Has HR gone wild? Josh Bersin at UNLEASH

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HR is no longer content just to be disruptive, it’s gone wild! That was the message Industry Analyst Josh Bersin gave at UNLEASH last week in Amsterdam.

It evokes images of the wild west. A place where government regulation was rare and arguments settled with gunfights rather than negotiation. At least that’s the image people often have when you talk about wild. While we certainly have regulations to deal with, GDPR anyone?, the world of HR Tech is indeed wild.

The struggle for attention

The battle, Josh Bersin said, is for the “eyeballs of the employees”.  It’s a world where the big players are no longer content to sit in the background and let others build the front end of their data systems. The smaller players, who used to have a corner of the market, now compete with the well funded and well established.

This struggle for employee attention comes at a time when employee productivity is falling. Even with the latest and greatest technology tools we’re, “working longer hours and getting less work done, every year, every month, every quarter.” Bersin says. He explained that the technology is now ahead of our workforce. That should give any HR manager a heart attack.

Highlighting some of the contradictions in the workforce today Josh Bersin pointed out that employees want a more manageable lifestyle; they want more vacation, not more money.  But, HR also realizes that many companies will give more focus to people who forfeit their vacation in favor of working. We say we offer flexible schedules, but then we punish people who use them in favour of those who don’t!

All the technology in the world can’t make up for the fact that we are, at the end of the day all human beings. HR Tech sounds and it is great as long as you don’t forget the human side..

What happened to trust?

According to Josh Bersin it’s not the automation of all processes. We have the technology. What we don’t have is the knowledge, skill, and trust to use it to our advantage. In a global survey, Bersin found that:

53 percent of people believe the system is failing.

37 percent trust CEOs

29 percent trust the government

If you don’t trust the system, you don’t trust your big boss, and you don’t trust the government,  it makes sense that you’d be a bit hesitant to adopt new technology. And then if you do want to adopt a technology you have literally thousands to choose from. Bersin says his own lists include over 1600 vendors, but he believes there are much closer to 300 vendors in the HR space.

So what is the solution?

So what is out there in the wilds of HR?  Well, LinkedIn has planned a complete applicant tracking system, and they have technology that should be able to tell you, based on your job description, how many people in your area are likely to apply for the job. This could be a valuable tool when trying to determine the appropriate location for a new job. Does it make sense to fill the position in NJ or in Sweden? Knowing from the outset that there aren’t any likely candidates in the area may make it easier to build your company.

The gig economy continues to be a challenge for HR vendors. Everyone, it seems, has an HR system that can handle their employees, but they struggle with consultants and contractors. Just how do you know who is working for you and what precisely they are doing? It’s an area of growth for the HR Tech field.

While the field may be wild, it’s also exciting, and there’s room for all.

About the author
Suzanne Lucas is a freelance writer who spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she hired, fired, managed the numbers, and double-checked with the lawyers. @RealEvilHRLady

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