The impact of technology on talent management
Talent management, like everything else, has changed over the past few decades, according to Dr. Edna Chun, chief learning officer at HigherEd Talent. “About two decades ago, we began to have access to systems that would enable us to market the institution as an employer of choice and transform all our paper-based operations into online documents and application forms, simplifying the process.” Even so, Chun says that using technology for talent management has been slower to catch on in higher education.
“At first, some departments were reluctant to use the technology because they felt it would discourage applicants. There were a lot of barriers to overcome to get the technology into the faculty pipeline, and I would guess that there are still some institutions that don’t use technology to hire people, although they’re diminishing in number,” she says.
For organizations that currently do use technology to attract, develop, and retain employees, Chun says that those technologies now have additional useful facets, “such as a comprehensive module for job descriptions, which then could be aligned with recruitment process and used for existing job descriptions as well as when you’re recruiting.”
Technology can even be used to conduct performance evaluations, “where all these things could be tied together so you’d have all the aspects of evaluation, recruitment and hiring, and classification and compensation on a single platform. Then, you could also work with learning management platforms for educational processes and complete the full circle of employee processes. Technology offers infinite potential for almost every human resources (HR) function.”
Chun does have one warning. “One of the dangers I’ve seen over the years is that you build dependence on technology for dealing with HR issues. It can be monolithic. In one sense, that can preclude thoughtful review and really considering the talent proposition.”
To overcome the risk of being blinded by technology, Chun says institutions should ask themselves, “What does the institution need, how does it attract that, how can it be flexible about things in this rapidly changing environment?” She suggests that organizations use the technologies but also invest in the dynamic side. Sometimes, technology can put you a bit in a box if you don’t have a way to invest in the qualitative or dynamic side of recruiting. “How you deploy your technology is critical.”
Despite her cautions, Chun says that technology can help organizations attract some of the best and brightest minds. “I think that technology, because it is continually evolving, may offer us new solutions and new ways of viewing it. We’ve already gotten ourselves into a pattern of using what’s out there now. When we move to the next level, we may need to think about ways that enable us to differentiate our institutions from each other in terms of their mission, goals, and talent flow so that they don’t use a cookie cutter approach—where we don’t simply copy an approach used elsewhere—but really think about what we are trying to accomplish and use technology as a means to that end.”
EDNA CHUN, Chief Learning Officer, HigherEd Talent
Dr. Edna B. Chun is an education leader and award-winning author who has more than two decades of strategic human resources and diversity leadership experience in public higher education. She has co-written eight books and numerous journal articles and is a sought-after keynote and plenary speaker on talent and diversity strategy. Recognized twice with the College and University Professional Association’s prestigious Kathryn G. Hansen publication award, she was also a silver medal recipient of the 2014 Axiom Best Business Books award.