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From HR Tech to Work Tech: Companies need holistic systems for talent development

The trend is moving toward freelancing, at least that’s what fashion magazines want you to believe. There they are, fresh and flexible, the unbound libertines, bringing color into the gray corporate daily grind. Even without exaggeration and extravagance, one thing is clear: more and more companies are relying on the services of people who are not employed by them. In a study conducted by Harvard Business School (HBS) together with the management consultancy BCG, in which 700 managers from U.S. companies were surveyed, half stated that their core workforce will shrink significantly in the coming years. At the same time, respondents want to “hire,” “borrow,” or “share” more talent in the future. A similar trend is also emerging in Germany. A study by the World Economic Forum also concluded that around half of companies would like to rely more on freelancers in the future to bring new impulses and knowledge into the company. Work on demand is here to stay – and not just in terms of temporary employees from outside the company.

Internal gigs are gaining importance

Germany is not exactly known for being very in tune with the needs of freelancers. A comprehensive legal and tax framework that gives both sides – companies and contractors – the necessary flexibility and legal certainty (in this combination) is still a long time coming. A high-level gig economy, as has long been established in other countries, will probably only develop slowly in this country. This makes it all the more important for companies to track down, utilize and promote their talent internally. Work on demand – this must also be possible within organizations in the future if they want to remain creative and quick to act in the face of constant new challenges.

Less administration, more liveliness

A high level of agility is not only a benchmark for an organization’s people and their skills, but also for the systems that they use for their HR and talent management. The age of mere administration is over. What is needed are systems that evolve with the organization and its employees, that map skills, learning needs, skill gaps, positions and roles to be filled, learning opportunities, jobs, work models, and much more in real-time. And please, let’s not tackle every area with a different system. According to a US study, the average large company has 120 different HR tools. Presumably (and understandably), the majority of these lie dormant most of the time – and with them the information stored about employees and their skills and experience. To get organizations moving, new and smart systems are needed that interface with the valuable data about how people learn, live, and work in the organization, and thus tap into the greatest asset companies have: their own talent pool.

Putting the people in the spotlight

The pioneers of digital transformation have long since converted their systems – from pure HR tech to integrated work tech, in which people become visible and tangible with their skills, wishes, challenges, ambitions, talents, in short, with everything they bring to the organization. In these kinds of systems, the HR functions run automatically, but the focus is on the people and what they can and want to achieve for the company. This kind of system is never finished but grows with the company organically. If new needs arise on the side of the employees or the management level, corresponding technological features can be docked on like a building block system, whether it be external tools or those that are developed from within the system. A good user experience is essential here. After all, only if systems are easy to use and understand by employees and management alike will they be used,  maintained, and continuously fed with new information.

Smart software at crucial interfaces

From the beginning, flexibility and a strong focus on what users want and need have been part of the Tandemploy DNA. Both factors are essentially the reason why we exist, coupled with the desire to bring together what we believe belongs together: companies and the true skills of their employees, digital technology and contemporary ways of working, work and a fulfilled life. With this mindset and with maximum openness to what companies and their employees need, we are constantly developing Tandemploy Work Tech. We don’t just match people with offerings within organizations, we match people with people. And we are the so very important interface between what employees are capable of and want and what is available in terms of offers and opportunities in the HR systems already anchored in the organization, whether it be job postings, learning opportunities, or short-term deployment opportunities. We currently have two new features that we have integrated into the software based on feedback from our customers:

  • Learning Opportunities: Based on the learning needs that employees enter, they are presented with matching colleagues who want to share their skills and knowledge, but also learning opportunities within our modules (short assignments, projects, etc.) where you learn on the job, as well as learning opportunities from other popular LMS and LXP systems, such as Success Factors, LinkedIn Learning, and others.

  • Talent Pooling: This function enables project leaders and management to group employees with suitable qualifications for a task or a position in a “talent pool” and to share this with others. Due to the unbiased matching, which is based purely on the skills specified by the employees themselves, and not on previous project experience or connections, everyone has the chance to be considered for a project or a position and to “land in the pool”.

Consumerization of Talent Management: It must be irresistible

Talent management according to the Netflix principle means: know your users and make it irresistible for them to use your system. And that’s exactly what we do – with a special user experience. This ensures that users enjoy maintaining their profiles and keep adding new skills. Due to the AI-driven suggestions, these are often much more extensive than the employees themselves were previously aware of. This way, they lay the foundation not only for getting to know great colleagues from other areas, but also for getting an overview of suitable positions that need to be filled. The software feeds this information into its dashboard in a way that is completely incidental, but prominently visible to users. Conversely, project managers, recruiters, and active sourcing managers can post jobs on external job portals linked to the system if no employees with a suitable skill set can be found internally.

With the help of the software, organizational processes are broken down so that everyone can help shape them. To achieve this, in addition to a pronounced understanding of processes and a certain love of technology, what is needed most of all is a people-centric attitude. In this interview, our UX designer Karolin explains how we translate complex organizational needs and insights into human behavior and needs into a user interface that everyone involved enjoys and that keeps them coming back for more.  

Dear Karo, Tandemploy develops software that is intended to serve people in companies in the best way possible. Specifically, it’s about connecting employees from the bottom up based on their skills and talents. How do you approach such a big topic from a design and UX perspective?

Your question already touches upon two essential points: For the bottom-up approach to unfold its full power, we need an impeccable user experience and a fun design, so that even employees who are not as tech-savvy enjoy using the software frequently. It is the mixture of design, UX, and our real-life use cases that make the Tandemploy software special. Skills play a central role, especially in matching and for the presentation of individual offers, such as learning opportunities or jobs, but also to enable employees to make their skills and talents visible, which often remain hidden behind rigid structures in the offline working world.

To make skills visible and promote meaningful employee profiles, we continuously analyze and optimize the user experience with the help of AI, which suggests complementary skills on an individual basis to simplify the maintenance of profiles and strengthen their impact.

To ensure a consistent user interface design we have developed a style guide with graphic components and specifications and in the frontend a UI library to create a consistently appealing visual user experience.

Generally, new features come to us either from our product vision or actual customer requirements. First, it’s about really understanding the user’s needs and expectations and defining a goal. Then we create user-centric user journeys for different roles and visualize them from the rough draft to the high fidelity prototype, iterating as often as needed until a solution is found for all roles.

Experience shows that employees use the Talent Marketplace regularly, enriching their profiles over time with more and more information, thus taking care of their personal and professional development in a targeted way. How does the tool do that? What did you emphasize in the design?

Users are regularly informed about new matches, opportunities, and messages via email, and are taken directly to the right place on the platform. For the design, we focused on a friendly design with varied illustrations that match the respective topic of the email.

The different topic-specific modules give users many reasons to log in. Sometimes they are looking for an expert, sometimes they are submitting a proposal for a project. We pay attention to short click paths and a modern design with enough white space, pictures, or illustrations and a loose content structure. I would call it a minimalist design with accents.

There are many possibilities for interaction on the platform, such as our Coffee Button, which invites you to contact us, and individual offers on the dashboard, so it’s always worth checking out what’s new.

You address very different target groups with the software: On the one hand, employees in different areas with different levels of digital competence and experience, and on the other hand the management level, which can also be very diverse in terms of digital competence. Which requirements do you have to fulfill when developing a user interface that can be utilized equally by everyone? Or to put it another way: How does a good UX promote equality in companies?

Despite different user journeys and roles, the software should be easy to use for everyone and lead to a result quickly. It has everything you need for good user guidance, such as well-structured navigation, a clear visual hierarchy, unambiguous button types (call-to-action buttons) and texts, a functioning feedback system (confirmations, warnings, error messages), and, in addition, there are help texts that can be displayed for inexperienced users. The design allows the software to be used on different devices without loss of quality, whether on a stationary computer or mobile.  

Of course, it is essential that all employees can use the software safely and with ease. However, the bigger step towards equality in companies is taken by our modules and features that open up opportunities for employees to help shape the process, which brings us full circle to the topic of valuable skills and talents.

 Which feature in the software is your personal favorite and why?

I always like the newest feature in the concept phase. ;)

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