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GARTNER REIMAGINE HR 2019: TOP 10 KEY CONFERENCE TAKEAWAYS FOR TALENT ACQUISITION AND HR LEADERS

Josie Sutcliffe November 6, 2019

This year’s Gartner ReimagineHR 2019 conference in Orlando, Florida was packed with insight-rich sessions. Here are 10 bite-sized takeaways for busy Talent Acquisition and HR leaders and their teams.

1. HR is best positioned to be the driver of their organization’s “ethical AI” strategy

Opening keynote speaker and Gartner Distinguished VP of Research Brian Kropp, speaking about “The Future of Work: How HR Can Reimagine Work to Drive Performance,” shared that only 9% of CHROs agree their company is prepared for the future of work. One way for HR to get the business better prepared, he said, is for HR to embrace the use of artificial intelligence (AI). 

As Kropp described, AI already permeates businesses: from market segmentation in Marketing to fraud analysis in Finance to smart robotics for business units, AI has become an accepted norm in many departments. Not only does HR need to catch up in its use of AI, Kropp argued that HR is the best positioned function to drive the “ethical AI and analytics strategy” for their organization. 

2. Automating HR tasks for managers will become the norm

Veteran Gartner HCM Analyst and Vice President Ron Hanscome, talking about “HR Technology Predictions for 2020 and Beyond,” said that “by 2022 50% of large enterprises will have invested in a major initiative to improve their manager experience by automating multiple work-related HCM (human capital management) tasks.” As Hanscome explained, this means allowing managers to reduce the time they spend on administrative tasks, not reducing or replacing managers’ authority. 

One area ripe for automation relates to recruiting. From automating candidate interview scheduling to using AI to help prioritize and select candidates for interview, “automating talent processes will increase effectiveness and improve efficiency.”

3. AI is transforming Talent Acquisition

Hanscome also projected that analytics and AI will increasingly be used in Talent Acquisition, saying, “by 2022 35% of organizations will utilize conversational user experience and natural language processing (NLP) interactions in their talent acquisition, which will turn the job application process into a simple conversation.”

NLP is a branch of AI that deals with the interaction between computers and humans using natural language to read, decipher, understand, and make sense of human languages in a manner that is valuable. Recruiting applications of NLP can include conversational bots, as well as algorithms that “read” resumes or assessment responses to score candidates.

4. Innovation in Talent Acquisition tech is taking place outside of human capital management suites

A warning: Hanscome advised that innovation for AI in Talent Acquisition is occuring outside the HCM suites. Organizations wanting to take advantage of AI and automation innovation in recruiting and get ahead of their competitors need to look outside their core systems to best of breed and point solutions.

5. To be more competitive companies need to redefine the role of the hiring manager

Gartner’s Vitorio Bretas, in “Redefining the Role of the Hiring Manager in the Digital Era,” called for Talent Acquisition leaders to rethink the role of hiring manager. 92% of candidates today are considering at least one other offer when they consider yours (up from 61% in 2016). At the same time there has been an 84% increase in the time it takes to make a hiring decision. Recent Gartner research found that only 23% of managers are decisive. And yet the pay off for decisiveness is significant: decisive managers hire 10% more high-quality candidates and 11% fewer low-quality candidates than typical hiring managers.

Part of the solution, Bretas explained, is for recruiting to partner differently with managers: to not rely exclusively on hiring managers to identify future talent needs, but to also consult workforce planners, team members, business leaders, HR business partners, and analytics team members in the process.

6. The transition of candidates from committed to casual is placing new pressure on recruiting

In “From Talent Acquisition to Talent Engagement and Systems of Record to Systems of Action,” Jason Cerrato discussed how digitized recruitment processes have “helped forge new candidate experiences, expectations, and behaviours.” Candidates have shifted from “committed” to “casual.” Instead of candidates following the cycle (1) research companies, (2) shortlist jobs, (3) apply, (4) speak with recruiter, candidates now (1) apply to jobs, (2) speak with recruiters, (3) research companies, and (4) shortlist jobs.

Perhaps ironically, while the talent market is highly competitive today’s employers are also dealing with a higher volume of candidates and a longer cycle of consideration. This, in addition to the rise of the casual candidate, makes it critical for Talent Acquisition leaders to look to technology to aid and augment the role of recruiters.  This tech can include automation of recruiter tasks (such as posting to job boards, administering assessments, and notifying candidates of their progress),  intelligent candidate matching and screening, and Diversity and Inclusion analysis.

7. Take Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) to the front lines to achieve the greatest outcomes

In “Scaling Diversity and Inclusion: Why It Matters and How You Can Achieve It,” John Kostoulas set the stage by saying that 90% of organizations have a D&I strategy and over 650 CEOs have committed publicly to the CEO Action for D&I pledge. However, as Kostoulas quickly followed up, D&I is a high-level assumption in many organizations, and most only look at one or two dimensions, such as gender or race. To move the needle in D&I, organizations need to scale and go from D&I being Board of Directors-driven to being driven by the front line.

8. Both Diversity and Inclusion are needed for the greatest business benefits

Koutoulas also shared that both diversity and inclusion are needed to achieve the greatest business benefits. For instance, in one study the “low inclusion, low diversity” team achieved 39% error-free outputs and deliverables; the “low inclusion, high diversity” team achieved 54%; and the “high inclusion, high diversity” team achieved a significant 86%.

9. AI in Talent Acquisition lets recruiters focus on higher value tasks

In his talk “Emerging Technologies Disrupting Talent Acquisition,” Ryan Hill continued the theme that the use of AI in recruiting is a game changer. As Hill explained, AI allows recruiters to focus more of their time on high value activities (such as career conversations and facilitating career changes). 

Hill shared a Hilton case study, where the recruiting team applied AI algorithms to hiring pools, automating the identification of top candidates. To build stakeholder trust in the automation, Hilton let recruiters and hiring managers compare their manual candidate selection results to the automated results, showing that the results were similar. As a result of the automation, Hilton was able to reduce their time-to-fill from 42 to 5 days and increase their interview-to-hire rates by 40%.

10. D&I will be the number one recruiting topic CHROs pay more attention to

In “Recruiting the Workforce of the Future: Advance Your Diversity Recruiting Maturity,” Ingrid Laman said that recruiting teams expect D&I to be the number one topic CHROs pay more attention to in the next year. Similarly, while 73% of D&I leaders said that influencing diversity in recruiting efforts is their top priority, only half feel they can achieve this goal. And only 37% of recruiters believe their function has implemented a strategy to increase diversity hiring.

Lamar discussed how diversity is about more than gender or race. It includes educational background, differences in experience, and other factors. Lamar also shared a Diversity Recruiting Maturity Model:

  1. Compliance-driven models
  2. Diversity outcome-driven recruiting
  3. Sourcing and attraction driven recruiting
  4. Business-aligned and retention conscious recruiting processes
  5. Forward looking recruiting processed embedded with inclusive practices

Levels 1 and 2 are focused on “who you hire,” whereas Levels 3, 4, and 5 are about “how you hire.” “How you hire” is about identifying areas in processes that are most susceptible to bias. Being inclusive in recruiting means combating bias, sourcing talent where others don’t, increasing attractiveness to candidates via an employee value proposition, and involving employees in processes.

Loosening your grip leads to greatness

As keynote speaker Nicole Malachowski — retired U.S. Air Force Col., First Woman Thunderbird Pilot, Fighter Squadron Commander, Combat Veteran, White House Fellow and Advisor — said in her inspirational address, it takes courage, trust, and vulnerability to break barriers. This includes being willing to lead by loosening your grip — and try new things.

Access Gartner’s own conference takeaways here.