The past few years and the dynamic work environment have led to changes in the way the workforce of an organisation functions. But have businesses kept up with the changing expectations of their workforce? Have they been able to upgrade their recruitment strategy with the changing environment? Has human capital management (HCM) become more important than ever? Yvette Cameron, Senior Vice President of Global HCM Product Strategy at Oracle, in an exclusive interaction with Business Today from Denver, Colorado, talks about the challenges companies are facing in attracting and retaining talent, the opportunity moonlighting presents for organisations and how AI can help in the hiring process. Edited excerpts:
Business Today: How are employees and corporates catching up with the concept of hybrid work and hybrid employees? What are the changing priorities of hybrid employees when it comes to experience and how do you see employee experience emerging in 2023?
Yvette Cameron: The hybrid workforce caused a lot of disruption. Many organisations were not digitally savvy, they weren’t ready to support a remote workforce, with all the digital technologies that they needed. Managers of these employees struggled [with questions like] ‘how do I manage individuals that I’m not seeing anymore? And how do I ensure that my team feels connected, that I am treating them equally… as I do those who are still in the workplace? And so ultimately, the hybrid workforce has shone a light on the need to react and support individuals in all the many ways that they need to engage with the organisation. So when we talk about employee experience… experience is really about all the ways individuals interact with your company. And so understanding who they are… leveraging the data that we know about an individual to make sure that communications are highly tailored to them… that individuals are able to communicate in the form that’s appropriate for them through mobile, chat bot, on a desktop, etc.
The need for technology and for organisations to become digitally savvy has been accelerated by the pandemic. And as we move forward, embracing technology to ensure personalised experiences is more important than ever before. And as we move into 2023, that focus on empowering the individual will just become more magnified.
BT: What are the factors that are driving the shift and how long is this going to stay? Do you think the priorities of a hybrid employee are changing and how are organisations dealing with this transition?
YC: This hybrid model was starting to manifest even before the pandemic hit. Organisations and individuals were exploring new ways of work and working. And we were seeing the rise of remote workers. But after the pandemic hit, and as we were a year or so into it and organisations started the return to work, the hybrid workforce became more popular out of necessity. We couldn’t bring our entire workforce back in a safe manner; we brought only essential workers back. But during the last three years, the expectations of individuals have changed. They had a lot of time to think about what they were experiencing—the challenges of being isolated were compared against the joy of flexibility, of being with family, having resources close, not having long commutes, etc. And the definition for individuals of what success means in the workplace changed, and fundamentally, they stopped focussing on just a high paycheque, and were looking for more flexibility, and for more work-life balance, more focus on their well-being. So individuals are bringing those expectations to work. And that is going to accelerate.
From an employer’s perspective, many are not ready for this. They haven’t given up the hierarchical mindset. They haven’t given up this idea that they control the lives and all aspects of their employees’ work and those organisations are going to suffer. Many others, though, have started embracing new work models. And we’ll see more of this… So new models, new ways of working, it’s just going to continue and accelerate in the next three-four years.
BT: Do you think one of the new models could be moonlighting?
YC: Moonlighting is such an old concept; it was the secret job that I held to bring additional pay or build out some new skills. Now we refer to it as my side gig. And I do think that will continue to grow, because people are looking for experiences and to expand their skills. We know that the skills we have today—40-50 per cent of them won’t be the primary skills we need for our jobs in five years… And sometimes if my current employer doesn’t have the opportunity for me to explore new skills and grow my capabilities, then I will take a side gig to do just that. So moonlighting, side gig, I do definitely see more of that coming as people are looking to expand their skills.
The opportunity for organisations here, though, is that organisations embrace more projects [and] opportunity marketplaces internally for skills development and exploring different parts of the business so that individuals don’t have to engage outside… they can get that growth potentially within their own organisation. This improves the brand of the employer, [and] it improves the satisfaction of the individual employees. And it’s a win-win for both sides.
BT: How has the hiring process changed in recent times?
YC: There has been a tremendous change over the last few years in how the labour market is shaping up. Individuals have different expectations from the organisations that they’re going to work with. And candidates, especially top candidates, have higher expectations with the way that initial engagement goes. They’re expecting more personalised experiences, they’re expecting to interact with technology in a highly intelligent and streamlined and efficient way. They don’t have the patience any more for long drawn-out processes.
And so the job of recruiters needs to change. They need to embrace new ways of finding and sourcing and engaging with candidates; they need to use technology in ways that are highly personalised to attract the talent that they need.
And that’s the crux of why we have introduced Oracle Recruiting Booster. It’s an additional capability that expands on our current Oracle recruiting cloud. And it’s focussed on streamlining processes, not just for recruiters, but also for candidates to make it a much more efficient and effective process. There are four major components of the Recruiting Booster. First is the ability for organisations to effectively create hiring events. [Organisations can] create those events and use our existing candidate relationship management to promote and market those events; it also allows candidates to pre-register and manage all of their pre-screening, requisitions, etc… Another part is two-way messaging. So candidates and recruiters are able to not just have conversations, but candidates can track their applications [and] manage questionnaires and surveys. They can also be proactively notified of events and activities and new jobs and capabilities through this two-way SMS messaging. Likewise, chat bots are very common… So through our Oracle Digital Assistant, we’ve tremendously expanded the capabilities across all of our recruiting [processes]… so that candidates can register for events through a chat bot and be notified of information. And finally, interview management. The challenge of ultimately getting to the ability to talk to somebody is a challenge on coordinating calendars. So with our integration with Microsoft Outlook, we find the best schedules for the recruiter or the interviewing team and present those to the candidate so that they can quickly get their schedules managed. And of course, there’s a dashboard for recruiters to manage all the interview, activity and feedback.
[Coming to healthcare]… the pandemic has changed the landscape [and] burnout of employees is at an all-time high. There is pressure on healthcare organisations to find and retain the skills that they need for their healthcare providers. There is high turnover, and so we’re focussed on supporting the ways that organizations can really attract and retain and create better experiences for their healthcare workers, so that ultimately, they can focus on better patient care. So there are three major areas of investment we’re making to further establish our leadership position in the healthcare industry. The first is leveraging our dynamic skills, and this is an AI-driven skills taxonomy that is leveraged throughout all of our HCM processes from recruiting through succession planning, through development, etc. And specifically for healthcare, it enables organisations to better detect and uncover and leverage and develop the unique skills that they need within their environment. We are also leveraging AI in the way that we are engaging and helping improve the experiences of healthcare workers in our new Oracle ME platform. It is a comprehensive employee experience platform that brings together capabilities for communications, journey workflows, manager and individual employee touch points, the digital assistant, and help desk—all of these capabilities are brought together and AI is leveraged to tailor to the needs of nurses. And when you think about travelling nurses, you think about healthcare workers who are burdened by administrative processes, and they can’t focus on patient care. We’re trying to streamline and remove friction from all of those processes, to improve the experience and help reduce burnout and improve the well-being of the healthcare workers. And then scheduling is probably the biggest innovation. Today we support workforce scheduling across many complex industries. But the way you schedule in hospitals and healthcare situations is much different than how you schedule in, say, retail. So by integrating with Cerner, the solution that we acquired earlier, for understanding the demand and the acuity of patients the level of care that they need, we’re able to bring that insight and connect those hospital systems to our HR scheduling, so that we can ensure the right people, and the right staffing are available for the level of patient care that’s needed at any given time.
BT: With technology taking a centre stage, how do you see the HR tech space shaping up?
YC: I would say for the first time CEOs say that the HR organisation is as critical to them as their finance or operations organisations. The impact the pandemic had on the global labour market, the burnout, the turnover, people expecting just certain experiences… if they’re not met by HR technology, will cause you to not only lose talent, but struggle to attract talent, and certainly keep them for any length of time. So the HR tech market is hotter than ever. And the focus is all around—how are individuals supported to bring their best selves to work? And it’s not just in work; it’s important in personal and in work activities, so that together they are able to focus and provide the services that they need to do for their employer. So the HR tech market is seeing, I believe, tremendous investment. And as I said, from a CEO-level perspective, it’s more important than ever before.
BT: The tough global economic conditions have led to some companies freezing/going slow on recruitment, with some even reportedly not on-boarding employees who had been recruited earlier. Will it be possible to avoid such situations by using AI to predict personnel requirements of an organisation?
YC: It’s an interesting situation we find ourselves in. Globally, fill rates are lower than they’ve ever been. And yet, to your point, we do hear about these scenarios of offers being withdrawn. And I think that a lot of that has to do with first, an organisation’s lack of insight into the skills and the resources they need to run their business. Businesses are changing incredibly fast. Many organisations shifted from a product focus to a services focus, and the skills of their workforce, as a result needed to change. And at the start of the pandemic, many organisations laid off people without fully understanding the skills and what they were losing in that workforce. So today, more than ever, we need to understand the plans and the requirements of the business and AI can help us understand what are the skills we have today? Where are the gaps? What are the skills we’re going to need in the future? And how do we fill those, whether it’s through rescaling our current people or a combination of that and acquiring [new talent].
But I think what we’re seeing is because there’s that fundamental lack of skills [and] insight, companies are putting out offers and then realising, ‘Oh, we don’t need it,’ or they’re putting out offers to individuals where the skills and the capabilities, and the expectations are mismatched. And this is why they’ll pull a job offer back or why individuals will decline those job offers. So a combination of understanding the needs of the organisation coupled with an understanding of individual employees and candidates [is needed]. We can use technology to match people and jobs in a much more efficient way. If we’re not using technology to do that, it’s not a sustainable model.
BT: What are some of the recent innovations in HR functions? And which technologies do you think have the potential to support hybrid work models? Do you think HR leaders and CHROs have been able to reinvent the way recruitment is done with AI and other advanced technologies?
YC: I think there are two major things that are going to improve and support not only the hybrid workforce, but the work models of the coming years. And one to your point is recruiting, which is why we invested in the Recruiting Booster. We need to rethink how we are sourcing and engaging with people; we have to use AI, not only to better tailor the way that we are engaging with those candidates, but how we are creating the opportunities and communicating, etc. So everything from streamlining and making our processes more efficient through like interview management and scheduling automation, to again, event management and personalised marketing around hiring events. That’s super important. But the other fundamental piece, and this spans the HR suite, is driving additional insight. So talent insights and people analytics are probably the hottest and most important areas across the HCM market today. If you don’t understand, the people in your organisation… if you’re not embracing very robust talent insights, you will not be able to keep pace with the many changes of the workforce and changing economy that’s driving changes in our business. So we’re spending a lot of time with customers, helping them understand and embrace our own talent insights and continuing to develop capabilities in that area.
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