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August 28, 2020

Aligning your Tech Stack with your Internal Staff

Technology is transforming how staffing and recruiting firms engage with candidates. These changes offer powerful and exciting opportunities for staffing professionals to interact with candidates in more memorable and less time-consuming ways. 

But technology can also transform how staffing and recruiting firms interact with their internal staff. Rather than acting as a replacement for people — the ever-present fear when discussing automation — technology can enhance a firm’s relationship with its staff and enable its employees to be more productive. But building the right tech stack to do so is no easy task.

Matt Comber knows this first hand. He’s well aware of the power that today’s technology can provide; as Strategic Director at Volcanic, he’s leveraged that power to create a largely self-service website building platform for the staffing and recruiting industry. But he’s also brought technology to bear on Volcanic’s internal processes and people experience. As a believer in the power of technology, he knows it can not only transform how his clients work, but also how his company does too.

Leveraging technology in this way requires a thorough and honest examination of internal practices, an open mind when it comes to evaluating internal staff, and a litany of benchmarks to measure your business against. Below, Comber shares ways recruiting and staffing firms can employ technology to overhaul the people experience they deliver.

Learning from the Industrial Revolution

Comber admits the staffing industry is on the verge of tech-driven change. “You just have to accept that the face of the industry over the next five to ten years is going to change,” he said. Chat bots, AI, and other tools can significantly streamline the pre-screening and intake process. But Comber warns that change here shouldn’t be equated with a reduction in personnel. 

“It’s not about killing all of your recruiters or CS teams just because you’ve now got chatbots. I think the key is, it’s saying how do we now redistribute this person so that they become more effective as we move things?” said Comber. 

The industrial revolution, he noted, massively overhauled processes and practices, increasing efficiencies to the point where a 70-hour workweek could be reduced to a 40-hour one. “It didn’t get rid of everyone’s jobs,” said Comber. “We just found different ways of working.”

Similarly, Comber suggests finding new ways of working as technology gives your existing staff back hours of their days. He believes there are under-utilized professionals with valuable, unknown skill sets hidden away in virtually every company. As technology frees personnel up from rote, time-consuming tasks, it will be possible for businesses to start tapping into the potential of those skill sets — but only if businesses approach the process with an open mind.

“We shouldn’t really think about [people] in a locked-in type of way,” said Comber. Talk to your employees. See where their pain-points are and where their interests lie. Take the time to develop a deep understanding of their skills and experiences so you can make sure their responsibilities align with them. Ask yourself how you can leverage technology to free up your employees’ time so that you can redistribute team members in a way that makes them happier and, as a result, more productive.

Process Before Technology

As staffing companies examine how they can use technology to improve internal processes, Comber cautions against falling into an all-too-common trap. 

“Don’t throw new technology at bad processes,” he advised. “You’re just going to have some new technology on an existing bad process. Quite often, it makes that process worse.”

Instead, take a mindful approach to implementing technology and building a tech stack. Ask what are the processes at the heart of your practices. How are those processes working successfully? How are they not? 

This kind of in-depth self-examination helped Comber’s team identify problem areas within their own business. “We were taking hundreds of hours to build websites in a lot of cases,” Comber said. “So we then said, ‘Well, let’s look at the process, let’s see what we could do.’” 

Doing so allowed them to not only increase efficiencies within their company, it also created value that could directly be passed through to their customers. “That [approach] led us to build a product called Volcanic Go, which is actually under seven hours to build a website.” 

This same self-critical, process-first approach can be applied to the world of recruiting, as Erika Hyson can attest. While she was at ettain group, taking an in-depth look at their processes helped Hyson identify one that was problematic: The company used to bring every candidate into the office physically to meet them before introducing them to clients. “That was one of our differentiators back in the early days,” said Hyson.

By questioning the importance of that practice and its value to their client base, Hyson — like Volcanic — was able to push the company towards video interviews, ahead of the competition at the time. It fixed a process that the company didn’t realize was broken, improving efficiencies and the customer experience in the process, and freeing up staff to take on other, more vital work.

Benchmarking your Success

“I come from an engineering family, and every time I do something, I hear my dad just say, ‘Measure twice, cut once,’” said Comber. “I think that’s kind of key.”

In order to be able to build an effective, powerful tech stack that can improve internal processes and improve your people experience, you have to have a plan in place. In order to measure the success of that plan, you have to have a benchmark to measure it against.

“It all runs back to benchmarking your business, and benchmarking people,” said Comber. “To improve we need to know where we are right now.” 

Benchmarks are also a vital part of onboarding a new technology. When evaluating different technology solutions, businesses need to have benchmarks in place that they can measure those solutions against. This will help you avoid throwing new, flashy tech at pre-existing problem areas as you instead consider whether this new solution will actually help you hit the goals you have determined for your business. And, once a solution has been implemented, clearly defined benchmarks will help you evaluate that solution’s efficacy.

Another aspect Comber suggests considering is how the data new solutions provide will help your business advance to the next level. The right technology shouldn’t just solve your problem today — it should set you up to solve the problems of tomorrow too.

Building a Tech Stack for the Future

While the coronavirus pandemic has slowed down or frozen so many areas of life, it has dramatically accelerated the adoption of technology across all industries — including staffing. Things that businesses might have chafed at a few quarters ago, like hiring a candidate before they’d ever met in person, are now a daily occurrence. 

Automation and AI will only continue to uproot pre-existing processes and practices in the years ahead. But that change doesn’t have to be a painful one for staffing companies and their employees. Instead, by keeping employees top of mind and by focusing on implementing solutions that enhance rather than replace their workforce, staffing and recruiting firms can build a tech stack that revolutionizes how they interact with their internal staff. Listen to episode 10 of the You Own the Experience Podcast to hear more.