Finding and attracting high quality candidates is one of the biggest recruitment challenges facing organisations in the UK, as organisational growth and achievement of strategic priorities comes to a halt. And according to most experts, the situation is only likely to get worse with continuing uncertainty over Brexit and ongoing concerns about the ability of the education system to provide businesses with the skills they need.
This recruitment challenge is set against a backdrop of immense change within UK workforces, as businesses transition from a predominantly human-based workforce to a new era of work, where humans will work in a hybrid, technologically-optimised environment alongside robots and artificial intelligence (AI). This shift over the next few years will dramatically alter the skills and competencies required to fulfil many roles across all industries, adding further complexity for organisations and putting specialist digital skills in even higher demand.
For recruitment and HR leaders, the stakes could not be higher; more than ever before, commercial success or failure is dependent on the speed and agility with which organisations can bring in world class talent.
Candidate experience matters
In response to this challenge, organisations are putting candidate experience at the heart of their talent acquisition strategies, recognising the necessity and potential advantages of providing prospective employees with seamless, flexible and personalised experiences throughout the recruitment process.
In Capita’s recent white paper The Digital Opportunity: Delivering better candidate experiences in the shift to a hybrid workforce, the research revealed that two thirds (65%) of recruitment professionals expect candidate experience to become a key differentiator within business over the next five years. But perhaps more tellingly, it also highlighted how candidates now expect this experience to match the level of service they get when dealing with a global, consumer-facing brand outside of work. They simply won’t put up with sub-optimal experiences, even in a work context.
And this is where digital is so critical – it can enable recruiters to provide candidates with an intuitive, seamless user journey, real-time responsiveness, compelling content across channels, and engaging communications, all personalised to their own specific preferences, circumstances and behaviours.
The need for ‘digital balance’
However, while organisations are set to invest heavily in digital (and particularly AI, automation and Machine Learning) to boost candidate experience and improve talent acquisition performance over the next two years, it’s worth considering how few recruitment leaders are fully satisfied with their current level of digitisation.
Too many digital programmes come unstuck on the back of integration and inter-operability issues between technology platforms, difficulties finding suitable technology partners and a lack of access to high-quality digital skills.
So rather than rushing into one-off investments in AI or automation technologies, HR and recruitment leaders need to carefully consider where and how technology can help to deliver their organisation’s workforce strategy.
More crucially though, the research showed that candidates will continue to demand and value human input at various stages of the recruitment process. HR and recruitment leaders must therefore recognise that digital isn’t the silver bullet to drive enhanced employee experience and there is the danger of ‘over-digitisation’. They must get the balance right or else they risk alienating large parts of their prospective talent pools.
Digitial through the lens of candidate experience
The white paper argues that rather than seeing technology and digitisation itself as the end goal, HR and recruitment leaders should regard digital as a tool to deliver a whole new level of personalised experience for candidates. This means they should regard the delivery of enhanced, personalised candidate experience as the lens through which all decisions are made, particularly when it comes to technology.
Those organisations that can utilise technology to provide a positive and seamless recruitment experience based on individuals’ own personal preferences and circumstances, will set themselves up to attract and retain the very best talent.
And as skills shortages become more severe in the shift to a hybrid workforce, this focus on personalised candidate experience as a means to drive better recruitment outcomes will take on monumental importance.
Peter Donaldson is Sales Director at Capita Resourcing