How HRTech Vendors are Winning the War on Talent

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Its seems like the war for talent is something that just doesn’t go away. In 1997, while I was still in high school, McKinsey released a “groundbreaking” study identifying the Talent War as a strategic business challenge. In 2016, many years out of high school, we are still talking about it but only call it “the new war on talent” as if adding the word “new” somehow makes it seem like we have made global progress.

Talent has remained a hot topic for nearly two decades.

During this same 20 year period, the HCM industry has exploded into a estimated 15-20 billion dollar industry – providing automation and access for managing this war as well as the rest of talent management leaving our employee’s happy, engaged and fulfilled! Well, at least in theory.

The truth is while the market exploded – many of the HR Technology solutions were still not focused on the people vs. process. The automation was there, but so were the wrong methods that were just automated.

Software alone can’t fix a bad process.

The technology was there, but not helping as it should because there was still a lack of understanding. Organizations of all sizes in every industry were struggling to find a great balance and become a “best place to work.” HR Technology was not immune to that.  Marketing would put out a press release highlighting clients that made “best places to work list” but very few HR Tech vendors themselves were being highlighted. As recently as five years ago, some well-known brands in the space didn’t even use their own products to run their talent management in-house. The disconnect between a vendor’s culture and their product made it harder for the clients and the employees.  Employees had a hard time selling, educating the buyers, and believing in something they didn’t experience from their leadership and their own organization.  VC & Investment groups had fell in love with HR Tech, but top talent still wasn’t buying in.

And that is when top vendors pulled ahead.

Select HR Tech companies realized that the best way to help their clients become the best places to work, was to make sure they were living up to those standards themselves.  Today, some of the brightest minds in HR Technology are not the analysts or the bloggers or the “thought leaders”. They are inside the vendors and working the front lines with hundreds of clients. They can see trends and flag concerns in the marketplace before anyone else. HR Technology vendors are training and developing their workforce not only because of the positive impact it has internally, but also the huge benefits to clients and future customers.   Top tier best places to work for HR Technology Vendors have some of their best and brightest in Sales and Client Support – providing a level of customer education on a one on one basis that buyers would have had to pay a consultant heavily for in the mid-2000’s.   Implementation support has evolved and become as educational as functional.  The buy in for the HR Technology crowd has changed – Sir Richard Branson even keynoted a recent HR Technology Event in Europe.

The impact of HR Technology Vendors being top places to work goes beyond the employees of the vendors and reaches into improving the process and strategy of every client company they support!

Today, look at any “best places to work” and right along side the clients of HR Technology vendors – are  vendors themselves – practicing the lessons their technology support and sharing best practices with clients.  Just look at the list below:

Fortune – Best Companies to Work For

#21 Ultimate Software

#22 Workday

#40 OC Tanner

Fortune – Best Workplaces in Tech

#1 Ultimate Software

#2 Workday

#6 Cornerstone OnDemand

#7 Hirevue (Medium Size Business List)

GlassDoor – 2016 Best Places to Work

#6 Linkedin

#35 Workday

#44 Qualtrics (SMB List)

#49 One Source Virtual (SMB List)

GlassDoor – Highest Rated CEO

#5 Ultimate Software, Scott Scherr

#12 Linkedin, Jeff Weiner

#21 Paychex, Martin Mucci

Outside Online – Best Places to work

#43 Cornerstone OnDemand

Savvy HR Technology buyers are also looking to these lists, understanding that happy employees traditionally means better customer service and support for them. As the check boxes on products themselves become more similar and involved on a wider level internally than ever before, more and more buyers I talk to are matching their corporate cultures to their vendors when making buying decisions.

Having a great place to work and investing in your people is not an easy business decision, it takes risk, time and understanding that in the long run, the investment will be worth it. If your organization has been wondering what is behind the companies making the “best places to work” lists – here are four insights from the C-Suite.

4 Tips from the HR Tech C-Suite on how they are Winning the Talent War

A True Focus on People

“As an HCM provider, your focus is always people. Your employees, your customers, and your community. You devote your energy and your resources to serving people—because it’s the right thing to do. You believe in people, 100%. Ultimate’s core philosophy, ‘People First,’ begins with our employees and our culture. We’ve built Ultimate on trust, respect, and care. Together, we’ve built Ultimate into a workplace where people do their best work. And we create technology that empowers people to do their best work. There’s no business without people. And there’s no Ultimate without our employees.” Scott Scherr, CEO, Ultimate Software.

Look Beyond the Resume

“Today’s most admired and fastest-growing companies know that résumés are useless. They know that creative, motivated, passionate people who can contribute to high performing teams are the last competitive edge. It’s why (our clients) prefer using technology that focuses on the person as a whole, said Mark Newman, Founder & CEO of HireVue. “They are tapping the power of video and predictive analytics to analyze cultural fit, and using data-driven decisions to make smarter bets on raw potential.”

Walk the Talk

“As the global leader in talent management, we need to “walk the talk” and enable our employees to realize their potential. Our recognition (as a best place to work)…showcase our belief that great companies must put their employees first. Our culture is personified in our products and we couldn’t be more proud to help the world’s leading organizations manage their talent and empower their people.” Jason Corsello, VP, Cornerstone OnDemand

Focus on Diversity.

Entelo start-up CEO & Founder, Jon Bischke feels very strongly about diversity and has built not only a product but also his leadership team around that concept. Beyond the traditional balance and expectation of race and gender – he encourages a variety of educational backgrounds, schools, cultures, etc. to make Entelo a better place. And the model is working, recently attracting their new Director of Engineering from Twitter.



If you are interested in learning more about the link between talent, employee engagement, being a great place to work and profitability join me March 9 for my session at Ultimate Software’s Connections 2016 event in Las Vegas, NV. 

  1. Micole Kaye says

    Love this, Sarah! (: Thanks for sharing!

  2. says

    interesting read

  3. Josh Tolan says

    Every organization should strive to be a great place to work, especially when it comes to recruiting talent. However, for companies that seem to be losing the War for Talent, it’s important to recognize why candidates aren’t interested. Our latest episode of The Recruiting Reel, features insights from expert recruiter, Todd Raphael, about what types of things turns talent away:

  4. Ward Christman says

    Great article and the gold nugget: “Savvy HR Technology buyers are also looking to these lists, understanding that happy employees traditionally means better customer service and support for them.”

    When I advise HR Tech companies on their social media presence I warn them that buyers will be (or should be) checking them out on sites like Glassdoor and looking them up on LinkedIn – you need to be presentable or they’ll buy from someone else.

    In the 1990’s when I ran a job board, my 12th hire was a full-time HR pro – not only did we need and want that role, we wanted to make a statement to our clients that we’re committed to HR and their success…. and have a “great place to work!”

  5. Larry Bradley says

    Sarah, The “War for Talent” has been raging for hundreds, if not for thousands of years. The talent war discussion simply recycles for every new generation. The context of the talent war, as well as the technology engaged in the war, change, but little else changes. Especially in a robust economy, too many organizations will always be chasing after too small of a talent pool… depending on how each organization chooses to define “talent.” Technology certainly can help in those areas where routine, repetitive and numbers-driven tasks are part of the talent acquisition challenge, but technology is, and will continue to be, a poor substitute in those areas that require discernment, judgement and intelligence (there is no such thing as Artificial Intelligence, in the pure sense of the word) except in those areas, perhaps, such as pre-employment testing and number-crunching for patterns.

    As for some of the comments posted here such as “…happy employees traditionally means better customer service and support for them,…” we need more HR people who are willing and able to examine these bromide kinds of paradigms that really have no scientific basis to support them. In that regard, technology actually does HR and organizations a disservice in that allows the rapid spread of garbage management statements and beliefs.

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