Australia's top HR leaders on reinventing the industry for a digital landscape

HRD looks at the crucial role of HR technology

Australia's top HR leaders on reinventing the industry for a digital landscape

HR has undergone a digital transformation thanks to the sudden rise of remote working across Australia and New Zealand – and no facet of the employee lifecycle has gone untouched.

According to the panellists at this year’s HR Tech Summit, the desire for flexible working is here to stay and as a result, businesses must evolve too if they want to compete for top talent. Speakers at this year’s event, sponsored by ELMO Software, Ceridian, and Globalization Partners, delved into the big topics facing HR leaders today.

Closing out the event, Jason Portelli, partner director at Breathe Australia, acted as moderator to discuss HR’s reinvention for the digital landscape of 2021 and beyond. Panellists from the likes of Spotify, Ubank, SBS and Vend, shared their experiences and insights from yet another rollercoaster year for HR leaders.

Vanessa Blewitt, UBank’s learning & development manager, said striking the right balance of communication has been a challenge - particularly in a time of information overload.

“It is really difficult to get that balance right because some people love it but others don’t. We recently did something around resilience, and it became a bit of a group therapy session which was really cathartic for some people, and really confronting for others,” she said. “It’s important to allow people to opt in and temper the approach but you do need to keep checking in, you can't assume people are OK.

“I love the quick touch point of a message to say, ‘Hey do you want to chat?’ but you also need to be open to people saying ‘not really, let me get on with it’.”

Read more: Expert predicts digital days lie ahead

For Stig Bell, director of people & culture at SBS, the pandemic created new challenges in the recruitment process and how hiring managers could connect with jobseekers without the face-to-face interview process they were used to. For certain roles, they brought in a recorded video process where applicants were sent a few questions and asked to film their answers.

“Many of our line managers were talking about how amazing it was to be able to screen candidates by reviewing their one- or two-minute videos, and how that helped them in making decisions when shortlisting candidates down to the right number, improving the timeliness, and the overall experience of it,” Bell said. “Then amazingly, we had candidates going, ‘I love the idea and that it wasn't a gotcha moment, I didn't have to think off the top of my head’. There's obviously pros and cons to that but candidates being able to put their best foot forward through that kind of approach, I thought was really valuable.”

Shirvani Mudaly, chief people officer at Vend, said she has trialled the pre-recorded approach at a few companies in her time and the success has depended heavily on the job role.

“For things like frontline sales roles it actually did resonate with people because they tended to be more show ponies who like to get on camera and put their best foot forward. But for developers or engineers with different personality types we found our funnel of applicants dropped when we tried to get too fancy with it,” she said.

“They were getting inundated with roles, and for them, the nervousness around presenting themselves in that way was just not worth it.”

Read more: Global hiring: The need for speed

At Spotify, the company uses psychometric testing alongside other tools to get an in-depth feel of whether a candidate is right for the job. Michael Kim, the company’s head of HR APAC, said Spotify has a two-pronged approach to identify the candidate’s baseline skill set and their likely fit within the company.

“We believe that we can bring anyone on board with our development philosophy. If they don't have the right skill set, they can learn along the way and we'll provide the development platform,” he said. “But what we can't teach is having that innate synergy and cultural alignment to our culture and values, and that's where psychometric testing comes in. Now, psychometric testing is in no way shape or form a decision-making process for us whether they pass or fail, it just provides more information on someone's background and personality that will allow us to see if can they thrive in our type of culture.”

As a fast-paced tech company, Kim said the ability to innovate and keep pace with the trends is key. He said they’re at the early stages of using psychometric testing as part of the recruitment process but he believes it offers valuable insight into their candidates.

“We're also very mindful that whoever we hire is the right fit, so that they don't leave a job that they've been at for 10 years to quickly find out that ‘Oh my god Spotify is not the right place for me’,” he said.

Undoubtedly, the use of tech is now deeply embedded in every company’s recruitment and onboarding process. Continuing to hire throughout the pandemic would’ve been impossible without the use of video platforms, just one example of a tech tool that has exploded in popularity and capability. But even beyond the pandemic, many HR leaders say video interviewing is here to stay because it offers a quicker and more accessible process for both candidate and those hiring.

To check out the full agenda and this year’s sponsors, visit the HR Tech Summit website here.

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