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The Future Of Work: HR Hackathons Improve The Candidate And Employee Experience

via Forbes : The rate and pace of digital transformation is impacting all business functions. HR is at the center of this as digital disruption and is inventing new ways to recruit and engage talent.

Marty Libbert, executive vice president of global technology and operations, MetLife says his company’s emphasis on digital has driven a new approach to developing leaders. “One of the top criteria for us today is looking at — and looking for — people who have the skill sets to work cross-functionally across the organization,” Lippert said. My recent Forbes column, The Future of Work: The Death of A Single Skill Set In The Age of Automation, examined how companies are requiring a new set of hybrid skills, so employees can work collaboratively across functions to identify new product solutions and bring them to market.

The hackathon, once only used by IT, is now being reinvented to improve both the candidate and employee experience while acting as a vehicle to develop deeper cross functional skills. The thinking behind a hackathon is when you bring together a diverse group of individuals, the less time they have to solve a problem, the more likely they will be able to.

The Hackathon Model For HR

Simply defined, a hackathon is typically . In fact, the Facebook “Like” button and Facebook Chat were both first demoed at internal Facebook hackathons

At the heart of the HR hackathon is the application of design thinking to see the world through an employee’s eyes. Hackathons are now being used inside forward thinking Human Resource functions to re-invent the candidate and employee experience. I have profiled hackathons at LinkedIn to better understand the experience of a college intern, and at Cisco to “break” big and small HR practices and deliver a more memorable experience. What both of these hackathons have in common is the forward thinking HR leaders are moving outside of the HR silo and using design thinking to re-imagine HR.

HR Hackathons implemented in 2017 and planned for 2018 are taking the best of these early adopter models and expanding the scope and audience to use the hackahton to develop actual new HR product prototypes.

Increasingly, HR Hackathons bring together HR practitioners with internal business leaders, design thinking facilitators, software designers, product researchers, UX designers, and even some start-up Tech CEO’s to ideate and prototype new breakthrough solutions for the organization. Jet.com and DBS are the latest to embark on this journey to improve the employee experience, develop new solutions, and use the hackathon to build cross functional leader skills.

Jet.com Hackathon Improves The Candidate Experience With Casy

The Talent Experience team at Jet.com set out to create a hackathon to improve the job candidate experience at Jet.com, a subsidiary of Walmart. The problem, as defined by the Talent team at Jet.com, was to improve the candidate experience and to match aspiring candidates with job openings at the company.

And research backs them up. Forbes reports that 85% of applicants don’t hear back after submitting an application— while 71% of employers claim that they can’t find a candidate with the right skill set.

So, the Talent Experience team at Jet.com set out to bring together a diverse team of HR, software designers, product designers, software developers, aspiring students, and key Jet.com business leaders to create a solution for improving the job candidate experience. The way they did this was to develop a hackathon to both examine how to improve the candidate experience as well as actually develop new HR solutions.

Core to the process was defining the criteria for selecting a “winning solution.” The Jet.com Talent Experience team kept this simple and submissions were rated on a scale of 1-10, answering the following questions:

1. How good is the idea?

2. How much value does it bring to the candidate experience?

3. How usable is it?

4. How well is it designed from a user experience point of view?

5. Was any research used in the overall process?

The Talent team at Jet.com believed that if the company designed an easy way to match an applicant with the right set of key words in a job description, that this could short cut the hiring process and improve the overall candidate experience. Sean Echevarria, of the Jet.com Talent Experience team says, “We decided to use the hackathon model not just to scope out the problem but to bring the right people — a mix of HR and software designers — to solve the problem with a solution.”

And that is what happened. The winning solution, named Casy, leverages machine learning to match a job description with key words in an applicant’s resume. Plus, Casy works for not only Jet.com applicants but for anyone looking for a job.

The Jet.com HR Hackathon developed by the Talent Experience team solves a particular problem in the candidate experience process by involving both HR and product and software designers. It’s this expanded scope of the HR hackathon that has the potential to impact the ability of HR to prepare for digital disruption in the candidate and employee experience.

DBS HR Hackathon Improves The Employee Experience

In the last four years, Singapore-based DBS Bank, one of the largest banks in Asia, watched the emergence of FinTech—technology-driven financial services companies — with growing wariness. Broadly, FinTech offers users an array of financial services on mobile apps, from managing investments to making group payments that were once the exclusive domain of banks.

A recent report by Citigroup forecasts retail banking automation could spur a 30% decline in banking jobs across the U.S. Asia and Europe over the next decade. That would imply eliminating nearly 2 million jobs.

As early as 2013, DBS implemented a series of hackathons to help bankers think and act with a digital mindset. Over 500 DBS employees and 50 start-up ventures from across the Southeast Asia region were participants in the first hackathon to encourage cross-fertilization of ideas. During the three-day hackathon, the participants were prototyping new customer solutions for banking. The hackathon produced more than 50 prototypes of new banking products, with 12 that were launched by DBS.

Within time, this thinking was being applied to HR. In February 2017, DBS became the first bank in Southeast Asia to use a hackathon as a way of recruiting software developers in Singapore and India. Following their participation in the DBS sponsored hackathon, top performers were offered full-time roles at DBS.

In August 2017, DBS HR decided to organize their own internal hackathon. The goal as stated by the Group Head of Human Resources at DBS was to use the hackathon to create a “more joyful experience for DBS employees”, while at the same time being open to re-vamping HR processes.

One of the first steps in the DBS HR hackathon was to develop personas, representations of various types of DBS employees, such as “the Millennial employee”, “the mid-career hire” or the “the long-service staff” and to see the employee life cycle through the eyes of these employee personas.

Within the 12 hours, the DBS HR Hackathon generated over 200 HR solutions from 340 DBS HR practitioners across 9 countries. Many of these solutions leveraged artificial intelligence and robotics to enhance the DBS employee experience. For example, DBS HR team members proposed a few new HR solutions such as the Compensation Intelligence Manager, an AI enabled bot designed to answer commonly asked questions concerning compensation and benefits such as bonuses and paid time. They also proposed HR Robotix introducing their new robot Harri. Harri is an HR manager powered by artificial intelligence to address commonly asked HR questions.

Regardless of whether the end product is improving the candidate experience, creating new banking solutions, or enhancing the employee experience, the goal of a hackathon is the same: to bring a diverse group of individuals together to meet digital disruption head on.

Often, this involves defining the business problem, setting up the process and criteria for success, and watching individuals collaborate and produce amazing solutions for the business… Have you tried a hackathon internally? What has been your experience?

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