Bringing Back the Human Touch to HRtech

Image credit: iStockphoto/Chaay_Tee

With the HRtech market skyrocketing, it is easy to overlook the role of humanizing digital HR. But as the drastic changes in workforce management during the pandemic force companies to adopt HRTech, the human touch is endangered.

According to Fortune Business Insights, HRtech will create a USD24 billion market in 2021. It expects the market to reach USD35.7 billion by 2028. Digitalization is already redefining many business functions and industries, spurring the rise of fintech, martech, healthtech, and many more. HRtech is now seeing a similar trend in adoption.

But unlike the other tech innovations that transform business processes and create new revenue models, HRtech puts technologies at the center of human-oriented activities. And, according to Kate Choyce, a Hong Kong-based seasoned recruiter and chief executive officer of HR Tech International, many are losing the “H” in HRTech, particularly when it comes to engaging and recruiting potential talents.

Missing the HR problem

The HRtech has become a vibrant market among venture capitalists for investing in technologies that support work flexibility, the voice of the employee (VoE), and total wellbeing. But the right tools for digitalizing recruitment and engaging potential talents remain limited.

“It is an exciting time in this space, with lots of VC investment and many different new technologies,” said Choyce. “But many are not answering the problem because they are rarely developed by HR professionals.”

She added that many tools lack the efficiency HR professionals seek and are often too complicated to apply to the existing recruitment processes. “Technology needs to be better. It needs to be built in conjunction with the HR professionals,” she added.

When talent becomes the hero

While many technologies are struggling to help HR professionals, others lack the human connection with the talents.

In the process of searching for the perfect candidate, companies commonly employ tedious and sometimes frustrating recruitment processes, like requesting a video resume or requiring multiple rounds of never-ending job interviews.

“A lot of these recruitment processes are commoditizing talents,” said Paul Endacott, founder and chief executive officer of GRIT, a Singapore-based recruitment solution firm. The confusing and sometimes disconcerting job-seeking process is driving candidates away, particularly tech talents and digital natives.

He added that tech talents with specific skills, like data scientists or software engineers, are highly sought-after in Asia. These types of openings do not receive a lot of applicants, as the talents are approached repeatedly. A study showed that 40% of technologists in Australia received more than ten job offers every year.

“This is really changing the dynamic of the recruitment market,” said Endacott. “The talent is really the hero now.”

Turning recruitment on its head

Aiming to answer this changing dynamic in the market, GRIT provides a recruitment solution that prioritizes talents and empowers control.

“Rather than having a job that talents apply for, we cultivate an ecosystem for talents,” said Endacott. “It is curated for companies to apply for talents.”

Unlike the traditional recruitment process, where talents apply for the job by providing all the required information, GRIT enables employers to apply for highly-skilled talents based on anonymous profiles with unbiased information, like qualifications and experiences.  Talents will only receive applications from employers that provide matching information, like salary level, benefit, or open to overseas hiring.

To build this talent-focused ecosystem, Endacott said GRIT also assigns a talent advocate to each talent to support profile building, offer skill-gap analysis to identify areas for development and provide e-learning programs for continuous training.

Apart from empowering talents, GRIT also brings employers efficiency to access potential talents from three months into 48 hours. This more efficient process also allows GRIT to charge employers 60% less than traditional recruitment firms, according to Endacott.

Getting to those elusive human-centric insights

The challenge to balance efficiency and humanity for recruiting general junior to middle management positions is different, according to Choyce from HR Tech International.

The post-pandemic market is seeing a lot more job movement — often referred to as the Great Resignation — driving higher demand for efficiency in the recruitment process. She noted that job openings that received 20 applications in the pre-COVID-19 period are now receiving more than 270 applications.

“As a recruiter, I know it is important to conduct a face-to-face interview with each talent,” said Choyce. “But it is simply impossible to meet them all individually.”

She noted physical meetings provide insights beyond the CVs, like personality, language fluency, and possible culture fit with the organization. But arranging an interview schedule with the sheer number of talents under the changing social distancing measures is almost impossible.

Aiming to process a large number of applications and replace the first round of interviews under a COVID-19 conscious environment, HR Tech International developed the hrPOD — a physical booth that conducts video recording job interviews.

Interested candidates can arrange a 30-minute hrPOD experience that best fits their schedule. It allows them to join a virtual tour to learn about the company from a senior executive, answer a few questions via video recording, conduct a simple written test, and join a six-minute game. For the employers, hrPOD provides a SmartCV of each talent that measures their language fluency in verbal and written English, Cantonese, and Mandarin and analyzes the talent’s personality and critical thinking. 

“Similar to traditional job interviews, hrPOD provides insights for face-to-face interviews,” said Choyce. “But the recruiters have a lot more flexibility, efficiency, and objectivity of the talent’s information.” 

Using AI for facial expression analysis and language skills assessment, she said the SmartCV provides an objective measurement and ranking of the talent’s skills and personality. The SmartCV can also easily be shared with other internal executives, reducing the number of interviews and meetings required.

Always find the balance

The pandemic has not only changed the place, the hours, and the way businesses work. It is also forcing many companies to review where, who, and how to hire.

HRtech is creating tools that provide efficiency for the recruitment, management, and engagement of the workforce. Endacott added that companies should always adopt an open and growth mindset to balance technology and humanity in this human-oriented industry.

Sheila Lam is the contributing editor of DigitalWorkforceTrends. Covering IT for 20 years as a journalist, she has witnessed the emergence, hype, and maturity of different technologies but is always excited about what's next. You can reach her at [email protected].

Image credit: iStockphoto/Chaay_Tee