HR Tech as the Hero

Posted by on September 10, 2014 | Be the First to Comment

Yeah, I know that’s not a headline you’ve seen a whole bunch and you have good reason to be surprised. After all, our world isn’t the high-octane battlefield of cops and robbers. But if you’ve got a trained eye and you look closely enough, we have our own “ripped from the headlines” HR Tech stories to tell.

I need these stories, and not just for this blog. I grew up in a family of cousins where most of the men became policemen and most of the women became school teachers. Family get-togethers were filled with stories of blue line daring-do or comical classroom antics as each cousin tried to top the other in drama or hilarity. And then there was me – working in the corporate rat race. You know, unless you’re Scott Adams (one of my favs!), toiling away in cubicle-ville just doesn’t lend itself to good story telling. “So there I was sitting in my fabric-covered box…” isn’t a captivating lead-in, I must say.

But as I was reading the Sunday feature in my Kansas City Star on my 7:00 am flight to Phoenix (groan, grumble and gritting of teeth for sacrificing one more weekend to the vagaries of business travel), I found out the unlikely hero of the story to be our own bread and butter: HR Technology. (Yeah, I was a little surprised, too!)

underpaid kc

Travis Long/News & Observer

The story was the product of a year-long investigation by the McClatchy newspaper chain, exposing the fraud stemming from 2009 federal stimulus money that was paid to employers who then misclassified their workers as independent contractors to avoid paying taxes and higher wages. Doesn’t this sound like it has all the elements of an interesting story? Billions of taxpayer dollars potentially lost. Overwhelmed or negligent government departments and officials. Life-threatening, on-the-job injuries and workers’ compensation avoidance. Yep, it’s all there – and not just because I’m a big HR dork. This is Hollywood level intrigue – or at least a made-for-TV movie.

So the gist of the situation is this: The federal government’s 2009 stimulus pushed money into communities for the redevelopment of low-income areas as a way to get citizens back working again. In the KC metro, that was $4.5 million, which was handed to developers or general contractors. Some of those employers then intentionally misclassified their workers as independent contractors – not as employees – and pocketed the extra wages, fringe benefits or workers’ compensation those workers were due. Federal jobs pay higher wages (called prevailing wages) by law. Employers also reliably collect taxes from their employees’ wages (99% effective according to the IRS), while independent contractors have to self-declare their earnings on 1099 tax forms – of which the IRS only sees somewhere between 19-44%. That’s a lot of tax money lost due to fraud and greed – estimated at $8.5 Billion (with a B!) nationwide.

So at the end of the article – after stories of intrepid investigative journalism – our heroes finally arrive. There are some vigilant unions policing their industry for rule-breakers, and there are some government officials who are promising to do a better job at oversight, but, in addition, there is HR Technology! Read with me…

“But things could be improving soon locally. This summer, Kansas City began using a new computer software program that makes it easier for the city’s contract compliance office to compare the payrolls contractors submit with prevailing wage rates.”

“…the city’s Human Relations Department said the system also allows city staff to spend more time on job sites to ensure that contractors are classifying workers properly.”

HR Technology = Hero

Survey Suggests Affordable Care Act is Reducing Employment and Raising Prices

Posted by on September 4, 2014 | Be the First to Comment

I recently stumbled across a Wall Street Journal MarketWatch.com article discussing results from an employer-participant survey regarding the Affordable Care Act. I thought some of the findings were really interesting and completely relevant to all of us as HR Practitioners/Benefits Experts as well as in our more personal roles as Consumers/Employees/Taxpayers/Americans.

A survey conducted by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve suggests that the Affordable Care Act has initially reduced employment and increased prices.

market watch

Breaking it down:

15.2% of participants said the number of workers is lower due to the impact of ACA requirements.

- We’ve certainly heard employers asking about this possibility. However, there would seem to be some constraints on this change. After all, an employer has to ensure they have an adequate workforce with the requisite skills. What does make sense is that workers staying employed just to have medical benefits now have an alternative way through the public exchanges like HealthCare.gov. This may open more jobs up for active job seekers who are more career-minded, but that’s just supposition at this point.

16.7% found the proportion of part-time work was up.

- We’ve seen a huge rise in the interest around managing variable hour employees. (Those that might be full or part-time depending upon their scheduling.) Since the ACA only mandates benefits for full-time employees (over 30 hours) many observers have been curious to see if employers would rebuild their workforces by exchanging full-time jobs for part-time. Equifax’s eThority application has great modeling tools around the unintended consequences of these possible actions for any employer looking to do some modeling.

28.8% said prices to customers rose.

- This is the most concerning statistic to me as I’m always hearing about surveys, such as the CareerBuilder survey, showing the majority of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. This just seems to increase the pressure on an already difficult situation.

1.6% said wage and salary compensation per worker is higher.

Between the ‘pay or play’ mandate which includes additional costs per employee depending on the employer choice and the additional taxes (including potential excise taxes), employers are having to plan more in their budgets to cover the employee overhead costs.  As a result of the additional planning and taxes involved…..

3% of participants said they were dropping health insurance.

- This is a much lower percentage of employers than the fear mongers would have had us believe when this legislation was new. I’m glad to see the number is so small, but I know there is a lot of dust that hasn’t yet settled.

51.5% said they were making changes.

2.9% said more employees are being covered, but manufacturers are reporting higher employee contributions, deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums and copays, with a lower range of medical coverage and a lower size and breadth of the network.

I know most of you looking at these numbers are thinking: “those don’t seem significant enough to reach the conclusion that the ACA is reducing employment and increasing prices.” If you check out the full survey results here, you will see that most employers haven’t experienced any changes due to ACA.  Yet of the employers who have seen changes, the experience leads one to conclude that reduced employment and increased prices are occurring and will continue to occur.

According to Stephen Stanley, Chief Economist at Pierpont Securities, “This combination confirms that the Affordable Care Act has been a negative supply shock ─ weaker employment and higher prices ─ a combination that the Fed can do little to fix.”

This survey doesn’t cover the entire U.S. and therefore isn’t comprehensive of all employers; however, I thought it was an interesting preview as to what we might see coming as more employers attempt to meet the requirements of ACA. I’m especially curious to see the results of this survey years from now, after employers have implemented programs to adhere to the ACA to make it work for their companies. Will this health care provision continue to negatively shock the supply side as Stephen Stanley believes has already occurred? If that happens…what will we do next?

17th Annual HR Tech Conference

Posted by on September 2, 2014 | Be the First to Comment

Wow! I can’t believe it’s already September! You know what that means? We are only about a month out from the 17th Annual HR Technology Conference and Exposition!

I know, I’m sure you are thinking “Kaiser, your geek is showing.” I am not ashamed! This is THE conference for HR Technologists, like me. (After all, it wasn’t until this year that my Kansas City Royals even had a sliver of a chance of playing baseball in October, so I had to find something else to love.)

This year’s conference is being held at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas October 7-10th and will certainly be filled wall to wall with insightful speakers, vendor booths and everything HR Tech!

hrt_banner_ad

As an HR professional, this conference is definitely worth your time. It’s one of Trade Show Executive’s fastest Growing Shows of 2013 and there is opportunity to earn HRCI and HRIP recertification credits. Having access to all of the HR Technology vendors and their product innovations and releases in one place is a pretty big deal too. Of course, several members of my team and I will be in attendance. You might remember our coverage of last year’s event. (If you didn’t, click here to read it.)This year we will also be blogging about our findings, and you can visit us at booth # 2541 or plan on us stopping by your booth! And if any of our readers are willing to help guard our cubes from practical jokers while we’re away, you have our attention!

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Here are a few things to look for at this year’s conference:

  • Over 275 vendors in the Expo Hall = lots of networking and free stuff!
  • Opening Keynote “Making the Right Choices in the Second Machine Age” by Andrew McAfee, Principal Research Scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the co-author of The Second Machine Age.
  • A session moderated by David Gergen, Senior Political Analyst at CNN, with Ahu Yildirmaz, PhD, Head of ADP Research Institute, ADP, titled:  “Workforce 2020: How Data and Analytics Will Shape the Workplace”.
  • Another general session about the awesome new technologies for HR.
  • Breakout sessions, including “Behind the Curtain” Technical track with content from Naomi Bloom.
  • Closing Keynote “Transforming the Future of Work in a Digital World” by R “Ray” Wang, Founder and Principal Analyst at Constellation Research and author of A Software Insider’s Point of View blog.
  • Plus, there will also be several other general sessions, vendor demos and product announcements.

If you are interested in attending this year’s conference, let me know! We can hook you up with a free Expo Pass or a discounted rate on your registration. If you are interested in learning more about this year’s conference, check out the official website, download the App or follow @HRTechConf  and #HRTechConf on Twitter.

Outsourcing Benefits Administration

Posted by on August 28, 2014 | Be the First to Comment

The following post comes from a Benefits Administration vendor that our team has had the opportunity to work with on several client engagements. Empyrean Benefit Solutions was founded in 2007 and provides technology and services for managing large and middle-market employers’ health and benefits programs. Empyrean provides enrollment, eligibility management and a range of other plan administration services to three distinct markets: employers, insurance brokers and healthcare exchanges. Lockton still remains vendor neutral, which is why this is just the first of many vendor guest posts. We realize that vendors have a lot to say and have access to some solid data about the happenings of the HR Tech industry and we want to relay that information to you. What better way than to let them tell it to you through us?!

empyrean

As benefits administration becomes more complex and new requirements emerge, HR executives find themselves facing the tough decision of whether to continue handling these tasks internally (“insourcing”), whether to outsource all benefits administration or whether to find a middle ground, retaining pieces of their current process in-house and outsourcing the rest (“co-sourcing”).

 

Today, some organizations opt to insource because they are more comfortable maintaining control of all administrative functions, in spite of the need to continually invest in the technology and the ongoing education necessary to perform these functions. Other choose to insource because they tend to be more paternalistic and want to stay in close touch with their workforce, believing that they can provide a better, more personalized experience for their employees.

Most recently, however, a number of employers have chosen to outsource their benefits administration as a direct result of the ever expanding rules and regulations around the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (health care reform). The new requirements only make benefits administration more complex, more costly and more time consuming than ever, and these employers have come to realize that outsourcing can provide the infrastructure and technology needed to handle the myriad benefits administration tasks, as well as give them access to the expertise needed to ensure ongoing regulatory compliance. According to Everest’s February 2013 Benefits Administration Outsourcing (BAO) – Service Provider Landscape and Capability Assessment, “the Benefits Administration Outsourcing (BAO) market grew at a healthy pace of 13% to reach US$6.1 billion in annualized revenue in 2012.” This assessment went on to say that the market is expected to accelerate at an even faster rate in 2014.

80 percentNot surprisingly, large employers are more likely to outsource benefits administration due to the size of their workforce, their multiple locations and/or the greater complexity of their benefit programs. Midsized or smaller organizations tend to consider outsourcing benefits the solution for lack of internal resources and expertise. Many employers, regardless of size, choose to work with an external advisor when making their decisions regarding outsourcing. Whether soliciting third-party advice or making the determination on their own, most employers consider the following factors and outcomes as part of their decision-making process:

  • Reducing the cost of benefits administration
  • Ensuring ongoing regulatory compliance
  • Freeing up internal HR/Benefits resources to focus on core business needs and more strategic initiatives
  • Improving the overall employee experience through streamlined enrollment processes
  • Positively impacting employee engagement and communication through Web-based, employee self-service technology and more robust decision support tools
  • Providing competent, consistent administration of technical services such as COBRA, Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs)
  • Reducing internal investments in infrastructure maintenance and development
  • Utilizing real-time reporting to manage enrollment, support budgeting, measure carrier/vendor performance and provide greater insight into the operational aspects of the benefits program

reducing costFor most companies, the key factors that drive the decision to outsource benefits administration come down to cost savings and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements. In addition, HR/Benefits executive who have time and resource restrictions are realizing that they can rely on those companies that specialize in BAO to provide the resources and expertise to help them and their staffs keep up with future trends. No matter how the decision is being made, it appears that benefits administration outsourcing is here to stay. In fact, according to research by Gartner, Inc., “80 percent of companies now outsource at least one HR activity, and that number is swiftly growing.”

So, how will you decide whether outsourcing benefits administration is right for your company?

A good place to start is by asking your internal staff and business partners the following questions:

  • Do we have the appropriate resources and infrastructure to handle benefits administration in-house?
  • Do we have the financial support to develop/maintain the skill sets and technology needed to manage benefits administration effectively?
  • Do we have the in-house expertise to understand today’s complex regulatory compliance issues?
  • Can we continue to manage all of our daily administrative functions whiles also supporting the strategic initiatives necessary for our company to grow?

If you have any questions about outsourcing benefits administration or about Empyrean, comment below. If you happen to be a vendor and would like to contribute to Lockton’s HR Technology blog, please comment below or contact Courtney at clawrence@lockton.com .

Sharing is Fun

Posted by on August 26, 2014 | Be the First to Comment

Way back in the day, my mom would constantly remind me to share my toys with the neighbor boys.  Even though my dump truck was bigger and could hold more dirt making it hard to let anyone else touch, I found that the dirt mound got moved a lot quicker when I let my friends make a few trips with my Tonka. Although my toys don’t look like Hot Wheels or science kits anymore (well, okay sometimes), the concept of sharing has stuck with me. So here friends, I would like to share my blog with you! (I hope my mom is reading this! Look, I remember what you taught me!)

sharing toys

I know that I am not the sole HR Technology expert (not even close!), which is why I value what others touched by these area have to say. We can learn so much from each other’s experiences.

Do you have an HR Technology related topic that you would like to talk to the world about? (Okay, probably not the entire world, but you never know…) Maybe as an employer client, you would like to share your recent implementation experience. Maybe as a fellow Lockton Associate, you would like to share your understanding of carrier file feeds or the use of call centers. Maybe as a vendor, you would like to explain why a Benefits Administration or ACA system is important to a business. Maybe as a fellow HR Technology lover, you would like to share your predictions for the future of HR Technology. Regardless of who you are, we want to give you the opportunity to use this blog as your canvas.

Later this week, we will have our first vendor guest writer take the stage and share more about the decision to outsource Benefits Administration.

If you have topic ideas (or for the over-achievers out there so eager to take advantage of this opportunity- an entire post draft!) send them to Courtney at clawrence@lockton.com .

What to Expect in Q3

Posted by on August 21, 2014 | Be the First to Comment

What to Expect Q3

Being in the technology industry, changes happen frequently. It can be a challenge to manage all of the new updates being promised by the various HR Technology vendors. You could make color-coded charts of the different roadmap items, or you could leave that to us! We recently reached out to some of the bigger players in the Benefits Administration technology game for some of their promised system enhancements for the third quarter.  Most of the vendors addressed the impending Affordable Care Act and compliance as well as functionalities to make the systems more configurable. All of the updates are targeted at making their clients’ lives easier, while allowing them to be more efficient and strategic.  So as we’re currently in the midst of Q3, be on the lookout for these updates in alphabetical order:

ADP

ADP

ADP has announced new enhancements to its ADP Workforce Now platform for midsized employers. These enhancements include the ADP Workforce Now Compensation module, which automates compensation planning by creating a pay-for-performance culture. This tool complements ADP Performance Management to help organizations link employee performance to employer-defined award guidelines and budget thresholds and simplify the processes associated with pay increases and bonuses. The next update from ADP is its ACA Compliance Dashboard. This ACA dashboard is part of the Benefits Administration solution and will help companies stay compliant with ACA provisions. A new Application Programming Interface (API) Library will make ADP Workforce Now easier to use for employees, employers and developers by providing access to hundreds of HCM-related data fields. ADP has also expanded its Global Human Resources System of Record to support 33 countries with multilingual and multi-currency capabilities. The last enhancement to expect from ADP this quarter is the enhanced ADP Analytics package with built-in industry standard HCM metrics for HR, time, payroll and talent. This will also enable employers to add customized Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and allow HR executives to compare their company’s performance against industry standard metrics.

 

benefitfocus

Benefitfocus  

Benefitfocus recently redesigned their Benefits Administration Role earlier this summer. The new Benefits Administration Role is a multi-release plan and will have new features coming over the next 3 releases. Some of these features include: ability to view plan participation details and on-demand open enrollment status, updates to the Message Center, ability to send automated notifications regarding benefit changes resulting from life events, ability to send message center notifications related to outstanding document requirements, ability to generate W-2 reports, automatic enrollment in single-level benefits, ability to set review and approval preferences for automated dependent cancellation and the ability to prorate initial and scheduled employer HSA contributions. Benefitfocus will also be updating their HR InTouch Marketplace by improving the training module tracking, management and reporting with the Training Tool. HR InTouch users will be able to archive and filter content within the HR InTouch Marketplace. HR InTouch Early Adopters (must have the Benefitfocus Communication Package) will also be able to configure pay statements using paycheck presentment. Benefitfocus is adding the ability to add and update emergency contact information and the ability to capture benefit ID information functionalities to the HR In Touch mobile app.

 

businessolver

Businessolver

Businessolver announced continued evolvement of its ACA compliance solution, ACA StatusTracker. This technology currently measures, tracks, applies eligibility and creates ACA-required reporting. New features include addressing rehire rules, protected leave and improvements to analytic reporting. Businessolver also announced new member wellness tools offering employees the ability to track and manage their wellness and any impact on insurance premiums.  Businessolver will roll out its Decision Support engine, MyChoice at the end of Q3 to help consumers make purchasing decisions by providing a full slate of information – not just past utilization. The configurable Layout Manager tools available within Benefitsolver will be getting even more flexible as updates to the WYSIWTG editor allow for easy-to-set-up layout options. This will result in better looking layouts to improve user experience and communication capabilities. The last update from Businessolver is the capability for Benefitsolver to be configured as a microsite built to support multiple webpages based on benefit types, employee demographics, etc. This addition offers a wide range of communication options for HR/benefits teams.

empyrean

Empyrean

Empyrean is also working on its ACA tools offering, Safe Harbor. Safe Harbor will go live and has the ability to track 30 hours, offering coverage and affordability, plans with minimum essential coverage and/or minimum value, and annual reporting. Empyrean will also release its video library, VisualKnowledge.  VisualKnowledge is a value-added feature that will deliver information to help employees understand their health insurance benefits, retirement and living well programs. Another new release from Empyrean is its retroactive payroll feature. This is a complete closed-loop payroll reconciliation integrated with all payroll applications. Empyrean is also offering a Private Exchange Platform which will go live during Q3. This platform will consist of tailored exchange technology and administration services for carriers, third-party exchanges, advisors and employers including stand-alone exchanges and insurance carriers.

 

If you are currently a user of any of the systems above and would like to share your experience with these updates, please do so in the comment box below. If you are a vendor and didn’t see your updates listed, send them to me at mkaiser@lockton.com for future postings. I want to give a big thanks to all of the vendors who participated in our first ever quarterly update!

Can You Fix It? Yes We Can!

Posted by on August 19, 2014 | Be the First to Comment

Check out the latest Lockton success story highlighting some of the work the HR Technology and Outsourcing Practice completed for a client. Just another day at the office: we helped make sure their derailed HRIS implementation got back on the right track.

Success Story- hris rescue

Please feel free to share this story with your clients—even when hope is lost, Lockton can help!

Paying it Forward: SPHR/PHR Certifications

Posted by on August 13, 2014 | Be the First to Comment

Every once in a while, I’m able to find an opportunity that delivers such an outsized benefit for my investment that I’m sure I must look comically cautious in my approach  – like wearing full football pads while trying to tackle a butterfly! Years ago I had one when I folded my consulting practice into the halls of Lockton and there was another when I met this beautiful and enchanting elementary kiddo counselor from Topeka Public Schools, but those are tales for another time. Today’s story is around a new professional endeavor we’re kicking off at Lockton around the SPHR and PHR professional certifications. How wonderful is it that I get to help our Associates pursue the credentials that our clients treasure so much? Our employer-clients benefit through better trained service teams, our Associates benefit with career development and recognition, and even Lockton benefits with our employer-of-choice reputation. This is why Lockton has been named as a Business Insurance Best Place to Work in Insurance several years in a row, because we invest in our Associates.

Best Places to Work 2012

Over the years I’ve discovered in myself a passion for helping people achieve professional certifications. I certainly benefited from the help and wisdom of others when I sat for my tests. (Rich Reda at Lockton and Keith Wiedenkeller at AMC come to mind instantly, but any list I’d offer here would certainly be incomplete!) Paying it forward seems like the best honor I could offer to repay their investment. That fits particularly well here at Lockton where many of our Associates are in that stage of career where they’re finished with formal schooling but have not completed the industry-specific work we’re all challenged to do by our clients and peers.

This October we’re launching an Associate study group for the Professional in Human Resources (PHR®) and Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR®) certification from the HR Certification Institute (HRCI). Why join a study group you ask? Studies show that people who participate in study groups do better on tests as they keep each other accountable and learn the material better re-teaching it to each other. (University Counseling and Consulting Services, University of Minnesota) Not to mention that there is joy in the commiseration of testing, fueling camaraderie among fellow testers. And I can only imagine that it will be really fun too! (Yes, HR is fun!) I’ll get to cheer on my co-workers from all over the country as they prepare for the mid-2015 exam while hearing their stories, and perhaps sharing a few of mine as well!

phr

For the last three years or so I have led a Lockton CEBS (Certified Employee Benefits Specialist) study group that has given me so much joy as I watched participants achieve a certification I’d objectively stack next to most master’s programs for depth and difficulty. Staying involved with this type of continuing education has helped me not only stay sharp regarding our industry’s issues but also helped me get to know scores of Lockton’s new Associates who share the same my passion for benefits. We will likely start in on CEBS again in Q3 of 2015 when this PHR/SPHR Associate study group concludes, but it will be nice to take a break with some new material!

Surprisingly, there’s a little controversy with this decision. (Actually, I’m 100 percent sure that it surprises no one that something I’m doing has a little controversy!) Recently, the biggest HR association group, SHRM, or the Society for Human Resources Management, just announced their own SHRM-branded certification. With their huge membership base, I’m sure they’ll get a lot of uptake eventually, but it’s left a lot of us scratching our heads over how this isn’t just a huge expression of association egocentricity. While I’ll certainly take their certification transfer when I’m eligible in January 2015, I’m not sure that I trust that all the rough edges will be polished in time for our study group’s needs.

HRCI has said publically that the SPHR and PHR designations are not going away. Since most of our educational webinars (like the July 24 ACA FT/PT Compliance one I spoke on) are already set up for continuing education credits for attendees, we know that the vast majority of folks who ask for continuing education forms are SPHR and PHRs seeking their recertification credits. Many of the clients I’ve worked for over the years have held these designations, but certainly not everyone had them. Since HR has such a common “trial-by-fire” pedigree, it’s often that folks find themselves in an HR career without starting out their career with that as their North Star. Many folks pick up the duties because someone needed to at the time, and years later find themselves in a rewarding and ever-changing journey without end. Perhaps certifications can help to fill in the gaps between formal schooling and the knowledge we each need on a daily basis to lead our companies?

In some of the marketing around their new designation, I found a highly interesting and convicting piece of data from Hank Jackson, SHRM President: “Currently only 12 percent of HR professionals are certified— well under the levels found in other professions.” I know professional certifications can offer comfort to employer-clients that their brokers and consultants understand their needs and point of view. It’s my hope that Lockton’s new Associate study group will help increase this number and the overall abilities of our teams to “Live Service” daily.

Renaissance vs. Dilettantes

Posted by on August 11, 2014 | Be the First to Comment

While I am still a bit loopy from pain medications, I thought it would be best to have someone else step in to fill the blog this week. This gem comes from Wendy, our Operations Manager and NPR listener.

job interview

As I was driving to work this morning, I heard a reporter on NPR relate the results of a study in which organizations were asked their perceptions of applicants that have held many jobs, or what we used to call in the HR community as “hoppers”.  I couldn’t help but consider HR technology’s role in the job fulfillment process and how it supported the study’s findings.

The study set out to analyze how conservative companies are in their hiring and whether the perception of an applicant’s suitability is based on the number of previous jobs held.   The reporter outlined two types of applicants:  ‘Renaissance’ and ‘Dilettantes’.  Renaissance applicants are defined in the study as people who do many things well—think of Thomas Jefferson who painted, played several instruments, was a math whiz, all while serving as Governor.  Dilettantes are defined as people who do a lot of things, but not with a depth of knowledge or experience.

A renaissance-type applicant could be mistaken for a dilettante-type applicant.  Someone may have a wide variety of job experiences in their arsenal, leading the evaluator giving the resume a passing glance to determine the applicant is a dilettante.  However, the skills gained may have been obtained in a manner that allowed the applicant to practice those skills as they went on to the subsequent positions, leading to more of a renaissance characterization.

Conversely, a dilettante could easily be mistaken for a renaissance.  Someone may have longevity at one or two companies in multiple positions with great-sounding titles, leading the evaluator to assume the person has gained experience characteristic of a renaissance type.  However, the positions may not have allowed for deep knowledge or the person may not have performed well enough to claim a depth of knowledge.

In the business world, recruiters are faced with renaissance and dilettante applicants all the time. It can be a struggle to ensure the resumes they are basing interview decisions on truly reflect the applicants’ suitability.   Recruiting software such as SilkRoad and iCIMS can help with the process of initially evaluating applications.  In my early years of HR system management, recruiting software was just being released and was touted as the best thing since sliced bread.  You could enter a few key words and search the hundreds of applications to find the top 10 resumes based on ‘hit’ scores.  The recruiter could then review the resumes and set up interviews with applicants they determined were the most closely-matched.  The ability to screen out the truly inappropriate matches (e.g., no work experience at all) was definitely welcomed.

Since the time of those first releases many moons ago, applicants have become even more savvy, interspersing words and key phrases in their resumes that usually pass their resumes through initial filters so that a recruiter will not discard their applications out of hand.  Additionally, recruiting software has progressed to scanning social sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook for suitable candidates, allowing companies to proactively contact renaissance people.  Many recruiting software companies also enable mass job blasts to specific industry types enabling some level of assurance that the applicants would have the necessary skill.  If a company has clearly defined the requirements for the open position and has configured the software to search based on the requirements, some differentiation between applicants may be achieved.  Even with all of the advancements in technology, a true determination of whether the applicant is a dilettante or renaissance can only be discovered by talking with the applicant and determining if they truly have the required qualifications to be successful in the job.

The outcome of the NPR-reported study showed  that although a lot of companies indicate that they like a breadth of knowledge (a lot of things), it’s more important to them to have employees who have a depth of experience, with those experiences building on each other over time.  Technological advances are fantastic and truly save time in the recruiting effort, but technology cannot guarantee a skilled hire.   Whether you have a hiring profile that targets renaissance people or dilettante people, however you define them, it is still critical to inject a human component into the search process.

What are your thoughts on renaissance versus dilettante applicants? Which would you rather hire and work with?

Welcome to the HR Technology Blog!

Posted by on August 8, 2014 | Be the First to Comment

Hey you! Yeah, you! The new guy!

Thank you for visiting Lockton’s HR Technology blog! We hope you find everything you were looking for and more!

Please take a few minutes to check out this video to help you better understand who we are and what we are trying to do here.

If you have any HR Technology quetions or topics you would like me to cover, please let me know by commenting below or tweeting them to me @HRTechKaiser.