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Evolution of HR Technology

A Brief History and Future of HR Technology

By: Iain Ferreira
Content Marketing Manager, Achievers

If the Terminator film saga (and to a lesser extent, Stephen King’s Maximum Overdrive) taught me anything, is that it’s better to welcome the evolution of technology than be on the other side. Similar to the technical enhancements made to the cybernetic endo-skeletal T-100 in the first Terminator that begat the liquid alloy T-1000 of T2 fame, HR technology has seen a number of improvements in recent years that have made a world of difference. Moving from a set of disconnected processes and legacy systems reliant on manual inputs and characterized by balky technology, today’s HR technology is moving towards more streamlined, user-friendly platforms that can cover a range of HR functions in a more holistic, unified manner. While specialized applications focused on specific aspects of HR, such as employee well-being or recruitment, are also needed, the flexibility of cloud-based systems, mobile technology and design thinking has allowed HR tech to evolve seemingly eons beyond where it was just a decade ago. But let’s take a look back and see what these changes mean for the future of HR technology.

The Birth of the Modern Era of HR Tech

The 1990’s is when the modern era of HR Tech had its start. This time period saw the rise of the first online job boards, which made recruiting easier than ever before but also disrupted traditional employer-applicant relationships. HR recruiters could now easily source and screen hundreds of resumes of potential candidates and pare down applicant pools so that only the most qualified entered the interview process. However, this also had the effect of increasing the competition for top talent. It’s no surprise then that the 2000’s saw a greater emphasis on talent management applications that were no longer locally deployed. These new recruiting and talent management systems began to migrate to the Cloud, making implementation and maintenance a breeze. While these applications were functional they lacked the kind of employee-facing, user friendly interfaces that would be needed for them to become truly “sticky” and the kind of platform that employees actually wanted to use.

Today’s workplace is evolving to become more employee-centric and HR technology is evolving in tandem. In this current era, the focus is on identifying and hiring the top talent, and then keeping them engaged and productive. Recognition, Health & Wellness, Learning and Development – these are a few of the emerging areas of HR tech that have become crucial to engaging and retaining top talent.

Central to this growing suite of tools focused on the employee experience is their ability to positively impact engagement. With Gallup recently reporting that 87% of employees worldwide are disengaged, being able to take action to improve engagement by technological means can clearly holds great promise. Furthermore, with millennials now making up a larger portion of the workforce than ever before, finding measureable and repeatable ways to keep them engaged engagement has become of the utmost importance. With this reality as the backdrop, it’s easy to see why it is so important for companies to adapt and embrace the latest shifts in HR technology before they lose out in the war for talent. Here are a few more ideas as to where HR technology might be heading in the future:

Increase in Learning Management/Career Growth Platforms

According the Gallup study referenced earlier in this blog, 87% of millennials place a high value on growth and development opportunities in the workplace. So it stands to reason that the popularity of Learning Management Systems will continue to grow, with companies adding these to their suite of employee experience tools either as stand-alone offerings, or as an add-on to their existing employee engagement platform via integration with an open API. Access to an LMS benefits both the employer and employee alike; the employee acquires new, marketable skills (along with positive feeling of personal growth that the learning experience engenders), and the employer can expect increased productivity or an expanded skill-set from the employee. This category of employee engagement is going through a disruptive period of its own, with the increased adoption of career mobility platforms. These platforms are more than an LMS; they allow employees to gain an understanding of a new role all within the confines of their current company, sometimes going as far as offering role-specific tasks to complete.

An Increase in Actionable Data

With the proliferation of HR technology, data regarding almost every aspect of the employee experience is being tracked, measured and analyzed. Traditional metrics, such as attendance, do little to predict the future performance of employees, outside of their likelihood to show up every day. But new forms of data are beginning to shed light on drivers and predictors of employee engagement that were never available before. From recognitions given and/or received on an engagement platform, to the results of frequent pulse surveys, today’s employers now have access to reams of valuable employee data to analyze and subsequently act upon. This will only increase as big data continues to work its way into every layer of the business decision making process. By utilizing the wealth of metrics now offered on HR Tech platforms, employers can quickly identify poorly performing employees and possibly re-engage before they leave for another opportunity; or conversely, identify top performers and develop strategies for engaging and retaining them.

Greater Integration with External Systems via APIs

Virtually the entire business world has seen a major philosophical shift through the development and increased use of APIs. APIs afford employers a greater amount of choice in the external platforms they integrate into the workplace. This allows them to offer best in class applications for each aspect of HR, further ensuring the platforms they offer employees are functionally effective and entirely useable. Open API’s and the growth of Single Sign On (SSO) technology also serve to simplify the navigation of day to day HR systems as employees are no longer forced to remember a unique login name and password for every disparate system used in the workplace. Instead, different programs such as health and wellness tools, referrals programs, LMS’s, etc. can be offered in a unified environment.

The HR technology landscape has evolved so much so in the past decades that it can difficult to remember what life was like before the current era – and few of us would want to! With ongoing innovation occurring at an ever increasing pace, it can seem increasingly daunting to keep up with the times. But what remains consistent is the need to identify, hire, engage and retain talented employees. Thankfully, this has been made easier by the emergence of tools focused on the entirety of the employee experience, especially in areas like employee recognition which Aon Hewitt just identified as the top driver of employee engagement in its 2017 Trends in Global Engagement Report.

When thinking about the future of HR tech, don’t be scared of emerging technology and don’t get left behind, or like the countless victims of that famous cinematic cyber-warrior mentioned in the opening, you risk getting terminated.

Learn more about what to look for in an employee engagement and recognition solution. Download the Buyers Guide for Social Recognition Systems.

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About Iain Ferreira

Iain FerreiraIain Ferreira is the Content Marketing Manager at Achievers. He lives in San Francisco. You can view his Linkedin profile here.

 

 

 

Cox Automotive Spark Week

Lighting the Spark of Employee Engagement: Inside Cox Automotive’s Spark Week Celebration

By: Sarah Clayton
Communications and Campaigns Specialist, Achievers

Employees are a core determinant of company success, but with a staggering 68% rate of employee disengagement, it’s clear that effectively leveraging their full potential can be a precarious task. Factors that drive employee engagement vary across employees, but a crucial factor is how connected they feel to their company’s culture and values. In fact, 82% of employees believe culture is a competitive advantage, yet only 28% believe that they understand their culture well. Creating a great company culture is not an easy ‘drag and drop’ nor can it be quickly implemented to garner immediate results; it requires a thought-out strategy and the right tools to help execute. One crucial piece of the great culture puzzle is recognition, and one company that is demonstrating a powerful use case of leveraging recognition and to drive engagement is Cox Automotive.

Cox Automotive is an Atlanta, GA-based subsidiary of Cox Enterprises and the parent company of such well-known brands as Kelley Blue Book, Xtime, Autotrader and Manheim. Because it consists of geographically dispersed corporate and subsidiary units, Cox Automotive’s employee population is as diverse as they come. They’re a unique mix of offline and online, front line and back office. All this diversity can make it tricky for Cox Automotive to unify the entire company around a single culture.  Implementing Spark, Cox’s internal rewards and recognition platform powered by Achievers, was a significant step towards strengthening company culture and employee engagement – but the Spark Team wanted more. They wanted to do something unique to create buzz around Spark and drive members to actively participate in the program. After days of brainstorming, Spark Week was born.

Since its inception, Spark Week (its name inspired by the popular cable special Shark Week, but with considerably less blood and gore) has become a highly anticipated event every August for the Cox Automotive community. Designed to increase interest in their rewards and recognition program, Spark Week boasts a fun and unique roster of activities that drive awareness and participation.

Spark Week kicks off with a company-wide email highlighting the Spark Week calendar of activities. This sets the tone for the eventful week by communicating the upcoming activities with a fun, themed approach. Each day pairs a different element of the Spark program, such as group recognition or redemptions, with a creative component, such as a meme contest or digital treasure hunt. An uptick in recognition activity during Spark Week makes it a strategic time to launch new features in their employee engagement platform; for instance, the new feature Service Awards made its debut on the platform this year.

“Love Spark Week! So glad employees get the opportunity to recognize others who have been outstanding and be recognized for their hard work. It really makes you feel like you are a part of the team!” – Kristin Hoopes, Sr. Accounting Specialist, Cox Automotive

The huge success of Spark Week is evident from the extensive data gathered from Cox Automotive’s employee engagement platform, including:

  • A staggering 25,522 “Thank You” recognition cards sent across the platform.
  • A daily recognition average of 3,4563.2 times more than their usual daily recognition average.
  • A 114% increase in recognitions sent compared to the entire month of July.
  • A whopping 626 redemptions made.
  • A total of $1,725 worth of Spark points donated to St. Jude.

Spark Week’s success was also demonstrated by the high levels of participation of different business units who willingly submitted content throughout the week. One auction house created and shared a video where different employees reflected on their favorite redemption and encouraged other members to redeem their points. Another auction house decided to join in on the action by making an entertaining video – complete with their own shark mascot. Self-generated contributions indicate a strong sense of ownership and belief in the value of employee recognition programs. Spark Week is now an embodiment of the culture at Cox Automotive and one of the biggest internal events of the year.

The more successful an event, the more daunting it can seem for others to replicate. However, the most important element of Spark Week can be distilled down to a simple, accessible concept: make it about your employees. Reflect on what motivates them to deliver excellence and extra effort, and think about the elements in your program that could have the same motivating effect. Pair the aforementioned with fun and engaging external activities, like team breakfasts or photo contests that align with your company values to create your own version of Spark Week.

Focusing on what makes your employees happy is key to a successful business. Just remember: Every time you have a 1% increase in employee engagement, you gain an additional .0.6% growth in sales for your company. There is no better time than now to follow in the footsteps of Cox Automotive and start building your very own Spark Week-like initiative to increase employee recognition and engagement.

Check out Cox Automotive’s fun infographic highlighting Spark Week’s success!

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About Sarah Clayton

Sarah ClaytonSarah Clayton is the Communications and Campaigns Specialist at Achievers, where she focuses on generating content to drive desired recognition behaviors and engagement on the platform.

 

 

 

Employee Recognition Experience Open API

Achievers in the Flow of Work: The Open API

By: Amit Kaura
Senior Manager, Software Engineering, Achievers

Open API
Imagine all of your employee recognition and rewards programs; everyday recognition, innovation, recruiting referrals, or years of service awards; even sales incentives, on one platform. It’s the place where everything belongs: A place where you can align every employee, globally, on a single platform and make your recognition and rewards budget go further by leveraging combined data from every employee rewards program. A behavior-driving engine that aligns your employees to your business objectives and company values, fueled by recognizing and rewarding shared victories every day. And because it was purposely designed based on the familiar and fun-to-use social media model, it’s an HR software platform that everybody actually wants to use. That is the basis of the Achievers recognition and rewards platform.

But we also recognize that not all employees are able to be on our platform 24X7, so that’s why we decided to extend the reach of our platform through an Open API – to make it as easy and seamless as possible for employees to send and receive recognitions in the everyday flow of work.

What are we trying to do with our APIs?

Most organizations use anywhere between 10 to 16 different software systems to run their business. These systems can range from document management systems like SharePoint and Confluence, to project management software like MS Project and Merlin, to intranet portals enabled via Jive, to social tools with a newsfeed, instant messaging and email, and many more. Employees spend at least 30 hours of their work week in their email and other collaboration tools. Every organization today is, on some level, a technology company and leverages technology in many forms to increase employee productivity and improve their top line.

At Achievers, we recognize this and want to be where employees spend most of their time. We want to be where the work gets done – and we are making this a reality today through integrations. With these and future integrations we are enabling employees to recognize each other and post recognitions to our platform from the other software platforms they use every day.

How does Achievers manage this? By having an open, public API that any organization’s developers can use to connect their software systems with ours, programmatically.

What is an API?

We live in a world that is incredibly fast paced and every term out there is abbreviated to save time.  Whether it is business terms like ROI, Capex, and BAU or social acronyms like LOL, OMG, and ROFL; initialism is ubiquitous in our lives. One acronym that presents itself frequently in tech circles is the lesser known, but equally powerful API, or application programming interface. What is an API? Let’s break it down into its component parts.

  • Application: If you have a smartphone, you are well acquainted with applications, they are the tools, games, social networks and other software that we use every day. Achievers is an application that facilitates employee engagement. Workday is an application that lets you maintain employee files for your workforce.
  • Programming: Programming is how the developers create all the software that make our lives so much easier.
  • Interface: An interface is a programmatic connection shared by two applications that allows them to communicate with one another.

An API is essentially a way for two different software systems to communicate with each other via a pre-defined, well understood and agreed upon standard. In other words, it is a set of standard specifications developed by the host service owners that developers, who are familiar with other systems or services, must follow when connecting systematically to the host service. The API lays out the functionality that is available in the host service, how it must be used, and what formats it will accept as input, or return as output.

Why did Achievers build its API?

Every recognition on our platform has a story. It is an interconnected series of events that starts with an accomplishment, business or personal, by an employee. These accomplishments can be as simple as exhibiting a desired behavior like, “going the extra mile.” Or they can be specific, like achieving a sales goal. This sense of accomplishment is motivating in and of itself, but it is an even more powerful motivator when it leads to a recognition given by a leader or peer, with that recognition reinforcing and perpetuating the employee’s behavior, or accomplishment.

While we have the desktop and mobile versions of our software currently available to our members to facilitate recognition, we know that these recognition stories can happen anywhere in an organization’s software ecosystem. Employees need an easy way to recognize their peers from whatever system they are working in when they discover a colleague’s accomplishment. It won’t matter if the employee is on the shop floor, using a point of sale system, answering calls in a call center, in the warehouse, in email systems like Outlook, or in instant messaging systems like Slack or Skype, they can create and send a recognition.

Facebook LikeHave you noticed how common the Facebook like button is on the internet now? You can basically “Like” content on any website and it will magically appear on your Facebook news feed.

 

Achievers A

Imagine if there was a “Recognize on Achievers” button on all content inside all of the systems that your employees work in every day, allowing them to recognize the creator of that content. Fostering a culture of recognition and driving employee engagement isn’t easy, but technology can make it seamless for employees to interact with our system. It can increase adoption and thus further the culture of recognition. Our aim is to support this philosophy with our product, and that is why we have built our API and will continue to invest in it and in the app ecosystem around it.

What are some good examples?

Many organizations have already adopted our API and created some amazing integrations.

Cox Automotive Achievers and Jive Integration

Cox Automotive, one of our more forward-thinking customers, used our API to build an integration that allows recognitions to be sent from within Cox’s Jive Intranet portal. A link to recognize an individual appears beside each person’s profile on the portal. Clicking the link opens the Achievers application in a new tab, with that employee’s name pre-populated and ready to be recognized.

 

 

Cox Automotive Achievers and Slack IntegrationAnother popular integration we are seeing amongst our customers, Cox included, is to use our API to link their instant messaging tool, Slack to the Achievers platform. This link allows employee to recognize anybody from within the Slack chat window.

 

Achievers Platform Snapshot

Future integrations could include linking Learning Management Systems to the Achievers platform via our API. This would facilitate the automated posting of an achievement to Achievers whenever an employee finishes a learning course or mandatory training module, reinforcing to teams or to entire organizations the importance and value placed on completing courses.

 

Truth and Lie Performance Review Image

The Achievers API can also be used to transfer the recognitions and achievements of all employees from the Achievers platform into whatever performance management system your organization uses for periodic reviews. Most of us can barely remember what we had for dinner yesterday, let alone remembering what people on our team did 6 months ago. This integration can help provide a more informed review, allowing managers to see all the recognitions they’ve sent, as well as any recognitions their team members have received throughout that period, directly within the performance management system.

 

Achievers Referral Platform Snapshot

Recruiting talent is hard. At Achievers, we believe that A-Players know other A-Players. We use Jobvite to get out to our employee’s social networks and drive referrals into the platform. Our API then allows Jobvite to automatically recognize and award points to employees who successfully bring in a referral.

 

 

 

 

 

What do you need to do next to take advantage? 

Achievers Platform on Laptop

The answer, if you’re already an Achievers customer, is: very little. Do you have access to software developers that can be deployed by HR, or have friends in the IT department? If the answer is yes, you are in business. Talk to them and introduce them to our Open API at https://developer.achievers.com/. Even if you don’t see a use case for using our API, we are confident that they will. Encourage them to reach out to us at: api_support@achievers.com if they have questions or are looking for inspiration. If you’ve identified the direction you’d like to go, but would like a little assistance to ensure your development team and business stakeholders are on the same page, Achievers also offers an API Consulting Service to help you and your team implement the changes and ensure your employees are aware of how this will benefit them in their flow of work. Reach out to your Customer Success Manager for more information. Finally, look at our list of existing or planned integrations and see if there is any overlap between our list and what you use in your organization. If so, we can get you started right away.

Achievers Open API integrationsWhat’s exciting about the world of APIs and app ecosystems is that it has opened new doors for our platform that we hadn’t even thought of yet. We are at an incredible point in our journey at Achievers. We have never been better poised for innovation in the space of employee engagement than we are now and we invite you to join us as partners on our journey.

Let’s engage more employees by integrating more systems with the Achievers recognition platform using our Open API.

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About Amit Kaura
headshotAmit Kaura (@Iam_amitkaura) is a technology leader at Achievers and is helping build the next generation Employee Success Platform. The platform provides digital systems for sharing recognitions, feedback, and suggestions and allows you to humanize the workplace by digitizing and thus magnifying the positive interactions among the workforce.

 

Credits: Session hosted by Bobby Bradford, Director of Product Design at ACE 2016