The COVID-19 pandemic has forced almost every business in the world to have a re-think about their operating model. Among the various business functions that have been impacted, one is talent acquisition. Most HR departments would not have anticipated a forced disruption of such a high magnitude. While a large percentage of businesses have been relying on technology to support their workforce, we are now staring at a time where the entire process of talent acquisition is conducted through digital media. Moreover, some of the processes and strategic innovations in talent acquisition that COVID-19 has forced will continue to stay in vogue even after the pandemic phases away. However, the modified approach to talent acquisition has its challenges. Thus, HR departments have their task cut out when it comes to change management, although the future looks exciting despite the global gloom. Here, we look at the various changing paradigms and the future of talent acquisition in the post-COVID-19 era.
Recruitment Over Video Calls
Especially in the initial phases of the lockdown, where the movement of people outside their homes was restricted to the bare minimum, the possibility of conducting in-person interviews was non-existent. As such, companies who needed to recruit during that period had to do so via video calls. While this approach helped in working around the situation, both employers and employees have realized that it is not necessary to be physically present in the same cabin to have an interview. Thus, in the coming future, we would see a greater reliance on video-call-based remote interviews for candidate selection.
The use of video-conferencing platforms such as Zoom and Google Meets have skyrocketed since the beginning of the lockdown, partly as practically all recruitment activities began to happen over such platforms. However, there have also been concerns raised over the safety of data that was being relayed over these platforms. As such, companies would in the near future work towards developing their proprietary video-conferencing systems, with a possible integration within their HRIS.
Casting the Net Wider
A survey report by KPMG reveals that those businesses that did not have adequate IT infrastructure to facilitate remote working were caught napping once the pandemic engulfed the world. Only 25% of businesses had an infrastructure that could be up-to-the-mark to enable remote work, while only around 32% of organizations had a work-from-home option. However, given the situation that we find ourselves in today, every business organization that wishes to sustain itself would have to develop robust IT systems that allow for remote work. And once those systems are in place, the work-from-home option would be extended to all employees even after the pandemic.
The fact that both, recruitment and work can occur remotely, will allow organizations to not limit themselves to local geographies for talent acquisition. Companies will attempt to hire the best-suited talent from across the world, taking globalization to the next level. Apart from the fact that companies will get more candidates to choose from, they can also seek cost advantages. For example, an IT business in Canada may recruit a talented software engineer from India at a salary that he would not be able to earn with Indian companies while incurring comparatively lesser salary costs than if the business chose to recruit locally.
Access to such a wider talent pool means companies can now cherry-pick their resources and establish customized work contracts in a manner that suits both the employer and employee. Thus, we would see the emergence of blended workplaces, where there would be teams with very few full-time employees and a few personnel with special skills working on a per-project or per-hour basis.
Artificial Intelligence to drive Recruitment
Once organizations realize the advantage of technology-based recruitment, they would be naturally bound to depend on technology to assist the HR function in talent acquisition. Global experience suggests that this transition is inevitable, as the adoption of technology results in a cultural shift within the organization. The following three case studies demonstrate examples of companies that have successfully leveraged Artificial Intelligence to drive their talent acquisition activities:
Vodafone has been relying on AI-powered video interviews as against on-call interviews. This involves job seekers recording their responses against standardized questions. The responses would be analyzed by robots to determine candidate suitability after due consideration to as many as 15,000 dimensions ranging from body language and facial cues to speech cadence and voice intonation. The top-ranked candidates would later be invited for in-person interviews in the next round.
Intuit, a global fin-tech company, which handles the recruitment of over 6,000 employees annually, uses AI to narrow down the job applications to identify such candidates that are most suitable for specific roles. Also, it is currently in the process of developing an algorithm-driven platform that would score and match prospective recruits to open positions based on the similarity of their profiles with those of top performers in the respective job roles.
In 2017, Unilever initiated an AI-based screening of all entry-level job applicants which involved candidates being made to play neuroscience-based games to identify specific personality traits. The preliminary interview rounds would also be recorded and evaluated by an AI system.
The use of AI helps in achieving the following:
- Lesser human bias in candidate shortlisting
- Accurate matching of skills and experience to the requirement of various open job roles
- Lesser resources dedicated to screening candidates
- Less time wastage of recruiters in sifting through hundreds of job applications
In case the above leaves any doubts regarding the imperativeness to have AI-assisted talent acquisition with an organization, the below points should complete the argument for it:
- A 2017 survey by CareerBuilder11 revealed that as many as 60% of job-seekers would quit a job application if they found it to be overly exhausting and lengthy
- Another survey by Allegis Global Solutions suggests that 58% of job applicants are comfortable in interacting with AI apps, and in fact, 60% of job applicants prefer interacting with AI chat-bots during the initial stages of selection.
Thus, a technology-focused outlook for talent acquisition would prevent the loss of potential top talent as the majority of applicants have a preference towards tech-innovative employers.
Workforce Diversity Management
Recruiting globally brings a high level of diversity to the organization. Therefore, companies would be required to go beyond just fostering an inclusive work culture to accommodate such a diverse workforce. They would also need to train teams to work together cohesively to ensure that the end goals of the team, as well as the organization, are met. This could require a rebuild of existing processes to accommodate the demands of diverse employees spread across geographies.
As seen above, the future of talent acquisition will be driven by technology and the workplace of the post-pandemic era. Not only do HR departments have a challenge in preparing their organizations for this drastic shift, but they also have to prepare themselves to grow to deliver on a lot more responsibilities that will soon come to be identified with the HR function.