3 Things We’ll See in HR by 2022

On Friday of last week (10/20), I was a guest on Michael Cameron’s daily radio program “Win-Win@Work” and had the opportunity to speak about my favorite topic– building and leading a world-class recruiting team. It’s a wonderful thing when you find yourself leading a team that has hit its collective stride. It’s a magical place, a place where the beer flows like wine, and where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. Building and leading a team is the most satisfying part of the job for me, and when things are good, they are really good.

But we know in this crazy Talent Acquisition life, every day is a snapshot – who knows what tomorrow will bring, much less what might happen in 2022. So when Mr. Cameron (makes me feel younger to call anyone “Mister”) asked me at the end of our interview, “where do you see Talent Acquisition in five years?”, I’ll admit I chewed on my tongue a bit ~ five freaking years??

Since, “I don’t have a clue, Mike” is a decidedly bad answer to a live broadcast question, the little man started rummaging my subconscious mind for those thoughts I have when allowed to be future-focused. To my surprise, I think I may have made a little sense, you tell me.

Three things I expect to see in Talent Acquisition by 2022:

  1. Talent Networks/Communities Will Explode ~ If you aren’t building a community already, you better get with the program. Building virtual connections by sharing meaningful information is definitely a “long” play, but when those crops start to come in, you’ll have a pipeline of engaged candidates.
  2. Speed Wins ~ The application process is an absolute beating. Everybody seems to know this, but even with technology advances the process takes, on average, 30 minutes. That’s garbage. Find the key to that door and the kingdom is yours. The huge ATS is going to go buh-bye, and the sooner the better.
  3. Blurred Lines ~ With the increased importance of building a people pipeline via talent networks, Talent Acquisition will continue to morph into a Marketing arm of the organization. Candidate or customer, what’s the difference? We’re just scratching the surface of how to maximize the time we engage with a potential candidate, why not also capture them as potential customers? What we have here is another way to tie Talent Acquisition to financial metrics – yay metrics. Same concepts apply – who’s your audience, what kind of persona are you targeting, and how do you most effectively reach them?

There’s also one other fundamental belief I have that isn’t universally shared. Fundamentally, I still see our job being relationship-driven by talented people in recruiting roles. There’s a swell of Orwellian thinking that technology will replace recruiters as time progresses. Here’s the problem –  the HR-Tech boon of the last several years has, in many ways, resulted in white noise. Too many tools, too many gimmicks (too many blogs, consultants, and “experts” too for that matter.) I still believe the recruiting function needs to be internally based and owned by actual employees of the company. The technology that succeeds will be the kind that frees up recruiters to do what they do best – recruit. 

If you want to listen to the conversation, here’s the link. And yes, I really do sound like that.

Employee Experience; is The Honeymoon Over?

“Candidate experience.” Google that term and you get just over 11 million hits. I’m guessing a fair percentage of those can be traced back to the contributors on this site, myself included, as sharing the gospel of the candidate experience is a pretty cool thing to do, don’tcha know?

Here’s my concern about the avalanche of material you find about candidate experience: the majority of the advice/best practice/recommendations come from consultants, ancillary providers, job boards, bloggers, or other people outside of the corporate atmosphere – everybody’s selling something, and right now the hot product is candidate experience. But for those of you/us who are sitting in the communal world, there’s a bit of a risk when you’re truly beefing up your candidate experience. It may outpace something equally, if not more, important.

The employee experience.

It’s funny when you think about it – back in the day, the joke was always about the recruiter who could sell you a job in Hell (“don’t worry, it’s a dry heat”); our job was to get ’em in the door, then let the manager worry about keeping them.

But two things changed that attitude considerably:

  1. We realized “candidate” and “customer” are interchangeable terms.
  2. Unemployment rates continue to drop. With a 4% unemployment rate, the people you are hiring are already working for somebody else – we gotta sell the sizzle, not the steak.

So the candidate now has the clear advantage, and there’s a hell of a lot more of them than there are our own employees, which means a hell of a lot more potential customers. As a result, our focus has shifted to marketing to candidates, wooing them, engaging them, educating them, making a connection, and (hopefully) hiring them as a new employee. If done right, your recruiting team becomes an extension of your consumer marketing team.

Now, back to the employee experience – Google that term and you’ll come up with “only” 4 million hits. Might sound silly, but that’s not insignificant. Talent acquisition has upped their respective game – as an industry we fully embraced the need for new ways to market, new ways to apply, new ways to interview, and new ways to engage the candidate population as the competition for talent became increasingly combative. We’ve done so to the point of creating enough noise to dwarf the employee experience.

But are we selling the dry heat? Is the recruitment marketing and red-carpet process for candidates setting up a disconnect with the actual experience of being an employee? If your recruiting message is more of a sales pitch than an actual description of the day-to-day responsibilities of the job, you’re setting yourself up for more than one complication (you may even read about it on Glassdoor.)

You can make the candidate experience a smooth ride; dazzle them with your EVP, enchant them with video messaging, get them to the front door on Day 1 – but then what?

Look at your turnover rates, especially in the first six months, and analyze each position individually. If you have an alarming percentage of employees leaving in a short time frame, you may very well have a disconnect between what you’re selling and what you’re providing.

And, as a recruiter, if you can’t change the latter, you need to adjust the former. “Candidate experience” should include a reality check about expectations, challenges, and the potential risks involved with actually walking a mile in those shoes.

Friendly, But Not Friends

You know that side-job you have as the informal HR Advisor for any/all of your friends? It can be enlightening at times, even uplifting, when you hear some of the ridiculous sh*t people are forced to put up with in their workplace.

For the situation to reach the “Mind if I run something by you?” stage, it usually entails the insufferable actions of someone’s direct supervisor. And, since it’s annual review time for many folks, you find many of your friends in that uncomfortable situation where the “boss” has just documented & delivered feedback that is either:

  • Complete nonsense
  • Based on a single event rather than a body of work
  • Sexist or otherwise inappropriate
  • Meaningless and vague

If the review is tied to compensation, as most are, it becomes more than frustrating to receive any of these misappropriated judgments of performance – it can also be career-limiting.

Want an example? Here’s a quote from the review of a close friend:

The perception is that you care too much about your team, and that your team cares too much about you. Next year, your development will revolve around being less engaged.”

“OH LOOK, YOU’RE ALL OUT OF SHUT-THE-HELL-UP”

Seriously. There’s a person on a company’s payroll in a position of influence, and they actually wrote something this ass-backwards. In the tightest labor market we’ve had this century, this person was being encouraged to distance from employees. Not only that, but this action is seen as development (insert maniacal laughter here).

I wanted to make sure I clarified the statement to make sure the review writer wasn’t encouraging more delegation or less fraternal relationships, or something not so…..I don’t know, stupid? But nope, it was truly a situation where the team admired this manager and literally chose to work for her; and that was seen as a problem.

So this begs the question – how much is too much when it comes to your relationship with your direct reports? I know this can’t be the first time you’ve heard something similar to this, right? I can still remember my first role as a manager of people, when a more senior colleague took me aside and gave me his pearl of wisdom; “be a jerk for as long as possible, the minute they think you care you’re cooked.” I would attribute it solely to a generational difference in management style, except I still see this pattern replicated by younger managers who still subscribe to the “I show that I care every two weeks when you get your paycheck.” 

Allow me to mention once again that an unemployment rate this low has a significant impact on the importance of retaining your key employees – the opportunities are there for them, inside your walls or outside. You may be strapped in your ability to use tangible rewards to show your appreciation (there’s the magic word), so your ability to create an environment of true intrinsic appreciation is critical.

I’m reading a book, “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” by Gary Chapman & Paul White (yes, the same guys who wrote the “love languages” book, shaddap) for a more granular discussion of the “how,” but you’ll have no problem finding reasons for the “why.” Dan Ariely estimates that “88% of the time employees leave because they don’t feel appreciated.” Lazlo Bock, a lover of data, says “meta analysis shows that appreciation is more important to retention than compensation.”

So hold your head up high, friend – your boss may not appreciate what you’ve built with your team, but you broke the cycle and engaged your team anyway. Has your boss considered what might happen if you leave? My guess is you’d have a few people who would follow you out the door.