Social HR Technologies Beginning to Impact Full Employee Lifecycle
Social HR has been with us for some time now, with vendors, analysts, and pundits arguing its benefits for just as long. But the jury has still largely been out on these technologies from the practitioner perspective. In fact, in a statistic that we recently cited from Ventana Research, fully 39% of organizations still “explicitly deny people the opportunity to interact using [these collaborative technologies]”. And in a related study from SilkRoad (The Social Media and Workplace Report), only 43% of employees indicated that they worked for companies in which social media access was completely open in the workplace. So what gives? Why the stark contrast between what the HR technology communities are advocating versus what executives are adopting?
Well, for one thing many have argued (including us) that social HR applications are overhyped—delivering only a modicum of the benefits that are being touted. For another, Blogging4Jobs’ latest survey found that 46% of company leaders believe that their employees “will misuse social media and other workplace technology”. More likely though from a business leader perspective is that the issue revolves around trying to nail down exactly how to leverage social HR technologies. Social learning is fairly well established; social recruiting will soon be reaching mainstream adoption; and social performance management is still on the acceptance fringes; but it’s the whole-scale integration that social HR technologies are having across the employee lifecycle that can be the most puzzling. To help remedy at least a bit of the confusion, we decided to talk about in this blog post where we see social HR’s 4 main infusion points. More ...
By Micah Fairchild November 5 Permalink Comments (0) Posted in Social HR
Rewards and Recognition Applications Trending Up
With recent announcements from the likes of RoundPegg and Globoforce at this year’s HR Technology Conference; and acquisitions of Sonar6 and Rypple in the not-too-distant-past; it’s becoming quite clear that reward and recognition (and the corollarily-related engagement) applications are in the throes of a renaissance. What’s not quite so clear is why. After all, reward and recognition programs have long been a staple of the performance management diet; celebrating years of service or other inane aspects of the employment relationship. Yet few proponents would argue that organizations have lived and died by their ability to recognize and incent top performers. As Bersin & Associates’ Stacia Garr puts it though, “the business world and, consequentially, the workplace [has] changed substantially over the last five years”.
Maybe this change revolves around organizations getting wise to the fact that good employees are increasingly hard to attract and retain. Perhaps it’s simply a by-product of a new generation coming of age in the workforce. Or maybe as Garr and countless others have suggested, economic circumstances, flattening organizations, increased competition, and technology are all factors that come into play. Whatever the case may be, the market for rewards and recognition software solutions is rapidly heating up. But with this escalating reward/recognition trend though come a number of questions that have to be reviewed when considering whether a reward and recognition program and/or application is worth the investment, or suited to your organization’s unique needs. More ...
By Micah Fairchild October 22 Permalink Comments (0) Posted in Performance
The HR Technology Conference: Research Reports and Surveys
In this coverage on the 15th HR Technology Conference, our focus turns to the announcements that took place concerning the research studies that were released. Specifically, our coverage here will detail the findings of CedarCrestone’s HR Systems Survey, the Third Annual Workforce Management Trends Survey, and SHL’s Talent Report.
HR Tech Survey #1: CedarCrestone’s HR Systems
Based on responses from 21M+ employees representing over 1200 organizations, these surveys have been an industry standard since the company’s start in 1983. This year’s CedarCrestone research highlighted where exactly HR technology spending is heading; what practices companies should be adopting to optimize that spending; and which benchmarks from the 50 top performing companies should be focused on.
As far as HR technology spending direction goes, 40+% of the survey’s respondents indicated projected increases for the upcoming year; with analytics, social, and service delivery applications netting the highest expected growth during this period (142%, 81%, and 57% respectively). Best practice wise, the survey revealed that: a) adoption of the full suite of workforce management applications delivers administrative savings and cost reductions resulting in 33% higher operating income growth; b) organizations with business intelligence (BI) that integrates workforce and other organizational data outperform those without such integration by 12%; c) early adopters of social-enabled processes show a link to 8% higher revenue per employee; and d) an Integrated Talent Management (ITM) solution continues as the direction linked to highest financial performance (with 50% lower BI costs).
Finally, with regard to benchmarking against the 50 top performing companies, CedarCrestone’s survey uncovered that 7 broad practices being implemented by these businesses. More ...
By Micah Fairchild October 12 Permalink Comments (0) Posted in Events
Oracle’s Open World: A Closer Look Into a Giant’s Strategy
Another year down and, true to form, Oracle has just finished up there Open World conference where they boasted hosting the world’s largest conference for technology; with 50K in attendance and an estimated 1M online views. And although I’ll eschew the debate over who’s held the biggest event (I’ll leave that to the Guinness Book of World Records to figure out), I will say that Open World eclipses more than a few other user conferences in terms of size and scope. But size wasn’t the only thing at play for this year’s Oracle happening; and in fact this might be the first year in recent history that the HR technology market had a watchful eye on the company to see how it addressed the looming questions of cloud HCM, mobility, and its aging EBS and PeopleSoft suites. Indeed, with Workday gaining momentum (and press), SAP breathing down their neck, and a bevy of other HR software solutions like Ultimate seeking to take all the business they can away from Oracle, the company had some selling to do; and sell they did. Here are our top 3 takeaways.
Oracle Open World Takeaway #1: Executive Level Commitment
First off, the keynotes from head-of-the-household Larry Ellison, President Mark Hurd, and Executive VP of Product Development Thomas Kurian all delivered the same focus—Fusion applications are alive, well, and built for multiple deployment methods; not just the cloud. And this sentiment was echoed by both Steve Miranda and Chris Leone during their own sessions that got a bit more down to earth and into the applications themselves. It may seem counter intuitive that a company as large as Oracle wouldn’t be fully committed to their newest baby Fusion, but up until now the company has excelled only at dancing around questions surrounding the new applications rather than directly answering some of the more pointed posits from analysts. Most likely what we saw over the past year from the company was that Fusion apps simply weren’t ready for mass consumption, but they released them anyway—a tactic that certainly got the market talking, but resulted in clarity issues and executives distancing themselves from the solution. That said, with this year’s Open World it’s clear that a commitment has been made by the top brass to see Fusion HCM through and put the money behind development to make it happen. More ...
By Micah Fairchild October 5 Permalink Comments (0) Posted in Events
Recruitment Software Market Sees More Consolidation and Changes
Of the numerous areas of HCM technology that have seen market play this year (and there have been many), perhaps none have gotten as much attention as recruitment software. It’s one of the critical pieces of the talent management puzzle that Workday has been vilified for missing; and SAP was lauded for when they purchased SuccessFactors. And many of us within the HR technology space speculated that Oracle’s acquisition of Taleo was entirely based on gaining a cloud recruitment partner.
Of course all of this attention that recruitment applications have been receiving is for good reason. After all, at no other time in the history of the workforce has the attraction and retention of skilled employees but so important. So much so in fact, that even the Harvard Business Review recently ran an article for their blog (An Unlikely Partnership: When HR and Marketing Join Forces) detailing how an ever-increasing amount of organizational time and energy is being spent “selling” talent on the benefits of working (and staying) at a specific company. So it comes as no surprise to us when we see M&A movement within the recruitment software market. Companies (and therefore vendors) are clamoring for the best tools, the best advice, and the best data to help them inform their practices and capture the best talent. Just look at the Corporate Executive Board’s recent buy-out of SHL—this was an acquisition entirely built around tapping into a recruitment data stream; and one that CEB paid some big bucks for.
The latest news in the recruitment software market is that iCIMS has acquired JobMagic and that CareerBuilder has acquired EMSI—purchases that (while small) bring with them implications for the industry as a whole as well as further proof that (for now at least) recruitment is the process everyone wants to shore up. More ...
By Micah Fairchild Sept 17 Permalink Comments (0) Posted in E-recruiting
HR Systems Research from Towers Watson Details Industry Changes
Each year, countless surveys come out that detail the state of the HR software industry; the latest innovations that customers are clamoring for; and the future directions that human capital technologies are taking. Much like other sites that aim to keep their finger on the pulse of the HR world, we’ve done our part here at HRlab.com to gather that data together for you and parcel out exactly what is most important. Whether referencing CedarCrestone’s annual HR Systems report for their analysis of workforce management systems integration ; research group Nelson Hall’s write-up of business process outsourcing; or even the multiple assessments conducted by powerhouses like Gartner and Forrester, the fact of the matter is that the surveys and analyses from these firms provide invaluable expertise when it comes to uncovering HR technology trends, best practices, and industry insight.
Our blog post this week focuses solely on just one such survey; the recently-released (and 15th annual) HR Service Delivery and Technology Survey Report from Towers Watson (TW). Though impossible to cover every substantive aspect of what this highly-anticipated research from TW provides in the time and space we have, there are several notable areas that you should know about. Specifically, two that prove out trends that have already been discussed ad nauseum are that the function of HR is undergoing structural changes; and that the shared services model is continuing to gain traction. Each of these issues, while at the core of HR’s transformation from a transactional cost center to that of a strategic partner, remains old news—and as such falls outside of what we like to cover in posts such as this. However, there were two additional findings that did catch our eye: HR technology spending and the fact that talent management and performance management remain the top issues for HR and business executives. More ...
By Micah Fairchild August 30 Permalink Comments (0) Posted in HR Software
Mobile HR: Understanding the BYOD Challenge
Although certain functional HR areas are up for debate with regard to whether mobile HCM is overhyped, what is clear is that the use of mobile devices by employees and managers to access and interact with HR, payroll, and benefits data is quickly becoming a widespread phenomenon. In fact, a BusinessWeek research report (Mobile HR: The Global Challenge) found that adoption was sitting right at 32% globally (the leading region was Asia/Pacific at 42%, with the U.S. and Europe lagging slightly at 27% and 31% respectively). And even further back, in 2010, Gary Butler (ADP President and CEO) was quoted as saying, "Within the next two years, we're going to see businesses spending 35% of their IT budgets on mobile”.
Aside from adoption and spend rates though, part and parcel with this trend for mobility is the rising tide of employees looking to utilize their own mobile devices to complete these tasks—a fact that has caused a healthy amount of debate between both employers and staff as businesses try to understand exactly what the implications of personal phones, PDAs, and tablets truly are.
A product of the consumerization of the workforce, bring-your-own-device (or BYOD as it is more commonly called), is being driven by the fact that employees at all levels are increasingly deciding that they would rather use the same (and often more advanced) mobile HR technologies for both work and home. As a recent editorial in the May issue of IT in Europe magazine points out, “users believe they can be more productive using the familiar smartphones they use every day”. Among other things, this approach implies a blurring of boundaries and an engagement that in one sense may gratifying for the employer (as workers are focused on improving efficiency and are prepared to use the best tool for the job; even if it’s their own); but the flip side of that coin is that the mobile BYOD trend can be a major headache for IT departments as they must address data privacy and network access control issues while also maintaining levels of support and service to a multitude of various laptops, tablets, and smartphones. More ...
By Micah Fairchild August 13 Permalink Comments (0) Posted in Social HR
Gamification & HR: Synergistic In The Right Areas
At one point or another, we’ve all succumb to the latest game that’s trending at the time. Whether it’s an old-school video game like Pac-Man, or the more current Angry Birds and World of Warcraft, the fact of the matter is that we can get addicted to playing games—hooked on trying to beat an old score, reach a new goal, or outwit an opponent. But this drive to compete in the gaming world is no longer relegated to just pastime activities. Now it would seem that businesses the world over are tapping into the benefits that gamification and broader consumerization technologies can bring to the workplace.
Recent research from Avanade found that fully 73% of company executives view the fostering of gamification in the workforce as a top priority; with 79% forecasting significant investments in these applications by the end of the year. Gartner has weighed in on the trend, predicting that by 2015, 50+% of all organizations will manage innovation activities through gamification and 70% of the Global 2000 will use game tactics via at least one gamified application. The larger question though is whether this is simply a trend of the next-best-thing, or if gamification’s hype has outpaced its utility.
From the HR perspective, gamification is simply the process of applying game theory (i.e. techniques and mechanics) to help solve organizational problems, engage current and prospective employees, and generally drive uptake of whatever HR intervention initiative is targeted. And on the surface, it seems fairly straightforward. Yet, for all the potential it might hold, the reality is that perception is still a major factor in why majority adoption has not occurred. After all, for those businesses still on the fringes of innovation (e.g. social HR technology uptake—which there are many), the idea of playing games just doesn’t sit well. In their minds, business is about work and games are about play; never the two shall meet. Unfortunately for those organizations, that perception is dead wrong; and in a recent Pew Center research brief (The Future of Gamification), details were given as to why that belief is misguided. Namely, the study found that “gamification could actually improve creativity, learning, participation, and motivation”—all critical aspects that the modern employee needs to have to be attractive to, and engaged with, a prospective employer. What the study didn’t go into finite detail on though was how each of the different HR channels stack up in terms of their appropriateness for gamification—an issue that we intend to remedy here by addressing each of the most gamified HR functions. More ...
By Micah Fairchild July 24 Permalink Comments (0) Posted in E-recruiting
The Overhyped HR Application—Part 2: Mobile HCM Applications
With software analysts predicting global revenue for mobile data in excess of $1T by 2015 (Gartner); 50B+ connected mobile devices by 2020 (Ericson); and nearly one quarter of a billion enterprise business customers leveraging the cloud from a mobile device by 2015 (ABI Research); it's clear that the mobile explosion we've seen over the past several years shows no sign of abatement. In fact the IDC Prediction Team even thinks that adoption rates could rise to uncharted levels—fueled by a surge in downloadable apps, even newer mobile form factors, and mobile device volumes.
As an increasing number of applications enter this fray though, one of the many questions that seem to be going largely unanswered is how appropriate the mobile form factor is to particular industries. Sure, a fairly logical argument could be made for CRM-centered sales support applications. Likewise, manufacturing operations have long been in need of time and attendance based software that isn't arbitrarily tied to a desktop computer. But what about broader HCM (Human Capital Management) processes; is there truly a place in this new mobile world for HR mobility?
In this, the second installment in our four-part series on overhyped HR applications, our analysis turns to mobile HCM—peeling back the layers of hype to see if this HCM software is the future of the field, or just another part of an ever-growing feature set with little true utility.
Is Mobile HCM Ready for Mainstream?
To put it succinctly, mobile HCM is not ready for mainstream adoption. That is not to say that these HR technologies have no utility, but for now at least the function is following the form (when it should be the other way around). Specifically, with certain notable exceptions (discussed later), the current cadre of mobile HR applications are first-generation—dedicated to offering basic request/approval capabilities but little else. While obviously those functions can be useful, it doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of what mobile HR can do. Nor do many of these initial applications even come close to achieving the level of engagement that other mobile consumer technologies do. In reality, as Gartner's Jim Holincheck puts it, "The user experience has not been more compelling than what has been available for many years through a Web browser".
Indeed, it would seem as though a sizeable number of HR software vendors seem to just be checking mobile HR functionality off a list to get it added to their product specifications rather than truly understanding the benefits (e.g. enhanced productivity, engagement, etc.) that can come from a well-developed app. In fact, a recent Human Resource Executive column on HR Technology thought leaders uncovered that a sizeable amount of industry influencers believe just that about mobile HR applications.
Take for example Knowledge Infusion's Jason Averbook; who said "Mobile is one of the most overhyped [trends] because, even though it makes it easier to put technology in the hands of more people, the HR functions aren't changing to actually take advantage of this new technology." More ...
By Micah Fairchild June 11 Permalink Comments (0) Posted in Social HCM
Capturing the Ever-Elusive Talent Acquisition Metric
While current unemployment figures may belie this claim, there is a war for top talent going on in the global business landscape. Not just a competition; not just a single battle; but an all-out war—and figures from countless analyst firms and companies support this. For example, Manpower's recent research (in their 6th-annual Talent Shortage Survey) found that 52 percent of U.S. employers are experiencing difficulty filling mission-critical roles. Likewise, studies from IHRIM (International Association for Human Resource Information Management) cite that less than half of CEOs believe their company "has the skills necessary to perform at industry leading levels". These aren't issues that highlight a glut of unused workforce competencies, but rather an indication that there are fewer workers with the skills that employers need. As such, it's no surprise that one of Aberdeen's latest projects revealed that the top employer issue is "finding the right people at the right time".
Yet, finding these right employees isn't easy in this war, and requires diligence and concerted efforts in order to realize the benefits that well-placed hires deliver. More importantly though, the endeavor of finding the right workforce necessitates leveraging human capital business intelligence—no matter whether that insight comes from the recruitment sources themselves or targeted process improvement. Unfortunately, as is the case when considering the larger topic of human capital analytics, it would seem that far too many workforces have not availed themselves of the metrics needed to truly put forth a winning recruiting strategy. Whether due to the fact that these organizations are mired down in the day-to-day transactional activities of personnel management (and therefore not measuring talent acquisition at all) or simply approaching the recruitment metric from the wrong direction (using activity-based or poorly-defined measurements), organizations are woefully under-prepared when it comes to assessing and altering their talent acquisition strategies. To that end, we thought we'd distill down the most important aspects of recruiting metrics here; combining a little bit of best practices, a smidgen of benchmarking, and a dose of HR software reviews for good measure.
Which Talent Acquisition Metrics Are Companies Measuring?
While far from comprehensive, recent research from Aberdeen (in conjunction with hodesIQ) highlights that the talent acquisition metrics perceived to be of the greatest value for organizations are "Quality-of-Hire, Time-to-Productivity, Time-to-Hire, and Job-Vacancies-Outstanding". Though we'll go into further depth shortly about the merits of these particular measurements, it's important to note that these 4 talent acquisition metrics are the ones that rise to the top. Still, countless others have been reported as well; including "top prospect recruitment", "interviews-per-hire", "offer acceptance ratio", "external hire rate", and the list goes on and on. In fact, all total, organizations like the Corporate Leadership Council have compiled a potential list of well over 100 recruitment-centered metrics—a testament to not only the dizzying array of talent acquisition measurements, but also of the confusion that assessing recruitment strategies can bring. More ...
By Micah Fairchild May 25 Permalink Comments (0) Posted in Talent Management
The Over-Hyped HR Application Part 1: Social HCM Technology
You cannot deny the incredible growth that social has achieved over the past several years; and according to Forrester that trend is only set to continue (growing at a compound annual rate of 34 percent). For quite some time as well, the HR industry has been experimenting with the idea of how to leverage social technologies to the benefit of organizations worldwide. From the first uses of social media to amplify recruiting efforts to more current efforts to wrangle the ever-elusive topic of effective performance management, social HR apps have promised to be the future of the workforce—replete with real-time collaboration and fully engaged employees. Yet, for all the promises that HCM social software espouses, efficacy questions still loom large. Namely, do the benefits of Social HCM measure up to the hype? In some ways the answer to this not so simple question is an unequivocal affirmative (e.g. tools like blogs and wikis serve an undeniably useful purpose in policy creation, communication and feedback); but for many areas, it's our stance that the hype rather than reality has controlled the conversation—a problem that we take serious issue with. So, piece by piece we are going to look at the Social HCM landscape and see which areas are overhyped and which are not.
1) Social Recruiting Apps
From the broad-based recruitment capabilities of social networks such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn to the more specialized locations such as Jobvite, Jobs2Web (acquired by SuccessFactors and now owned by SAP), and Avature; it would appear as though social recruiting has all but gone mainstream. As Gartner's most recent HCM HypeCycle report highlights though, "While the ATS [Applicant Tracking System] market is now mature, the social recruitment market is not". Indeed, as the firm's Thomas Otter notes, "the [social networking] tools to manage the many interactions and to optimize the candidate experience are still relatively new". Even so, organizations of all types are coming out in droves to somehow leverage this social HR technology in order to compete in the war on talent. You can see the appeal too; for both applicants and companies.
For one, acquiring talent is not the same game that it used to be; and organizations have to work harder than ever before to convey their specific Employment Value Proposition (EVP) to prospective employees. Likewise, the consumerization of the workforce has pushed an incredible amount of would-be staffers in the direction of searching for (and applying to) jobs through newer social channels. In fact, according to recent Jobvite research, 64% of businesses said they have hired through social media and 55% plan to invest even more in it this year—a positive sign given the fact that fully 89% of job-seekers are using social media in their search. In the end though, the war on talent rather than the advent of these social technologies is what will truly solidify social recruiting's place at the HR table. Qualified workers (especially in knowledge-based economies) are becoming increasingly difficult to find and attract—a fact that makes social recruiting not only a necessity but also about as far from over-hyped as you can get.
2) Social Learning Applications
With an ever-increasing supply of HR software solutions from learning specialist vendors such as Element K and Blackboard; to the open-source software options from vendors such as Moodle and Docebo; on up to the full-fledged HCM software suites from Cornerstone OnDemand or SumTotal, social learning technologies have become one of the largest growth markets within the HR software market over the past decade. In large part this social learning boon is a by-product of the increased understanding of the need to tap into the collective knowledge that employees' house; and in many ways has simply followed suit from the success that the more mature social offerings of the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) industry have fostered. As Gartner's Jeff Freyermuth explains, "[social learning] software…acknowledges the importance of social networks and the need to access the expertise of colleagues and different communities".
The question is though, whether the quest for social learning technologies truly reflects business needs? For instance, is collaboration always needed to achieve learning outcomes? Can all topics that necessitate learning truly benefit from peer to peer interaction? More importantly, are all an organization's learners inclined to develop through online or social channels? Of course the answer to these questions is an unequivocal negative; and at no point should social learning exist as the be-all-end-all of the development world. That said, the benefits of these social tools are impressive, especially when one considers the fact that hallmarks of this approach are digestible content and continuous improvement—both factors that contribute to the highly sought-after element of engagement in the learning material. As such, though this social HR technology has seen an inordinate amount of attention as of late, I have to admit that the benefits live up to the hype. Just don't make it the only weapon in your learning and development arsenal.
3) Social Performance Management Applications
Of all the social HR technologies on the market, few raise as many eyebrows as social performance—especially from me. As you might recall from one of my earlier posts on the Salesforce.com acquisition of Rypple, I'm reticent to believe that social performance management could be anything more than a glorified Generation-Y attraction incentive. That said, with this past month's acquisition of the social performance management software vendor Sonar6 by Cornerstone OnDemand, it's hard to deny that the HR technology market is reacting to some sense of customer sentiment. Add to that this past week's TLNT.com op-ed from Saleforce's John Wookey about why a social HCM model (particularly for performance management) is needed and I'll admit that my resolve isn't as strong as it used to be. The fact is, as Wookey opines, "Given the history of how these [performance management] systems were developed and designed, the reality is that we need to fundamentally rethink their purpose". I couldn't agree more, but unfortunately it appears as though the pendulum has swung completely away from top-down historical performance management to a bottom-up approach with social. Neither of these approaches is flawless and a more balanced approach would be far more likely to elicit the type of results that organizations are after. As such, while I may be softening a bit, I still have to call this one like I see it…overhyped.
Bottom Line for Social HCM Hype?
As Gartner's Thomas Otter puts it, "Social software capabilities are impacting HCM systems today…[but]…the bigger business impact of social software in the HR context will be on the organization's culture". This in a nutshell, is the crux of the social HR technology issue. There can be no doubt of the tangible benefits that social recruiting, learning, and in some cases performance management can achieve for businesses; however, there can also be no denying that social technologies represent a paradigm shift that few companies are truly ready to fully commit. Indeed, while benefits can certainly be gained by deploying these social HR tools, savvy businesses will seek to stack those prospective gains up against probable push back—knowing that the greatest influencer on technology uptake is organizational culture. Given these factors, I would have to recommend a measured approach—taking realistic stock of how any of these social HR technologies could positively impact the organization; and deploying those applications in concert with established strategies rather than relying on them as a sole approach.
By Micah Fairchild May 8 Permalink Comments (0) Posted in Social HR