Tech as enabler for flipping the mindset in HR as business partner

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by B-Hive, HR Tech Valley, and Officient

When you think about innovation, dynamics, exciting technology in business, HR probably isn’t the first department that springs to mind. Things you probably mostly associate with HR are: low profile department, conservative in the way things are done, lots of administration, lot of talking to people, low tech.

But times are changing. Organizational leaders are increasingly concerned about attracting, retaining and motivating the best talents. This is becoming ever more challenging because talents in 2018 keep their consumer mindset switched on all the time: they want their dealings with their (future) employer to be efficient, effective, performant and transparent. As a key player in the relation between individuals and organizations, HR needs to step up its game, and the amount of tech to help them achieve this, is growing exponentially since roughly 2014.

This tech has evolved from on-premise process automation (late 1980’s) over large backbones systems in the cloud (around 2011) to an explosion of targeted value adding point solutions (since 2014). A look at the map of Belgian companies building software for HR showcases this explosion nicely. About two thirds of these 140+ companies didn’t exist before 2014 and those that existed were mainly focused on process automation, staffing & scheduling or resources & hiring – what many consider ‘hard HR’.

But there is an increasing demand for focus on human-centered topics – like work-life balance, burnout, cultural fit,…. It’s no longer just about matching CV’s to a job description, but also about finding the candidate that fits within the team. It’s no longer about giving candidates the tools to perform their job, but also about getting them engaged. And HR Tech is providing HR the means to achieve this end.

Let’s dive a bit deeper into this by taking a look at what’s happening in FinTech – as an example of the employer side of this continuum – and the technology developed by the Belgian startup Officient.

A trend becoming very clear in the last years, is the so-called gig economy. Companies don’t hire all their people with fixed contract anymore, but hire skills and competencies in function of punctual needs. On the other side, employees become more and more self-aware, are driven by values and purpose instead of money and job security, and not everybody is willing to be part of a company ‘ad vitam eternam’. The market of freelancers and contractors is growing strong. Recent studies suggest that in the future, the core of a company (fixed employees) will represent only 30% of the total workforce. The rest will be bot and robots, temp workers, freelancers and contractors. A real challenge here consists in maintaining your company’s identity and values. How do you keep those alive and how do you market these, working with gig people on numerous projects?

Next to this, digitalization can be frightening, because artificial intelligence proves to be able to take over tons of our current jobs. However, it also leads to the creation of new positions, where new competencies will be key. How can companies keep up with the pace of digitalization and what can be done in terms of reskilling of current employees in order to make them ‘future-proof’?

At B-Hive, we are currently building a matchmaking tool which will of course continue working with classic parameters like a resume and a job description, but the matching will be made automatically, based on information the system gained thanks to e-assessments taken by the candidate. Company as well as candidate get to see opportunities matching their specific ‘DNA’, which drastically reduces searching time for companies. Candidates also get to see the skill gap analysis of their profile regarding the job of their dreams: this way, they know which competencies are lacking and they can focus on appropriate training or coaching in order to be ‘fit for the future’ or a better match for the proposed position.

Create more people time through seamless HR administration:

The evolution towards HR analytics is mentioned as one of the main HR trends. Pioneering companies around the world are starting to use a data-driven approach to HR. For example, Google analyzed the efficiency of their selection process and experiments with ways to motivate employees to eat healthier.

One of the key challenges of starting with HR analytics is gathering the right data and making it accessible. Indeed, HR data tends to be scattered across the software of the payroll provider, numerous excel sheets and paper documents in physical file cabinets.

Officient, an HR Tech startup from Ghent, recently received the award for the ‘Coolest HR Tech Solution of the Year’. They are helping HR make a smoother transition to HR analytics. The young company already serves over 50 customers like Mobile Vikings, Joyn, Intuo and Club Brugge. Their product is an HR platform that simplifies personnel administration in SMEs, covering the entire lifespan between the on- and offboarding of an employee. One of the unique features of Officient is how it integrates HR data. Automatic integrations with payroll providers such as SD Worx and Securex are one of a kind. These integrations, together with an open API, allow customers to centralize all their HR data in one overview and keep data synced across multiple tools.

Officient’s true vision, however, is to take HR analytics to the next step. Michiel Crommelinck, co-founder and Product Lead at Officient, explains: “Already, our customers are learning important new insights from their HR data, such as a better view on total pay cost and absence distribution. In the future we want to use our data-driven approach to ultimately serve as the digital HR assistant for our customers. This assistant would be able to make predictions such as who might be at risk of leaving your company and give evidence-based advice on what to do about it.”

What B-Hive and Officient have clearly understood is the need for a different, more future-oriented approach of HR. Businesses (small, medium and corporate) have an increasing need for proactive HR that advises them on crucial matters like aligning talent with business strategy and using HR data to plan ahead. This is an important shift compared to the day-to-day focus which is currently predominant in HR.

Technology will assist HR in making this shift, but it will also mean re-skilling for many people in HR. If HR doesn’t understand this, they might one day find they have become the taxi drivers reacting against Über and if HR doesn’t prove its added value on the matters stipulated above, C-level probably will not be willing to protect HR like governments do for the taxi drivers. The challenge HR faces is more than just the increasing amount of technology, but the change of mindset and willingness to re-skill.

During the Fin & Tonic on May 28 B-Hive will present the matchmaking tool they are building and the speakers will dive deeper into the changing world in which HR people are living today.