In the digital age, HR can often be disconnected…

I’m convinced that HR contributes great value to a company, which is why I chose this career path and it’s what gets me up in the morning. However, too often I get the feeling that HR professionals are seen as… disconnected!

Disconnected from their field and the needs of their fellow employees, but also disconnected from social media, and even from the digital world at large.

However, as we all know, the digital world is changing our real-life practices and expectations a little more each day. This has encouraged businesses to invest in the user experience in order to offer attractive and innovative services, thus strengthening customer loyalty.

We are currently shifting from a price-based
economy to a value-based economy

Why should it be any different for candidates and employees? It’s a fact that they want to have the same experience within as well as outside the enterprise. They want personalised and intuitive experiences… quite rightly so! We are currently shifting from a price-based economy to a value-based economy, and experience represents THE new type of economic value. And that’s just the beginning.

HR is on the front line. Our activities (e.g. recruitment, employer brand, talent management, and HRIS) are directly affected by this new economic value and this gives us a tremendous opportunity to join the movement and innovate!

We need to first look beyond technology and understand the sweeping changes the digital revolution has brought to our society. Relationships in general, and particularly the employer-employee relationship, have been transformed.

But how do we help HR?

How do we help HR find the right mindset for rethinking procedures? How do we teach HR to evolve, without fear of losing control? Finally, how do we teach the importance of the user journey in the HR experiences that we offer?

At OCTO Technology, we have chosen to train our RH teams in UX!

What is “UX”?

UX stands for: User eXperience. This term includes every element of a user’s interactions with an interface, object, or service. In practice, this means keeping the user at the centre of the process, from beginning to end, when conceptualising products and services.

UX is a standard feature for us at OCTO and the team has already proved its mettle. Let’s make the most of it! I think it’s been said before that HR should think and function in a more integrated manner.

On a more serious note, being that one of the main tenets of the UX is a blend of skills and experiences, it seemed logical to bring HR into this discipline. The aim was to do a two-day experiment on how we can use UX in our daily working lives.

Understanding through immersive experience

For the purpose of the experiment, we decided to target HR procedures. Many topics could have been chosen but faced with the big challenge of recruitment and the specific nature of our profiles, our final choice was “the candidate experience”. We wanted to explore the current situation and compare it with our vision. Our goal was to suggest a new and memorable experience which is truly useful to candidates, and, most importantly, aligned with our strong company culture and work practices.

I’ve got quite a soft spot for this somewhat underrated topic. I recently attended a Meetup called “An IT developer’s guide to recruiting”. It was quite strange to hear about the gap between expectation and reality candidates can experience during the HR recruiting procedure.

For two days, we overhauled the UX process in its entirety: Exploration – idea generation – design and testing. We immersed ourselves in the world of interviews, user personas, experience cards, and much more!

The immersion was a fascinating
and instructive experience

After the first morning of discussing the UX vision and interview methods, we took to the field and met with some new employees. We asked them the most open-ended question as possible, so as to elicit their true feelings about the candidate experience at OCTO. This technique allowed us to adopt the role of a sympathetic listener, and forced us to put aside our convictions and replace them with the truth from the trenches!

We also used a “post-it workshop” to help elicit ideas. We wanted to obtain results we could use in creating our main persona cards. Personas are representations of the archetypal customer inspired by interviews and other research, in our case embodying the different candidate profiles across all phases of the conception of our new experience.

We then constructed an experience card using the story of one of the personas: what they think, do, and feel at each point of interaction with the company. This tool helps shine a light on what is working well and what needs to be improved. Then, we brainstorm it all to find solutions, from the completely mad to the most realistic.

More time would obviously have been needed to deepen the dimensions of the UX, but I can assure you that the immersion was a fascinating and instructive experience. It involved analysis, intuition, and a lot of intellectual gymnastics.

Unveiling emotions: satisfaction and sore spots

Analysing the experience cards revealed a step in the recruitment process that is very often seen as painful by the candidate: the “skills test” interview. Even though this validation process is necessary for any possible future employment, and we understand that it demands a lot from the prospective employee, we don’t really appreciate how much this affects the overall experience. This pushed us to further consider the support and follow-up offered to candidates at this point in the process (we are currently addressing this issue :-)). On the other hand, we identified some points of contact in our process which are very positively regarded, such as the speed of the process and regular feedback, and we need to capitalise on those.

What’s next?

Through this experience, I discovered that UX has implications far beyond its original objective. The total immersion in this UX universe really pushed us to self-evaluate, to test new methods, and as a welcome side effect, to have fun and create value!

I am convinced that the application of UX to the world of HR could add even more to our valuable but somewhat nebulous role. It could help shake up our approach to HR and create more equal and customised proposals.

Why not create a new position:
HR-UX Designer?

As you can tell, I’m 100% committed to this practice and I dream that one day it will be the driving force for HR teams everywhere. Why not create a new position – HR UX Designer?

I can draw a parallel with this and the concept of “intrapreneurship”, which is a refreshing way to bring out innovative ideas. However, looking beyond the structure and organisation dedicated to encouraging this dynamic: shouldn’t the whole ecosystem and mindset be re-contextualised? Many companies who want to become more agile share their workspaces with startups and enter into collaborations in the hopes that entrepreneurs meet with and encourage intrapreneurs to think outside the box.

In any case, it seems very clear to me that immersion is THE solution to tapping into the right mindset!


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