new opportunities. A core function of modern HR is employee branding, which if done correctly, not only acts as a mechanism to attract the right fit for your organisation but also can play a significant role in attracting candidates who usually gravitate towards other companies with strong brand recognition. A great employee branding strategy will assist in attracting scarce skilled candidates. Many recruitment management systems offer fantastic opportunities to build rich content to highlight the benefits for working at your company.
Engaging with prospective hires in our new digital reality can be extremely tricky. Interviews with candidates over video can be daunting for the candidate and in many cases candidates do not have access to the tools required. One option is to adopt asynchronous video interview tools which allow candidates to answer interview questions in their own time without the pain of scheduling.
One of the challenges of hiring remotely is getting a clear indication of fit for the job. While skill and aptitude assessments have been around for a long time, it has become more important than ever to ensure that you have the right person for the job. Nuance often picked up in face-to-face interviews is often lost in digital translation, and assessments can often offer insights that you would not have gained using video interviewing. It is also important to assess based on the requirements of the “new normal” such as self-motivation and adaptability.
Onboarding new employees in a work-from-home environment is incredibly challenging to say the least, not only from the logistical practicalities such as equipment set-up but also from the perspective of inclusion. It is very difficult for a new employee to feel “part of the team” without physical contact or having a shared workspace where people gather. They often feel disconnected and outside the bubble and find it much harder to navigate the organisation. Physical induction programmes have by and large been put on hold. A good onboarding programme will guide a new employee, give structure to both the hire and those who manage and interact with the employee and give a sense of purpose and belonging. The best onboarding platforms can automate complex task-driven workflows while driving a great employee experience. More importantly they offer accountability, measurability and consistency that is a necessity in our new working environments.
The last twelve months have challenged everything that we know and hold true. We have been thrown in the deep end and we have had to adapt our strategies and operations to meet the challenges that have thrown at us. New and existing HR technologies are well suited to help HR professionals and organisations organise, manage and grow their teams in a meaningful and positive way while removing a lot of administrative and compliance burden on your teams.
*Marc is the author Recruitment Simplified, a step-by-step guide to effective recruiting. Download a free copy of the e-book here: https://blog.simplify.hr/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Recruitment-Simplified.pdf