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Using technology in the war for talent


Talent technologyThe talent war is arguably one of the most important challenges facing HR professionals today. It is therefore essential to get it right, says David Woodward, who explains how technology has a key role to play in it all.

Last year’s Financial Times Research Centre research, commissioned by Ceridian, found that the top three human capital issues facing UK HR and finance directors were:

1) Resourcing – recruiting the best people and integrating them into the organisation;
2) Succession and performance management – keeping the right people in the company and encouraging them to progress;
3) Development – investing in training and development for employees so they add more value to the business.

Overall, then, the war for talent is one of the most important challenges facing HR, and technology has an important contribution to make.

Getting the basics right

“Getting the basics right is the starting point in the war for talent.”

In the war for talent, getting the basics right is fundamental, but how many HR professionals can put their hands on their hearts and state that this is really covered? To impress potential and new recruits, delivering a world-class employee service covering recruitment, payroll, time and attendance, absence management, flexible benefits and expense management, to name but a few, is a prerequisite for any employer of choice to be taken seriously.

As the starting point in the HR process, an HR information system, however configured, should eliminate the need to re-key information more than once to cut down on the risk of introducing needless errors. It should also operate in a real-time environment so that both employees and line managers can easily access to update information through employee self-service and to tailor employee rewards to suit individual lifestyle requirements.

Getting the basics right is therefore the starting point in the war for talent and deploying the technology to ensure that this happens is essential.

Getting ready for the future

Only one fifth of the UK working population, in two years’ time, will be white, male, able-bodied and under 45. There will also be a greater number of older people, living longer, who will not only need to be supported by those in employment but, given the current global financial crisis, may well be looking for part-time employment to make ends meet. Compounded by lower birth rates in industrialised countries over the past four decades, employers may be faced with a labour shortage as well as the challenge of generational competence.

“Without doubt, recruitment, retention and performance management needs to take account of shifting demographics.”

The recruitment, productivity, development, engagement and retention of the most talented employees across generations has to be a prime challenge going forward. HR needs to find ways of ensuring that all four different generations of employees – matures, baby boomers, Generation X and Generation Y, plus the fifth, Generation Z (representing under 18-year-olds) – work in synergy to meet the strategic objectives of the organisation they work for.

Maximising generational competence means employers must satisfy the diverse wants of different generations. Each generation tends to have different drivers. For example, baby boomers (aged 41 to 59) are usually good team players, work hard, are highly competitive and seek rewards for their contributions while Generation X (aged 28 to 40) prefer a more informal work environment, flexible working and a better work-life balance.

Meeting the future through technology

Technology can play its part here by delivering a range of HR services from better reward to learning and development packages. For example, by providing employees with online decision-making tools, employees can ‘flex’ their benefits options so they are better suited to their lifestyle. Rewards that are optimised for individual employees can boost employee engagement and more strategically align employee input to organisational goals. A carefully designed and optimally delivered reward and benefit strategy can improve overall organisational productivity by raising employee satisfaction, performance and retention levels.

Without doubt, recruitment, retention and performance management needs to take account of shifting demographics and properly designed technology has a major role to play in ensuring that HR maximises the talent pool, within and outside the organisation.

The right kind of technology

If technology can greatly assist the HR function with current and future work, what kind of technology should HR be looking at?

To enjoy true configurability, the latest web-based on-demand software solutions are the answer. Implementation and configuration to an organisations needs are rapid and easy. Upgrades are quick and remote, ensuring all users have access to the latest version at the same time. Disruption during upgrades is minimal and cost for implementation and upgrades low. Best options are subscription-based pricing models, which do not have user licensing agreements.

“Web-based, on-demand software does all the basics better and is easily integrated with other solutions, or operates as a standalone solution.”

With the latest versions of on-demand software hosted on load-balanced servers, with each client’s data kept separate, configurable metadata allows a unique user experience and feature set for each client organisation. Thus, HR benefits from a cost efficient but, importantly, tailored solution.

The web-based, on-demand software also does all the basics better and is easily integrated with other solutions, or operates as a standalone solution.

Integral workflow, self-service and real-time management information ensure that both HR and the employee base benefit from an accurate and effective HR service that supports the organisation’s objectives while a modular approach allows scalability and a menu approach to services on offer. Line managers can deliver effective people management, enabling HR to deliver business-led strategic initiatives.

Maintaining the competitive edge in the war for talent

By leveraging the latest HR technology, the HR function can ensure that it gets the basics right for a world-class employee service delivery, as well as innovating to attract, retain and manage the performance of its employees, creating and maintaining a competitive edge in the war for talent.

David Woodward is chief information officer for Ceridian UK.

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