Dan Staley
Principal PwC

Dan Staley is PwC’s HR technology leader and oversees the firm’s annual HR technology survey. He has more than 25 years of experience in human capital transformation and technology. He helps clients better leverage HR technologies to achieve their business goals and associated people strategies. He frequently publishes articles on the topic and is often invited to speak on how organizations can better plan for, deploy and support technologies that enable their people processes.

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On today’s episode of the RecruitingDaily Podcast, William Tincup speaks to Dan  Staley from PwC on how tech is empowering HR leaders during the great resignation.

Some Conversation Highlights:

As far as productivity, are they working hard enough?

I think it was the previous podcast earlier in the month around mental health, and I think that definitely comes into play here a little bit on what I think some of our clients are trying to understand, which is the engagement and the wellbeing of the workforce. So we’ve done prior surveys where the feedback of working remote has been deemed largely, I think a success. I believe the statistic we had found was 80 plus percent of organizations felt like the workforce was embracing it, it was a positive, seen as a positive thing. But I do also acknowledge that organizations and possibly HR leaders felt like people aren’t quite as productive, and some of that has to do with collaborating. But I think where these tracking seems like very big brother, but I think the thought is, it’s less about when did I log on? When did I log off? Are people being productive? How many meetings are you going to? Am I getting my money’s worth, if you will?

But I think where we’ve talked to some clients, it’s really more about understanding wellbeing and engagement, and are we using collaboration tools and are people teaming and working together. And that can form an organization’s strategy around when, how to come back to the office, when in to come back and collaborate in the office, when to allow travel for teams to get together. Because some of our clients are not traveling at all and so their teams aren’t getting together. There was one client example, and I’ll say, this is just what I think is very powerful. They were really trying to understand, not only employee sentiment, but how many meetings people were going to? When were the meetings being scheduled in relation to the day? So are we getting lots of last minute meetings that you can’t plan for? And that can lead to anxiety and stress. And so I think that’s an interesting way to use the data to inform those sorts of things.


 

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Tune in for the full conversation.

Listening time: 26 minutes

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Music:   This is RecruitingDaily’s recruiting live podcast, where we look at the strategies behind the world’s best talent acquisition teams. We talk recruiting, sourcing, and talent acquisition. Each week we take one overcomplicated topic and break it down so that your three year old can understand it. Make sense? Are you ready to take your game to the next level? You’re at the right spot. You’re now entering the mind of a hustler. Here’s your host, William Tincup

William Tincup:   Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup, and you are listening to the RecruitingDaily Podcast. Today we have Dan on from PwC, and our topic today is how tech is empowering HR leaders during the great resignation. So we’re going to jump right into it. Dan, thank you for being on the show. Would you introduce both yourself and what you do for PwC?

Dan Staley:   Absolutely. William, thank you for having me. So my name is Dan Staley. I’m a principal with PwC, and I lead HR technology for our US firm and been focused in the area of HR tech and HR transformation for just coming up on about 30 years. And one of the fun things I get to do in my role is sponsor our biannual HR tech survey, which is what we’re here to talk about today. So among helping clients assess and implement HR tech software, and this is one of the other parts of my job, which is to look at some of the trends in the HR tech space.

William Tincup:   I love that. Well, I love surveys in general and I love [inaudible 00:   01:   41] especially primary research like you all do. There’s always something that shocks you when you get the data back, when you get the results back and you’re looking through it and you’re like, “What? How does this happen?” And some of it validates things that you already thought. When you looked at the data for the first time, what were some of the findings that stuck out with you?

Dan Staley:   One of the biggest was around remote work and organizations really trying to understand productivity in the remote setting. And that stat jumped out at me. We found was about 95% of HR leaders were either planning to use technology or already using technology to really assess productivity in the remote setting. And I think some of that, first of all, the number was much higher than I thought it would be, it was like 37% had already implemented and 22% had a plan in place but had not put it into practice yet, and 35% were considering. So that was a large number to me. And since that time I’ve done a little bit more analysis just to understand what’s being done and why that’s being done. But that certainly jumped out of me as one area.

William Tincup:   And productivity I’ve seen that at least in some articles as fear based, are they working hard enough? Especially at the early in the pandemic I would say. Are they, “Oh my goodness, everyone’s working from home. I can’t see them they’re not here. Are they working? Are they working hard enough?” And then some of that really wax and wane, right? So some of that went away, but with people still remote, they’re still an anxiety around remote. Are you seeing some of the same things?

Dan Staley:   I think that’s exactly right. William I listen to the, I think it was the previous podcast earlier in the month around mental health, and I think that definitely comes into play here a little bit on what I think some of our clients are trying to understand, which is the engagement and the wellbeing of the workforce. So we’ve done prior surveys where the feedback of working remote has been deemed largely, I think a success. I believe the statistic we had found was 80 plus percent of organizations felt like the workforce was embracing it, it was a positive, seen as a positive thing. But I do also acknowledge that organizations felt like people aren’t quite as productive, and some of that has to do with collaborating. But I think where these tracking seems like very big brother, but I think the thought is, it’s less about when did I log on? When did I log off? Are people being productive? How many meetings are you going to? Am I getting my money’s worth, if you will?

But I think where we’ve talked to some clients, it’s really more about understanding wellbeing and engagement, and are we using collaboration tools and are people teaming and working together. And that can form an organization’s strategy around when, how to come back to the office, when in to come back and collaborate in the office, when to allow travel for teams to get together. Because some of our clients are not traveling at all and so their teams aren’t getting together. There was one client example, and I’ll say, this is just what I think is very powerful. They were really trying to understand, not only employee sentiment, but how many meetings people were going to? When were the meetings being scheduled in relation to the day? So are we getting lots of last minute meetings that you can’t plan for? And that can lead to anxiety and stress. And so I think that’s an interesting way to use the data to inform those sorts of things.

William Tincup:   When remote doesn’t work from your perspective, is it tools, is it tools and technology? Is it process? Is it leadership and communication? As you said, it’s largely working, productivity is working. We still might have anxiety about it, but that’s different, but largely it’s working. In the instances where it’s not working why do you think that is?

Dan Staley:   Well, I think I can only probably speak a little bit from personal experiences where I think in the remote setting there is, I think when the pandemic first hit and everyone went remote, I felt like there was probably a good bit, still a good bit of free time because you were, at least in my case, I was used to being backline sites on planes, et cetera. But then I think pretty quickly people snapped into this idea was that if I’m not talking to you, if you’re not in a meeting, then you’re not really being productive. And then soon after I think most people’s days were filled with nonstop meetings 15, we even said let’s shorten meetings, like try not to have meetings that are an hour. And all of a sudden you had a lot of 15 minute and 30 minute meetings, which actually I think made things worse.

So I would say that at least in my experience, I think the remote setting, there’s got to be that balance of you still have to have that opportunity to work and you have to have that free time on your schedule to think, to create, but you also have to have that balance of, I think working with other people in that regard. I think the answer that William is that I think you’ve got to really try to strike that balance that we had before and working remotely is a lot different from those same goals. And I would tell the clients too, when looking at managing productivity, I would say, if you are a recruiter and you’re working remotely now, you should be measured on the same things that you had before. I mean, sourcing candidates, getting interviews, getting people converted to hires, getting quality hires and that should be the same metrics not when you log on or how many meetings you’re doing, because people will game that and that’s really not productive.

William Tincup:   Yeah. We get out of the how of how something gets done and we get to the outputs more outcomes based, which is probably where we should have been with a lot of these things anyhow. And you get out of the minutia of micromanagement and getting in to the how. With the great resignation, what did your survey, what did it tell you? What did you learn about the great resignation?

Dan Staley:   Well, certainly we looked at it from an HR tech perspective and what organizations can do. And I think partly what we looked at is what from an HR tech landscape, what can HR leaders do to help people feel more engaged or help really help people, I guess, have that stickiness with the organization. And I think one of their topics that we explored was around tech adoption. And what we were finding oftentimes is organizations are rolling out, let’s say these capabilities and some of these things are important to the workforce and will help them stay. So examples, maybe the things we do around talent. When people leave, they often will leave because they want better skills, they want the ability to be upskilled. And so if an organization is rolling out, say a new learning management program to help people upskill, how often is it really being adopted? What are the incentives? How do they communicate it and build excitement around it?

Now, we see that around the talent space a lot of times when we roll out new Cloud software. Of course I’m going to use say the benefits administration capability, because I need to enroll in benefits or I have a life event, or of course I’m going to go get my paychecks stub. So that I’m going to be using probably regardless because I need to. But what about in the case of talent where it’s really more optional. I mean, you want to incent your workforce to go and enter their skills, you want to incent them to enter careers of interest so that they can be found for opportunities or you want them to peruse the recruiting site to see what internal postings are there. So if I’m somebody and I want to gain a new skill or I wanted to have a new role, you’d probably rather have me look internally in the organization than look externally.

And so a lot of the HR tech software can help with this, but we’re not seeing the adoption. And that was one of the other things that really stood out, was clients really using some of the opportunities that they had. So we studied that as specifically and whether it was communicating better training on the software, allowing mobile access incentives, gamification, et cetera. We found all these techniques really were pretty effective. I mean, all of them were probably close to 80% or better in terms of writing the effectiveness. But the adoption only half organizations really used those sorts of things. So about half 51%, deployed mobile or offering incentives for usage, it was 45%, gamifying some of the applications which we found to be very effective, only 25% of organizations have tried that. So I think we walk away and really coach our clients to get more creative, to drive the usage of the applications that they roll out, especially in the remote setting, because you probably don’t have as much high touch as you used to.

William Tincup:   Right. Yeah. And you don’t have the classroom environment. If you do it that way people aren’t sitting next to you. It’s harder to train in a historical way that we’ve thought about training. But it’s always been fascinating to me to that a company will spend tens of millions of dollars on great HR tech and then not for whatever reason, and there’s many, then spend money on getting people to actually use the software that they’ve invested in. It’s just from a user adoption user satisfaction, just getting usage, consumption, adoption. There’s many ways to do that. Training is definitely a lever, and you’ve mentioned bunch of the others.

During this period, I mean, if we break up some of the parts of HR tech, communication, collaboration, learning, et cetera, what do you think that, if an HR literally is listening to this podcast, they’re saying, “I need to stem the tide of resignations. I need to actually work on retention.” Where’s their biggest bang for their buck? Where should they focus first? Because they focus on all of it, I get that. But if you were walking one of your prospects or clients through this, how would you say, “Hey, listen, you’ve got this wonderful suite of applications. Let’s start here so that it’ll help you with retention.”

Dan Staley:   William, I think you hit it on the head that oftentimes success is declared at go live and there really is not this focus on let’s make sure that we have the adoption. So I do think adoption has to be focused on in the very beginning to have a strategy around the promotion and marketing of it. And that continued monitoring of who’s using it, who’s not specifically. Adding to your question of where’s the biggest bang for the buck? Where do you start? I do think in what is the trend we’re seeing, where I think HR tech is helping more so than it used to be as an employee sentiment. I think we both would probably agree that an annual employee survey is one of the things that we probably grew up doing and we’re seeing organizations do that much more frequently now where you get that sentiment.

I mean, at least quarterly, oftentimes it’s monthly, I’ve seen clients, they’ve got the software where it’s almost like when you leave the airport bathroom when you have a little panel. It’s like the yellow, green, red smiley face on the cleanliness. One of those sorts of things where each day you can… If your workforce is willing to contribute how are you feeling today and what can we do better? So I think just keeping your hands on the pulse of the workforce by asking what’s important is I think really important because we are seeing that workers do want to upskill for example, and they do feel like organizations should play a leading role in helping them upskill. I think that tells the organization, okay, we’ve got to have some… Let’s look at our LMS, our learning programs. It can’t really just be a compliance application. We need to have a way for people to assess where they are on their learning journey, the roles they aspire to, what are the skills they need to develop? And then proactively serve up content for them to continue to increase their engagement in the organization, their ability to learn and grow within the organization.

So, I mean, if you were to ask me, “Daniel, where should a CHRO focus?” I would certainly put it in those talent areas. I think those do have the biggest bang for the buck around whether it’s learning, and talent profile, and employee development, and career development. I mean, those are the areas that I think really can move the needle and make a bigger difference to employees more so than some of those transactional elements of an HROS.

William Tincup:   Right.

Dan Staley:   William, even if that answers the question-

William Tincup:   Oh, absolutely. And what the interesting part of is both of them, if we take a sentiment and skills, we push them forward, both of them in a remote environment, both of them show the employee that you care.

Dan Staley:   Right.

William Tincup:   Again, if you’re doing it in monthly, quarterly, daily, however you’re doing it you’re getting a sentiment which should ease your anxiety if you’re a leader, because now you know there’s actually you have data, so what’s going on and how people feel. And with skills, there’s nothing better than actually reaching out to people and saying, “What do you want to learn? We care about you. What would you like to learn?” And in a remote environment, I can’t help but think that helps the stickiness of one thinking about staying rather than going somewhere else.

Dan Staley:   I think that does. And that’s where I do think some of the creative adoption techniques come into play, where you can really incent and gamify the adoption in some areas that really do help the individuals. So much like in the recruiting landscape many organizations are, well, pay for referrals. And you see that’s generally pretty effective means to get your friends and others to come work there. And I think there’s certainly evidence that you tend to stay where your friends are and people you like to work with. I think the same can be true as we try to incent people who they typically are leaving oftentimes for more money, yes, but they’re oftentimes leaving because they can get better skills. They see better upward mobility or they have access to do more things. So why not incent people to say you get points when you update your skills, or you get points when you put in the careers of interest, or you get points when you do upskilling. And then based on these points not only is it some competitive fun, but you can do some creative things with that or maybe it’s more vacation, maybe it is sort of a bonus, maybe it opens up additional training opportunities or you can go to university and take a course that obviously has, costs a little bit more, but it does allow people to really continue to build those skills.

So that I think what we’re saying as well, which is let’s really get, incent people to do that until they build that muscle memory where they’re starting to see, “Oh, when I add skills and I add careers of interest, I get added to talent pools I get added to succession plans, and I can see where I’m being now considered and proactively reached out to when opportunities arise in the organization.” And then you don’t need the points as much anymore because now you’re starting to see it is helping your career growth.

William Tincup:   Yeah. It’s in their best interest. And again, any hour that they spend or any time that they spend building out that profile, updating their profiles is time that they’re not spending on Indeed or LinkedIn or something else like that, looking for a job. So anything you can do to just make the mindset of, “Hey, stay here and invest here and we’ll invest in, there is a co-investment, we’ll invest in you. And again, that is some of that comes down to trust and some other things. I love the idea of starting with sentiment and skills and again, giving CHROs the advice of, okay, listen, it’s the roadmap, you can’t do it all at once, we get that. Where would you go after that? If they’re doing really well with sentiment and they’re really doing well with skills, okay, they’ve got those two areas, they’ll say they got them covered and they’re doing well with them, what would they be the next area that we would attack?

Dan Staley:   Well, I think once you have some of that, if you’re doing well in the talent area, in which I think is the area that, or matters most to the employees, then I do think you can focus, focus on really being automated and efficient and really driving that user experience. I mean, what we’ve seen with the Cloud, and that’s one of the big focus areas, obviously with HR tech these days is really an end survey is assessing the effectiveness of the Cloud, which has delivered I think largely on its promises. And We do have that in the survey where we show that typically they’ve got, HR gets greater control, better data, security more managers have access to self-service and employees that generally the user experience is better. So certainly that is a focus.

And I think when we’re talking about talent, I think the assumption would be if clients are investing in that area, they probably are doing that with some of the Cloud and software as a service providers that are out there. So William, my advice to CHRO is once you’ve focused on talent, then certainly look at the other areas and make sure that you are as efficient as you can be from a department perspective. I mean to that end, one of the things that we did look at was just this concept of when you’re on Cloud HR, how likely are you to re-platform when your subscription is up. And that was probably another alarming stat that I saw was 36% of what’s going now close to 40% of organizations say they were going to switch vendors at the end of their subscription term. And that was large to me. We asked specifically about Core-HR so that’s more than that. Say toe in the water. And so I just-

William Tincup:   What’s the driver of that? I mean, is that just dissatisfied folks or is it-

Dan Staley:   I think that’s, yeah-

William Tincup:   Grass is greener elsewhere? What is that?

Dan Staley:   I think it’s probably be a couple things. I broke them into probably two categories of what perhaps could have been avoidable and maybe what is unavoidable, if you will. I certainly think the right reasons for doing that could be you’ve had a pretty change to your business perhaps to acquisition, perhaps to expanding your business into a different region and maybe you’ve outgrown the application that you once thought was going to meet your needs but now it’s not. That could be a reason that makes sense. I think the other certainly could be HRs you well know, is a first mover in the Cloud space. And as time has followed, perhaps finance and since supply chain organizations are also moving to the Cloud and perhaps you have the opportunity to use a consolidated vendor enterprise wide. And maybe that makes sense just from a maintenance or a cost perspective that you might move off one vendor. Those are a couple of the reasons that maybe that could make sense.

I think the reason that are, we would probably agree are avoidable is maybe not spending enough time upfront evaluating what you need when you pick the vendor. Another would be or could be a poor implementation where you’ve just really not maximized the software and instead of admitting that perhaps the implementation wasn’t what it should be there’s this kind of grasses greener mentality we’re like, “We’ll try again with this other vendor and see if it goes any better.” So I think that’s what we obviously want to avoid.

William Tincup:   If you’re ever bored and you dig into the statistics of second marriages with the divorce rate, it’s higher than first marriages. And some people think that the reason for that is you bring a lot of your baggage from your first marriage into your second marriage. Now we’re talking about HR technology and it’s like, “Okay, if we didn’t do a great job with user adoption, and training, and getting people to consume and adopt and all that stuff, and we were going to switch technology, people aren’t going to sort of magically then want to use new software. Software doesn’t necessarily fix that. You’ve actually got to fix the mindset and put budget and put your organizational development people to communications people at work, so.”

Dan Staley:   I think that’s right. And just like assessing a good marriage is understanding what’s important when you’re picking that partner. And I think the same is true with choosing software that oftentimes people are focused on just the functionality and the functionality can be obviously thousands of requirements. And they’re focusing on all of them perhaps equally and really it’s airing down on what are the critical few requirements that are really important to your culture, your organization, the way you do things. And certainly, that’s, from a functionality perspective, what you want to focus on.

But there are so many other factors that we advise our clients to look at from the user experience to the cost in the ROY to how well it integrates with finance supply chain, to the tech stack and the tools to client satisfaction and support you’re going to get to the industry, the market share in the industry and the industry focus of the vendor, or perhaps what’s on the roadmap, R&D, culture alignment, the partner ecosystem that’s important too, which you’ve got to, people are hard to find now and do you have enough… There’re enough partners that focus on this software where you feel like you could not only hire, but also get good implementation help. So those are all factors where I think just a lot of those aren’t even looked at in a selection, and I think then you could quote unquote, rush into a marriage with just not look or evaluating everything.

William Tincup:   Well, we see it every day. Dan, this was wonderful. Thank you so much. I know you’re super, super busy and I just appreciate you carving out time for the podcast.

Dan Staley:   Absolutely. Well, thanks for having me.

William Tincup:   Absolutely. And thanks for everyone listening to the RecruitingDaily Podcast, until next time.

Music:   You’ve been listening to the recruiting live podcast by RecruitingDaily, check out the latest industry podcast, webinars, articles, and news @recruitingdaily.com.

The RecruitingDaily Podcast

Authors
William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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