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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Data is Key as Artificial Intelligence Transforms Job Candidate-Nurturing Strategies

By: Julia Mench, Senior Vice President of Global HCM Solutions, BackOfficeAssociates

Today, HR leaders are working in an increasingly competitive environment and face the challenge of sourcing talented job candidates with various skill sets on a global level. Fortunately, talent acquisition strategies have come a long way with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and other data-driven automation technologies for communicating with potential new hires and determining if they will find success within an organization. However, according to CEB only 5 percent of HR executives feel they are effective in using talent analytics due to inaccurate or duplicate data and a lack of understanding of analytics. The statistic is staggering, as data analytics can mean the difference between hiring managers making a gut decision versus a fact-driven decision.

For example, at the beginning of the hiring funnel, organizations such as Unilever and Walmart are using AI to pre-qualify candidates based on their resumes and other digital responses. They then  connect them with HR professionals based on scoring and keyword categorizations. Instead of scanning candidates’ resumes for specific words, AI software uses algorithms to analyze large data sets and match, score and rank job candidates.

Additionally, AI is helping determine specific skill sets that are important to an organization as well as a predicted view into how an applicant will perform once they join a company. By constructing "identity profiles" for candidates, AI can help predict if an individual will be a good match for their position and within the company’s culture. This is critical, as 27 percent of employers said a bad hire has cost them more than $50,000, according to a CareerBuilder survey.

Other companies are using a CRM-like approach to seek out candidates and nurture them until a good fit for a position exists. This can help foster relationships between an employer and job seeker until a job opening arises.

Both AI and CRM approaches illustrate that the new world of recruiting demands accurate data regarding both candidates and open positions in order to create a good match in an efficient manner. While a candidate might apply for multiple positions, the HR team can leverage data-driven solutions to cleanse, consolidate, interpret, analyze, and assess key information into a single view and ensure a unified engagement approach based on scoring and readiness rankings for each possible role.

The common denominator for all HR emerging technologies is consistent, clean data and its availability in real time. When recruiters are examining both structured (online job application) and unstructured data (LinkedIn profile, Twitter, published articles), they need to assimilate that information into a population of potential candidates and guarantee they are only reviewing each candidate once. The accuracy of data is important for ensuring that various sources about one candidate are associated with that individual. For example, data referring to an applicant applying as James Jones, who is also known as Jim Jones, should be linked to the same job candidate.

Clean data drives better decision making and can help improve recruiting metrics, but in order for organizations to make the most of this data, various HR technologies and recruiting systems need to be connected and rigor applied to data business processes. Also, data from each technology should be accessible in one central location with a single view. Otherwise, without this visibility across platforms companies could be missing out on qualified candidates and wasting millions in lost time and resources.  

Artificial intelligence, and other emerging technologies, can offer important insight into success of a particular job candidate and their potential rate of success with an organization. With insights based on real time data, HR leaders will become better equipped to make informed recruiting decisions.


Julia Mench is senior vice president of global HCM solutions at BackOffice Associates, a provider of information governance and data stewardship solutions for customers worldwide.



Tuesday, November 7, 2017

For a Competitive Edge, Train Your IT Professionals on Business Initiatives

By Drew Cather, Vice President of Innovation for Trace3
Professional development events are common for business professionals in most industries. In fact, there are more than 10,000 trade shows held in the U.S. annually. With a well-planned personal schedule, one can certainly learn a lot at a trade show; but occasionally, you can return from a week of attending various sessions wishing you’d learned a bit more and, frankly, realized better ROI for your time away from the office.

It’s a fairly common epiphany, and I recently had one of those experiences in the tech industry. It got me thinking: How can IT leadership conferences and professional development programs be taken to the next level? What are the most important aspects on which we should be focusing for the future?
Technology is a major business differentiator and something that has the power to shape the future of an organization. Companies should want their IT professionals to be more ingrained in understanding the mechanics of their business, so development programs should help IT professionals become more aligned with—and aware of—the business initiatives within their organizations. In many regards, the CIO of today is tomorrow’s CEO.

In speaking with many tech industry CIOs and vice presidents I found that the majority agreed, with most providing valuable feedback for what they would look for in a development program like this. The ideal program would be geared toward helping attendees go out and learn about business. IT is a necessary service supporting the business of any company, so they go hand-in-hand.
Armed with this feedback, the lightbulb went off for me while I was attending a CIO-focused event at University of California, Irvine’s Center for Digital Transformation. The center offers educational programs that help organizations leverage the possibilities enabled by emerging digital technologies. This is done by conducting innovative research and offering an exciting outreach program including workshops, conferences and lectures. It dawned on me that this would be the ideal resource and host to facilitate the creation of a program.
I met with Dr. Vijay Gurbaxani, the director of the UCI Center for Digital Transformation, and his associate Ed Trainor to discuss my concept. The first question Gurbaxani and Trainor posed to me was, “What’s the value in a program like this?” It’s a great question.
Here are some reasons why a program like this is so important:
  1. The people we work with in IT leadership are actively searching for tools to nurture and grow their best and brightest team members to get them focused on understanding the business and ultimately aligning technology innovation to drive the business.
  2. From the research I conducted, it appears no such program exists with respect to the curriculum and focus being put together. With the support of Gurbaxani, Trainor and my organization, we set out to bring the program to life. I foresee the development of more programs like this as HR and the C-suite continue to see the value in IT professional development.
  3. Recent disasters like the Equifax data breach (along with other major security meltdowns) show that cybersecurity and IT are serious concerns for the C-suite. With budgets being devoted to preventing cyberattacks that devastate the bottom line, it makes sense for IT staff to learn about business strategy.

The UCI Paul Merage School of Business has just launched the program, offering a Certificate in Business Leadership for IT Executives with participants from such diverse organizations as AIG, NetApp, Sutter Health and Yamaha Motors USA. For me, the go-ahead from UCI to join in the development of the program was absolute validation that a need existed for the program, and acted as a call to action for so many tech companies that understand the value in shaping tech executives to look for new ways to drive business outcomes.
In an ideal world, no one would finish a leadership program questioning its value. Leadership programs should be purposefully designed to educate and enable their participants to understand the business side of things in order to better align innovation to the objectives of their organization.
To remain competitive, organizations must embrace digital transformation while staying focused on traditional objectives. By learning about business initiatives to complement their existing knowledge base, today’s IT professionals are in the perfect position to help guide their organizations and advise the C-suite on the evolving tech landscape.


Drew Cather is vice president of Innovation at Trace3, where he focuses on turning technology innovation into business value. He holds an economics degree from UC-Berkeley and lives in Orange County, California, with his wife and young son.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Using Gamification to Improve Engagement and Retention Rates

 By Chris Whitlow, CEO of Edukate

High turnover rates are a problem that employers face every day, and finding solutions to keep employees is just as challenging. In 2016, the turnover rate for employees in the hospitality sector was more than 70 percent, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover (JOLTS) program. To counter this and improve employee retention rates, employers should consider utilizing gamification to engage and inspire employees.

Gamification refers to the application of game elements into other settings. Many companies are already using gamification to improve their customers' experiences, but it can have big benefits for their employees as well. Successful gamification tactics in the workplace include using job simulation activities for recruiting and employee onboarding, holding engagement contests when implementing a new technology, and awarding points and rewards for typically mundane tasks.

Increasing employee engagement with gamification

Gamification functions well in the workforce because it creates an engaging environment for employees and ultimately improves a company’s culture. Adding playful elements such as rewards to humdrum tasks leads to increased rates of engagement as employees feel incentivized to participate.

Many employees are stuck at a desk, helping to keep customers happy but not staying engaged themselves.  
This same concept applies to employee benefits. Employers should strive to create engagement around their benefit offerings via gamification. Employees who take full advantage of their benefits to address personal stressors reap the rewards of working for that specific company and feel more fulfilled.

An engaged employee is a happy employee, so it's important to care for them in the same way that one would a customer.

Increasing motivation and productivity

Gamification means more than offering an occasional contest. Rather, it’s about energizing employees through engagement. Gamification also shifts an employee’s view of a task without changing the fundamental nature of the task. Employees feel excited about their workplace while completing the same tasks that they were before. Additionally, positive feedback and recognition motivates users to feel more satisfied.

Motivated employees are in turn are more engaged, loyal, and productive—in return, they are more likely to stay with their current company.

Gamification as a part of overall culture

Company culture affects an employee’s opinion of the company and is a strong component in employees’ decisions to leave a company or stay, and gamification promotes a positive and rewarding company culture. Employees are often scattered throughout the workplace and focus on different tasks. Gamification allows employees to work on projects in different departments and spread the culture. It helps create a sense of belonging for workers and reminds them of common goals and values found throughout the organization.

It’s time for the employers to utilize gamification for their employees—not just their customers. Games are fun, but gamification is a robust business-oriented solution that will improve employees’ experiences and increase retention rates.  






Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Hiring Your Strategic HR Partner


Finding the right fit: What you need to know
By: Evette Baker, President of Sparks Group 
Today’s HR leaders are now strategic business partners who communicate directly with executives to facilitate immediate and long-term success by working with the entire organization. Specific qualifications are required for this forward-thinking leader, who is enforcing regulations, ensuring compliance, branding employee culture, and managing retention. The outcome of these core HR functions can have a significant impact on your organization and the quality of your people. Therefore, this person must fully understand the company initiatives that drive revenue in order to build the strategic plans that fuel success and mitigate risks. When investing in your HR business partner, be sure to follow these three guidelines.

1.  It’s all about the soft skills.
An HR leader’s interpersonal skills are paramount to their success and must be regarded when understanding a company’s culture. These positions are communicating directly and indirectly with multiple levels of staff, which can dramatically increase efficiency and productivity. Soft skill characteristics critical for success include:
·       Strategic thinking.  HR leaders share a thorough knowledge of the specific industry they are leading and the business solutions that are driven from talent acquisition, retention, etc. HR leaders must not only know their functionality, they must also be students to the competitive landscape as well as best practices.

·       Ethics. Due to the sensitive nature of some situations, they must inspire trust and hold a confident relationship with everyone in the organization. Their high integrity is projected through positive and healthy employee relations. 

·       Problem-solving ability. Also known as “crisis managers,” they must be able to simplify complex problems with legal, employee and business matters. Problem-solvers have the ability to listen and take deep interest in enabling the solution. Great HR leaders provide an environment where employees come to be heard. They build their employees’ self-esteem by allowing them to have a voice.

·       Passion. Recruiting new talent, empowering employees to engage in professional growth, and coaching managers to build their leadership skills requires HR leaders to genuinely enjoy helping others. Passionate HR leaders are life-long learners, who are constantly seeking new ways to develop and gain new ideas. They strive for excellence and base their success on the success of their peers and the organization.

2. Strategic experience brings a competitive advantage.
When HR leaders understand overall business strategy and the core difference between their organization and the competition, the company benefits from their competitive knowledge. The best strategic behaviors include four components. 
·       Innovation. Outstanding HR practitioners must fully understand the company’s mission and goals to know what drives success and revenue. Through this knowledge they design creative systems to stand out from the competition. They align their work, projects, and goals with every need of the business.

·       Leadership experience. Strong management skills are required to implement guidelines and procedures across all business functions. HR leaders must cultivate a welcoming environment and operate with the mindset that matches the executive team.

·       Program implementation experience. In order to implement a new program successfully, HR leaders must manage several tasks between different departments. Their acute attention to detail and strategic planning methodologies are essential every step of the way.

·       Change management. Highly effective HR leaders who are successful at change management are respected and trusted by the workforce. Their ability to garner the support from the entire team impacts success. Whether it involves a simple change to the way customer complaints are handled or a major change to organizational policy or strategy, it is essential there is minimal disruption.
3. We need subject matter expert in HR systems.
HR managers touch all activities related to HR on a daily basis including accounting, management, and payroll. Expert leaders utilize HR information systems (HRIS) to more effectively manage these functions through HR software. The ability to effectively analyze these business functions is also a valuable tool for providing measurable results and metrics to stakeholders. 
Becoming a subject matter expert in HRIS will lead to increased efficiency when making large scale decisions that affect productivity.
4. The bottom line

Looking into the future, HR leaders are now business partners who sit at the table with the C-level executives and are part of the core leadership team. They are there to understand the company strategy and help CEOs anticipate human capital challenges. They are deeply involved in planning the initiatives that drive organizational success, and they mitigate risks across all departments with the people. The more knowledge HR has about business operations, the more critical they become in developing an efficient workforce, higher employee retention rates, and a positive company culture. All of these lead to attracting top talent and producing the best product and services. During the hiring process, take the time to understand these specific goals for the company and invest in an HR leader who is qualified to accomplish these goals.