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Care and Empathy in the Future of Work: A New Scenario

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With the turn our work lives took in the last few years, many concepts welcomed new, and sometimes unforeseen, angles. The future of work is one of them.

Care, empathy, flexibility, trust and humanity found their way into the work dynamics, leading organizations to rethink their candidate and workforce experiences, talent models and overall strategies. In 2021, the job market and the economy began to ramp up. Companies seized this year to reevaluate their processes and listen to their talent. 2022 is here now, and although the atmosphere of uncertainty still lingers around, the time has come to put all the rethinking to work: it’s time to start rebuilding.

Madeline Laurano, Founder at Aptitude Research, joined Misha Chakrabarti, Product Marketing Specialist at Avature in the “2022 Trends: The Future of Care” webinar to discuss this new scenario where care and empathy have become core elements of the future of work. To shed some light (and numbers) on the matter, Aptitude Research conducted a survey that showed:

  • Only nine percent of companies have improved employee trust over the past year.
  • Only 22 percent of companies state that humanity is a critical part of their company culture.

During the webinar, Madeline and Misha addressed the topics that can enable a care-centered talent management rebuilding process during 2022 and shared more data. Below is a detail of them all and some real (and inspiring) stories.

Technology Can Increase (Yes!) Humanity in Talent Processes

Either because of fear of being replaced or due to a science-fiction story where robots take over the world, there can be bad press around AI and automation. It may sound contradictory to discuss the role of these technologies in human-centric activities, such as talent acquisition and management. But in many instances, AI and automation can actually enhance the human element in these processes.

Skills-based approaches are not new in the talent scene; in fact, they have become a sound strategy for organizations wanting to survive in today’s landscape and thrive in the future. Through AI, skills can provide a better understanding of candidates and employees. But focusing on skills goes beyond the word-for-word content of a résumé or job title. That’s where AI comes in, with its power to make inferences and help uncover hidden skills. Organizations can then offer more personalized opportunities and promotions, showing that they care about their talent’s complete picture and that they are willing to support them as they grow.

Ninety-five percent of companies that took this survey stated that skills are more important than job titles when promoting employees.”

– Madeline Laurano, Founder at Aptitude Research

Dealing with the candidates’ data that goes into AI engines demands a great sense of responsibility from organizations. They need to vet those systems to determine if they are effective or if they continue to perpetuate biases that might already be embedded in the talent processes. With Avature’s white-box approach to AI, recruiters have complete visibility of the suggestions made by the algorithms and have the final say at all times.

When focusing on the future of care, automation becomes a valuable tool for teams looking to show a more human and empathic side during their talent processes. It makes a higher level of personalization possible by enabling the distribution of curated content based on candidates’ interests and by letting them self-schedule the most convenient time for an interview. It also makes it easier for recruiters to share timely feedback, addressing a pain point candidates sometimes experience during the recruitment process.

There Are No Secret Sauces When It Comes to DE&I

If organizations truly want to address unconscious bias, inequitable and unfair experiences and underrepresentation, there’s no easy fix but to do the work. On top of that, admitting that these exist within an organization might be quite daunting.

While 88 percent of companies believe that DEIB is important to leadership, only 5 percent of companies in this study are willing to admit that they have discrimination in the workplace.”

– Madeline Laurano, Founder at Aptitude Research

And what about turning this realization into an actionable plan? Another mountain to climb, as it may involve engaging external consultants, turning to internal mobility to create an in-house talent marketplace, and breaking down and analyzing the data gathered about candidates and the workforce.

Technology can play a role, but only a supporting one. Sure, an AI-powered skills approach can help mitigate bias and increase access to opportunities. And talent software reporting can reveal a bulk of information and analytics to review. However, it takes an organization’s commitment to roll up its sleeves and act upon that data and those reports.

Every organization has a different story to tell. For that reason, Avature provides a set of tools – including AI-enhanced matching, blind screening and holistic analytics – that they can leverage to drive their unique DEI initiatives instead of choosing a general, one-size-fits-all approach.

Communicating in the Right Way Goes a Long Way

Employee and candidate care is all about meeting them where they are. During the webinar, Madeline and Misha discussed two areas where organizations can improve communication:

  • The tone: People expect to be treated as consumers. Thus, communication should be an empathic, two-way exchange where candidates and employees can provide feedback.

We found that only 56 percent of companies were asking candidates for any type of feedback through the process.”

– Madeline Laurano, Founder at Aptitude Research

  • The methods: Organizations can leverage the channels that are available today – SMS, chatbots, conversational AI, videos – instead of focusing only on email, for example.

We found in our research that over 80 percent of companies use email as a primary way of communication […], but 47 percent of employees don’t even open their emails from HR.”

– Madeline Laurano, Founder at Aptitude Research

Some organizations are already tackling these suggestions effectively. Epic, a healthcare software company based in Verona, Wisconsin, is one of them. They still send emails to their candidates and employees, but make them more engaging with multimedia elements, branded content and relevant links.

Epic’s also taken steps towards channels more in tune with today’s trends. Their campus tour, for instance, used to be one of their main selling points to attract top talent. Thanks to Avature Video Solution, they were able to continue to showcase their campus experience virtually during the pandemic. They also used Avature DNA, a social media solution, to share updates about the changing Covid regulations with their employees.

The future of care is about putting yourself in your candidates’ shoes, and here’s another inspiring story that makes a case for this statement. A global leader in the commercial real estate space learned that their candidates preferred to be contacted via SMS when they were at work. To deliver on this expectation, the organization harnessed Avature SMS integration to schedule interviews with candidates and to text them reminders, thus finding a convenient, engaging and two-way road to meeting them exactly where they are.

As the Aptitude Research’s study showed, only 56 percent of companies ask candidates for feedback throughout the recruiting process. This real estate heavyweight became a part of that number thanks to Avature workflows and email templates, which they relied on to send simple check-ins at different stages of the recruiting process to gather their candidate’s first-hand opinions. But what’s the point of checking in if nothing will ultimately change, right? This organization, instead of just sitting on that feedback, was able to grow from it and make actual improvements to their recruitment process, leading to a more positive candidate experience and higher satisfaction levels.

The Key to Adaptability Lies in Agility

The Epic story also makes a case for agility and adaptability to change. When unexpected events like a pandemic hit an organization’s daily operations, agility allows it to adapt to the new circumstances. For an organization to be agile, it needs to put flexibility at the heart of its plans, talent and technology.

A Hybrid (And Agile) Workforce Model

As we said earlier, agility is about being flexible enough to adapt to changes. But not being tied to long-term objectives, however positive for your organization’s agility, can bring up a sense of uncertainty for your talent. The new paradigm of the future of care allows organizations to focus on agility and honesty at the same time: they get to be transparent about where they stand (and improve their talent’s trust altogether) and receptive to their talent’s expectations.

Companies can then consider their talent’s needs – benefits, career opportunities, safety improvements, remote working, among others – and offer more personalized experiences. Developing a hybrid (and agile) workforce model translates into a more empathic, flexible and resilient organization and talent that feels seen, valued and engaged.

We have to think about it in terms of what our company wants to do and where it wants to be, but also really think about what employees and candidates expect, and they expect flexibility and to be able to have more options than they may have had years ago.”

– Madeline Laurano, Founder at Aptitude Research

Technology That Supports Agility

Agility may be hindered if an organization has out-of-the-box technologies that can’t be tailored to match new strategies. Or if they can be, but require going through several internal or vendor teams, turning the process into a time-consuming and, frequently, burdensome one – the opposite of ‘agile.’

The right technology can underpin agile moves. Delta Air Lines, for instance, leveraged Avature functionalities to deliver targeted communications and keep talent in progress nurtured during the pandemic. Besides, they were able to fill talent gaps by repurposing their talent platform to reskill and redeploy those employees whose specific tasks had been paused, as was the case for flight attendants.

Delta’s story highlights the importance of having customizable technology that can flex with your plans and support them. It also shows the value of not being tied to traditional work models but focusing on what your organization and talent need at a particular moment.

To Wrap Up…

We started talking about the future of work a long time ago. With the pandemic, new notions became relevant for the concept: care, empathy, flexibility, trust and humanity. Now, 2022 presents organizations with the opportunity to rebuild their talent processes around those ideas. Although it can be challenging, having the right mindset and powerful, reliable technology can help turn this vision into reality.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and you do want to think about humanity and care, my advice would be to start small, to start somewhere. Some of these areas and changes don’t require a big overhaul. They can happen and begin today.”

– Madeline Laurano, Founder at Aptitude Research

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