Post-Pandemic Planning: HR Tech Solutions to Add to Your Arsenal – Futurum Tech Webcast Interview Series

In this LinkedIn Live episode of the Futurum Tech Webcast – Interview Series, I’m joined by Jim Newman, President and CEO of HRizons for a conversation about the struggles that companies are experiencing as we slowly emerge from the pandemic and the HR tech that could be a solution.

Post-Pandemic Planning: HR Tech Solutions to Add to Your Arsenal

We’ve been talking a lot about pandemic recovery here at Futurum, and with good reason. Even though the job market is on the rebound, hiring is still sluggish. The May Jobs Report from the U.S. Department of Labor showed a disconnect between jobs available and employees getting hired. The impact of COVID-19 is still being felt across the globe, but could the right technology help companies get back on track? That’s what Jim and I dove into in our conversation.

Our discussion was far-reaching and included the following:

  • The roadblocks HRizons customers are experiencing as we emerge from the pandemic, including the struggle to fill open positions.
  • Why job descriptions are a critical part of the recovery process that many businesses are going through. Jim shared insights on the incredible administrative burden that HR departments face creating and managing descriptions for often hundreds of open positions, as well as the disjointed workflows that can leave organizations vulnerable to compliance issues.
  • An exploration of how SAP® SuccesFactors® HCM platform helps organizations manage all aspects of HR. We then explored how HRizons Job Descriptions Made Simple or JDMS integration enhances the solution with a seamless end-to-end user experience.
  • The organizations that can benefit the most from using JDMS as well as some real-world use case examples.
  • We wrapped up the conversation with a preview of new features that are coming to the JDMS platform.

For SAP SuccessFactors customers, using JDMS by HRizons is truly a game-changer. You can find HRizons on the SAP Store, along with an Infosheet that our team produced: Simplifying Job Description Management Processes.

It was a terrific conversation and if you’re looking to improve your post-pandemic hiring, one you won’t want to miss. You can watch the video of the conversation here:

Or listen to our conversation on your favorite streaming platform here:


Shelly Kramer: Hello and welcome to the Futurum Tech Webcast. This is part of our interview series and for today’s conversation, we’re taking it right to LinkedIn Live. My guest today is Jim Newman, the CEO and president of HRIZONS. And we’re going to have a conversation today that talks about the struggles that companies are experiencing as we slowly emerge from the pandemic and how HR tech might just be a solution. So welcome, Jim. It’s great to have you.

Jim Newman: Great to be here. Thanks for having me.

Shelly Kramer: Absolutely. So I want to know about your backstory. Tell me a little bit about the path you took to get where you are today.

Jim Newman: Sure. Well, my career has always been in human resources and organizational development, but I got introduced to this cloud technology in about 2003 when it was emerging and really saw the opportunity to get into HR tech and cloud. And that’s actually what led to founding HRIZONS. So I like to see our role as bridging the gap between HR and IT for customers and helping them along their journey to the cloud.

Shelly Kramer: Well, and they’re two very different brain and the HR brain and the IT brain and I’ve had customers in both and we are in an interesting time where those things have to work together. So having somebody who’s wired to think about that, the IT and the HR tech together, I think is really an important part of the equation.

Jim Newman: Yeah, absolutely. And, it’s not easy for HR to think IT, and it’s not easy for IT think HR. So bringing them together and helping organizations enable them with technology is really what we’re all about. So we actually have a lot of passion for that with our customers and just love being in the space. So it’s a real passion for our company.

Shelly Kramer: Absolutely. So let’s talk a little bit about the job market over the course of the last year. I think perhaps rollercoaster is an apt word, but can you talk with us a little bit about what you’ve seen in the market and how you feel like the market has been impacted by COVID-19?

Jim Newman: Yeah, I mean, and it’s all of us and certainly my heart goes out to all those impacted by COVID personally. And it’s been a real challenge. I think it really depends on the market you’re in. Us being in the US we’re in a slightly different position than a lot of countries are right now as it relates to the pandemic, but it really did have a huge impact on jobs. And when we saw the mass layoffs and people going on unemployment insurance and the different government programs. And so that was the massive change. And it really threw companies for a whirl, not just with jobs, but how do you deal with all of these employees that are remaining? And they have to of course start working remotely. So we saw just the massive change and then the direct impact to us as a business and our sales pipeline changed.

And we were very fortunate that projects didn’t stop and customers continued needing their software, but it was a huge impact. And I think what we’re going to see is, is the resurgence of certainly recruiting and customers needing to bring employees back. But I think employees are taking a step back right now and they’re going, “What do I really want? What’s important to me?” They’ve had different experiences, whether it’s working from home or whatnot. So the new normal is going to be different than the old normal.

Shelly Kramer: I think you’re absolutely right. I had a conversation yesterday with someone else in the HR field, and we were talking about the fact that people are leaving jobs in record numbers. So yes, we had the impact of a pandemic where people’s maybe jobs went on hiatus or they lost jobs. But I think to your point, what we’re seeing is that the pandemic, navigating through that for really a year, I think caused people to think about how happy am I, I’m in this job? Do I like working remotely? What’s my company doing? Are they shifting to hybrid? Are we going full remote? It let people really stop, get off the train that we’re on so much.

I think sometimes we just get up and get on the train everyday and we don’t spend a lot of time being introspective, but I think this forced us to reconsider the workplace, our particular role in the workplace, what we like, what we don’t like. And so I know that companies are dealing with the fact that that employees are leaving jobs in record numbers, and that creates a whole new set of challenges as well.

Jim Newman: Yeah. It’s a combination of you trying to recruit people back to your company because businesses picking up, but you’re also dealing with the fact that those that stayed are maybe rethinking what’s important to them, and is this job… And we went from survival mode to hopefully growth mode again, and that’s a transition that’s probably going to happen faster in some countries than others, and also different industries.

So being aware of your workforce and understanding what level of engagement do they have and what’s their sentiment. And are you listening to your employees, not just one-on-one manager to employee, but what about the overall workforce? And do you have a strategy for that? So there’s a lot of new challenges that customers have. And I think human experience management versus just capital management is really a big direction we’re going to start seeing customers embrace, not necessarily just because it’s cool and progressive, that’s not a necessity. I mean, what’s going to happen to your workforce, and if you can’t sustain a workforce, you can’t deliver and that can impact revenue. And everyone’s going to take notice right up to the CEO and the CFO, so that’s going to be a big deal.

Shelly Kramer: Well, and I think we’ve been seeing for a few years now the importance that employees place on wellness and wellness as a whole is many things. It’s mental health awareness and wellness, and it’s financial wellness. And so I think companies are seeing, for a long time and you and I are both old enough that I think that we might’ve… I know I came up in a time where you have a job and you’re lucky to have it. And you’ve got a 401k and you may or may not get a bonus this year, whatever, and there was also a mindset that you didn’t switch jobs you remember this. If you didn’t stay at a job at least five years, you had to be some kind of a risk in terms of hiring. And that’s completely changed over the last couple of decades.

Jim Newman: And the gig economy. I mean it’s not just-

Shelly Kramer: Yeah.

Jim Newman: It’s about I’ve got skills I have skills that employers need, and I can market myself to various employers. And so it’s not just about the traditional job and this [crosstalk] things. So I agree with you, it’s again, part of the new normal and the different generations that are growing up, they’re-

Shelly Kramer: Absolutely

Jim Newman: Their ability to access information and explore alternatives is unprecedented.

Shelly Kramer: Right. Right. Absolutely. We didn’t have LinkedIn back in the day.

Jim Newman: What was in the newspaper ads on Saturday.

Shelly Kramer: Right, or you got really desperate and you reached out to a head hunter, and it was old school head hunting. And so it really is interesting to see the evolution in the workplace. And I have children who are elder millennials and, watching them navigate the workplace and see what opportunities are available, and really evaluate their own happiness. And is this what I want to do? And I think that’s important. I think that’s great. I think that as I said, we came up in a time where you really didn’t get that option. And I was worried about paying a mortgage and feeding kids. So I didn’t feel like I had as many choices. And I also didn’t have as broad of a skillset of course, as I do today. So we’ve talked a little bit about what we see in the market and that sort of thing. Can you share any roadblocks that your customers are experiencing right now, as we’re digging out of this?

Jim Newman: Yeah. Well, I mean, being able to deal with this type of change and the pace of change requires agility and organizations, just the structure of an organization and the hierarchal nature of people in the organizations, as well as technology and processes and all of these things, it gets very, very cumbersome. And in order to be agile, customers are really realizing that they’ve got these barriers and the barriers are a lot of times their technical infrastructure and their culture, the rigidity of their culture, their processes, you have to adapt quickly in today’s day and age. You need technology that enables you to do that. And customers are seeing the pain points of having multiple disparate systems, non-integrated systems, poor user experiences, which creates poor employee experiences, which leads to turnover or lack of ability to attract. And then you’re not able to take care of your customers.

So it’s this real domino effect. And HR is one component of an organization, but HR can play a really impactful role in helping the C-suite understand the importance of user experience and employee experience. And more than ever HR technology is expanding its boundaries. For example when people think of HR technology, they’re probably thinking of, well, there’s a database of the people, obviously you need that, where they live. And then you got to hire people so they do some sort of applicant tracking recruiting thing, but they don’t really think a lot beyond that. Maybe they think about performance reviews. Maybe they think about succession planning, compensation, et cetera, payroll benefits, but what they don’t really think about, and this is where HR’s opportunity is, is I can actually help the organization create a better work experience.

I can bring technology to the table that allows employees, empowers employees to do their work more effectively, more efficiently in a very pleasant virtual environment, or at my desk at work. Either way’s fine, on my phone. And I have all of this technology that just makes my life easy because let’s face it, most of the knowledge workers that we’re providing the technology for, which is a high percentage, but some of the factory floor, the manufacturing, they have a limited interface in comparison to the rest.

They’re spending eight to 10 to 12 hours a day, like we are right now looking at a screen doing work. So if we can make that experience better, easier, more connected, and create better experiences, it’s going to lead to happier employees and more enjoyable [crosstalk].

Shelly Kramer: Yeah.

Jim Newman: So there’s a lot that companies can do. There’s a gap between seeing that and executing that. And that’s where there’s the challenge. That’s where we can help. That’s where we can help customers.

Shelly Kramer: Yeah. And it really is that whole journey of employee experience are just little tiny touch points along the way that sometimes companies don’t think about and should. I’ll give you an example. I had an early morning doctor’s office visit this morning with one of my kids and we walked into the floor where the doctor’s office was, and there’s a kiosk right up front. And all I have to do is scan a QR code on my phone, check in on my own device at my convenience, I don’t have to wait in line. I don’t have to be called up to the front desk. You know what I’m saying? Think about your doctor’s office experiences. And as I was doing this on my phone, I’m like, “Oh my gosh, this is so easy. I’m so glad they make this process easy.”

Well, there’s a hundred plus processes like that when you’re an employee. Little questions that you have, time off requests, or questions about benefits or whatever and it’s touch points along the way that can make that easy, that we’re seeing really create great employee experiences and cause people to be… I mean, all we want is to be happy. We want to be happy. We want to have the routine things that need to be taken care of, be able to be done efficiently and expeditiously. And we don’t want to think about that.

Jim Newman: I think you’re really onto something there because when you think of a job, what gives a person fulfillment? Is it doing administrative work? Is it logging into their system? No, what they want is value and respect my time. I’ve got kids, I’ve got family, I’ve got a spouse. I’ve got obligations. I got volunteer things. I can make an impact in this world. If I’m at work being inefficient with poor process, poor technology, spinning my wheels, wasting time, instead of doing impactful work, I lose engagement. And so that’s the whole point of companies creating enablement and really then employees feel valued, and it’s not because how much they’re paid anymore. You have to pay market and you have to pay competitive.

Shelly Kramer: Of course.

Jim Newman: Am I doing impactful fulfilled work? And that is the biggest source of satisfaction or dissatisfaction that exists today, especially with the younger generations.

Shelly Kramer: Absolutely.

Jim Newman: So yeah, and everyone’s getting it, from the doctor’s offices to the huge Fortune 50 corporations and everything in between. The question is where are you going to fit on the spectrum?

Shelly Kramer: So now I want to talk about something that I admittedly… And as I said, I’ve worked with HR teams as clients for decades. And I think a lot about the nuances of recruiting and retention and culture and all of those things. And also the role that HR technology plays in streamlining things, both for HR pros and for employees. But one thing I never spent a second, time thinking about was job descriptions, and that is something that you’ve thought a lot about.

Jim Newman: Yeah, we have, we have.

Shelly Kramer: So tell me about job descriptions and why they matter so much and the nuances involved in managing job descriptions.

Jim Newman: Yeah. It really depends on the lens you’re looking through. It’s a great question. I mean, we’ve been working on job descriptions since about 2008, and we actually brought a product to market called JDMS, Job Descriptions Made Simple in 2016 and we work closely with customers to address this. And there’s really different stakeholders. You’ve got compensation, one of the main stakeholders, they need to take job descriptions and evaluate, analyze them, take certain benchmark jobs to market. They need to make sure that their compensation program is where the company needs to be relative to the market, so they can attract and retain people and demonstrate to employees that they’re paying a fair wage for the job.

There’s the compliance side, the legal side. You have obligations as an organization, whether it be accommodating people for certain jobs and properly defining them. So there’s ADA, there’s the EOC, in the US there’s other human rights. In Canada the Canadian Human Rights Commission, I believe is what it’s called and so on and so forth throughout the world. And so defining a job to fit an employee to that job, to recruit for so that you’re not… There’s the various impacts you can have on various demographic groups.

If you write a job description poorly you might skew it towards males versus females, or you might exclude a particular demographic. That’s a risk. And so organizations have to be much more careful, especially in today’s day and age and how visible everything is that the job description’s well-defined. So now you’ve got, so you’ve got compensation, you’ve got legal, which ties now into the recruiting aspects and attracting people.

What is the job? Is it a job I might enjoy? Is it written in such a way where I go, “That looks like fulfilling work.” And then it goes on from there, the content within the job how do you evaluate and assess people against that job description? And so now you’re now in the world of talent management, succession planning. The workforce development, learning, developing skills, competencies, education, certifications, licensures, I mean, it goes, it’s just never ending. So it’s a foundational element of running an organization. And the problem with job descriptions is it was underrepresented in the world of HR technology. And so you’ve got job descriptions in Microsoft Word documents, homegrown databases.

Shelly Kramer: Excel spreadsheets.

Jim Newman: Spreadsheets not integrated, PDFs. How do you govern this better? How do you better enable the organization to leverage job descriptions properly and jobs descriptions get a bad rap. I mean it’s not the sexy part of HR.

Shelly Kramer: It is not.

Jim Newman: So we wanted to solve all those problems and give a proper platform properly integrated and think through these downstream implications of job description management. So that’s why it’s important. Does everyone care about it? No, you’ve got to find the right people in an organization, but clearly it is a critical ingredient if done well. And if not, it becomes an Achilles heel at some point in time.

Shelly Kramer: Well, absolutely. And I think that this is one of those things that again, it’s not sexy, so we don’t think about it, but it’s like if you were talking about 25 jobs or when you’re looking at an enterprise that might have hundreds of positions, not even open positions, but just hundreds of positions throughout an organization and thinking about all of the nuances and all of the details and managing those job descriptions and equity and incomplete job descriptions, and the fact that you’ve got like, as you said, you’ve got the marketing part of a job description, which is the copy that entices someone to be interested in a job. But then comparing that across the organization where you have hundreds and hundreds of roles and hundreds of titles. And I think another thing that you didn’t mention that I think is really important is SuccessFactors, SAP SuccessFactors, and the fact that your solution integrates really seamlessly within SuccessFactors.

Jim Newman: Yeah. I’m glad you raised that. And actually, there’s thousands of jobs descriptions that these large enterprises have, not hundreds, thousands across 65, 70 countries in multiple languages with multiple jurisdictions and regulatory. I mean, the complexity of managing job descriptions is underestimated. And the same thing goes with integration to your core HR system and your various talent products. So what we’ve done with SAP, and we’ve been an SAP partner since they acquired SuccessFactors, we are actually one of the original-

Shelly Kramer: Oh wow.

Jim Newman: SuccessFactors partners. In fact, I think we are the oldest SuccessFactors partner in existence in the world today.

Shelly Kramer: OG.

Jim Newman: Yeah. Yeah. Just like me, I’m becoming the OG in my office.

Shelly Kramer: Yeah.

Jim Newman: So the platform has evolved so much, SuccessFactors. There’s so many integration points. So we’ve built integrations to Employee Central for the job code to link. And so there’s no orphan job codes, orphan job descriptions. IT loves that stuff because they’re like, “Oh, great.” Compliance loves that stuff. Legal loves that stuff. We built integrations to recruiting with a quick requisition feature, which was really expedites getting those jobs written, those job ads written properly from a validated source. And with quality we created a new feature called Quick Translate, which helps to… Customers these large global organizations to translate your jobs quickly and support end users. I mean, if you’re in Spain, you don’t want to read the job description in English because you want to read it in Spanish.

Shelly Kramer: Absolutely.

Jim Newman: Proper Spanish, not Mexican Spanish. So there’s just these nuances, again, what’s the employee experience, what’s the level of engagement that you can offer if you have the right technology. If not, they’re searching for a job description that’s out of date, in the wrong language, and on so on and so forth. So the integration of SuccessFactors is huge. And actually that not only improves the user experience, but then it also enables the organization to leverage some of the great content that they’ve invested in and use it for other purposes, performance reviews, succession planning, recruiting. And then you get improved quality of hire. So the thing about HR is it’s all interrelated. It’s like this huge spider web, I’ve drawn it on a whiteboard for my team in workshops. If you pull all these pieces together, it’s so vast. A lot of people from other functions like a CFO will go, “I had no idea like this is crazy what you have to deal with.”

So HR technology helps to solve some of that and take some of that complexity, simplify it for the end user and job descriptions and SuccessFactors and integrating that together. I mean, our product’s on the SAP store it’s available, you can research it, tell you all about what it does, see videos, it’s really been a great partnership and a great offering to help SuccessFactors’ customers properly tackle job descriptions. And that’s one thing we do, one of many things that we do as an organization, but that’s obviously one of our premier products. It’s a spotlight product right now in the store.

Shelly Kramer: Well and as I’m listening to you talk about job descriptions, it’s kind of like, I’m a big fan, I’m a strategist. So I’m a fan of building a strong foundation and going from there and job descriptions really are a foundational part of your HR operations and kind of thinking of it in that way, and everything kind of flows from that. Once you’ve got that done, I think that’s kind of interesting.

Jim Newman: Yeah, for sure. It really is foundational.

Shelly Kramer: So Jim, are there some companies more than others who might benefit most from using this, or is this an across the board kind of HR tech product that’s applicable for everyone? Or talk to me a little bit about that.

Jim Newman: Yeah. I mean, HR is ubiquitous across companies, you need an HR function. There’s very important here when a company doesn’t have HR. So you have HR, you need job descriptions and you have jobs and you have-

Shelly Kramer: Right.

Jim Newman: And all those things that I mentioned earlier. But there are particular industries who pay more attention to it than others. If you’re in a highly regulated industry like healthcare, and you have a joint commission compliance and you actually get audited against do you have job descriptions? What are the essential functions of the job? Are you evaluating people? Do they have the proficiency to perform the job? If you don’t, you get dinged and you’re no longer joint commission compliant, that’s a big deal. So industries like healthcare really stand out, pharmaceutical, aerospace and defense. There’s so many highly regulated industries. Utilities, look at what’s happened recently with all the hacking going on and-

Shelly Kramer: Absolutely.

Jim Newman: So you have to be really sensitive to those industries and they tend to be, I would say earlier adopters, but all businesses benefit from a job description management and governance and having it in control. And we do have, I don’t know, off the top of my head, but companies spanning many industries, manufacturing, financial services, the ones I’ve mentioned and so on and so forth. So it really is… And many geographies, it’s not like, oh, this is just a phenomenon in the US. I mean, this is everywhere, Europe, Caribbean, Central America, everywhere, Canada or everywhere that businesses exist and operate.

Shelly Kramer: Makes perfect sense to me. So my final question as we prepare to wrap up this conversation is, are there any new features or developments that you’re excited about? I mean, I know that you’re kind of a tech geek like me, so anything new that we need to know about?

Jim Newman: Yeah, what we’re finding is as we’re deploying to these global organizations… And it doesn’t mean you have to have a hundred thousand employees, you could have 3000 employees and still be global in this day and age. What we’re finding is that organizations are complex. And so we are working on improving the flexibility of our product to adapt to the various organizational structures we’re seeing.

One company we’re in conversations with has 43 business units. All in different industries, different brands, all rolling up to a shared services model. We have another, a customer that is in, I believe it’s 48 countries and looking to deploy in more and more languages. And it’s features and functions, but it’s also flexibility on how we can deploy it. So we’re investing in that to make it more adaptable to the various types of organizational structures and what’s important to them with brands and the user experience.

I mean, it may not be one branded company, it may be multi-brands. So these are things that are moving towards our roadmap and are being invested in. The big two features, and I alluded to them earlier was a quick translation, which was a huge investment to make this a global product, because that’s such a barrier for companies.

Shelly Kramer: It’s super important, absolutely.

Jim Newman: So important. And then quick requisition. And we did that because the market, we actually were investing in that as the pandemic was happening. Not because the market needed it now, we knew that the market would rebound and recruiting would be a big deal. So it’s available now. We released it earlier this year, or was it late last year? I’m sorry I can’t remember for sure. But it was in the last six or seven months. And that is something that is going to be really powerful for organizations.

Shelly Kramer: Yeah. I think that’s really exciting as well. Well, Jim Newman, I could hang out with you and talk HR and HR tech all day long. I do so appreciate you spending time with me today. And I am so grateful for our audience for showing up, and I will link in our show notes to the HRIZONS website and so that you can have that information at your fingertips. But Jim, thank you. It’s been my pleasure.

Jim Newman: Well, thank you so much. I really enjoy the conversation and maybe we’ll be able to do it again in the future.

Shelly Kramer: I’m sure we will. Thanks everybody for hanging out with us today. We’ll see you next time.

Jim Newman: Bye-bye.

Author Information

Shelly Kramer is a Principal Analyst and Founding Partner at Futurum Research. A serial entrepreneur with a technology centric focus, she has worked alongside some of the world’s largest brands to embrace disruption and spur innovation, understand and address the realities of the connected customer, and help navigate the process of digital transformation. She brings 20 years' experience as a brand strategist to her work at Futurum, and has deep experience helping global companies with marketing challenges, GTM strategies, messaging development, and driving strategy and digital transformation for B2B brands across multiple verticals. Shelly's coverage areas include Collaboration/CX/SaaS, platforms, ESG, and Cybersecurity, as well as topics and trends related to the Future of Work, the transformation of the workplace and how people and technology are driving that transformation. A transplanted New Yorker, she has learned to love life in the Midwest, and has firsthand experience that some of the most innovative minds and most successful companies in the world also happen to live in “flyover country.”


Latest Insights:

The Six Five Team discusses Apple’s Spectacular Failure to Replace Qualcomm.
The Six Five Team discusses the HP Foldable 17" PC.