Category Review: Technology and Innovation in the Workforce

If nothing else, 2020 showed us the importance of technology and innovation in the workforce. Right?

The impact of technology on our work-life (in fact, our entire life!) has been fast and consistent for some time now. And in 2020, COVID proved to us the increasing importance of technology and its power to connect people.

Was there anyone in the workforce in 2020 who didn’t Zoom? Exactly!

So today seems a suitable time to review the insights we covered during 2020, on the topic of technology and innovation in the workforce.

AI and Contingent Workers

First up, let’s look at our analysis of AI and its critical applications for contingent workers; we uncovered four major uses, which demonstrate the advancements of technology and innovation in the workforce. Each is worthy of review.

But before I delve into these, let me quickly provide a refresher on ‘what is AI?’ (a question we are frequently asked in reference to its value in workforce management). I think Accenture has said it best:

Artificial intelligence is a collection of advanced technologies that allows machines to sense, comprehend, act and learn. It is set to transform business in ways we’ve not seen since the Industrial Revolution; fundamentally reinventing how businesses run, compete and thrive. When implemented holistically, these technologies help improve productivity and lower costs, unlocking more creative jobs and creating new growth opportunities.

AI has produced intelligent machines, capable of carrying out human tasks. AI can take huge amounts of data, analyse it, then make smarter decisions for businesses. The tangible outcomes include cost savings and operational efficiency gains, amongst others. But in terms of the workforce, a key benefit is the ability for workers to focus on skills development and more meaningful work, whilst AI delivers on the less creative, process-type work.

Now, let’s look at AI’s four major applications for continent workers…

Application #1: AI for Contingent Worker Sourcing

Leave your days of poor hiring decisions behind! AI can facilitate better contingent worker hiring decisions by…

  1. Simulated experiences for contingent worker candidates. This ‘try before you buy’ scenario, gives contingent workers insight into what it’s like to work in your organisation. And, it gives both parties an understanding of the worker’s potential cultural and technical fit within your business: something face-to-face (or Zoom) interviews can’t offer
  2. Chatbots provide an opportunity to keep prospective contingent workers in the loop about stages of the hiring process
  3. For projects requiring multiple contingent workers, AI can manage interview schedules, to create better hiring processes and efficiencies.

Application #2: AI Can Boost Your VMS Capability

AI can now have a major impact on the performance of your VMS. And the untapped efficiencies – not to mention user experiences – are set to vastly improve.

AI can instil intelligent applications into your VMS, across the entire lifecycle of your contingent workforce.

And, it can add your company policies, leadership directives and more, into the VMS. This application is a real game-changer!

Application #3: AI Provides Efficiency Gains from AR (Augmented Reality)

According to Livescience.com, augmented reality provides an enhanced experience of technology or software to improve the user’s interaction and understanding of a situation.

In the context of contingent workers, application examples include:

  • Onboarding contingent workers before their commencement date via a mobile app
  • Bringing the physical workspace to life in a digital context – particularly relevant in the era of COVID

Application #4: AI Brings Meaning (and Value) from Unstructured Data

Given the sheer enormity of contingent workforce data available to HR departments today, being able to attain knowledge and actionable insights from this data are near impossible. AI can help your organisation leverage the right data for your business.

This includes mining social and behavioural information; understanding biases, skills and behaviours of contingent workers before you appoint them; and gaining a structure to the data you can access. The outcome is a better ROI on your contingent workforce investment.

You can read more from this article here.

How To Leverage HR Data

In this article, we looked at the three major considerations for gaining a competitive advantage from your HR data – a deeply strategic outcome of technology and innovation in the workforce. Think about the extraordinary opportunities for building an effective, measurable and customised workforce strategy – all based on quality data. The opportunities are exciting, not to mention commercially rewarding.

The three considerations are:

Consideration #1: Data Sources

There are two primary sources of HR data: internal and external. Tapping into the right data points for your business – not your competitor’s, not any other business – is crucial. The key is to align the data points and sources, to the strategic goals of your business. By doing this, you’ll be able to:

  • forecast talent and skills needs
  • more efficiently plan your workforce; and
  • establish relevant talent development programs

A key measure of success will be how well supported business initiatives are, by the talent programs you’ve devised using HR data and analytics.

Here are some examples of internal and external sources of data:

Internal:

  • Revenue per employee
  • Offer acceptance rate
  • Voluntary turnover rate
  • Involuntary turnover rate
  • Salary and promotion history
  • Employee work history
  • Absenteeism
  • Demographic data

External:

  • Market status on the availability of key skills
  • Market compensation strategies
  • Competitive employer brand performance
  • Unemployment rate
  • Underemployment rate
  • Industry uptake of non-employee workers and its effect on the business
  • Economic data

Consideration #2: HR Data Processes

There are quality processes you can adopt to ensure your HR department works in a state of ‘continuous improvement’ when it comes to HR data and analytics. When you adhere to a quality process – one that’s suitable for your business needs – you’ll need to ensure its adaptation to all data you utilise in your HR strategy planning.

Our recommended starting point for a simple HR data quality process is provided below:

Technology and Innovation in the Workforce

Consideration #3: Predictive Analytics

The role of predictive analytics in the realm of HR data is to enable HR practitioners to measure the effectiveness of their policies and workforce strategy. Predictive analytics is now a key benchmark for organisations seeking to embrace technology and innovation in the workforce.

The undeniable upside of a successful predictive analytics undertaking is the ability for HR to become a more strategic partner to the business.

How?

By providing a reliable source of intel – across all business divisions – to meet current future business goals.

Examples of practical applications of predictive analytics include:

  • Predicting revenue using engagement scores: understanding drivers of engagement and developing HR policies in line with these
  • Estimating the bottom-line performance of HR policies
  • Determining the likelihood of – and preventing – employee turnover
  • Forecasting the effect of people policies on wellbeing and happiness

“Predictive analytics is increasingly important to talent acquisition, as sophisticated analytics teams begin to prioritise recruiting workflows, conduct workforce planning, evaluate different recruiting sources, assess quality of hire, and use pre-hire assessments. Companies that are not prioritising analytics do so at their own risk”. 

Deloitte Human Capital Trends report

You can read more from this article here.

Summary

2020 was the year that saw a dramatic shift regarding technology and innovation in the workforce.

Our need to be physically remote from our colleagues placed heavy reliance on technology, the web and digitisation. That aside, 2020 was also the year where businesses gained greater understanding and value from HR data insights as well as revolutionary technology such as augmented reality. As challenging as 2020 was for most of us, it was also a period of positive growth for technology and innovation in the workforce.

 

As one of the world’s leading providers of contingent worker management solutions, CXC is well positioned to optimise all elements of your contingent workforce strategy. With operations in more than 50 countries across five continents and decades of experience, we can assist with every aspect of your program.

If you would like to find out more about how we can help, please contact us here.

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