Jane Sunley: The case for digitising and socialising HR

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Talent has gone digital – even great-grandparents are Skyping, texting, tweeting and checking into Facebook.

If the baby boomers and even the veterans are doing it why aren’t contemporary HR professionals? According to Cap Gemini, 75% of leaders in HR and talent management say their companies are behind the curve in the use of internal and social networking sites.

Imagine completing the monthly payroll manually. That’s the past.

Now imagine the talent review being as easy as using your favourite social network. That’s tomorrow.

It’s time to bring HR firmly and determinedly into the 21st Century.

There’s plenty of compelling evidence out there, for example:

• Mobile devices now account for one billion job searches every year, and counting!
• Only 6 percent of organisations use social recruitment;
• 80 percent of organisations still rely on one-way communications tools for learning and development;
• Gamification improves the embedding of learning by 40 percent;
• 56 percent of employers lack any kind of measures for talent investment returns;*
• Logistics company, UPS, saw hires from mobile/social recruitment go from 19 to over 15,000 in the past three years;
• UK hospitality company, De Vere Hotels & Village Urban Resorts, invested in HR technology and added £3m to their EBITDA.

The business case is clear and acting now will create competitive advantage.

Embracing social technology doesn’t have to involve a high level of investment; it does, however, need people with the skills to understand, embrace and deliver on it. There are thousands of digital-native graduates and school leavers out there with these skills, so work out what needs to be done and craft your plan, always starting simply, and make it happen.

Systems for talent management and analytics will require more investment so it’s important to be able to build a sound business case.

If ‘talent’ is your workforce, for instance, the right people for the organisation who can make a great contribution and have the potential to keep doing so, then ‘talent management’ is about attracting, identifying, engaging, developing, progressing and retaining this talent, utilising their skills and knowledge in the best way for both individual and organisation.

A talent management system will help you to do this by digitising the processes and bringing about a bottom-up approach.

More and more systems are beginning to ‘talk’ to each other and it’s still very difficult to find any one system that can do everything to the standard you require. It may be necessary to shop around, connecting different software to achieve the whole picture.

According to Deloitte, exciting new tools, including social and informal learning; integrated network recruiting and candidate relationship management; social recognition; real-time employee feedback and engagement sensing; culture assessment and fit analysis, and many others, are usually only available from small, innovative vendors. Deloitte says, “as you firm up your core system of record into a single enterprise resource planning suite, you may also find yourself wanting to buy innovative tools from smaller vendors as well.”

So remember one size doesn’t fit all – you might need to shop around.

Ten-point plan for approaching investment in HR technology:

1. Look at the big picture – clearly identify the issues to be fixed – know your stuff!
2. Build your business case – hard measures such as ROI, soft ones such as effect on culture;
3. Think about the stakeholders; work out how to engage them;
4. Craft a strategic solution;
5. Phase your approach starting simply to prove it works (ideally bring evidence of the ROI on some low-cost stuff you’ve already done);
6. Build in milestones and metrics;
7. Gather evidence: facts and figures, likely outcomes, case studies;
8. Pick the right time;
9. Lobby for top-down consensus and support informally;
10. Present your case accordingly – short, sharp and business-savvy.

If you only do three things:

1. Resolve to embrace technology – if you don’t have the skills, find them!
2. Start simply and easily – always tracking your return on investment;
3. Build a sound business case for the big game changers.

* Cap Gemini – US 2013/4

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About Jane Sunley

Following a successful corporate career, Jane spent a number of years as Managing Director of a specialist recruitment company, which she co-founded. Having realised that if someone could help companies to become a great place to work, there wouldn’t be such a crisis over ‘the talent war’. In September 2001, she formed learnpurple which, in line with expansion, rebranded as Purple Cubed, early in 2013.
Jane is a published, best-selling author having written 'Purple your People: the secrets to inspired, happy, more profitable people' (Crimson) in 2001, following up with ‘It's Never OK to Kiss The Interviewer - and other secrets to surviving, thriving and high-fiving at work' (LID) in 2013. In 2014 she was chosen from over 1600 authors to contribute to '20/20 – 20 great lists by 20 outstanding business thinkers’. Her latest book ‘The People Formula: 12 steps to productive, profitable, performing business’ (Humm Publishing) was release in April 2016; answering Deloitte’s calls for a new HR playbook. Jane’s writing is practical and common sense with stories and examples that clearly show how various tools and techniques can be applied to achieve results.
In addition to writing and acting as Purple Cubed’s chairman, Jane is a non-executive director and has been instrumental in the success of several high profile employment projects. She is the current president of HR in Hospitality, a panel member of the Economist Intelligence Unit, a visiting fellow at two UK Universities and is listed as one of the top 100 most influential women in the hospitality, travel, tourism and transport sectors.

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