Competitive talent markets are a technology problem
Almost every business has felt an impact on the labour market due to the disruption of COVID-19.
Whether it's a tightening of available talent due to closed borders, or a true shortage of talent in niche disciplines from data science engineers to regional chefs, almost every business has had a talent problem as a result of the pandemic.
The classic response is to just hire — whether that means turning a blind eye to red flags on a profile like constant job switching or ignoring behavioural red flags during an interview. All businesses looking to expand services quickly in the next few months are most at risk of this thinking taking hold.
The classic example of getting ‘bums on seats' is in the retail and hospitality industries. They are a common entry point for Australians into the workforce and so are often dealing with the least amount of key data on a candidate that will predict their performance. Both industries also get rapid backlash from bad hires — a rude retail assistant can lead to negative reviews and lost revenue very quickly.
It's time now to think about how to approach this potential problem. Instead of seeing the next few months as a potential pot-luck, data science and technology should be utilised to pick apart what exactly organisations need to grow.
Minor DKL is an example of this forward-thinking in action. It hires an average of 200 workers per month across its nationwide stores. With a franchise model, it keenly understands that its coffee brands rely on a consistent customer experience.
Rather than completely delegating that responsibility entirely to the individual franchisees, it instead utilises technology to create standardised hiring processes that align with its core values around customer focus, talent development and innovation.
Crucially, these aren't just words on a document that's read once and forgotten. This is a truly functioning selection and matching criteria, using technology to automatically shortlist and rank candidates based on skills and experience, qualifications and organisation fit. Every candidate applying for a role is screened, matched, and ranked against its own workplace culture, key behavioural markers, and role requirements.
This ranked list can then be reviewed by the hiring managers and franchisees — dramatically cutting down the time they spend on hiring and helping ensure a workforce that lives their purpose and values and has the right behaviours for their retail store experience. Providing a customer with a consistent experience, they know what type of service they will receive when walking into one of these stores.
In almost every modern technology-led enterprise, there's a big emphasis on maintaining ‘the culture'. This is often because it's the company's culture that is ultimately the biggest driver of success.
But hiring the right candidates is only one part of the equation. Allowing staff to grow within the company and learn new skills is just as important. These highly successful technology companies also spend big on internal technology platforms that let staff learn and move around the organisation. Through this investment, they realised that holding onto good staff is paramount in competitive talent markets like tech.
It's that investment into learning - skills development that needs to be made outside of the technology-native enterprises now as well. When Australia's economy roars back into action, this will trigger one of the first truly competitive markets for talent across the board.
In this environment, the incentive to simply get ‘bums on seats' will strengthen. Those that approach this as a technology problem first will spend less time hiring and more time growing — a competitive advantage like no other these days.