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How Technology Is Changing Human Resources

Technology continues to push HR. Here's a look at the past evolution, and what's next.

Phil Strazzulla
HR Tech Expert, Harvard MBA, Software Enthusiast
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The HR field continues to evolve at a rapid pace due in large part to the ever changing HR technology landscape.  It’s amazing how much has developed over the past few decades, and exciting to see how software and AI will push human resources departments going forward.

How has HR Changed From Technology's Influence

Here’s a great example that showcases just how much HR has changed due to technology: the evolution of the job ad.

Job ads used to be placed in local newspapers where job seekers would be searching for work opportunities.  It was a manual process to get the ad placed, get the CVs from job seekers, and then work them through the hiring funnel.

The internet changed that of course. Monster.com was one of the first 1,000 websites created, and for the first time allowed recruiting teams to post jobs in a slightly more user friendly way that would also reach a much larger audience.

Fast forward a few years and you have the rise of applicant tracking systems as well as light weight tools like ZipRecruiter. Many of these ATS’s soon adopted the ability for companies to blast their job to many different job boards with the click of a button.  It was a lot more efficient than logging into many different job boards to post a req and then receive applications.

The next evolution has occurred in the past decade where the rise of programmatic advertising platforms has allowed talent acquisition teams, particularly those at larger companies, to post their jobs using a rules engine.  For example, if you only need 50 applicants to get one hire, why would you leave your job posting open after you get those 50 applicants?  It’s a bad candidate experience, costs time to wade through extra applicants, and probably cost money as well.

These rules based programmatic vendors are now evolving to an AI based approach to job posting.  An algorithm can now understand how many applicants you need in a given geography for a given role.  They can even optimize which job board you buy the applicants from to minimize cost per hire, or time to fill, or both.

The newspaper job ad has come a long way!  We can see similar evolutions across the employee life cycle from resume parsing to culture building.

The Key Ways Technology isImpacting Human Resources

There area few major buckets when thinking about how HR and recruiting has been impacted by technology.

Cost Savings

Technology means we can better allocate spend to the areas that are driving the most value.  For example, maybe certain job board sare outperforming and we want to give them more spend.  

Cost savings can also come from using technology to decrease spend in other areas.  For example, we may be able to save money from our third party recruiter budget if we invest in a talent sourcing platform.

Time Savings

Time is money, and so time savings can be as impactful to the bottom line as straight cost savings.  For example, we could decrease our time to fill for sales people which is one way to drastically increase the value of the business.

We may be able to simply save time on tasks like screening candidates.  Video interviews, chatbots, and various assessment tools can all be used to cut down on the time recruiters need to spend screening candidates at the top of funnel.

Better employee experience

Recruiters who don’t need to spend 50% of their time reading resumes can now spend more time with job applicants and ensure they have a great candidate experience. 

Similarly, automations on the HR side of the house means PeopleOps teams are now freed up to focus on employee engagement, ERGs, career pathing, etc.

Better HR experience

Yes, the pleasureHR and recruiting teams take in doing their work is important too!  When you can automate tasks that are repetitive and boring, your team is going to have more fun at work.  

No one gets into HR to answer the same old question about PTO three times a week.  Let a chatbot do that.  Now your team is able to focus on how to use benefits as a strategic advantage in acquiring and retaining talent.

Data Driven Decisions

The modern workplace is built around data, and HR should be no exception.  Tools that enable us to better understand all parts of the employee lifecycle mean that we can allocate resources accordingly.

Building off our example for a better HR experience, data may let us know that the average HR person is literally answering 70 emails a week that could be automated by a chatbot who knows the employee handbook front to back.  Without this information, and the cost associated with constantly interrupting someone’s work with tedious questions, we could never rationalize this sort of investment.

Strategic Focus

Less time on repetitive tasks means more time thinking deeply about how the entire HR and recruiting machine fits together.  How are employer branding promises delivered on during the onboarding process, or an employee’s first year on the job?  How does the talent sourcing strategy align with the 3-6 month headcount plan?  Is it kind of aligned, or is there a real machine in place to make sure the right people are hired at the right time?

More Business Impact

Of course, the holy grail of all of this is relating what we are doing back to the business.  More automation and data enables HR to engage with other leaders in the business more often to determine how the people strategy should change to accommodate the needs of the organization.

Is a customer churn a result of customer success rep churn?  Dig into the data to understand what’s happening from job posting to alumni that could chip away at this problem.

Where’s Technology Going and How does it Impact HR?

Overall, technology has been a very positive force in the world of human resources.  In the vast majority of organizations, HR teams are drastically under resourced and over worked.  They’re asked to do more with less than any other part of the organization.  Better technology means they can meet these daunting requirements with the right toolset to be successful.

While there is feat that continued automation and artificial intelligence will at some point replace us, that future is very distant.  Right now, the pipeline of tech is best described as an exoskeleton for the modern day knowledge worker, not are placement.

As we’ve pointed out, this tech may replace some of the repetitive and somewhat mindless tasks that are required to get the job done. However, this simply means more time to upskill, and focus on the bigger picture.

Phil Strazzulla
HR Tech Expert, Harvard MBA, Software Enthusiast
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Phil is the founder of SelectSoftware Reviews, a website dedicated to helping HR and Recruiting teams find and buy the right software through in-depth, expert advice. He has bought over $1 million worth of HR and Recruiting tools. Additionally, as of 2023, nearly 3 million HR professionals have relied on his advice to determine which business software they should buy.

Phil studied finance at New York University and started his career working in venture capital before getting his MBA from Harvard Business School. His in-depth understanding of the Saas landscape, especially HR Tech, stems from nearly a decade of researching and working with these tools as a computer programmer, user, and entrepreneur.

Featured in: Entrepreneur Harvard Business School Yahoo HR.com Recruiting Daily Hacking HR Podcast HR ShopTalk Podcast Employer Branding for Talent Acquisition (Udemy Course)

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