Jess ElmquistJune 30, 2022
Topics: Talent Experience

Beyoncé Gives Voice to a Generation of Workers. Are HR Leaders Listening?

You’ve got to hand it to Beyoncé.

Her new song, Break My Soul, highlights exactly what employees have been feeling — aligning perfectly with the massive shift in the current talent landscape. She sings:

And I just quit my job / I’m gonna find new drive
Damn they work me so damn hard / Work by nine / Then off past five
And they work my nerves / That’s why I cannot sleep at night.

It’s official. The Great Resignation now has its own anthem.

The Current Labor Market

Last year in the United States, a record 47 million people voluntarily left their employers for a career opportunity somewhere else, according to the U.S. Labor Department. This massive shift in employment numbers is causing HR leaders to ask, “Why? What does this mean for the here and now, and for tomorrow?”

I believe that job-hopping is a call to action, and HR departments should listen to the voice of a burnt-out generation. But how can they help enact change? By helping people find an employer that aligns with their values and supports them over the long haul.

One talent leader in a big hospital network confessed: “It's hard to dig through the number of requisitions that we have, so I'm concerned about how to scale to deal with that. And, at the same time, use technology to enhance the candidate experience and streamline things in a way that makes it easier for my team.”

Talent professionals in other industries shared similar concerns about the state of their technology systems. Hiring executives say that they're struggling not only to get the right data, but in telling inspirational stories about their companies that will convince candidates to apply.

My advice: talent leaders should take a good look at their organizations’ brands and personalize them for job seekers. Tech can help, but we’re immersed in a critical moment that will influence the future of hiring.

Why Not Look at the Bigger Picture?

Take this pain point from a talent acquisition leader at a company with about 2,500 employees.

She wonders why — for all of the boom and buzz in HR tech — many software companies are still trying to solve small bits of the problem.

“Nobody is solving for the big employee lifecycle so that we have one source of data that can really tell the story because it captures the end-to-end experience,” she says. “It's a frustration that you have so many systems that are bolted on, and you have to figure out how to draw the story out, which is a pain.”

“There are no platforms out there today that do that,” she adds. “I'm curious — why not?”

Funny, I wondered the same thing when I was the Chief Learning Officer and EVP of Human Capital at Life Time. I spent my time in the business supporting 40,000 team members along with the demands of a growing company.

As a Phenom customer at LifeTime, I used their Talent Experience Management platform to solve some of the similar issues raised by other Chief Human Resources Officers. Our challenges were enormous. Along with high-volume hiring across North America, we had to fill critical skilled seasonal positions in a 90-day window while also finding balance in the hiring needs for both skilled and knowledge workers, and keeping up with year-over-year growth.

By using Phenom’s platform, our team of 1,300 hiring leaders and recruiters had a competitive advantage because we were now able to present personalized content to each job seeker, celebrate the company and its mission, and invite candidates to bring their personalities to work.

I share this as a thought leadership partner with other HR professionals and TA leaders across numerous industries. Now that I’m at Phenom, I get to work on solving other HR leaders’ problems by using automation and personalization to enhance people's performance — not just when they walk through the door on day one, but well beyond that.

Healthcare TA Leaders Aren’t Sleeping

Healthcare is one of the industries that is struggling the most to hire in this environment. The situation is flashing red. In fact, someone who works with TA leaders in large healthcare organizations mentioned to me recently that hiring professionals aren’t even sleeping.

“It’s just upside-down right now,” he says.

Yet, health systems leaders say digital capabilities will fundamentally transform their relationship with patients and employees. In fact, one-third of health technology leaders surveyed by Deloitte said talent is their top investment priority in the next 3 years.

That’s important in light of the expected growth in healthcare occupations — 16% from 2020 to 2030, which is much faster than the average for all occupations and adding about 2.6 million new jobs, according to federal statistics.

The government expects the industry to add even more jobs than any of the other occupational groups, mainly because of an aging population. That translates into greater demand for healthcare services.

The Way Forward

Given the sheer size of some healthcare organizations, I would say that their tendency is to under-invest when it comes to HRIS. They are trying to look for a one-point solution.

They try to convince themselves, “I just need someone to help me with a career site” or “I just need a technology platform that helps me with an automated interview or a video interview.”

In actuality, they are on their way to building a technological Frankenstein monster. To avoid creating a disjointed system, I would encourage them to consider these options instead:

  • Plan for the long term. You've had a hard time trying to figure out how to bring your Frankenstein monster under control and find one platform that allows you to succeed in the long run. Take the time to look at all the complex variables and consider leveraging AI to assist your team. You might realize that the answer is finding a better platform, instead of trying to piecemeal your own.
  • Build the business case to show your organization the benefits of automation and personalization. Show others that the technology is out there and that it works. CEOs already get it. They know that AI is a fundamental need across their business, be it on the factory floor or for making intelligent, data-driven decisions at the HR level. Hiring is no longer an HR problem; it’s a business problem.
  • Embrace change. Build an employment brand and employee point of view that encourages top talent to say “yes.” Be prepared to challenge old notions and pivot your priorities with your new talent to support their career goals.

Pulling all these strategies together is crucial (and thanks again to Beyoncé for reminding us that The Great Resignation wasn’t solely about people leaving jobs; it’s more than that).

I think we’re up to the task to lead with our talent in mind. Rise to the challenge, so instead of your people singing “Damn, they work me so damn hard,” they change their tune to “Damn, I love my job.”

Jess Elmquist

Jess Elmquist is the Chief Human Resources Officer and Chief Evangelist at Phenom. In a previous career as the Chief Learning Officer at Life Time, the healthy way of life company, Jess hired more than 200,000 people and spoke to hundreds of his executive peers about talent trends.

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