The Future of Recruitment

I presented a paper in Singapore this week on the Future of Recruitment. It’s a topic that touches on so many parts of a corporation, and yet the fundamentals have not changed over the last 25 years. We spend significant time still managing the recruitment and on-boarding PROCESS, believing that this is adding business value, but its not.

The recruitment industry is at a cross-roads. I liken this to the Horse Manure Crisis in many cities in the 1800’s. Recruiters need to think beyond solutions that are simply improving the existing process and the recruitment agents need to accept that charging 10-25% for a candidate is no longer accepted practice… especially when you are finding that so-call-fantastic-resource on Linkedin!. There are some fundamental  shift required to allow the activity of recruitment to add real value to organisations, and we are starting to see some Talent solutions integrating this new thinking.

Here is a link to the slides I presented.



Organisational Structures versus Social Networks

Cuboid series 2

The fundamentals of organisational structure have been the focus of attention of late, particularly as we see the emergence of social environments in the workplace, and the power that they can yield. Jamie Notter, co-author of Humanize has made a strong case for organisations to move from being “Machines” to more “Human Like” in order to tap into the values that social environments can bring to the workplace. The “Human” principles of collaboration, openness, trustworthiness, courage and a sense of belonging are instrumental and well aligned to the success of social environments and social media tools.

I get that, and agree a new work environment is necessary to create a social enterprise, but there are some flaws in the notion that social enterprise is a necessary replacement over hierarchical structures.

Lets look at the Arab Spring movement that used social principles (and tools) to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak. What we observed was the power of a networked group in achieving a goal of ousting a dictator, but in the end the new Egyptian president was far from being a representative of the people who orchestrator the social uprising, nor did he have anything to do with the movement. The movement itself was seemingly chaotic – there was no formal leadership, but assumed a life of its own, to which individuals were absorbed into.

Recently, one of my favourite authors, Malcolm Gladwell, made this comment, which sums up nicely the view that I hold:

“Networks may start revolutions,but they can’t finish them. Our job is to remind Millennials of the importance of hierarchies as well as networks.”

So, I think the future organisational design model does need to change – but it’s not a complete replacement of existing hierarchies with a mass movement mentality. The future need will be to understand how to leverage the power of the collective but still allow for purposeful and clearly identified leadership. It’s also  far more fundamental than simply installing a Social Media tool such as Yammer or Jam into your organisation, and as a leader hoping that you have ‘done enough’ – absolutely not! there will need to be real shifts in “who speaks”, “who decides” and ‘who acts”.

Finally, as a lover of HR technology, it would be remiss of me to not add a note that the link between HR system’s Org Management solutions/modules and social media tools is a major gap that needs to be addressed. While we have seen vendors integrating SM tools into their HR solutions, they have not truly understood how the Org management tools need to changed in order to create and support the new working environments.

The Future of HR with Gamification

When one first encounters the term ‘Gamification’, the impressions and images created in ones mind tend to focus around the word “game” – Images of your 14 year old son spending hours in front of his game console protecting the planet from a group of renegade creatures with fire power that would impress any military leader. It’s these images that for many HR people is a trigger to dismiss the notion that the principles of gaming have no place in the realm of HR or HR Technology.

If I cast my mind back, HR has actually used gaming principles in much of its work, particularly in areas like learning. Think back to some of the training courses you have attended, where you had to work in groups to create an output that was compared to the other groups, or your team output may have been ranked or voted as ‘best’ , your facilitator may also have used a visual display of how teams were tracking overall against each other. You may have attended an assessment centre where you were ‘playing out’ the role of a manager or at the end of a training session you received an award for being the ‘best participant’. Outside of the learning space, gaming principles have been applied to recruitment and performance management, and typically result in a form of recognition.

Gamification is really talking to the natural human needs and desires to achieve, compete,be recognised, have some control over the outcome and be entertained. The advent of technology has allowed these human needs to be expressed through computer based games – its a highly successful industry, to the extent that it has over taken video and DVD as the number one form of entertainment in the UK.

So the question is, can these computer based gaming methods and approaches that satisfy human nature and instincts, be transposed into the broader HR technology environment? The answer is absolutely yes, but not necessarily in all parts ~ and it should be focussed on peoples behaviour, not the HR system per se. I asked my colleague Andrew Butow, who has great experience in gamification to identify some of the critical success factors for gamification in HR technology. He suggested the following:

  • people interact with the tool frequently
  • people have a variety of interaction points
  • there exists a community that people care about recognition in
  • interaction points are easily quantified
  • adoption is a high priority
  • frequent feedback is important

These are valuable guidelines and should prevent organisations trying to add gaming principles that wont have any value. As an example, if you were thinking about adding gaming principles to your HR ESS system, it probably wont achieve its objectives as ESS is not a frequently accessed tool in most companies, nor does it add any value to place me in position “1” on the leaderboard for changing my home address. However if you had a knowledge management tool, or were using tools like Yammer, gamification could be a very clever way of building a culture of knowledge sharing. Saba has recently announced a product that does just that (see article). I can also see gaming being applied in the areas of recruitment (eg. Referral schemes, or agency effectiveness), Performance Management ( recognising excellent behaviour, sales achievements, accolades received from peers), Learning ( turning e-learning into a business simulation game, your contributions to knowledge sharing and mentoring).

What HR does not want to do is use gamification as a form of control or mechanism to get staff to comply to HR administrative needs – gone are the days of being the ‘People Police’ – if used in this way, it is likely to backfire and create negative perceptions of the HR function. I also think that gamification needs to be integrated into a company culture – for people over 35, the gaming principles wont be new, but the application through technology will be. The younger generation will easily accept and play along (excuse the pun), but older employees will need encouragement and assistance over time (remember to move from an in-box on your desk to email days).

Let the games begin !


10 Things HR Transformation

Dug up an old presentation on HR Transformation. I remember putting this presentation together and at the time wondering how much of this would come to fruition in the general HR/Talent departments. I am pleased to say that there has been some movement in the right direction, but HR is generally still struggling to add visible, direct and aligned value to the overall business.

Of course it would be wrong to paint all HR departments with the same brush ~ I have seen some fantastic strategic changes in some clients where the HR role is integrated and critical to the overall business strategy – the CHRO is recognised as a real business agent. But in other (and sadly most companies) they are still little more that payroll/personnel departments. This is not to say that all HR departments should be strategic – in many organisations its not needed and there is no executive desire for a strategic role. The issue really is when HR tries and wants to be strategic, but just cannot get there. Often this is due to an incorrect level of HR Maturity, wrong HR leadership or an executive that needs education.

Enjoy the slides and let me know how you rate your HR department against the 10 focus areas.

HR System 2020 : Challenges & Opportunities

HR System 2020 : Challenges & Opportunities

My recent slides from the presentation I did at the Mastering SAP HR Conference in Sydney. The focus was on the future of HR systems, but rather than focus on the future features of such systems, I took a look at how the rise of personal measurement, and in particular health measurement, will impact the HR and broader work environment.

Human Resources Management Systems : 7 ways to add value

Most of the reputable HR systems have continued to improve in functionality and offerings over the last 10-15 years. If one had to compare what they had to offer say 10 years ago, I would be surprised to find anyone arguing that these tools have not become far for attuned to HR operational and strategic requirements.

Yet, time and time again, I hear some HR folk saying their HR system is useless or too complicated to use. I hear statements that “The payroll is OK, but the rest just does not cut it !” ~ why is this, when the general principles around typical HR offerings such as performance management, compensation management, learning, talent etc. have not fundamentally changed over the last decade.

I’ve put together a list of 7 key  items that I believe need to be adequately addressed in organisations to ensure value can be derived from  HR systems:

  1. The Maturity of HR : An HR department that has a low level of HR maturity (nothing to do with competency of people, but rather the level of importance of the function displayed by senior and executive management) will find it difficult to use HR systems beyond basic employee bio-graphics and payroll. There will be inherently little support for the use of the other functions, and HR tends to then blame the tool when they are not used. [ACTION: determine your current level of HR maturity and build a road-map to improve this.]
  2. Alignment to Business Goals: Still a misunderstood area in many HR departments. All to often, HR implements HR tools and solutions without understanding how they will support a business goal. The lack of alignment distracts the organisation and is seen as time wasting and non value adding. HR often use the tool usage  or non-usage as a measure of its own success, rather than business success. [ACTION: Ensure that every HR solution can be measured back to a business goal, else seriously question its value.]
  3. HR Operations & Strategy Split: The inability of many HR departments to create a definite split in the way they deal with operational and strategic activities creates confusion at the HR technology layer. Some of my leading clients have come to realise that the split in focus allowed for better understanding of the respective HR solution requirements [ACTION: Ensure you HR operational activity is managed/housed separately. Your HR org design should reflect this]
  4. HR Systems are a Mirror: A difficult one to sometimes swallow, but its true. HR technology solutions cannot be your saviour. If your HR operation is poor, then you will have a poor HR system – no debate! [ACTION: Be bold enough to assess your HR competency and take action where required.]
  5. Dedicated Technology Ownership: Although it’s improving, most HR people tend to see technology at the opposite end of their psychology framed minds. Although I don’t agree with the sentiment, it is a strong reality. This sometimes manifests itself as “techno-phobic” behavior.  HR also need to own their system implementations, rather that leaving it in the hands of the IT department. [ACTION: Hire people into HR that love technology and HR (they are around) and give them accountability to ensure the technology integrated into everything HR does]
  6. Think Solutions! : Performance management, recruitment, on-boarding, compensation, learning etc. are not business solutions – they are HR tools. Organisations needs HR solutions that combine effectively to provide positive outcomes for their business goals. [ACTION: Define HR business solutions and build your HR structure to support this eg. If your organisation is big on Acquisitions, then your HR CoE’s should align to this eg. an HR CoE focused on “Merger’s and Acquisitions” and not for example the traditional “Comp & Benefit” CoE.]
  7. Change of Attitude: Most HR software solutions will never be a 100% fit for your requirements. If you have between a 70-80% then that is good enough! – HR often nitpicks and uses the lack of 100% suitable as an excuse to not change. HR has got loads of room to change and improve as they align to a more business oriented way of servicing their organisations. [ACTION: Be prepared to change they way things are done in HR. This becomes apparent when implementing a real HR Business partner role]

Dealing with these 7 issues can be a challenge and somewhat painful to get through, but it is a journey that is necessary if you want to get real value out of your HR solutions.

Your views?