Shifting focus – why a recession is the right time to transform your HR technology

Covid-19 has caused many organisations to hit the emergency reset button, and in no department more so than Human Resources. Changes to working practices that would ordinarily have taken years or even decades to establish themselves, have been put in place in a matter of weeks, with HR taking a leading role in the design and implementation. This has increased the importance of HR’s input across the organisation, with many managers and individuals turning to HR for guidance on building a new normal for their teams.

Needless to say, these high-speed changes have also accelerated the need for HR teams to evolve and adapt to new working preferences and business priorities for the future workforce post Covid-19, such as hybrid working practices, diverse workforces and an increased focus on empathy and transparency. But for many companies, this drive to evolve will not come with the promise of increased headcount in HR or Talent, instead needing to maintain status quo or even reduce permanent headcount to help the business through leaner times.

To manage this, organisations looking to weather the recession and get ahead of the competition should look to improve productivity within their own team by transforming HR technology. Whilst making significant investments at a difficult time may seem counterintuitive, taking the opportunity to integrate these new systems when you’re recruiting for fewer heads will help to build strong foundations to manage increased recruitment needs as the economy stabilises, without dramatically increasing the overhead costs which have traditionally been required to manage it.

The changing face of HR

New roles are constantly emerging to help businesses keep pace with what was already an increasing rate of change in the world of work. But the pandemic and ensuing recession, whilst difficult, will also be viewed by many as an opportunity to do things differently – improving the workplace for their employees, customers and ultimately their bottom line.

This seems to be driving an acceleration in the emergence of new roles in HR, with the Cognizant Center for Future of Work and Future Workplace recently releasing research forecasting how HR is likely to evolve, focusing on 21 HR jobs that we can expect to see appearing between now and 2030.

Roles that we can expect to see emerging in the next few years include Strategic HR Business Continuity Director, HR Data Detective, Algorithm Bias Auditor, Head of Business Behaviour and WFH Facilitator. Alongside taking a more holistic view of each employee (one size fits one, not a blanket approach) and an increased focus on employee wellbeing as a talent retention strategy, many of these roles will require increased technical capabilities – something which has previously been a lower priority for many HR departments. Professionals who haven’t prioritised technology in the past should look to become more tech-literate in order to keep pace with the changing face of Human Resources over the next few years.

The impact of increased unemployment

As the Government’s furlough scheme comes to an end, the rate of unemployment in the UK is expected to increase significantly. Application volumes for many roles have already seen a dramatic upsurge, adding to the pressure on HR departments looking to find the right talent for their organisation. Many businesses are receiving 10 times the normal application volumes for each job, with one organisation receiving 15,000 applications for 10 roles.

It is unsustainable and inefficient for HR professionals to sift through such a high volume of applications. Not responding to candidates also isn’t an advisable option, as it can create negative sentiment towards your brand and potentially impacting the bottom line over the long-term.

Introducing the right technology can go a long way towards reducing the time required to process increased volumes. With the right checks and balances in place, it can also help to reduce unconscious bias in your hiring process.

A CV parsing tool can help with some of the heavy lifting – identifying keywords which are critical to the role and helping you to whittle down the final number of CV’s that will be passed to hiring managers for review.

You should also consider chatbot systems which interact with the candidate prior to applying, checking they meet the basic requirements and avoiding wasted time for both parties.

Finally, online assessments should be factored in as a crucial part of the process, helping to ensure that the applications which reach the HR team meet the role requirements and cultural fit. It also provides an opportunity to reach out to those who were unsuccessful.

Only the best will do

Whilst the talent market has shifted dramatically, with a significant increase in available and active candidates on the market, it’s still not easy to find the right individual.

It goes without saying that, at a time when many businesses are limiting the number of roles that they can hire for, those who fill the positions that are approved will be expected to drive tangible improvements for the business.

Strong candidates often know their worth and will carefully assess the different organisations they are applying for. Removing barriers from the hiring process will help to increase the number of high-quality applicants and improve the likelihood of your organisation finding the right person in a reasonable timeframe. Just don’t forget that whilst a high-tech approach is important, human engagement is paramount and businesses need to develop high-touch engagement points to complement the technology.


Finding the right technology can be a daunting task, particularly when investments may be expected to deliver value quickly. If you’re looking to transform your HR technology but aren’t sure where to start, Talent Solutions can help. With an in-depth knowledge of the HR technology marketplace, and experience working with a wide range of approved partners, we can help you find the right solution and support you with the implementation of the tool. Find out more or get in touch today.