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The journey of automating human resource management

Insights Jan 4, 2022

Talent and technologies in human resources management

Today, the world has changed rapidly and dynamically like it has never before. With the unprecedented global situation as a catalyst, it has demanded organisations, regardless of industry, to transform the way they operate. And human resource (HR) management is no exception. HR has shifted digitally causing the role of HR departments to evolve beyond recognition. 

How human resources has evolved

Years ago, HR was seen as a department responsible for payroll, benefit management, talent development and employee grievance. But now, organisations are realising the power of HR and the tangible value that can be brought to the company. HR is being recognised as a strategic business function, facilitating managers in developing business unit goals and helps materialise plans to accomplish them. 

With the emergence of new technologies, especially automation and cognitive technologies, many activities and tasks can be transformed and automated, bringing added value to the company. 

Reimagining human resource management through automation

Automation and cognitive technologies can be applied to many aspects within the human resource management function, vertically or horizontally. Let’s take talent acquisition and management as an example.

The talent market has changed drastically and has become highly dynamic, requiring organisations to be more adaptive and proactive.

Gone are the days of listing open jobs on bulletin boards, storing numerous files and keeping paper records of candidates. Now, it is essential for organisations to understand the real time talent marketplace, both internal and external, and interpret what that data indicates as the current state and future trends.

Sharing his insight on applying technologies in the human resources management field, Damian Uzarek, Country Manager of Harvey Nash Poland shared:

“We live in the world that is changing rapidly every day and if we ignore the power of technologies and data, we would not be able to keep up with the pace. Data is one of the key elements to transform the business and its process. To identify, approach and win over candidates, organisations are now frequently investing in recruitment platforms which ensure real-time data access and enable cohesive management of data surfacing from candidate profiles.

Looking at the past trends, data can help us understand the challenges, explore the patterns and identify avenues where new solutions are needed. Looking to the future, data also plays a vital role in helping to analyse the business context from various angles, predict upcoming operations potential and stay ahead of the curve.”

This is where automation technologies can be leveraged to help coordinate and manage the talent marketplace, offering several revolutionised activities.

Talent acquisition through a different lens

Have you ever spent weeks seeking the perfect candidate who matches the defined criteria for the job? With automation technologies, organisations are capable of analysing the talent pool through different prisms, getting insights on what is available and what is possible.

Imagine a scenario where you are looking for a designer and have spent months finding that ideal candidate who meets all the predefined skillset and ticks all the boxes yet couldn’t, this is where automation can work its magic. With the dedicated algorithms, it’s possible to divide candidates into classes and propose the candidate that has the closest skill or highest potential to upskill to match the role profile you’re looking for. For instance, it may suggest someone who has a background in marketing, interests in arts and has peer feedback highlighting their creativity. Since this person embraces their creative mind and has experience in the design field while working as a marketer, the probability of passing an interview could increase by 40% and the possibility of passing the probation period could be 60% higher.

Talent management is taken into a new level

Whilst talent acquisition is at the initial stage of the HR journey, talent management is a bolt-on at every stage. Understanding your employees, being aware of their engagement and focusing on employee retention for both large and small companies take a lot of effort.

Through the use of technologies, it’s possible to understand and real time track employees’ working experience, training and development roadmap and wellbeing. This supports HR in their plan for resource management including mobility opportunities or additional investments to grow high potential employees. As a next step, automation intelligence (AI) applications can also be used to study what skills employees are short off or what is a current buzz in the market impacting staff’s motivation, which can contribute to learning, development and retention program offerings.

The algorithms can also help organisations retain their excelling employees by evaluating and analysing factors that can extend retention period.

Avoiding common pitfalls

As with anything, although the advantages that technologies bring to the HR area are vast, there are pitfalls that organisations frequently face during their transformation journey.

A journey of research and development

Human resource management is a journey and so is the application of intelligence automation solutions. There are no predefined products that can address all strategic data aspirations immediately. Implementing some of the market leading platforms is a way to standardise and optimise process performance but what may not be fully understood is how to capitalise on the opportunity of the data in your business. We often see the need for machine learning, modeling research and development to integrate the solution into the existing ecosysystem of an organisation. Although there are predefined models provided by the big players in the market, it’s pretty much baseline modeling which does not consider the data footprint of many legacy applications and country specifics. In order to re-imagine the human resource (HR) data footprint of choice it takes research, prototype creation, obtaining conclusions and reflecting upon those to come up with models that are truly able to help businesses making proactive and competitive decisions.

A combination of machine mind and human heart

Although machine learning is all about the learning and training of algorithms, human intervention remains one of the key success factors. No matter how brilliant a model is, at the end of the day, you will need the heart and judgement of a person to support performance and interpret insights provided by automation, otherwise, things might get off-track.

Amazon had to scrap their experimental automated recruiting tool as the system rolled out did not function the way it should and did not provide the expected results. Bias occurred when the tool was evaluating and shortlisting applicants for jobs in software development and technical positions. This was due to models being trained by studying the patterns in resumes submitted over the last ten years, which covered mostly male profiles due to the gender dominance across the tech industry. The tool was self-trained that male applicants were recognised as a preferred trend which bypassed female candidates. 

As such, having someone cross-check the machine results produced and manage the data is necessary to get accurate trend analysis and right first-time quality in real-time data. 

Damian Uzarek, Country Manager of Harvey Nash Poland shared his thoughts: “There are many processes or steps in the human resources management journey that can be revolutionised by the power of technologies and the potential is endless. However, at the end of the day, human resource management is nothing without the ‘human’ element being the driving force and focus. It’s the potential of the people in an organisation to conduct the evolution by making decisions combining facts analysis and personal experience, by recognising unobvious contexts and most of all by using the power of listening with understanding and empathy.”

Not a ‘once and for good’ thing 

Automation and cognitive technologies are not simple things with clear functions. It cannot be expected to be right first time. It’s not a bike that you buy which is likely to function as expected right away, for years and years. With emerging technologies, businesses need to dedicate time and a continuous stream of data to ensure context changes are understood. Ignoring these changes might lead to inconsistencies due to incomplete data sets, which causes bias and inaccurate results meant to support tactical and strategic decision making. 

At NashTech, we work closely with our clients and support them end-to-end throughout their transformation journey. From identifying opportunities where automation can be applied to delivering groundbreaking solutions. To find out how we can help add values and transform your HR function, get in touch today to find out more.

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