Can technology fix human resources biggest challenge: employee expectations?

Research from Atlassian and PWC has confirmed what most human resource professionals are seeing first hand in their organisations: expectations of work and employment have radically changed and there are no easy fixes to address these changes. 

Employees are rapidly demanding leadership with more empathy, trust and understanding, while employers are searching for the critical thinking skills that will help maximise opportunity at all levels. This is a friction for every business that will require continuous human up-skilling and self-development in the context of having to navigate increased disruption – all while attempting to put wellness first. 

This is a new reality, where Australian businesses must see their humans, the roles they assume within the company and the environment where they intersect as a dynamic matrix.

This reality has not only altered radically over the past few years but also changes as business objectives shift. And as we now clearly know in the face of the skills shortage: if you don’t meet employees expectations they will either leave or never deliver on their productive promise.

Training programs and job roles must be finely calibrated towards harnessing the innate capabilities of the right employee and their expectations. And the rise of hybrid work environments introduces new variables into the mix which human resources must adapt to. And all of this is taking place within the macroenvironment of a workforce materially altered by COVID, a scarcity of skills, a broad re-assessment of work-life balance and, even, geopolitical events driving uncertainty around talent mobility.

This shift in the human resource terrain and workforce expectations has left many human resource professionals scrambling for tools to gain clarity and control. The latest tools are technological, but customised to enriching the human experience –meeting humans where they actually live (and work). The roots of the newest, most effective technological solutions to these business challenges are actually well established in the psychological sciences but are now being harnessed in innovative ways. They’ll be well-known to most, if not all, human resource professionals: capability frameworks and psychometric assessments.

Capability frameworks, for instance, have been around since the 1990s, and as outlined by the Centre for Public Impact were famously utilised in Tony Blair’s administration before being adopted by the Australian public service in 2011. They are now widely used, or at least referenced, across government in its hiring and human resource management functions. 

Similarly, psychometric assessments that strive to deliver actionable insights into both candidates and employees have a long history of development and use across a range of human resource activities. However, until now these two key tools have not really been able to be combined into a single technology and methodology that can compare individuals within the context of changing expectations of work, culture and performance. 

When merged this technology can quantify the attributes, knowledge, skills, abilities and characteristics of an employee and the ability profile of the role – as it changes. These tools can serve as powerful insight generators that can prevent businesses from fitting square pegs into round holes. Moreover, they demonstrate versatility by assessing an employee through her entire life cycle, from recruitment to talent development. And they can do this for a variety of cultures and work environments, from highly-regulated corporations to bespoke startup business models.

Take the international men’s health charity Movember, which every November runs a charity drive to raise funds and awareness for groups around the world focusing on prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health/suicide prevention. Their presence in 22 countries, dual identity as an income and impact organization and unorthodox culture posed unique challenges as they started to develop their five-year strategy. 

The COVID pandemic, which kicked off just as they began development of this strategy, hardly helped matters much. However, thanks to their recently-hired Chief People Officer Dr. Amanda Green, a behavioural psychologist, Movember availed itself of next-generation human assessment technology in its analysis of both its executive suite and its senior leadership, team members and the environment they worked within. Using it, Green and Movember could objectively assess a host of qualities, from transferable skills to necessary retraining and anticipation of future skills new hires would need to master, that Movember itself may have missed had it relied instead on popular wisdom. It worked so well, in fact, the organisation is expected to roll it out to its entire workforce.

What next-gen human assessment technology does is liberate the organisation to have a fuller understanding of the individuals in its workforce in a way that was beyond its grasp before because of cost and time constraints. As a result of being able to conduct rapid assessments and map to role and environment at speed, organisations can use tools across an organisation that were formerly limited to use in very specific, high-risk situations like board member vetting.

Once the VIP treatment can be shared with everyone, happier and more productive humans follow – and the ultimate employee expectation is met.

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