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SORTING THE TRENDS FROM THE FADS IN WORKFORCE INNOVATION

Evaluating workforce innovation

Have you ever had that moment when you realise you’re not cool anymore? Your fingers just not on the pulse? My children seem to delight in giving me this feeling.

I love tech. I pride myself on staying on top of the latest and greatest kit. But as my son and daughter happily chat away about phones, consoles, apps and connected devices, I constantly find myself blown away by my awesome digital native offspring.


And it’s not just in our personal lives that we strive to stay on top of innovation. I won’t bore you with the tales of my early years in recruitment and how that landscape has changed. Our Recruitment Remodelled whitepaper covers the transition much better than I ever could.

But it’s not easy. Sorting out the trends from the fads, knowing what to investigate more, when to invest or when to let an innovation pass you by.

The challenge is few of us operate in a business that’s queuing up outside the doors of the big tech providers ahead of their latest release, with big deep pockets, willing to shell out whatever the obscene cost is and just give it a go.

Buying tech or investing in innovation for the betterment of the company is a very different dynamic than our personal tech preferences. So how do you go about determining if new technology or innovation is worth it?

More than just costThe first thing you know you’ll be asked about any new tech, no matter how cool or impressive it is, will be how much does it cost?

We’ve all built the business case. Sat and figured out that, once up and running, it’s worth the investment. However, there are many other questions, hidden costs, time costs, you’ll need to be prepared to cover, such as:

  • How long it will take to get to that point?
  • What other tech does it need to integrate with?
  • What are the legal and compliance implications?
  • How many hours will you have to put into implementation and training?
  • Is the need for this likely to grow and sustain over time, impacting your whole strategy, or is this only going to influence your short-term tactics?


The only way you’ll ever build a true full business case is by engaging all the relevant stakeholders to understand their needs. In workforce management this means HR, procurement, finance, legal, IT, your hiring managers and your candidates.

Is the user experience positive?Does anyone remember the hype and buzz surrounding Google Glass? No matter how cool the features were, a number of key user issues were never addressed. Regardless as to what type of tech you are looking at, a pleasant user experience will make or break a new innovation.

It seems obvious but an often overlooked part of your business case for tech and assessing it, is developing your use cases and exploring the actual experience of using it. While you will have seen the demos and experienced it, you must clearly identify what it is that will make you and other stakeholder’s workflows more productive in your business case.

Perhaps more importantly, make sure you consider how you are going to help the person using the new software see the positive in it and use it to its fullest. An applicant tracking system or vendor management tool is often underused because others see only the negative. They see it as a necessary evil to track and report on them rather than the process automation enabler you intended.

Can you convince everyone to give you the time you need?As we’ve said, not only do you have to budget finances for new technology, you also have to budget for the time and cost of training and implementation. So as part of your business case you need to assess the impact on existing processes, and how these will need to change.

Change is hard. Whilst we all love hearing about new ideas, people are hard wired to resist change. It’s why our projects team don’t just focus on managing the software when implementing an MSP, RPO or new bit of technology but also heavily focus on the communications aspect. How will they sell the benefits and how will they support user adoption?

As we’ve already touched on, tech moves fast these days. When it comes to tech investments if you wait too long, the edge you were hoping to get with the new system may dwindle. Think about how you’ll create the sense of urgency and make your decision makers see the cost of doing nothing is far greater than investing.

Be clear on how it adds value and how you’ll measure successCalculating what you estimate your return is one thing, but you’ll need to know how you’re going to prove it too in your business case.
Increased productivity is easy to define – getting more with less. It’s not always so easy to track and report on. Whilst some tech speeds up processes and man hours saved are obvious, others, like AI, might not be so clear.

Consider does it make your people able to understand things better and faster? At Hays Talent Solutions we’ve made some big investments in tools and systems to make analysing all of the data we have available to us faster and easier to use, so we can make more informed decisions quickly.

Whether that’s a tool built into our ATS to suggest not only the candidates with the right skills, but those most likely to be receptive to hearing about a new opportunity or if it’s a data visualisation tool to help us make better sense of our benchmarking productivity data, tracking time saved here isn’t easy.

When evaluating new technology, the real key is to identify how will it get you ahead with metrics that matter? You need to go into this decision clear on what are your objectives that you really need to achieve and how will you measure them?

Candidates are kingInnovation and new tech will always promise all kinds of new benefits. And when evaluating those that really matter to your business there’s one stakeholder you cannot ignore, the candidate. Forget them at your peril.

As Jacob Morgan covered in his The Future of Work book, the employee / organisation relationship has evolved. Employees used to have to adapt to managers and managers had to adapt to businesses. No more. Today the balance has shifted, and those businesses who haven’t changed how they work, haven’t invested in a better experience, haven’t embraced innovation and the new way of working will be left behind.

Today it’s workforce based, it’s talent focused, and if your investment doesn’t benefit your ultimate end customer then you’ll never end up being daddy cool.

AUTHOR

Geoff Fawcett
National Head of Sales, Hays Talent Solutions, UK 
With over 20 years experience within the industry, Geoff has spent his career developing solutions for clients that go above and beyond the traditional recruitment model, with a particular focus on financial markets. His experience has included several years as an Operations Director for Hays, leading large groups of consultants, across multiple teams. The operational issues encountered and line management experience gained in these roles, is the basis for Geoff’s pragmatic approach to identifying and resolving client issues. He manages the internal sales strategy for our RPO, MSP and SOW solutions.