It’s time for TA to prioritise innovation

We all hear the word innovation thrown around a lot in the course of our everyday work lives. But what does it actually mean to be innovative, and why does the talent acquisition world need to adopt an innovative mindset?

Paula Croeser

Hays Talent Solutions are industry leaders in innovation. They’ve established both global and regional innovation hubs in their business, foster a culture of innovation among their employees, and resource specific teams responsible for both tech and operational excellence. So we sat down with Hays Talent Solutions’ Client Services Director Paula Croeser to get her take on why the time is right for the TA community to look at shaking up the status quo.

It’s easy to dismiss innovation as just another buzzword. What does innovation really mean?

The term innovation in the corporate world refers to how an organisation evolves its services and offerings to keep it ahead of its competition and relevant in a rapidly changing world. It’s about continuous improvement through the introduction of new products or services, methodologies and strategies that will drive long term sustainable growth and solve real world business problems. We live in a world where there is disruption around the corner in just about every industry, so if we don’t continuously innovate we run the risk of becoming obsolete overnight.

TA Leaders are busier than they ever have been right now. Why should they take time away from their day-to-day to focus on innovation?

A TA leader has a challenging and complex role – they need to make sure their teams hire the best talent, in the quickest possible time, at the lowest possible cost and give their stakeholders the best possible experience. They have to master new skills, develop new metrics and stay on top of all the new tools and technology in the market. That’s not easy and can only be achieved through a relentless focus on continuous improvement and innovation.

We are going through rapid change in the way that we work. Advances in digital transformation are driving business disruption and changing the skills we need for the future. There’s also major ongoing competition for these new skills. In fact, according to our recently released Hays Salary Guide, skills shortages are a growing concern – 64% of employers say skills shortages will impact the effective operation of their organisation or department, either in a significant or minor way in the next 12 months.

TA professionals must reinvent the way they work to make sure they can attract and secure these skills in short supply for their organisations. As an industry we cannot continue to do things the same way and expect to achieve successful outcomes – we have to become more agile and adaptable in our approach with a focus on evolving the TA function in line with a rapidly changing world of work.

How do Hays Talent Solutions champion innovation in the TA sector?

At Hays Talent Solutions, we are constantly working on initiatives that will enhance our services and improve the customer experience. A couple of years ago we expanded our organisational values to include innovation as a core value in everything we do. This means being bold, agile and open to ideas – whether it be embracing new technologies, developing our people, or innovating the way we work. Our goal is simple: to stay one step ahead in creating the recruiting experience of tomorrow. Aligned to this key strategic initiative we have established global and regional innovation hubs that are responsible for driving a culture of innovation across our business by encouraging every employee to share their ideas.

We also have a technology-focused innovation team that manages a global program to ensure we can partner – and where appropriate invest in – new technologies and companies for the benefit of our candidates and our customers. They are tasked with developing technology innovation, so our staffing and outsourced solutions businesses can best use new technologies to drive a combination of service efficiencies and improved customer experiences. These are constant and ongoing in their nature and cover areas around Simple and Swift Mobile Access, Data Sciences, Artificial Intelligence – using Elastic Search, Semantic Intelligence, and Ontology to support Machine Learning applications. We have procured the Automation Anywhere Enterprise, an artificial intelligence (AI) platform that allows us to automate business processes end-to-end. We have also established an in-house robot development capability currently focused on Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

In addition to these innovation hubs, we have a dedicated operational excellence team, who are responsible for best practice process design and continuous improvement for new and existing RPO/MSP solutions. This team focuses on enhancing the customer experience and work closely with our operational delivery teams to drive continuous improvement and innovation, ensuring our solutions stay ahead of the innovation curve and drive sustainable outcomes for our clients.

The reason we chose to sponsor the ATC Innovation Lab Talent Tech Pitch-Off this year is because of our innovation focus and this forum allows us to learn about new and emerging technology in our industry. We can pilot new tools in our business without the red tape our clients have to go through and this is seen as a real value add – we can test the use cases and provide our clients with insight into the value of these emerging technologies.

What are some of the hottest trends in TA that you’re excited about right now?

The most exciting trend we are seeing is the increased adoption of recruitment process outsourcing solutions. During the pandemic, organisations experienced firsthand how restrictive internal talent acquisition models are when it comes to scaling up or down. When we entered the first lock down many internal TA teams were downsized through redundancy processes and they are now having to scale back up again to meet the sudden overwhelming spike in demand. Scalability for an RPO provider is a core capability – corporates are now starting to understand the true value behind transferring from a fixed to a variable TA delivery model.

From a technology perspective, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning are becoming game changers in our industry, allowing us to automate repetitive low value tasks to free up our consultants to focus on the human experience. Screening CVs at the top of the funnel is one of the most time-consuming tasks and with the introduction of NLP (Natural Language Processing), we can quickly screen and rank candidates into the next step in the process. These advancements in our industry are exciting but we must keep the candidate experience at the heart of any innovation introduced in the process.

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (ED&I) has been a hot topic over the years, but recent global events have now elevated our levels of awareness, resulting in ED&I becoming a key priority across most organisations. By unlocking underrepresented talent pools, an organisation can improve customer orientation and service, innovation, productivity, profitability, staff engagement and staff retention. Emerging technology is helping us attract diverse candidates and reduce bias in the hiring process, giving everyone a fair chance. AI can reduce unconscious bias, too, by ignoring demographic factors such as the candidate’s gender, race, and age, which ongoing research has shown to affect hiring decisions.

Hays Talent Solutions were the Principal Partners of the ATC2021 Innovation Lab: Talent Tech Pitch-Off where 5 of Australia’s hottest talent tech start-ups went head-to-head in a pitch-off. Click here to watch it on-demand and find out who won!

Cover image: Shutterstock

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