Can technology help us put the human back into human resources?

By Dean Sadler, below, CEO, Tribepad

Today businesses are driven by technology. Including small and medium size enterprises. The big guys might have access to budgets for tools and technology, but that doesn’t always mean they are using them in the right way. As you look to scale and grow, it’s important to make sure you don’t overlook what actually drives your business – the people.

We need to put the ‘human’ back into human resources. And a combination of smart tech and real people can have the strongest results, and help us face some of the biggest challenges in recruitment and retention right now.

A move to end ghosting

Ghosting isn’t just something that happens in romantic relationships or friendships. An astonishing 65% of applicants have been ghosted by a prospective employer part way through the recruitment process according to the End Ghosting research. Not only widespread, it has an impact on the brand – 94% of ghosted applicants retain negative thoughts or feelings towards the employer brand.

As well as affecting the reputation of your business, it impacts wellbeing and mental health. Almost all (86%) of ghosted applicants are left feeling down or depressed, with nearly half (43%) taking several weeks or even months to move on from the experience. If they are left feeling low, their productivity and ability to perform will drop, so no one in business wins.

In a small or medium sized business where resources are stretched, it’s essential to use what’s available to make the most of what you do have. An effective applicant tracking system enables recruitment teams to streamline processes and manage relationships, so that no one slips through the cracks and gets ghosted or forgotten.

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024

The risk of bias

Bias is very prevalent in business and recruitment and candidates don’t feel it’s getting any better as a result of diversity data being collected. Stop The Bias research showed how age, disability, gender, parenthood and even accent are considered to be being used against people, and over three quarters don’t believe diversity data is being used for their benefit.

But the research revealed that eight out of 10 respondents felt that processes would be fairer if recruitment remained anonymous. So anonymous applications, no identifying data such as age, name or gender, and contact details could all be a good route to go down. Candidate information will remain anonymised right up until the interview stage providing some reassurance that the candidate’s have been chosen for an interview using a fair selection process.

One thing that doesn’t require expensive tech is interrogating job descriptions. Terms such as ‘ambitious’ and ‘bold’ have been associated with being more attractive to those who identify as male, compared to job descriptions that speak about ‘nurturing’ or ‘supportive’ which see more females applying. There are lots of software and tools to help you identify gendered language and make people of all genders feel comfortable enough applying.

You will have equality, diversity and inclusion targets. It’s often said that you can’t change what you can’t measure, and in this case it’s absolutely true. Good tech can help you monitor and measure the data that allows you to see how you are progressing, and make changes based on that.

Employee engagement

One of the reasons that people leave jobs is that they simply aren’t sure what the job is, or it doesn’t match up to the promise. By using onboarding tools to clearly define job roles and targets, and how this fits in, people will feel confident in their role. Setting up targets with tech as a mechanism to monitor progress and give structured feedback is a great way to help keep engagement high and development on track. If people feel they are developing their career in your organisation and that you have a supportive culture they will want to stick around. So make it as easy as possible for them to see that.

Reduce the HR admin burden

It’s not just employees. Most recently, Tribepad surveyed over 500 in-house recruiters and the State of the Sector report shows how talent acquisition professionals are feeling the pressure. Only one in three say stress levels are manageable, and 5% say tech isn’t up to scratch. 25% say their team isn’t big enough, which is a challenge in smaller businesses.

When workload is high, it’s easy to let things slip. Tech systems can reduce administrative and repetitive tasks so that more time can be spent on strategic work and personal support to help candidate and employee experience.  It can also make the process more efficient and help accelerate time to hire – and get new people in the team.

Why technology?

Just because we’ve always done things a certain way doesn’t mean it’s right for now. Small and medium sized businesses have always been about power to the people finders, and they can hold on to that, and grow and scale to mid cat scale, through technology that enables them to be the very best employers out there.

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024