3 key themes from ATC2020 DIGITAL

6 months ago, could we have predicted that we would attend a virtual ATC? How quickly things can change!

Change can often bring with it unexpected benefits. One of the greatest benefits of this year’s virtual event was the opportunity to watch every single session. For the first time, we didn’t have to miss a single item on the agenda, which meant even greater insights and value for the 1,500 Talent professionals who joined the two-day event.

This year, there were three key themes that resonated throughout the event for me: new ways of working, automation with human-centred design and agility in the TA function.

1) New ways of working

Looking firstly at new ways of working, the COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly accelerated our journey to remote and virtual working. Overnight, it forced organisations to develop and implement the right processes, structures and technology to enable their workforce to operate remotely.

Today, organisations are reviewing their flexible working policies, with many commentators at this year’s event noting that the future will be dominated by a hybrid working model. 

In this context, Bill Boorman said that the concept of an EVP is dated and in the new world of work an IVP, or individual value proposition, will be the emerging trend. This is certainly food for thought, since it is no longer an organisation that can attract candidates but the ‘brand’ of the job available.

Thinking about Bill’s idea, as we become a more virtual workforce it will no longer be the office environment, colleagues or culture that will be at the heart of an EVP. Instead, it will be the work an individual gets to produce on a daily basis that will help an organisation stand out from competitors.

Over the last few months, we have all learnt how to work remotely. Looking ahead, many people will choose to work for an organisation that continues to offer this flexibility.

Meanwhile, Kevin Wheeler predicted that there will be an accelerated use of virtual reality in the recruitment process as organisations find ways to digitally promote their jobs and bring their value proposition to life.

Kevin also sees a stronger focus on skills and abilities in the future, with less importance placed on degrees and years of experience. He expects a “paper clip” change to the recruitment industry as we create a new normal driven by the chaos dimension in the Cynefin framework.

2) Automation with human-centred design

This year’s ATC included several sessions that addressed the rise of automation and AI in our world, with industry experts looking at the challenges of implementing this new technology.

Our Global MD here at Hays, Matthew Dickason, and our Group Digital Engagement Director, Jacky Carter, held an interesting discussion and shared their experiences and lessons learnt in this area. Matthew made the following point:

“We need to be thinking about the objectives in using automation from a human perspective – in our case a key outcome we have been looking for has been to increase the level and capacity we have for the human aspects of the work we do – everybody benefits from that – giving us more time to focus on the subtleties and relationships that are so valuable and important in the longer term.”

Jacky referred to this as the art and science of recruitment. She explained that the ‘art’ is the human face of recruitment, where personal needs are understood, and the nuances of roles, teams and organisations are considered. She said this must blend seamlessly with the ‘science’, which is the way we develop our capability to make our processes more efficient, more effective and seamless for our users and our customers.

This is a fine balancing act as the ethics around the use of AI in the screening process are still being considered. In fact, a recent paper from the European Commission makes it clear that there is an expectation of ongoing human involvement in the key points of any hiring decision.

A key lesson we can all take away from the experiences shared at the conference is to begin a transformation project with basic principles first. Rather than automate a bad process, map out how it should ideally work, redesign the process with your customer needs at the fore, then bring in the technical solutions to support it. 

The rise of automation and AI are also changing the job of a recruiter. Three key takeaways for recruiters from Kevin Wheeler’s session were to marry yourself to tech, become familiar with all types of tools and develop your human skills. AI, machine learning & human intelligence will integrate.

3) Agility in the TA function

The LiveHire session summed up the topic of agility in the TA function in one simple sentence: HR teams are not designed for agility, they are designed for service delivery. This year’s ATC highlighted the importance of agility in our chaotic world, with the ability to rapidly respond to the changing needs of our customers key to our future success.

In her session, Rita Newman shared ANZ’s journey to become an agile TA function and it was clearly a favourite with the audience. She said ANZ have structured their TA function using agile methodology and have tribes, squads and chapters with less hierarchy and more autonomy. They have 170 people representing 20 squads all structured to align to employee journeys. Simplification by reducing hand-offs is a key theme within their re-imagined structure, creating better visibility over the work.

Kevin Wheeler also reinforced the need for agility in TA. He noted that work in the future will be team or project based, with rotating leadership and hiring for skills over title and contribution over tenure.

He also said we will continue to see a shift to shamrock organisations, where there are three different groups of workers: core workers, contract workers and peripheral workers. The good news for us RPO providers is that we will see an increase in the outsourcing of internal TA functions as organisations seek to introduce the agility necessary to navigate our new world.

To sum up, the overriding message for recruiters, whether internal or RPO, is to keep yourself relevant by focusing on agility, capability and technology expertise.

Thank you again to the ATC for a fantastic event. Over the next few weeks I’ll be watching the sessions I missed – how convenient is that! I’m already looking forward to next year’s event – see you there, either in person or over a virtual cup of coffee.

This article was contributed by Hays Talent Solutions.

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