When It Comes to HCM Strategy, Culture and Technology Go Hand in Hand

By Aliah D. Wright Jun 28, 2016
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Companies can do a lot more in recruiting, interviewing and assessing cultural fit if they realized that culture and technology cannot be tackled independently, Jamie Notter and Jeremy Ames said June 21 at the Society for Human Resource Management 2016 Annual Conference & Exposition.

Today's systems can, among other things, help companies schedule interviews, rate candidates and see the results of interviews.

"There are so many ways talent acquisition systems are handling this process [so employers can work] more collaboratively," Ames, CEO of Massachusetts-based HR consultancy Hive Tech HR, said at a concurrent session during the conference in Washington, D.C., recently.

He and Notter, founder of the DC-based consultancy WorkXO and author of When Millennials Take Over: Preparing for the Ridiculously Optimistic Future of Business (Ideapress Publishing; 2015), said that the key to attracting and engaging talent is to combine cultural and technical strategies.

For example, employers need to "tell the truth about their culture during the recruiting process," Notter said.

"If you don't tell them the truth, they will go to Glassdoor, the Internet and their friends to find out the truth," Notter said. "Whatever it is, be honest about it. When you hire them and they experience the culture just as it is—it's a big deal."

Added Ames: "The beginning and the end of the employee life cycle is when candidates are the most vocal."

Technology is an integral part of an organization's culture, which an employee encounters even before he or she is hired, considering that "the first experience your candidates have with your company is how they interact with your technology," Notter said.

Hire for Cultural Fit

Hiring for cultural fit is important. Companies can determine cultural fit in a number of ways. One is have potential employees perform a tryout before they are hired.

For example, when Menlo Innovations, a software company in Ann Arbor, Mich., is hiring, it first conducts a group interview with 30 people, Notter said. "If you make it past the group interview stage, they watch you work and pay you $10 an hour. If you make it past that, then you're on a three-month contract. Then if you pass that, you get hired. They want to know what they're getting into and they want [the prospective employee] to experience and try it and make a decision."

Notter pointed out that some companies use the term "cultural fit" as an excuse to "not hire the people they don't like. You have to make sure you're not cheating yourself on the diversity side. Because if you're going to hire for cultural fit, be clear about what cultural fit means."

Ames said technology can aid the "try before you buy" concept. "If you're cutting edge, your technology needs to be, too. … A lot of solutions allow you to evaluate and run tests—for example, you can see how someone stepped through a coding exercise."

He added, "There are a lot of ways to handle this and ways to track your employees," in talent acquisition systems. "Just having one field in your system that tracks" how the applicants entered your system "is not enough."

Ames said that to determine the effectiveness of a talent acquisition system, consider the following questions:

  • Does your talent acquisition system help you find and engage great candidates? 
  • Does it let them know where they are [in the system] and make sure they're not lost in the process?
  • Does it have your organization's stamp on it?
  • Do managers use it to work collaboratively to vet the best candidates?

"A big piece of culture is how you embrace technology," Notter said. "Focus on the user. It can be very frustrating for candidates to repeatedly enter information during the application process.

Said Notter, emulating a common applicant complaint: "Like, seriously, I have to put in my Social Security number again?"
​​ 

Aliah D. Wright is an online editor and manager for SHRM. Follow her @1SHRMScribe.

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