Yet even the most adept post-digital workers are often still being hired, trained, and managed in pre-digital ways. With the war for talent continuing to rage, companies must adapt their technology strategies to close the divide between themselves and their digitally mature workforce.
South African companies are already in the midst of this change—and running the gamut of challenges that come with it.
For example, the speed and constantly changing nature of career journeys are now making it harder for companies to add specific skills to their workforce through traditional hiring approaches. Top candidates are off the job market within a matter of days, and a poor hiring process can lead to a new employee whose primary skills are not a good match for a role.
Companies’ needed technology skills are also in a state of flux, yet most still approach talent-finding as they did in the era of stable career paths.
As a consequence, many forward-thinking companies are beginning to rethink the way they hire, using technology to assess candidates based on capabilities and potential—an approach that is better suited to the adaptability of today’s technologically savvy worker.
For example, Unilever recently revamped its entry-level hiring process so that interested candidates begin with a screening process that includes a series of short games. Designed to assess candidates’ potential fit based on traits like memory, acceptance of risk, and propensity to read contextual versus emotional cues, the AI-based tool reviews the results, eschewing traditional résumé-based evaluation in favour of optimising for potential. There’s no “wrong” result; the trait profiles simply help match candidates to open roles.
But as organisations evolve their strategies for recruitment and hiring, they must also review their approach to compensation. Even as work becomes more democratised and career journeys more fluid, challenges like gender pay gaps persist. Several studies demonstrate that these pay gaps begin before a candidate even interviews for a job, with gender bias in job postings. AI-driven tools can help identify and correct biases related to gender, race, disabilities or age, beginning to even the playing field.
Learning to earn, or earning to learn?
A recent study found that more than 40 percent of millennials rank learning and development as the second most important benefit in deciding where to work.
Leading companies also recognise employees’ growing need for development and are investing in learning platforms. Consider PayPal which recently partnered with Udemy to offer on-demand, self-directed video learning to its employees. Not only does the partnership offer immediate learning opportunities, but it also provides PayPal with better insight into the skills its workers want to target and how best to meet those needs.
Success in SA
For South African businesses, a major factor for success in the post-digital era will be isolating and addressing persisting digital divides. For one, leaders need to begin identifying business practices that are still optimised for pre-digital workers. These could include knowledge management strategies, employee learning opportunities, or talent-finding and hiring practices. From there, pilot programs that explore how AI, sentiment analysis, and extended reality could be explored to help close the gaps.
Talent forecasting may also need review. Rather than “reactive” and skills-based hiring, leaders will increasingly need to look for ways to assess candidates based on their capabilities and potential and identify areas of the business where digital tools can assist in finding talent.
Where enterprises remain optimised for the workforce of the past, disconnects reach throughout the organisation.
“In short, South African companies need to approach talent in a new way—one that suits the post-digital era and recognises employees' growing skillsets and desire to learn. Technological investment laid the groundwork for what's taking place in workforces around the world—and companies must pay attention if they hope to succeed,” concludes Zachar.
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