Ahead of the Curve: Investing in the Future of Talent Experience
In today’s tumultuous economy, agility is the name of the game — the companies that adapt fastest are the ones that come out on top. None of that’s possible, however, without the right employees. And acquiring and managing best-fit talent successfully can’t happen without the right HR technology.
Investing in tech is a process...one that requires strategy, change, and multiple stakeholders. But the rewards your entire company will reap are well worth the initial growing pains.
Jennifer Bombardier, VP of Talent Acquisition at Radian Group Inc., a Philadelphia-based insurer, knows this firsthand. Bombardier recently joined Phenom’s IAMHR event to discuss the why and how behind her company’s decision to adopt an AI-driven approach to the talent experience, and provided invaluable best practices for others who are considering the move to a comprehensive solution.
Identifying Gaps in the Talent Experience
About a year ago, Bombardier was four months into a new role at Radian and purposefully set aside time to assess where the TA team was at and where they wanted to go with their talent experience. Her findings reflected what many companies struggle with:
Inefficient processes and an inconsistent experience. While Radian’s recruitment program was solid, it lacked a consistent, streamlined experience for all stakeholders. She found recruiters using siloed approaches, and a lot of manual interactions between candidates and hiring managers via Excel spreadsheets and one-off emails.
An employer brand that didn’t stand out. Radian has a strong employer brand, but this wasn’t being reflected to job candidates. The company’s career site and other external communications didn’t differentiate it from competing employers.
Bombardier quickly identified the need to view candidates as consumers, and meet modern-day expectations around customer service and experience. “As an organization, we were going through a lot of technology advances — and we needed to mirror that on the outside,” she said. “We started to research specific technologies, and then looked at where and how to personalize that experience for our candidates, as well as our recruiters...and what was the best process?”
Finding a Solution to Unify and Elevate the Talent Experience
After initially gathering feedback from multiple team members, Bombardier began researching and networking with colleagues to identify talent experience best practices and cutting-edge capabilities and products, including chatbots, fit scoring, campaigns automation, and personalized career sites.
Ultimately, Bombardier wanted a solution that would optimize and tie together the experience for candidates, recruiters, employees, and managers. Among the tools that stood out in her research as must-haves were two powerful AI features:
Fit score. Bombardier deemed this piece of technology essential to address pipeline efficiency, helping recruiters more quickly identify best-fit talent and move the high volume of candidates through the process.
Chatbot. Using a chatbot would help boost efficiency for recruiters by automating FAQs and other routine tasks while improving the candidate experience with personalization and 24/7 responses.
With innovative automation a top priority, Radian chose Phenom’s AI-driven Talent Experience Management (TXM) platform, determining that it would help the team provide the type of cohesive, stand-out experiences needed to meet organizational goals.
Tips for a Successful HR Tech Implementation Journey
According to Bombardier, getting the solution up and running turned out to be one of the smoothest tech implementations she’s undertaken in her career. Considering most software implementations are a piece of cake (said nobody ever), that’s saying something.
But the team couldn’t have predicted that outcome going into the process. To pave the way for success, they followed some key best practices:
- Ask questions (lots of them). You don’t know what you don’t know, as Bombardier pointed out, so it’s better to ask questions and find out. The more, the better — cover topics ranging from technology selection to implementation and beyond.
- Forge a partnership with internal IT and HRIS teams. Bombardier secured internal buy-in — and long-term support — through transparent, honest communication with IT and HRIS stakeholders. In addition to seeking their guidance on tech specifics and integration issues, Bombardier made sure to ask about their other projects, timelines, and resources.
- Communicate clearly with your outside provider. There was (and continues to be) a lot of open communication between Radian and Phenom’s customer success team, Bombardier said. Even if everything works as initially expected, a partnership that enables you to ask for adjustments or level up is key. “The right vendor will help you find the right solution,” she revealed.
- Communicate the value of the new technology. Initially, the HRIS team pushed back a bit on some of the features and capabilities Bombardier wanted. From their perspective, existing in-house systems could be leveraged to accomplish the same goals.
But by including HRIS stakeholders on product demos, Bombardier won their support. They saw how the additional layer provided by the new solution would help her fully leverage what was already in place. Showing how the new technology could make a difference for all stakeholders in the talent lifecycle generated support and excitement, Bombardier revealed.
Handling Change Management and Encouraging Tech Adoption
For Radian, change management (which is never easy) was further complicated by other workplace changes precipitated by the pandemic, as well as a period of organizational growth.
It was a balancing act, Bombardier said, to determine deadlines and how hard to push team members. While she didn’t want to overwhelm her team, she knew that if the implementation didn’t move forward quickly enough they’d be stuck with legacy systems.
So she coached team members, preparing them for some tough deadlines ahead while reinforcing that their commitment would bring positive change and success. In particular, their new tech would help recruiters meet volume demands, as well as other organization initiatives.
To encourage adoption of a new HR solution, Bombardier recommends:
Coaching team members on how to change their routines and habits
Getting hands-on with the solution as a manager to help team members best leverage the tools and capabilities
Identifying training gaps
Holding a weekly team meeting to share tips and ideas for usage
Communicating the benefits of using the new tools
Working with Phenom allows Bombardier to push the envelope and keep current, she said. Looking ahead, there are several areas she’d like to explore and elevate in the Radian talent experience:
Leverage technology for new talent pools. Companies are looking at talent differently since the pandemic struck. Remote work is changing the talent pool, demanding that organizations shift perspective to keep up. Being able to easily identify best-fit candidates based on fluctuating criteria will be a top focus.
Use analytics to understand candidate behavior and preferences. “I think you have to look at analytics almost on a daily basis to see what's working and what's not working — and be prepared to shift and not be afraid to try things,” Bombardier shared. What tools are candidates using most to understand the organization? Where are they going for information? What channels of communication do they prefer? “If we start to see people aren't opening emails…we need to shift and look at SMS technology,” she reasoned.
Transform the internal employee experience. Now that the Radian candidate and onboarding experience has been optimized, Bombardier wants to use their HR tech to ensure employees are getting a consistent experience. “At some point, employees are going to start to say, I want my experience to look like a new hire coming in. You're offering them great technology to start their careers. How do we use that to continue our careers with the company?”
Although Bombardier admitted to not knowing what the next technology trend is going to be, she’s certain of one thing: “I know I don't want to be 10 months, 12 months behind it. I want to be with it and continuing to move — because that's what candidates have come to expect. They get that in their consumer life and they mirror their consumer lives to their candidate lives.”