Meet Xander: How Ultimate Software’s Newest AI Keeps Employees Happier and More Engaged at Work


Xander Employee Perception AIMention the term AI in a crowded room and you’ll get all kinds of reactions. From Hal the Robot references to serious questions about machine learning, artificial intelligence is something everybody’s thinking about. In the HR space, everybody knows it has potential to change the way we work. The real question, however, is: how can AI make a difference to your HR processes today?

At the HR Technology Conference earlier this month, we attended a demo of Ultimate Software’s new AI function, Xander. Xander is one answer to that bottom line question. According to Ultimate Software, its goal is to:

Help every employee continuously and confidently improve themselves and their organization.


Ultimate Software’s AI philosophy is that AI shouldn’t replace people or automate tasks. Instead, it should help people do what they want to do, but can’t. And that’s why they created Xander.

What Does Xander Do? 

The platform analyzes employee sentiments to help companies improve employee satisfaction, performance, and retention. The goal is to help employers understand, anticipate, and act on employee perceptions:

  • Understand—Give employees tools to tell you about their experiences and interpret their responses.
  • Anticipate—Monitor key retention drivers using heat maps to determine what is going well and which areas need improvement.
  • Act—Xander provides feedback based on the results and suggests actions you can take to improve perceptions.

How Does It Work?

Xander is a combination of AI products, not a stand-alone technology (view a demo here). It uses several tools to achieve the goal of continual improvement:

  • Sentiment Analysis—Identifies emotional drivers behind employee comments and categorizes them as positive, negative, indifferent, enthusiastic, confused, angry, frustrated, nervous, etc.
  • Machine Learning—Xander learns how employees are feeling based on the way they communicate, and it produces more accurate results than human analysts can.
  • Natural Language Processing—Rather than relying on check boxes or traditional rating systems to gauge employee perceptions, natural language processing can pull data from the natural language used in text-based survey responses, reviews, and social media posts.
  • Action Recommendations—Using the data gathered from employee responses, Xander predicts behavior and recommends actions. For example, if high performers are stressed about management, they may be at risk. Xander can identify where managers are missing opportunities to support those employees and recommend actions to boost engagement.
  • Name Redaction—The system is programmed to redact names so that you can keep your finger on the pulse of the company in a non-threatening way. The goal is to identify weak areas and action opportunities, not to call out specific employees.

Xander Sentiment Analysis

Ultimate Software’s bottom line philosophy has always been “People First.” With Xander, they’re taking that concept to a whole new level. We look forward to seeing continued innovation with AI concepts across other HR activities like recruiting, onboarding, and succession planning.

Ready to find an HR technology solution for your business? Our HRIS Comparison Tool helps you compare and contrast software platforms based on your unique requirements.

HR Tech Conference 2017: What’s Next in AI for Human Resources?

Human Resources and AILast week, the CompareHRIS team attended the annual HR Technology Conference in Las Vegas. As the go-to conference for all things tech in the HR space, this conference gives attendees the inside track on what’s coming next for recruiting, employee engagement, performance management, and core HR software (and more).

The major topic of discussion in Vegas last week was AI/machine learning. We heard about intelligent analysis and data predictions in the form of predictive analytics, performance management tools, chat bots, emotional intelligence, and more.

We’ll give more details in the coming weeks, but for now, let’s take a high-level look at the big trends in this field.

Who’s Using AI for Human Resources?

You couldn’t walk down the hall at the HR Tech Conference this year without hearing buzz about AI. Just about every session we attended touched on the concept and its ramifications for the HR space. The expo floor was filled with companies touting new product developments, like this chat bot example we saw in the Digital Disruption mega session on Thursday:

Vendors like Ultimate Software have already begun building AI capabilities into their software platforms, and the startup corner showcased new companies honing in on specific applications and functions. Here are a few highlights from the expo floor:

Ultimate SoftwareUltimate Software unveiled their highly anticipated AI technology innovation, Xander. Xander uses natural language processing, sentiment analysis, and data to analyze employee feedback, make predictions, and recommend actions that will support both employees and managers.

HireVueHireVue has created an intelligent video scoring product that assesses job candidate video interviews using an AI algorithm. The technology looks for behavioral cues like eye contact and facial expressions to assess candidate fit for a position or culture.

Entelo EnvoyEntelo Envoy screens candidate databases for matches using data and predictive analytics. It uses machine learning to perform unbiased searches designed to identify not only which candidates qualify for your position, but also which ones are most likely to be interested in the job.

Are You Ready for AI in Your Workforce?

Plenty of other software developers are jumping on the AI train as well, giving companies a lot of options for expanding their current capabilities. However, not every company is ready to capitalize on new software. Here are three things you’ll need to have in place before AI can truly make a difference for you:

  • Data—You must have a good data foundation in place before you can leverage AI. That means fully integrated data storage, clean data records, and strong data entry processes. For example, do you enter the same piece of data in more than one place? Do you have duplicate records? If not, how can you improve the integrity of your data to prepare for new technology?
  • Culture—Technology is moving at an overwhelmingly fast pace, and employees aren’t keeping up. It’s time to move past discussions of technology adoption and focus instead on integrating technology into employee workflows strategically so that it becomes second nature.
  • Reskilling—Advancements in automation often mean skill shifts in the workforce. If you automate data analysis, how can you retrain the employees who currently perform those tasks to use their skills in more effective ways? Reskilling requires a fresh look at your learning management and training programs, with a shift toward adaptation and flexibility rather than simply training for a specific task.

As Leapgen CEO Jason Averbook reminded us in Bill Kutik’s session, placing a new layer of technology on top of a flawed foundation is like putting frosting on a moldy cake. Before you buy the frosting, take a good, hard look at the cake so you can savor the final result.

What’s Coming Next?

Artificial intelligence for HR is admittedly still in its early stages. Josh Bersin predicts that we will soon see significant advances in AI for many HR applications including personalized coaching, performance management, data interpretation/predictive analytics, employee services, recruiting, learning management, and more.

It’s a brave new world out there. AI is already extremely relevant to HR. And soon it will be indispensable.

Are you ready?

When you’re ready to update your HR software, we make it easy for you! Our HRIS Comparison Tool matches your company with the right software product based on your specifications.

What’s New at the 2017 HR Tech Conference?

Our CompareHRIS team is heading to Las Vegas for the 2017 HR Tech Conference next week. We’re pumped about the speakers, exhibitors, and vendors we’ll get to meet, as well as the awesome tech and sessions we’ll get to experience.

But we’re also heartbroken for the city of Las Vegas as they recover in the wake of Sunday night’s tragic shooting. As we pack our bags and laptops, we invite you to join us in holding the victims and their families in our thoughts and prayers.

What’s Happening at the 2017 HR Tech Conference?

Next week’s conference promises to knock it out of the park with topics like these:

  • Women in HR Technology
  • How HR Tech Can Foster a More Diverse, Inclusive Workforce
  • Harnessing the Power of a Connected Workforce: How to Maximize Talent With Continuous Performance Management
  • Building the Perfect TA Tech Stack
  • Connecting HR Technology, Analytics, and Employee Experience Design
  • Digital Transformation in HR is Today, Not Tomorrow

And of course, we can’t wait to hear Josh Bersin’s closing keynote address discussing digital HR and technology architecture.

If you’re not able to make it this year, we promise we’ll give you the scoop on what we learned and our biggest takeaways—so stay tuned!

A Different City

As the HR tech community heads to Las Vegas next week, we’ll be flying into a different city than the one we thought we would be visiting. We want all of our colleagues and friends in Las Vegas to know that we support you and we’re standing with you in your loss.

Many thanks to all of the 2017  HR Tech Conference speakers, vendors, and organizers for what promises to be an enlightening and inspiring week!



Looking for more information about HR Technology? Our one-of-a-kind HRIS Comparison Tool helps you compare software vendors based on your unique specifications! Check it out! 


These 5 HR Metrics Will Transform Your Workforce Management Strategy

Workforce management metricsHow do you make decisions in the HR department? Do you go with your gut? Or have you started following the growing trend toward data-based decision-making?

We have reams of data at our fingertips these days, and using that data to make better decisions seems like an obvious choice. But it’s not always easy to pull out meaningful information from the digital stratosphere—the kind that helps you understand your workforce and improve performance.

In a forest of data, sometimes it’s hard to find individual trees.


Why It’s Tough to Track People Metrics

Managing people isn’t like managing products. Employee satisfaction and productivity can’t always be easily quantified, and many companies struggle with knowing what to measure. Let’s look at three reasons companies don’t succeed with HR analytics:

  • They don’t have an integrated data system. If you’re storing data in multiple places, it’s difficult to pull that data together into a meaningful report. That’s why many HR software platforms use a single database to store and track all your data, whether it’s coming from payroll, core HR, or your ATS. Platforms that use a best-of-breed model have also made great strides in data integration, giving you immediate access to the key metrics you need. Whichever model you choose, be sure you have the functionality to access key data easily.
  • They don’t gather enough data. If you don’t collect the data in the first place, you can’t analyze it later. This can be difficult if you have an outdated HRIS or you’re still operating with spreadsheets. If you’re ready to take the next step with data analytics, you may need to consider updating your workforce management software first.
  • They don’t know what to measure. Now we’re getting into the subjective realm of workforce analytics. Which metrics matter? Which ones will give the insights you need to make better decisions? That’s what we’ll look at next.

5 HR Metrics For Better Workforce Management

Once you have a robust HR software platform in place, you can gather and track data to improve the effectiveness of your workforce management strategy. Take some time to put together your key performance indicators based on your business objectives, your organizational goals, and the information that matters most to senior leaders in your company. Remember, your goal is to track data that can help you make better decisions for individuals, departments, and the company as a whole.

To get you started, we’ve put together a list 5 HR metrics that will help you keep your finger on the pulse of your workforce:

  1. Productivity

Before you can accurately gauge this metric, you’ll need to decide what productivity means for your company. Is it hours logged? Calls made? Sales closed? Projects completed? Carefully consider how you monitor employee productivity, and track performance over time.

  1. Employee Satisfaction

When measured alongside productivity, employee satisfaction can indicate how engaged your workforce is. Performance reviews help you rate employee satisfaction, but you can also use tools like performance assessments, teambuilding initiatives, and incentives to see which employees are happiest at work. Use mobile alerts and email reminders to get feedback when you need it.

  1. Voluntary Turnover

Tracking turnover rates can be helpful, but measuring voluntary turnover (people who leave your company by choice) can give you an even better look at whether your employees are satisfied in their roles. Keep your eye on numbers, but also consider conducting exit surveys to ask employees about their reasons for leaving.

  1. Training Efficiency

Is your training program getting the job done? Measure training expenses per employee, and create a checklist of training goals for each employee. Monitor increased productivity over time as trainees complete their goals and compare against your training costs to determine whether your training program is meeting expectations.

  1. Retention Rate Per Manager

Just about everyone tracks retention, but can you break down retention rates by manager or department? This will help you identify any weak points in your organizational structure, and let you know whether your managers could benefit from additional management training.


The right metrics can help you improve talent acquisition, performance, retention, profitability, and much more. But it all starts with the right software. Do you have the tools you need to create a strong workforce management strategy?


Are you in the market for new workforce management software? Find your perfect match with our HRIS comparison tool!

Introverts At Work: How to Help Every Employee Reach Full Potential

Introverts at Work in Idea BulbThere’s no getting around it: the modern workplace is designed for extroverts. From the interview process to open-plan offices to networking events to promotional processes based on assertive behavior, it can be a tough maze for introverts to navigate. But as author and speaker Susan Cain reminds us in her well-received TED talk, The Power of Introverts, the loudest talker doesn’t always have the best ideas. Introverts bring a unique set of talents to the table—skills that businesses desperately need.

But how do you help your less vocal employees reach their full potential in a work environment where the loudest voice gets the most recognition?

Here are three ways to foster a culture of growth for every employee.

Give Workers the Freedom to Be Themselves

In our extrovert-leaning culture, leadership is often associated with assertive, dominant behavior. But Cain points out that introverts make excellent leaders because they tend to assess risk more carefully, give other employees the opportunity to share and implement ideas, and foster a culture of creativity. The argument isn’t that introverts are better leaders than extroverts. It’s that each personality type brings different strengths to the table. By giving both extroverts and introverts at work the freedom to be themselves, the organization as a whole will benefit.


  • Reconsider your office dynamics. Do introverted employees have a quiet space they can work? Do extroverted employees have plenty of opportunities to interact and bounce ideas off team members?
  • Evaluate your interview process. Do you weigh extroverted characteristics more heavily? Do you hire based on gut feelings or non-biased evaluations? If your process leans toward extroverts, consider adding an introvert to the interview team.

Teach Managers to Recognize and Challenge the Potential of Introverts at Work

The employee review can be an intimidating experience for introverts. When managers judge quality of work based on how well an employee interacts with others or expresses himself verbally, introverts often get the short end of the stick. Part of being a good manager is recognizing the strengths in every employee and harnessing those strengths to create a more engaged, productive team. That doesn’t mean trying to make introverts be more extroverted (or vice versa). It simply means understanding what every employee brings to the table and connecting him or her with the resources to succeed. For introverts, that may mean listening more, not interrupting, and respecting their need for space.


  • Rethink the employee review. Teach managers to assess quality of work and productivity during the review process rather than giving too much weight to personality characteristics. Of course, if the personality itself is creating conflicts with fellow workers or causing productivity snags, that should be addressed. But managers should recognize that a quiet worker isn’t necessarily antisocial, just as a gregarious worker isn’t automatically self-serving.
  • Recognize that different is good. Train managers to value strengths that differ from their own. An extroverted manager may tend to interact primarily with the other extroverts on her team. But by doing so, she would be missing out on a significant portion of the talents and ideas she has at her fingertips.

Hire and Promote Based on Merit, Not Self-Assertion

This may be the hardest thing to change because we often make decisions based on our gut feelings—even when we don’t know it. Still, it pays to take a close look at your hiring process and incorporate merit-based assessments and blind tests where you can. The very qualities that cause introverts at work to recede into the background (like listening instead of talking or preferring a book to a social gathering) often make them excellent leaders and thinkers.


  • Use blind tests to reduce bias. Blind tests assess employees anonymously, giving employees a chance to evaluate the skills and abilities of the individual rather than judging someone based on external factors. Many tech companies already use them, and other industries have begun adopting these practices as well.
  • Think twice before promoting. That extroverted individual who always seems to have the most ideas may be the best person for a promotion—but he may not. Be sure you have considered all your options and that you recognize both the strengths and weaknesses of your team members before you extend an offer.

It’s important for all employees—both introverts and extroverts—to take time for self-evaluation. When we recognize the talents of every team member, we can build a workplace where the extroverted ideal is challenged and improved by truly collaborative teams.

Improve your employee review process and foster cultural connections with an updated HRIS! Start your search today with our interactive HRIS comparison tool

Stop Drowning In HR Work! 5 Signs It’s Time for New HCM Software

New HCM software streamlines productivityRunning your HR office efficiently is no joke. Everybody has a different idea of how to do things better, from the CEO to the new guy you hired last week. But problems develop when your boss wants you to update—or replace—a process that your current HCMS doesn’t support.

Let’s say your CHRO has been reading up on new performance review methodology and she wants to implement a new process that includes peer feedback, quarterly reviews, and shorter assessment surveys. Great! Except your HCMS can’t do it. So now you have to come up with workarounds and/or manual processes. Not so great.

And that scenario happens more often than we like to think. So what can you do?

You Know You Need New HCM Software When…

HR has evolved over the past decade. Best practices have shifted toward stronger employee engagement and culture strategies with less emphasis on annual reviews and top down hierarchies. But if your HCMS hasn’t evolved along with it, you’re in for some major headaches.

Still, the CHRO doesn’t want to spend money on something that’s going to cost more than it’s worth or  create productivity snafus. So how do you know when it’s the right time to upgrade? Here are 5 signs you’re ready for new HCM software:

  1. You’re stressed out with clunky or inefficient processes.

As an HR professional, it’s your job to implement new strategies and protocols from the C-suite, but you’re trying to do it with Jurassic-era software. When your technology becomes a hindrance to progress, it’s time to replace it.

  1. You can’t stay on top of the work.

If you’re among the large swath of American workers who spend less than half their time on primary job duties, your HCM may be to blame. Filling most of your workday with emails, administrative tasks, searching for information to do the job, meetings, and other non-value-adding necessities costs money. The right HCM software can streamline some of those tasks, putting more productive hours back in your day.

  1. You’ve been the victim of human error one too many times.

When was the last time a typo cost your company money? Hopefully your mistake didn’t make the difference between millions and billions, but it’s still wise to automate tasks wherever you can to prevent error. If you’re still doing payroll manually or keeping data in spreadsheets, it’s time for an upgrade.

  1. You can’t find the data you need.

Do you store data in multiple warehouses? Are key departments disconnected from one another in data silos? That’s not only inefficient, but it also puts you at significant risk of error—not to mention time waste as you search around for the right piece of information. Data integration has become much easier with the advent of cloud computing. Today’s HR software providers store data either in a single system of record (like this one from Ultimate Software) or in integrated modules that manage data seamlessly in the cloud (like BambooHR).

  1. Paper-heavy tasks like onboarding and compliance have become complicated nightmares.

Some tasks require piles of paperwork by their very nature. Applications, forms, contracts—you need an efficient way to process and store these documents that doesn’t turn your office into an episode of Hoarders. If you’re drowning in paperwork, new HCM software can toss you a life preserver with digital documents, e-signatures, and electronic filing options.

How to Make Your Case to the Boss

Convinced that new software is the right course of action? That’s great—but it’s not enough. Too often, software purchasing decisions reside in the hands of people who don’t actually do the work. They may not see the hassles and headaches caused each day by inadequate software. That’s why you need a proven strategy to show the value of a new system.

Start building your case by reading our breakdown of how to justify the cost of software to your boss.

Then head over to our HR software comparison tool to create your software short list in just twenty minutes!

Manager Onboarding: Making Managers Great Again

Manager Onboarding TeamRemember what it was like to be a new employee? Your first day on the job was exciting and scary at the same time. But it’s even more intimidating when you don’t know what people expect from you or where you should turn your attention first.

Now multiply that times 100. That’s how your new managers feel on their first day if you don’t’ take time to prepare them for their roles.


So what can you do to set your managers up for success?

Two words: manager onboarding.

Why You Should Invest in Manager Onboarding

Bad managers share the responsibility for low employee morale, poor engagement, and sagging productivity rates. According to Gallup they account for up to 70% of the variation in employee engagement statistics.  

In other words, good managers create happy employees; bad managers create unhappy employees.

But bad management practices aren’t always solely the manager’s fault. Many new managers are thrust into leadership roles with no guidance about expectations, company culture, job responsibilities, or the dynamics of the team.

If you understand the value of onboarding a new employee (better engagement, higher productivity, increased retention), it should make sense that the value increases exponentially for managers. Their actions and reactions will create a ripple effect that extends to all of their direct reports and colleagues.

6 Keys to Effective Manager Onboarding

So we agree that manager onboarding is important—but how do we pull it off? What is the secret to a manager onboarding program that delivers the results you want? Here are seven keys to doing it right.

  1. Communicate Expectations
    Don’t assume that a manager’s years of experience mean he or she will automatically know what to do. Take the time to communicate job guidelines, company culture, and expectations for managers. Make organizational strategies and goals clear as well as the specifics of the job.
  1. Introduce the Team
    Help managers get to know their new team members by providing background on the people they will be managing. Talk about strengths and weaknesses, interpersonal dynamics, and any other information that might be relevant to the role. For example, if someone on the team was passed over for a promotion, let the new manager know so she doesn’t walk into a hornet’s nest.
  1. Plan One-On-One Interactions
    One of the best ways to orient managers to their new team is to facilitate one-on-one meetings during onboarding. These meetings don’t have to be long. Even a few minutes talking with each employee can give the new manager a feel for the opportunities and challenges he might be facing.
  1. Implement People Management Training
    Do you have a training strategy designed to help new leaders become better people managers? Remember, just because an employee is good at her job doesn’t mean she will be a good leader. She needs to know how to motivate people, how to resolve conflict, how to communicate effectively, how to provide helpful feedback, and much more. Don’t just toss her into the role and expect her to sink or swim.
  1. Conduct Personality and Leadership Assessments
    During onboarding, use assessments to get a feel for the new manager’s leadership style and personality. This information will help you equip each manager with the tools he needs for success.
  1. Provide Technology Support
    Use your HRIS to facilitate the manager onboarding process. Many of the same strategies you use for entry-level hires can also carry over into management onboarding. For example, consider assigning a mentor who can monitor progress, create goals, and monitor training. Your HRIS will keep everything on schedule and make it easy to complete paperwork and provide feedback.

People management is no joke. It takes a specific skill set to effectively lead a team of people, keep them on task, and help them reach their personal potential. Manager onboarding is one way to make sure your managers have the tools they need for the job. And that’s good news for your entire organization.


Does your HRIS make the onboarding process easy? If not, it’s time for an update! Our HRIS Comparison Tool helps you choose the right software for your company based on your specific requirements. Get your free software short list today!

Follow the Data: How Predictive Analytics Is Changing the Workforce Landscape

Predictive Analytics for BusinessToday’s workforce landscape looks vastly different from the one workers experienced twenty years ago. In fact, you might say mountains have fallen into valleys and new peaks have thrust up from the flatlands. And if by mountains you mean “old methods of workforce management” and by new peaks you mean, “new collaborative methods based on enhanced technology”—then you wouldn’t be far from the truth.

Technology advancements have sent seismic shocks through the workplace, leaving many companies scrambling to realign priorities in their wake.

And if all that sounds a bit melodramatic to you, then think of it this way: People have changed. Their expectations about work have changed. To keep them engaged and productive, you need to change too. Predictive analytics can show you how.

What Does Predictive Analytics Have to Do With It?

We’re seeing exponential growth in sectors like data management and analytics. Along the way, somebody got the bright idea to use all that data to predict future outcomes. It’s called predictive analytics, and it’s surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly) accurate.

In the HR office, we use predictive analytics to make projections about employee behavior and performance. For example, knowing how an employee has behaved in the past, how many jobs he has held, and how long he stayed in each position can give you insight into how long he’s likely to remain with your company.

So how can you use predictive analytics to create value for HR?

Why You Should Be Using Predictive Analytics

In their most recent Global C-Suite Study, IBM surveyed more than 5,000 C-level executives to find out what they think about business and technology. The CHRO perspective delved into how organizations can use technology to support employees more effectively, design collaborative workplaces, and create flexible business models.

In order to reach those objectives, companies will need a way to make predictions about skills needs and anticipate employee behavior. That’s the best way to create an environment where employees feel engaged and productive. The report listed five areas in which executives use predictive analytics to make better workforce decisions:

predictive analytics percent graph

As you can see from the percentages in the chart, the number of CHROs using predictive analytics to make decisions in the workplace is still relatively small. But it’s growing.

As predictive analytics becomes more widely understood, we will see more HR executives using the data they collect in their HRIS or other data management systems to make projections about things like: what factors influence an employee’s productivity or engagement; how likely it is that a given employee will leave his or her job; and how small changes in collaboration and communication will impact performance.

We’re still on the brink of the true potential data has to transform our workforces. But savvy businesses have already begun investing in the technology and personnel that can leverage HR knowledge for the greatest business value.

If you’re ready to invest in new technology for your HR office, we can help! Take our free HRIS comparison survey to create your software shortlist.

HR Resolution Check-In: 4 Next Steps for Year-End Success

HR resolution next stepsWith summer in full swing and vacation requests proliferating like mosquitoes, many companies experience a sluggish season in terms of productivity. But that doesn’t mean you can coast. We’re halfway through 2017 (already!) and it’s a good time to pull out your HR resolution list and check in.

Back in January, we posted our top eight HR resolutions for this year. Whether you used our list or came up with your own, it’s time to ask yourself how you’re doing. Have you made progress toward your goals? Is your HR department embracing the digital and cultural revolution—or is it still treating people like business byproducts instead of strategic team members?

The good news is that it’s not too late to kick those HR resolutions into gear. As they say, success is achieved one step at a time. You still have time to get the ball rolling on some of 2017’s top trends before the end of the year.

People Management

Employee engagement is still a top driver of satisfaction and retention. It’s time to set aside old school review practices and implement employee-centric processes that support career development and investments in people. Here are four ways you can get started:

  • Coaching—Give employees real-time feedback to help them become more productive in their roles. New employees will benefit from a mentor who can show them the ropes and help them acclimate to the culture.
  • Reviews—More frequent, actionable reviews produce better results than an end-of-the year checklist. Peer reviews and self evaluations are also great ways to provide feedback on goals and performance.
  • Leadership and DevelopmentRusty Lundquist predicted that 2017 would see major developments in performance, manifested in part through more intentional leadership training and L&D efforts. As collaborative teams become a more common internal structure, leadership skills will bring greater value to the organization as a whole.

Branding and Culture

Developing a strong culture and employer brand positions you as a place people want to work—and that’s more important than ever with job hopping becoming a cultural norm. Focus on these areas:

  • Recruitment Marketing—This is the external component of building your employer brand. Marketing your culture to prospective employees is one of the best ways to attract new talent. Candidates want to know the full picture before they jump on board.
  • Onboarding—Once a candidate has joined your team, you’ll focus on communicating your company values and mission to him or her. Think about what it means to work for your company and how you can infuse that into your onboarding process.
  • Employee Experiences—It does no good to market a fantastic culture if that doesn’t reflect reality. Emphasize positive employee experiences by promoting strong communication, effective management, and frequent feedback.


Strategic HR is all about emphasizing the value the HR department can bring to the organization’s bottom line goals: things like profit, productivity, ROI, and shareholder return. In order to demonstrate added value, HR will need to understand the people metrics of the organization and how they support those bottom line goals. Here are four of the most important:

  • Turnover—What are your turnover rates and how much does it cost to replace an employee?
  • Retention—How long do employees typically stay with your company? What have you done to increase retention and what numbers can you show to demonstrate results?
  • Performance—How quickly do you bring new employees up to full productivity? How can you make employees more efficient or more effective?
  • Engagement—How engaged are your employees? What impact does that have on the first three metrics?


HR technology is evolving quickly. We’ve already seen advances in automation and mobile technology, and you can expect to see more of the same heading into next year. Bring your HR department up to speed with these components:

  • Mobile—Consider mobile apps to manage time/attendance, performance feedback, goal setting, internal communication, schedule planning, and more. Make it easy for employees to handle HR tasks from their phones or tablets.
  • Performance Tracking—Use your HR software to help employees set goals, complete training assignments, and respond to feedback. Managers can track employee performance using alerts, notifications, reminders, and goal setting features.
  • HCM Systems—If your entire HR software platform needs an overhaul, look for an HCM system that provides the capabilities we’ve discussed above. Position yourself to take the right steps this year and into the future with a software system that helps you achieve your goals.

Transparency has become the new buzzword for effective HR departments. As you implement new processes and technology, transparency will help you strengthen your culture and communicate it effectively to your employees.

And that will be something to celebrate come December.


Chasing the HCM Unicorn: A Simple 3-Step Plan for Buying HR Tech

3 Steps to Buying HR Tech“Buying HR software is fast and easy!” Said no one ever. Shopping for software takes time, intense effort, and the equivalent of a master’s degree in research. It’s like chasing a unicorn—that magical, mythical creature that probably doesn’t exist, but—wow, it sure would be awesome if it did.

The ideal HR software platform will help your HR personnel get more done in less time with fewer staff members, while also boosting engagement and morale among your workforce. If you can find a solution that increases productivity and boosts your bottom line, all that research and time is worth it. But is HR tech like that really out there? Will it really do everything it says it can do? And if it will, can you afford to buy it?

Yes it is, yes it will, and yes you can. Here’s how.

Assess Your Challenges

The first step is to know what problems your HR department needs to solve. Don’t get enamored by the latest trend only to end up purchasing a system that exceeds your needs—and your budget. Ask questions like:

  • What friction points have we encountered in our processes?
  • What new capabilities do we need?
  • Which business needs are most pressing?
  • Which current processes must be preserved in the new software?
  • Which employees will be affected by the change?

Gather detailed information during this stage so you’ll know what the new software must bring to the table. As you evaluate systems, you’ll be able to check items off and begin to narrow down your short list.

Know Your Options

The next step is to assess the capabilities offered by each vendor. What features are working for you and which ones need an overhaul? Work through each software module to determine which platform most closely matches your needs:

  • Payroll: Do you need new payroll software or do you want to keep your current payroll solution?
  • Employee Engagement: What employee engagement services do you value most? Do you like your current self-service portal or do you want to add new capabilities like communities or a scheduling calendar?
  • Benefits: Do you need deeper benefits capabilities? How straightforward is your benefits enrollment process?
  • Recruiting: What services do you need from an ATS? Do you want better branding for your candidate process? Do you want to store candidate information for future reference? How does your onboarding process function?
  • Time/Attendance: Do you need geotracking capabilities for remote clock-ins? Do you have employees with work-from-home arrangements? Do you want a scheduling calendar your employees can access themselves? Do you have employees in different time zones?
  • Learning Management: What training opportunities do you offer your employees? How do you set and track goals or required training courses? How do your employees access training materials?
  • Reporting: Do you need position control or custom reporting options? Can you customize the standard reports in the system? Can you create new reports efficiently?

Meet Your Vendor

The final step is deciding which vendors match your needs well enough to warrant a demo and a quote. During the software demo, you’ll have time to ask questions, see examples, and find out exactly how that new employee engagement tool really works. When you get your quote, look carefully at what services the implementation process includes, how the pricing is calculated, and what additional charges you should expect.

If you want to catch a unicorn, you have to study it carefully. Buying HR tech that can deliver the results you want demands that same careful analysis and knowledge of your quarry.

The good news is that we’ve made the research process easy for you. When you’re ready to start comparing vendors, our HRIS comparison tool will do the most labor-intensive part of the research for you. Simply input your requirements and our tool will create your vendor short list based on your needs.

And before you can say “Unicorn Frappuccino,” you’ll have the unicorn in the bag.

Looking for more slam-dunk resources? Check out our comprehensive HRIS Buyer’s Guide for your step-by-step guide to a no-regrets HR tech purchase!


About the Author: Susan McClure is our resident content marketer at She writes about HR outsourcing, HRIS, and general employment issues. When she isn’t writing, you might find her browsing shelves at the library, exploring a local hiking trail, or digging in the garden with her family and fur kids.