The pandemic’s influence loomed large on the first day of Spring HR Tech—a free, virtual event running through Friday—as listeners tuned in around the globe to hear how the disruptions of the last year will influence technology-powered HR of the future. Despite the challenges the crisis has presented for employers, many speakers struck an optimistic note, heralding this moment as a massive opportunity for HR to effect lasting and needed change—from diversity to engagement and wellness to learning.
Here are a few of the main themes of the first day of the conference:
1. The post-COVID transformation has already begun. While the pandemic continues globally, many employers have already bounced back past the “recovery” phase of the response and are now focused on transformation, said keynoter Josh Bersin. That has them looking toward hiring and retention strategies in a post-pandemic world, with attention to the role of evolving external factors. In particular, the anticipated “red-hot labor market,” once companies get right-footed and unemployment drops again, will be a significant influencer in business transformation. Companies need to be ready with technology-powered HR strategies, including enhanced internal talent marketplaces and multi-faceted approaches to employee experience. Read more here.
2. Thinking about diversity differently is the only way to ensure DEI programs succeed. Amid the pandemic, a push for racial justice dramatically drove up demand for employer action. That has made diversity hiring even more of a business imperative, said keynoter Jackye Clayton—but most organizations are still thinking about diversity wrong. To truly recruit and retain a diverse workforce, employers shouldn’t be hiring for culture fit, Clayton said, but rather need to reimagine their company culture to allow diversity room to grow. “You may have to shatter the ways you’re used to doing things to get better at diversity recruiting,” Clayton said. She outlined six common mistakes employers should avoid when it comes to diversity hiring—including not looking beyond HBCUs for diverse talent and pigeonholing diverse hires into entry-level jobs. Read more here.
3. While the pandemic has significantly challenged HR, the hard work is just beginning—and it centers on building a digital workplace. HR has been on the front lines of the pandemic, providing many leaders the most challenging times of their careers—but now, HR is tasked with continuing that reinvention, which could prove even more difficult. Employers, led by HR, need to figure out what practices and policies instituted during the crisis will be sustainable, where to pivot, how to build a lasting, new way of work, said ServiceNow’s Melanie Lougee and Gretchen Alarcon during a core session. That process should begin and end with one goal: creating a digital workplace. Speakers at an iCIMS session also noted how integral the digital employee experience will be in the post-pandemic environment: Employers must take the pulse of their employees frequently on user experience and not overcommit to too many new tools. iCIMS Chief Evangelist Charles Mah predicted that this year will be one to rebuild, adapt and transform, all by “embracing technology.” Read more here.