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HR must clean up their crap

HR must clean up their crap
| On December 18, 2013

predict and prepareI’ve been watching Workday’s annual Predict and Prepare show recorded the other week. It’s a one hour show so you may want to kick back, grab a coffee before committing to it.

At 19 mins 07 secs, moderator Bill Kutik introduces Naomi Bloom‘s second prediction. It was originally written as: HR must clean up their crap coding structures, outmoded or irrational business rules and process flows that are from the beginning of time rather than reincarnating all this sludge in their next generation HR and talent management. The discussion on this topic runs through to 25 mins 39 secs.

In her explanation, Bloom says that much of what’s happened in HR technology over the last 30 years has been little more than a replication of the past rather than trying to reinvent for the present and future. You’ll get no argument from me on that.

As the conversation between Bloom and other panellists Brian Sommer and Vinnie Mirchandani unfolded, it quickly became apparent that what they were really talking about is not so much things like hiring processes as they exist but about the way potential candidates look at the world with the benefit of new data driven solutions that are mushrooming out there. LinkedIn is often cited but then Glassdoor provides important insights.

Sommer went to say that Bloom is looking at the world in a parochial manner. A tad harsh perhaps but a view worth considering.

Sommer told the story of how he recently sat with a customer and Googled current HR process maps and then compared that with what candidates are doing in the real world. The mismatch could not be clearer. Rather than thinking in terms of what’s good for the candidate, it seems most processes are rooted in two things:

  • What works for the company and is readily repeatable
  • What has to fit inside the framework of existing legislation.

Sommer went on to say that the speed at which new apps of the kind he describes are mushrooming mean that hiring is a moving target. Bloom argued that new services may provide excellent insights for both potential employers and employees, but they have to fit into the framework of government imposed regulation. The example of I-9 paperwork (PDF) was cited.

This was a measure designed to ensure that people who are hired have a right to work in the US. Along the way, it was also designed to eliminate discrimination at a time when hiring processes and selection were anything but transparent. It came into force in 1986 and, apart from some tweaks, has been largely untouched ever since. The same goes for other measures, initially promulgated with the idea of protecting the state, employers and employees but designed for a different time.

Bloom concludes that she’d like to see regulation keep up (but it won’t) and the question of what happens next was left in the air.

I take a more pragmatic view. If regulation is not keeping up then it seems to me that employers will need to do two things:

  1. Consider form filling as a risk but ‘must do’ in the face of talent acquisition that is no longer dictated by the employer but by the actions of savvy, tech aware candidates who are selecting the company first.  This will require some careful assessment by managements but will be essential if employers are to benefit from the way in which prospective employees are looking at the world.
  2. Actively lobby governments to overhaul employee legislation as a matter of urgency to reflect what’s happening in the current hiring environment.

Does this need to be an across the board approach? No. There are plenty of jobs where regulation, even in its current form makes sense. There are plenty of scenarios where existing hiring practices work well. But it is for those 10-20% of people that will make the difference in the future where both HR practices and legislation seem out of step. How that hashes out may well be one of the defining changes of 2014.

Den Howlett

Den Howlett

Dennis Howlett has been taking the buyer's perspective in analysing application vendor offerings for more than 22 years following a 20 year successful career in IT and finance related roles. 'Never knowingly under opinionated,' Howlett takes strong positions in the interests of getting to the truth of what drives customer value.
Den Howlett


Disruptor, enterprise applications drama critic, BS cleaner, buyer champion and foodie trying to suck less every day.
Den Howlett
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