Will HR become global and online moving forward?

HR in demand

September 16 2020 - Human Resources is a critical department to a business, but not one that people often consider as being at the forefront of innovation. This isn't true because, not least during a pandemic, people's needs are constantly changing, as are the company's. HR is responsible for not only keeping up to speeds with this, but also fleshing out the infrastructure that will improve the talent pool, remuneration and culture of a company. Below will be some of the ways HR is adapting to an ever globalising talent pool.

Automation and globalisation of Recruitment

COVID-19 has accelerated a trend that was already occurring: working from home. A controversial one, given that some are hating it and some are thriving under it. Of course, the situation is different because businesses are forcing personnel to change their routine, compared to hiring willing remote workers.

With an improvement in software and workflows, companies are now better equipped to have workers remotely than 5-10 years ago. In fact, some companies such as GitHub, Zapier, and Clevertech are entirely remote from head to toe.

Both hiring remote workers and hiring anyone during a pandemic means that recruiting often has to be completed online. After all, opening yourself up to remote workers also means opening up to a worldwide talent pool, whereas before HR was geographically restricted to interviewing semi-local candidates.

Recruitment is now mostly online anyway, because of its efficiency. Even if the final stage is a physical interview, you can almost guarantee the prior stages were online assessments, phone calls and an online CV. These methods are faster to conduct and are often automated, which means recruiters can get to know a larger pool of potential hires.

Of course, with ATS parsing through resumes in an instant, you can sift out 70% of the applications almost immediately. This frees up more time to spend on the final stages of recruitment.

A huge benefit of assessing candidates qualitatively is that you can then track them once they're hired. Now you have a huge collection of data from all the personality and reasoning test results, and this can help connect with which ones were great hires. Measuring quality of hire is another quantitative metric, so it's now a matter of correlating which kind of candidates go on to become productive workers. This then in turn dictates your next hire, and further improves your recruiting.

This starts to paint a picture of the increasing importance of analytics and data within HR, whereas before it was mostly qualitative. There may also be scope for Machine Learning techniques, such as scraping candidate data from LinkedIn, viewing connections, and finding patterns of relationships as well as success.

Payroll

One potential obstacle to hiring a global remote team may be the matter of remuneration. It's no surprise that paying employees has become an online process, but services like one of many recommended money transfer companies has meant overseas payments are now more efficient.

This was always an issue, particularly with smaller companies. International payments via an old school company credit card or even PayPal would always mean huge fees and long waiting times. Now that international payments are almost entirely frictionless, this isn't an issue.

It has however brought on the risk of currency swings, which is why hedging products have been rising in demand to help improve cash flow forecasting accuracy. This is something that most HR and company accountants will not have dealt with until now. Fortunately, the nature of hedging products is that they're an insurance product as opposed to a gambling one.

Employee benefits

Of course, working from home also means having to track hours online. This has led to a surge in project management, payroll and workflow SaaS services. It has also meant that employees struggle with motivation and discipline because the work-leisure line is blurred at home, and there's less comradery among the workforce.

Usually, employee benefits are a go-to when improving morale and motivation. This has become another obstacle, because you can't give a company car, phone and gym membership to someone in a different continent. It's potentially possible if you're constantly hiring workers in the same foreign country, but again, this is then another restriction.

Employee benefits have therefore changed. Benefits now have to be more bespoke or in the form of reimbursements. For example, reimbursing 80% of your team's gym membership fees, or reimbursing payments for co-working spaces. Lastly, benefits for online services are an obvious one, such as LinkedIn Learning, Headspace subscription and so on.

The future of HR

The biggest issue with tracking work hours is that you're either exposing yourself to workers lying, or if you want to be ultra accurate in tracking them, you're taking away their privacy (i.e. screenshots every 10 minutes or stationary mouse alerts). The first can lead to losing money and a reduction in productivity, and the latter can lead to demotivation.

The third option, which will likely become more embedded in HR philosophy, is a price per project. This means that hours aren't important for global staff, results are. Paying for results is what's leading to the gig economy, which then opens up the possibility of freelancers. Afterall, if you have an influx of projects (perhaps you're a seasonal business), then it makes sense to have fluctuating personnel. This is also a popular option because companies have less duties regarding workers rights like sick pay and holiday pay.

Finally, we may see a merge between HR and IT, in which they work more closely together. The traditional ways of going about creating company culture, benefits, training and recruiting are all becoming digitised. Not only are HR staff needing to be more proficient in computing, but closer collaboration with IT departments could see them meet these changing dynamics much more precisely.