3 Areas Where HR Can Innovate to Amplify Success

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As HR transforms into a more strategic function, leaders are looking for ways to make their actions speak louder and their initiatives carry farther in a world filled with background noise.

Striving to beat the competition in a talent economy has raised the stakes, but there is an upside. As HR works to center companies around their people, we are building in natural amplification—individuals who will share what’s impressive, welcoming, and generally awesome about the organization with like-minded others.

We humans are, by nature, captivated by the new. This makes HR innovation paramount. It’s not about technology gimmicks but rather a creativity in crafting real solutions to help an employer stand out. The following are three core HR concentrations where innovative approaches can turn up the volume of success.

Candidate-Centric Recruiting

It’s no secret that talent is in short supply. At a time when there are 1 million more open jobs in the U.S. than people to fill them, recruiters are compelled to try new things to secure the skilled workers they need.

Employers are, therefore, attending to their brands and communicating widely. They are striving to capture interest long before individuals consider themselves job hunters at all. And companies are giving these passive candidates plentiful content worth spreading online.

Like any innovative strategy, effective online reputation-building isn’t a matter of “cut and paste” from other companies’ efforts. Playing at irreverence on social media might result in a large volume of shares, for instance. But if the role is more process-focused or the company relatively rule-bound, such online popularity won’t resonate with individuals meeting the real candidate profile.

Authenticity is a must.

Employers are also finding new ways to meet candidates’ needs and accelerate the process. Artificial intelligence is helping to increase job postings’ appeal with specific audiences. Chatbots are answering those middle-of-the-night application inquiries. And AI solutions are sifting through resumes and even evaluating video interviews, so top prospects are identified quickly.

When it comes to candidate-centric recruitment, however, perhaps the most disruptive trend is the reexamination of the value of crafting detailed job descriptions, once considered an absolute must. Some HR leaders are beginning to ask interesting questions like, Does the talent we identify always have to fit the job, or can roles be tailored to fit the available talent?

It’s possible that the most successful companies may soon be those that secure the most impressive talent and build jobs around the capabilities and interests of these individuals—who can then be deployed as enthusiastic ambassadors for the organization and the unique opportunities on offer.

Energy-Sustaining Onboarding

Change is exciting. And employers are in a prime position to capitalize on the energy and insights of new hires looking forward to a challenge. But in many cases, old fashioned onboarding practices do more to stifle enthusiasm than empower employees to contribute right away.

One of the biggest barriers is often the pre-employment background check. Looking into potential employees’ histories is no longer an optional part of the hiring process. Effective background investigations can help improve the quality of hires, maintain compliance, protect a company’s reputation, and safeguard employees, customers, and other stakeholders. Companies have gotten the message, and 95 percent of employers organize one or more pre-employment background checks.

Unfortunately, poorly handled background checks can derail an otherwise welcoming hiring experience. Annoying forms and long wait times can make candidates uncomfortable and dampen their passion for the job that’s almost theirs.

Better background checks simplify and accelerate the process. For example, with ATS integration, information needed to run a background screen is taken directly from application materials. And features like “instant clears” make immediate results a reality.

These solutions were developed by innovative companies identifying and addressing key pain points in the pre-employment background check process. Employers can apply a similar approach to all facets of onboarding.

Once again, it’s a matter of asking good questions. For example, could an app guide new hires through the obligatory disclosures and forms in an entertaining way and save HR time, too?

Could a Pokemon Go-style quest offer incoming employees the chance to familiarize themselves with the environment and interact with people independently, eliminating the usual, boring facility tour?

Are there alternatives to ho-hum classroom training presentations to allow employees to start work, grab the information they need as they need it, and capitalize on new hires’ abilities sooner?

These are just a few examples of the types of probing that can drive employers toward greater innovation.

Engaged Operations

If HR is successful in achieving candidate-centric recruiting and onboarding, the last step is to ensure day-to-day functions are equally engaged with employees.

Businesses have long referred to their workforce as their “internal customers.” Only recently, however, are we seeing a final evolution in which we’re focusing as much on employees’ needs, wishes, and aspirations as much as we do on external customers’ every whim and demographic detail.

Forward-thinking organizations are reconsidering their reward and motivation strategies, incorporating mandatory work-free vacation time, trying two-way mentoring that links company veterans and newcomers at different levels, and implementing a range of wellness initiatives that help employees live their best lives—on and off the job.

If talent is the foundation of success, building structures to support people is the best means of amplifying HR’s strategic impact on the business. And because happy people will share their stories with others, the impacts are multiplied as candidates and employees spread the word.

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