How to solidify competitive advantage with technology
Editor's note: The following is a contributed piece by Ultimate Software's chief services officer, Julie Dodd.
Attracting and retaining the best talent is a top priority for all organizations, so the best companies invest in advanced HR technologies to engage and support their people. Considering the high cost of replacing even a single valuable employee — up to twice their annual salary — it’s imperative that HR leaders have the right technologies in place to empower their people from recruiting through retirement.
Implementing the right solutions can improve a number of crucial workplace metrics, from bolstering company morale to developing better managers. But every solution is different, and selecting the one that best suits the evolving needs of your business and people is a critically important process. Here are several strategies to consider when evaluating potential technology partners.
Locate and attract better candidates with a customized recruitment processes
Attracting top talent is increasingly difficult, due to fierce competition for candidates and heightened employee expectations. Additionally, complex recruiting systems have traditionally made it difficult for candidates to truly engage and connect with organizations in a meaningful way.
Fortunately, today’s technology can help organizations not only reach thousands of applicants in a single post, but also create an engaging and personalized candidate experience. For example, employers can personalize candidate communication through configured applicant-tracking systems and tell their stories through branded application templates or create application portals that work seamlessly on any device. These methods strengthen the employer brand while cultivating long-term candidate relationships, and, according to Brandon Hall Group, organizations that invest in a strong candidate experience improve the quality of their hires by 70%.
Emerging technologies such as AI and natural language processing (NLP) help assess not only skills and experience but also qualitative characteristics, such as behaviors, motivations and career aspirations that can help determine ongoing success. Recruitment software can filter through job applications by the batch, which can help companies avoid unconscious bias that may come with knowing an applicant’s gender or age. Advanced recruiting software can also help identify where a potential candidate would best fit on the team by taking into account the prospect’s skills and career goals and comparing that with a personalized history of the organization’s track record with similar candidates.
Increase retention by anticipating and addressing employee needs
Acquiring and onboarding new talent is costly, which explains why 53% of employers consider retaining top talent to be their highest priority. It’s key for HR leaders to keep an active pulse on employee sentiment, monitor red flags and identify flight risks — before it’s too late. Sophisticated survey technologies that use advanced NLP and machine-learning algorithms can uncover employee sentiment in real time through a combination of quantitative and open-ended survey responses. These data points provide actionable insights that HR departments and managers can then use to improve the satisfaction, retention and performance of employees.
For an example of a successful retention campaign, consider PACE Center for Girls, a nationally recognized social-impact organization that was facing a crisis of employee engagement, with 60% employee turnover costing $2.3 million per year. PACE leveraged AI-driven HR software to uncover concerns with payroll processes, data integrity and HR operations. The company then used these insights to cut employee churn in half and save more than $1 million over three years. PACE redirected the money it saved toward employee benefits and other costs crucial to the health of the organization, impacting far more than retention.
Tech can help prevent employee attrition, but also keep employees engaged on a day-to-day basis. Remember to take advantage of more commonplace tech like cloud-based document sharing, video calls and live collaboration tools like virtual whiteboards to help remote employees feel like part of the team.
Leverage HR technology for smarter promotion decisions
How a company manages promotions can make or break its business. When leveraged effectively, performance reviews are a powerful tool to grow employee retention and satisfaction. Employees feel respected and appreciated when they’re rewarded for hard work with a title change or a raise. But when handled inappropriately, promotions can breed a culture of discontent and lead to unnecessary turnover.
Businesses have been slow to apply HR technologies to the promotion process; in fact, a full 53% of managers do not use any technology or data when making promotion decisions. This is a mistake for many reasons, including potential bias and missing skill sets. Promotions should be planned strategically, not left entirely to instinct.
Some technologies provide managers with detailed employee data to help them make informed decisions based on performance, soft skills and reputation with colleagues — all of which are crucial for managerial roles. Portals that display results from multiple sources allow for comprehensive evaluations and enable organizations to provide employees with actionable feedback, fostering development and an increased sense of value.
Find the right technology partner
While advanced technology is typically what attracts customers, choosing the right partner is crucial for organizations to achieve optimal business results. From payroll to timesheet trackers to benefits platforms, the HR tech market is highly saturated, and customer service is often the primary differentiator between great HR software companies and good ones.
In fact, according to a Kelton Global survey, seven out of 10 HR decision makers said they’ve regretted their human capital management technology selections. The reasoning wasn’t product functionality or a lack of innovation. For 68% of those buyers, poor customer service, partnership and a lack of services were the primary sources of their regrets. Regardless of what technologies are being implemented, success depends on high-quality service, but this aspect is often overlooked during the buying process. Whether it’s a designated service manager or an on-demand chatbox, it’s important to consider the value of a partner who’s always available to personalize and streamline processes while anticipating business needs.
Also consider response times and customer support availability. Issues often arise at inconvenient times, so having access to quality 24/7 support — in multiple channels — is invaluable.
Clearly, advanced HR technology is fundamental to organizational success, significantly benefiting both employers and their people. Empowered by an innovative solution that provides a personal employee experience from day one and backed by a partner who’s committed to your continued success, you can maximize your ROI and solidify your competitive advantage.