With WorkTech, George LaRocque has been on the forefront of analysing and advising on the exploding market of work technology. ‘COVID is not a creator of work tech trends, it’s an accelerator’, he told Recruitment Tech’s Martijn Hemminga in an exclusive video interview.
A focus on work
WorkTech’s what is quite singular in the sense that the company aims to help HR leaders that use and buy HR technology and HR tech providers to understand each other. Founded by George LaRocque in 2009, the company has excelled at helping employers understand the trends that are impacting their workforce today and in the future.
“The distinguishing factor is that WorkTech really represents a focus on work”, LaRocque explains in an interview with Recruitment Tech’s Martijn Hemminga at Recfest. “Think of it exclusively on work, and on not a top-down sort of command and control. So it’s all about HR, and the systems that distinguish themselves as work tech. Whether it’s hiring work tech or HR work tech that are more inclusive, more collaborative and more focused on the internal team experience and employee and candidate experiences.”
‘Work tech is outperforming the market’
Every quarter, WorkTech tracks the number of investments in the work tech sphere and publishes its global venture capital update for its members. Since COVID, the investments within the world of work technology have skyrocketed. In Q2 alone, global work tech investment neared $5 billion, which made it the fourth-largest quarter on record for work tech VC investment. “The pace of global work tech VC investment remains brisk in spite of the current global economic conditions and a slowing of VC investment across other tech categories”, the report states.
“We’ve already had the second-biggest year ever for tech in all time.”
“If you look at the investment VC investment in tech overall, it’s down by I’ve seen as much as 56% from Q1 to Q2 this year”, LaRocque says. “Work tech or HR tech is not down. We’ve had our record year in 2021 at about 18 billion. That was more than three times the biggest year before that. The first half of this year, we’re already over 9 billion approaching 10 billion. Now, we may have some challenges, but we’ve already had the second-biggest year ever for tech in all time.”
‘COVID is not a creator, it is an accelerator’
“COVID, what it did create was a lot of a lot of pain, a lot of death, a lot of uncertainty”, LaRocque says. “And that uncertainty as it relates to the workforce drove a lot of innovation and accelerated a lot of the trends, like distributed remote work, video interviewing, different hiring tools and technologies that really put us where we would have been in ten years if it wasn’t for COVID.”
“After they got their arms around their business and where the business was, they shifted immediately to the employees.”
But the change isn’t just limited to technology, LaRocque says. “So a lot of the on what COVID also accelerated wasn’t just technology development, but that development was brought on because CEOs, the C-suite really stepped back during COVID. After they got their arms around their business and where the business was, they shifted immediately to the employees.”
“How are they doing? How can we support them? We still have a business to run. How are we going to hire? How are we going to onboard? And all of these focuses and things like wellbeing, they’re trends that are here to stay. And any technologies that are focused on those areas and driving business results, I think are going to continue to see growth, whether it’s revenue growth or investment growth.”
“I’ve yet to find a trend that wasn’t underway prior to COVID.”
“So I think the key takeaway is that COVID is not a creator. There’s a lot of hype in the market about new trends or new technologies based on the experience we’ve had for the last three years globally. But I’ve yet to find a trend that wasn’t underway prior to COVID. So what COVID is, or has been, is an accelerator. That’s that’s really how I view it.”
‘The new recruiter looks like a specialist’
As the market is changing and shifting, for better or for worse, the role of recruiters is naturally shifting alongside it. So what does the new recruiter look like? “We’ve been asking recruiters to do a lot of things to demonstrate a lot of skills that they’ve never had before”, LaRocque says. “So a skill such as being proficient with data, there are no data analysts that are recruiters that I’ve met who are now looking at marketing and branding.”
“And there are about nine other district roles that really sound like specialist roles, that have been heaped onto an organisation and its recruiters. So the new recruiter looks like a specialist. They look like a business partner who’s managing the hiring workflow and the overall process, but probably has either a marketing slant or a data slant or branding strengths that they bring to that role. That’s what the new recruiter would look like today.”
“It’s a new wave of hiring work tech that they’re implementing to support that.”
“I think depending on the size of your company and the size of your talent acquisition, the larger teams will have specialists. They’ll have a people operations function or a recruitment operations function. They might have a data analyst that’s available to them. They may have specialists for early careers and branding and marketing. While in a smaller organisation, you’ll have individuals who bring an additional skillset or develop additional skills. The trends that are driving the change are changing in the tech that these two teams are implementing. It’s a new wave of hiring work tech that they’re implementing to support that.”