Recruiting, Technology

How Automation Can Transform HR in a Challenging Labor Market

HR departments are facing unparalleled challenges right now. In the midst of the Great Resignation, with 4.5 million workers walking off the job late last year, staffing shortages are impacting every sector of the economy. Restaurants, particularly quick service restaurants (QSRs), are being acutely impacted; quit rates in this sector rose from 4.8% to 6.9% in the last year alone, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

automation hiring

With circumstances looking dire, HR teams are doing everything they can to move the needle back in their favor and wrest some control over their hiring efforts. In order to meet this moment, HR professionals need to leverage all the tools at their disposal—especially automated recruitment and hiring tools that use algorithms to vet and prioritize applicants without hands-on human involvement—to provide scalability and agility in large-scale hiring efforts.

By incorporating these emerging tech tools, HR teams are able to reduce friction in the hiring process that can make their company appealing in the short term while setting expectations for positions and identifying talent that serve long-term employee retention efforts.

Focusing on Short-Term Hiring Goals

In labor markets like we have today, there is an imperative for HR teams to simply fill staffing quotas. With industries such as retail and QSRs needing to scale back operating hours due to a lack of workers, job one is simply getting people in the door. In a highly competitive job landscape, where candidates can simply walk next door to find a similar position, it can be difficult for employers to stand out and attract new talent.

Recent months have seen many companies offering a host of incentives in order to attract talent. From higher wages and signing bonuses to hour flexibility, brands are doing all they can to stand out from the pack.

The trouble with focusing on these quick-win incentives is they become an arms race with other employers. Rising wages and increased incentives are a good thing and help address the needs hourly workers are facing. Yet eventually, there will become a parity among employers whereby wages and incentives are the same everywhere, and we’ll be right back to where we started.

For how much large-scale employers like QSRs and retailers invest in the customer experience, there has been surprisingly little ground made on the employee side. The current hiring process typically involves a candidate’s finding a job posting and then being routed through multiple platforms on the HR side—occasionally including multiple application systems—that require the person to enter redundant personal information many times over.

The goal of the hiring process needs to be to create a seamless process for the candidate. By unifying disparate systems and optimizing for speed and efficiency by focusing only on what truly matters, the hiring process nowadays can be streamlined to take a jobseeker a matter of minutes. In a competitive landscape, where a key differentiator could be as simple as who a candidate can start working for sooner, investment in technology can be the difference-maker.

Leveraging Automation to Favor Employee Retention

HR professionals are intimately aware of the ramifications of employee churn. It’s a commonly cited statistic that employee turnover costs $15,000 per worker. More than that, however, employee churn means additional work for HR teams, who already have a lot on their plates. Centering the hiring experience on education and evaluation systems that favor employees with a propensity for retention can be a huge step forward in keeping employees on in the long term.

One major driver of employee churn is a lack of understanding and communication around the responsibilities of the position and the culture of the company at large. If a candidate is applying for a position at a QSR with the impression that the job is simply running a cash register and then shows up on day 1 expected to clean bathrooms and prepare food, the odds are low that that employee will stick around.

During the application and evaluation process, it’s incumbent on the company to educate a jobseeker and provide a realistic expectation of the position, as well as compensation, opportunities for career advancement in the company, and hour expectations. The hiring process is a two-way street: HR teams are trying to find the best candidate, but applicants are also evaluating whether the job and the company are the right fit for them. Approaching hiring with transparency ingrained in the process is a major step to retention efforts.

Evaluations can also be incorporated into the application process that are tailored to identify candidates who are right for managerial advancement. By evaluating and understanding the qualities a hire has from day 1, it can save HR teams looking to fill higher-level positions down the road.

Selecting the Right Tools for Maximum Impact

Shifting HR tools can be an exciting and daunting proposition for a company. When implementing a new solution into a tech stack—the number of disparate programs and vendors HR professionals use in their recruitment and hiring process—there is a life cycle of change management that begins with initial excitement as teams become acquainted with the tool, followed by a period of friction as processes are put in place before eventually settling into a system whereby the tool is used to its intended degree within an organization.

For companies that require scalable, large-scale hiring efforts, embedding automation that exists to streamline processes between internal systems and the applicant tracking system (ATS) can be a major difference-maker. Not only can these automation tools reduce friction and streamline the application process for the candidate, but they can also drastically reduce hiring managers’ efforts.

In typical hiring systems, HR professionals are saddled with large quantities of applicant information they need to sift through in order to identify the right candidates. Unfortunately, this process typically ends with the hiring manager finding a few candidates on the top of the pile who satisfy a quota, leaving a number of perhaps better-qualified candidates lost in the shuffle.

Through automation, every candidate receives the same level of evaluation without the need for hands-on participation by hiring managers early in the process. In large-scale hiring efforts, HR professionals can be unburdened in these early stages of candidate evaluation, allowing them to focus on late-stage interviewing and onboarding efforts.

At a time when the hiring process is justifiably focused on quantity of hires, automation helps HR professionals focus on quality. Leveraging emerging tools in the hiring experience tech stack can tailor the process to favor not only the most candidates but also the best candidates. Implementing these systems can create hiring processes that enable agile, scalable efforts, with a focus on short-term quotas, as well as reducing churn.

Wesley Suitt is the Head of Client Success—Americas at Harver, a volume hiring solution for hourly and professional roles.