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I was interviewed by Alexia Saleem from Rullion IT Plus recently about Why getting technology and social media right is so important for your talent management

I think that technology is a crucial component  of your recruitment and talent management strategies, including retention, as long as you set realistic goals, define a practical implementation strategy and ensure you have the necessary IT infrastructure to support that technology. 

In the interview I suggested that organisations should consider what strategies they have in place for improving their businesses using technology and what problems they could solve using technology in the next 12 months. I also asked organisations to consider how they are using social media to capitalise on the visibility of their workforce and to attract quality talent. Sound interesting? Read the whole interview below: 

According to Lisa Jones, co-founder of Barclay Jones – a specialist consultancy in Recruitment Technology and Social Media for Recruitment that advises on the effective use of recruitment technology and social media to improve business process, recruitment and bottom line – technology can vastly improve your recruitment and talent management strategies, including retention, as long as you set realistic goals, define a practical implementation strategy and ensure you have the necessary IT infrastructure to support that technology.

During an insightful and frank interview on why getting technology and social media right is so important for your talent management, Jones suggests organisations consider what strategies they have in place for improving their businesses using technology and what problems they could solve using technology in the next 12 months. She also asks organisations to consider how they are using social media to capitalise on the visibility of their workforce and to attract quality talent. 

Current Landscape

According to Jones, UK businesses have a lot to think about post-recession. They have more money than they used to a couple of years ago. They are less risk aversive. And they have more confidence than they did during the recession, she said.

However, despite a much improved outlook, they need to be bolder, particularly where implementing new technology is concerned, Jones added.

“I suspect a lot of businesses probably have kit, including software and hardware, that is quite outdated and no longer fit for purpose because they didn’t have the cash to upgrade a few years ago.”

In today’s market, technology has advanced rapidly and the way we recruit and manage talent within our businesses is very different to how we recruited and managed talent six years ago, said Jones. This means that business processes are now more efficient and streamlined, but also thanks to the internet and social media, businesses are more visible than they ever were before.

In short, post-recession, businesses have to focus on getting back up to speed, and with that comes investing in recruitment technology, she said.

Jones said the problem is, the majority of organisations had invested heavily in tech in the early to mid-2000s and then, when the recession hit, everyone froze their expenditure and let go of skilled staff who had been used to maintain that technology which resulted in the current lag.

Nevertheless, with the economy on the way up, businesses are starting to hire and looking at what technology can help them do that, she said.

Bring Your Own Device to Work (BYOD)

Thanks to laptops, tablets and mobile phones, many of today’s employees work remotely. More innovative employers are even enabling their employees to bring these devices to the workplace for use and connectivity on the secure corporate network, known as BYOD or bring your own device to work, simply for the sake of speed and productivity. The initiative is popular with candidates, with a number of organisations already using it as a selling point to attract new talent as well as a retention strategy to keep talent.

But according to Jones, there is no point in allowing this to happen if your IT department is not geared up to cope with it.

This is because the average IT helpdesk technician might never have used the device employees are bringing to work, and yet the employee will not only expect to be able to use it, but to also have it fixed if something goes wrong, she said.

“Is the software infrastructure in my business capable of delivering data to the kit that I’m going to bring into the business with me? What kind of policy does my business have for dealing with the fact that I’m allowing my staff to bring their own devices in?”

Jones said businesses that want to effectively use BYOD to attract or retain candidates need to ensure they have a practical, deliverable and transparent BYOD policy in place that stipulates what their IT departments can and cannot support.

“Staff should be allowed to bring their own devices to work but within reason. If the best piece of kit for someone to deliver their job on is the piece of kit that they own, then that’s fine, but that has to be coupled with a practical strategy that the IT department can support that piece of kit. If the IT department cannot support that piece of kit, then it’s not fit for purpose,” she said.

Jones said it is important for candidates to be able to bring their own device to work because it is often the most efficient way for them to deliver on their business process. This is because today’s devices allow users to virtually have their entire working lives on them, including access to timesheets, balance sheets, CRM systems etc.

The problem is when the business creates a liberal BYOD policy and its IT department, which often tends to be more focused on business devices and software, has little time / resource to support it. This then prevents employees from doing their job, which defeats the purpose of a BYOD policy to begin with, said Jones.

“This can create a morale problem because I’ve been told I can use my device at work when in effect it’s something I’m not really allowed to use; that’s not supported by my business process,” she said.

Flexible Workforce

The beauty of a BYOD policy is that it also allows businesses to have a more flexible workforce, by allowing their staff to work remotely, which in turn can be more productive and cost efficient, said Jones.

“Candidates want more work flexibility today due to changing lifestyles,” she said.

Again, however, the majority of UK businesses are not geared up to accommodate a flexible workforce that can ‘office’ from anywhere other than the actual office. Why? Because they lack the technology that gives them that visibility of workflow so that they can see what people are doing, said Jones.

In fact, the focus in the UK at present, where recruitment and/or talent management technology expenditure is concerned, tends to be on speeding up processes, not making it more visible.

“I might buy better kit. I might relocate my offices. I might hire some staff that I had to let go three years ago because I couldn’t afford them. But what is probably not on my agenda is to make my workforce more flexible. And why would it not be? I have just recovered from a recession, perhaps my trust levels are not what they could be.”

She added: “Traditionally most businesses are not happy unless they can see their staff [physically] and most businesses don’t have systems to give them the visibility of a flexible workforce that they desire. “

Jones said businesses that do want to invest in systems to give them the visibility of a flexible workforce that they desire need to think about two things.

One, they need to consider whether this technology is going to make the workflow and output of its staff more visible, even if flexible working is not on the agenda.

Two, will this technology make their staff happier and more productive.

Flexible working is also important from a diversity perspective as more businesses try to attract populations like working mothers/fathers, less mobile workers, remote but skilled workers, back into the workplace and to devise ways of trying to accommodate this group of workers. 

“Video conferencing is a good example of technology that facilitates individuals who need to work from home, such as working mothers / remote workers, for example. It has been found to make people feel more included and is more effective than phone conferencing,” she said.

As well as lacking the technology to support flexible working, a lot of businesses do not have the mindset to understand that it is necessary.

“If it is a trust issue, it is possible to allow businesses to basically visualise their workforce remotely through a CRM system which can give them visibility of the system and how their people are using it. If the CRM is being used appropriately then their staff is following a workflow and that workflow is leaving a fingerprint of activity which can be monitored.”

Social Media

Another type of technology that has taken the world by storm and is seen by businesses as a big threat is the introduction of social media.

Instead, businesses should be embracing social media as it is now a fact of life for your employees and your clients, said Jones, pointing out that all organisations are today visible thanks to the internet, with information able to go viral within minutes.

“Every business needs an internal recruitment strategy which uses social media and has a transparent and practical approach,” she said.

Harnessed properly, the power of social media has tremendous potential to impact your business positively, said Jones. It can be used to brand your business better and to set it apart from its competitors as part of a candidate attraction strategy.

“Unfortunately, because businesses feel a huge threat from social media, a lot of organisations have some very tight policies around its use and which basically do not let you talk about work on your personal profile or your job function. Given statistics indicate one in five Facebook status updates are job related, this is a potential lawsuit waiting to happen.”

Jones said businesses have to accept that people are going to use social media to talk about work and that instead of taking a hardline stance banning its use, they should instead have policies in place that educate staff about what is potentially damaging to the business and why they might be disciplined. Businesses should also consider giving their employees guidance about what works as this would be more effective than simply firing them over indiscretions.

Jones said by doing this, businesses will enhance their employer brand as candidates will see them as forward thinking organisations that are liberal, embrace new technologies and understand the importance of using social media from an employee perspective. She said organisations should promote this on their careers page so that potential candidates see what kind of business they are.

“If I was to look at a business now and on its careers page it tells me what kind of training I’m going to get,  what type of technology I’m going to have access to, wouldn’t that be massively compelling? Especially if at my current company the tech is outdated, I’m not allowed to use my iPhone at work, and I have a social media policy that says if I use Facebook to talk about work I’ll get disciplined.”

Looking Ahead

Jones accepted that organisations often question how the aforementioned initiatives will impact their business processes. Moreover, at present a lot of businesses are still unwilling to spend money and to take risks on technology, even if the economy has vastly improved post recession.

“I say to them, your business process is the most precious thing you have and then on top of that is your staff because they deliver that process.”

She said this was why it was important for businesses to remember to craft and build their processes, which then ultimately need to be supported by their people and by technology.

“I think everybody is at the waking up and planning stage…. If you are going to plan then these are the things you need to be thinking about. Just planning and having money and spending it, isn’t a strategy,” she added.

Jones said it was important for organisations to focus on what problems they want to fix in their business and to recognise they can’t all be solved at once. She suggested focusing on three that they wanted to eradicate by Christmas and to then devise a strategy of how to go about this. As part of this process she also said organisations’ expectations of their IT departments and what they should deliver had to change.

“IT departments should be a strategic support mechanism in the business. Also recruitment and resource planning functions need to become more strategic in their approach and do more than simply react to workforce issues when they arise. Instead they need to be proactive using technology.”

She added: “Be strategic. Think ahead. Have defined goals. One of your work goals could be to attract talent, so based on what we were saying, to deliver that goal, increase flexible working initiatives, improve technology to improve workflow and use social media to attract talent.”

Concluding Thoughts to Businesses…

To improve recruitment and retention from a tech perspective, businesses should have a practical bring your own device to work policy even if practical means you make it clear that bringing your own device to work is not supported by the business.

“A BYOD policy that takes into account the skill set of the IT department as well as the technology of the individual user,” said Jones.

Next, you need to become a lot more flexible in how you allow people to work from home and to build a technology infrastructure to allow that to happen. So don’t just say yes you can work from home but actually when that person gets home they can’t log in, they’re not visible, they don’t have the tech that they need, and ultimately it’s just very disruptive and affects output.

Finally, from a social media perspective you need to engage more. Jones suggests businesses need to show their staff how to use it better and to be more positive about its use. As organisations you should market your proactive approach to business technology and social technologies to attract talent and ensure a smooth, positive workflow.


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