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21st May 2019

Changes in Technology over 25 Years

There have been huge technological advances over the past 25 years which has led to significant changes to work environments and the way we work. The most influential technological development has been the globally accessible internet, which allows people to instantly access vast amounts of information. The internet allows people and organisations to communicate with others via a desktop, laptop, or mobile phone, giving organisations greater scope in deciding where and how they conduct their business.

The power of computers has also improved over the past 25 years; they have now become more compact, cheaper and faster; the old computer systems that once could fill an office floor can now fit into the palm of a hand! Technologies such as the Mobile Phone, GPS, World Wide Web, Virtual Worlds, Databases, Cloud Computing, and Social Networks can now be combined into a single palm size device, the ‘smartphone’.

All these technologies, if employed correctly, enable organisations to improve efficiency and output by decreasing chance of human error through automative process, by facilitating improved communication and collaborative practices across boundaries, by allowing safe and secure data storage through cloud computing, and by helping them achieve more with fewer workers. These technologies are now more affordable for organisations of all size so that smaller organisations can offer similar services as larger ones, increasing their ability to compete in the marketplace. The following article discusses how technology has shaped the modern organisation and transformed the way we recruit new talent.

How has technology shaped the modern organisation?

Many modern organisations deploy cross-functional delivery teams to deliver tailored services or solutions for their customers. Project work often involves cross collaboration with contractors, new and existing alliance partners, clients and employees to formulate the best end-end-solution. Cloud based platforms such as Microsoft Office 365 facilitate such collaboration, enabling people to work together who are located remotely from one another via e-mail, database access, electronic skype meetings, shared file access and calendar sharing. The benefits of cross collaborative working practices include increased innovation, organisational learning, capacity to leverage external expertise, and the ability to grow intellectual capital as the project ends.

Managing Virtual Teams

Cloud Computing has facilitated the growth of the ‘virtual office’ environment which offers flexible work practices, easy scalability, and improved business continuity as data is stored safely and securely in the cloud rather than on site. The increased adoption of cloud technologies and increase in ‘virtual teams’ has increased the need for effective virtual team management and knowledge management. How can an organisation effectively manage the productivity and engagement of team workers from afar? How can an organisation grow its intellectual capital once a project ends and contractors/experts leave the virtual space? Communication, project management and knowledge management approaches need to adapt with these technologies. A “top down” management approach can help create an organisational culture of trust and openness which is required for virtual communication and collaboration, and a “bottoms up” management approach can be used to develop skills of employees and their line managers which foster knowledge sharing and collaborative working practices.

Technologies for Recruitment:

Social Media

Social Media is changing the way that recruiters find and attract applicants to their organisations. Recruiters can now look through LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to find and contact potential applicant pools. A combination of social media, big data and analytics can be used to automate this process. Companies can scan social media platforms to compile ‘super profiles’ for candidates, including information such as skills, demographics, interests, job details and psychometric information such as attitudes (Landers and Schmidt, 2016). The use of such data may improve employment decisions, but bad use of this technology may lead to poor hiring decisions and unintended consequences. The validity of using social media for assessing applicant’s personality has yet to be proven.

Web Based Interviewing

Over the last decade, CIPD surveys have shown rapid increase in the use of technology in selection interviews, for example, 65% of HR professionals reported using telephone interviews and 52% reported using videoconference/Skype interviews in 2017. These methods are now widely used as alternatives to the traditional face-to-face interviews because they are more efficient and practical for organisations; they enable more interviews to be conducted in less time, at a lower cost and without geographical restrictions (Chamorro-Premuzic et al., 2016). An emerging technique is the Digital interview where candidates record their answers via webcam to automated questions and submit them on an online platform without any interaction with an interviewer. Many companies now offer video interviewing software solutions for organisations, one of which is Hirevue, the biggest provider in America.

Whilst face-to-face interviews have been proven to be effective selection tools, technology-mediated interviews can drastically impact applicant reactions and interviewer ratings. For example, Guchait, et al. (2014) found that the overall favourability for digital interviews was low with 80% of the participants reporting a preference for face-to-face and 54% reporting that they were unable to demonstrate the best parts of themselves. Applicants felt it should not be used in the final stage of the selection process and questioned its appropriateness for management positions. Despite this, the majority supported the use of digital interviewing in the initial screening stage and perceived the overall process to be fair, reasonable, thorough, and timely. The use of such strategies may marginalise some applicants such as some ethnic groups or older applicants, causing a ‘digital divide’ and unfair application and evaluation procedures (Roth et al. 2015). Organisations need to take into account the risks associated with using such technologies for recruitment and should discuss this with professionals (i.e. Occupational Psychologists) to better understand the impact on candidates.

Gamification and Game-based assessments

Gamification or game-based assessments mark the next generation of psychometric measures. More and more companies are incorporating game elements into their hiring process, including major graduate employers such as RBS, Deloitte and Unilever. Gamification involves adding game elements to traditional psychometric tests such as Situation Judgement Tasks and Cognitive ability tests. They retain the validity and reliability of the traditional tests but allow more diverse data to be collected with fewer question items. Game-based assessments are pre-existing games adapted to measure a set of competencies, or custom-built games with a measurement layer integrated into their programming. They can measure performance, behavioural choice and/or metadata (e.g. how long it takes a participant to complete a question).

The aim of these assessments is to create a more interactive experience for candidates and help organisations attract a wider range of job applicants. They have the potential to increase engagement, reduce test anxiety, mitigate cheating behaviours and prevent individuals from selecting out of the process. There is limited independent peer reviewed research around the effectiveness of these assessments compared to traditional psychometrics. Although most of the data is gathered from the test publishers, the current research is promising.

Virtual Reality (VR) is also being used to test candidates’ abilities in virtual situations. For example, Jaguar teamed up with the virtual band Gorillaz to create an app where candidates learn about electric vehicles and perform code-breaking puzzles. According to Jaguar, this tested their curiosity, persistence, lateral thinking and problem-solving skills. VR can also be used to conduct live, face to face interviews and provide candidates with virtual tours of their future office environment.

The change in technology and automation requires the expertise of Occupational Psychologists to help organisations implement new tech smoothly and successfully, ensuring colleagues are on board with any changes and that the use of technology supports and aids colleagues in the workplace. To find out more about how Impact can help your organisation adapt and grow with change and keep ahead of the curve in today’s dynamic climate, get in touch with our expert Occupational Psychologist Consultants here.

References

Chamorro-Premuzic, T., Winsborough, D., Sherman, R. A., & Hogan, R.(2016). New talent signals: Shiny new objects or a brave new world? Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 9, 621–640

Guchait, P., Ruetzler, T., Taylor, J., & Toldi, N. (2014). Video interviewing: A potential selection tool for hospitality managers–A study to understand applicant perspective. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 36, 90-100.

Landers, R. N., & Schmidt, G. B. (2016). Social Media in Employee Selection and Recruitment. Theory, Practice, and Current Challenges. Cham: Springer International Publishing AG.

Roth, P. L., Bobko, P., Van Iddekinge, C. H., & Thatcher, J. B. (2016). Social media in employee-selection-related decisions: A research agenda for uncharted territory. Journal of Management, 42(1), 269-298