HRTech Interview with Laura Hanson, Chief Human Resources Officer at insightsoftware

Delve into innovative strategies for attracting, retaining, and growing talent in 2024, with a focus on DEI, ESG, and AI integration.


Laura, given the unusual turnover observed in the tech world in 2023, how do you anticipate employers can creatively attract, retain, and grow talent in 2024?

In 2023, we saw an unusual amount of turnover in the tech world, from layoffs to an increase in employees transitioning to new employers and even careers. This means that in 2024, it will be up to employers to focus on attracting, retaining, and growing their best talent in unique ways. Many tech companies can hire en masse, but the focus now needs to be on what will make them stay. This could include implementing business positions around improved DEI and ESG, as well as the integration of new technology like AI. Potential employees also look to companies to help broaden their skill sets. By implementing better training programs aimed at improving management skills and building talent and/or domain knowledge, employees will seek to extend their careers within the company they are at instead of looking elsewhere. Ultimately, the companies that will be most suited for talent retention will be those that look beyond just the employee’s current role but seek to expand their education and listen to what they desire in their company growth.

In the context of talent retention, how do you see the integration of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives playing a role in tech companies?

There has been a notable surge in jobs related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) industries. These are areas of interest for both present and future employees, and they’re only continuing to expand. Young college graduates are now finding new employment opportunities in these fields, overall helping companies align with new values while tackling meaningful societal challenges.

When tech companies move to hire such sustainability coordinators and DEI officers, they are proving to their employees that they are actively investing in programs that go beyond the bottom line. Instead, they are addressing issues such as greenhouse gas emissions, regulatory compliance, and changing cultural standards in today’s ever-evolving world that can have a direct impact on the day-to-day lives of their employees. These movements can speak loudly, ultimately giving employees a reason to stay and grow with their employer.

The focus on training programs for skill enhancement is mentioned. Could you elaborate on specific strategies or initiatives that insightsoftware or other successful companies might implement in this regard?

With AI taking some of the more routine work done, companies should focus on building skills that augment work done by AI. Examples of this could be critical thinking, problem-solving, customer relationship building, and systems thinking.

How do you foresee the role of HR evolving to meet the challenges of retaining talent, especially in the context of incorporating new technologies like AI?

AI technologies can minimize manual tasks, improve employee workloads, and allow teams to focus on more strategic initiatives. Knowing these benefits, HR may take on the role of communicating why a company is incorporating AI into its processes in order to assure employees that the company is prioritizing their overall well-being with this investment. While such improvements are desired, there may be some hesitancy on full implementation for those who are less familiar with AI. With that said, HR may also take a larger role in scheduling additional training to lessen any concerns surrounding this technology.

Can you provide examples of how companies can go beyond the employee’s current role and actively contribute to expanding their education and skills?

Most learning happens by doing and making mistakes. By providing projects, tasks, and experiences that are new to the employee, where they are uncomfortable, have to learn something new, apply a new skill, build a new relationship, manage a project, etc, you are building their skill set. This ensures you give them room to fail (with guardrails, of course), which, in turn, provides them with invaluable lessons. Additionally, you could have them find a new way to process something, take on a leadership role in a company employee resource group, or lead a mini project, among other ideas.

Regarding AI, how do you anticipate organizations leveraging AI technologies to streamline the hiring process and enhance employee engagement in 2024?

Organizations are already using AI to identify those candidates who are most qualified for the role. For example, chatbots are already in existence for engaging with the candidate and managing through the hiring process. With regard to engagement, employees like to perform challenging work, not routine. By leveraging AI to take some of the routine work of a role, the employee can focus on other things, such as building higher-level skills mentioned above, spending more time on career development, and engaging with their coworkers in other activities.

With the increasing demand for job candidates with AI knowledge, how can HR departments adapt to attract and retain individuals with these skills?

When interviewing job candidates, HR departments must make a point to explain how their organizations are actively investing in AI and other advanced technology. This gives potential employees with AI knowledge a reason to join the team. It offers them the opportunity to grow their own skill sets as they also become an intricate part of helping an organization build out its larger AI strategy. In order to retain employees, ongoing training around AI technology will be essential. AI should help make an employee’s job easier, but without the proper training, it can have the opposite effect. Separately, this might mean organizations need to prioritize AI investments that use familiar interfaces so it is easier for employees to adopt this technology across an organization.

From the perspective of job candidates, how might they analyze and assess how employers and organizations are effectively utilizing AI in their operations?

Job candidates might be more prepared to ask about an organization’s AI use within the very first interview. With that said, if the HR team is using the technology to streamline the hiring process, that will also prove to job candidates that the organization has a good hold on exactly how AI can be used in multiple different ways and across departments. People are simply accustomed to AI’s integration for the rest of their lives, and just these initial questions and practices will prove they are joining a company that prioritizes such technological growth.

Considering the widespread integration of AI in people’s lives, how do you think employees will seek assurance that they are being set up for success with advanced technologies in their careers?

Employees will seek assurance that they are being set up for success with advanced technologies by comparing other positions in their line of work. If they discover that another organization is implementing AI technology and associated training to lessen their workloads, they may consider confronting leadership or ultimately leaving their organization for another. This is especially true if an organization that utilizes AI can promise employees time back in their schedule to focus on more valuable tasks that can build an increasingly purposeful career.

Looking ahead, what strategies do you believe will be most effective for HR departments in navigating the evolving landscape of talent acquisition, retention, and development in the coming years?

AI must be implemented in HR departments to conduct day-to-day tasks and assist with any potential employee operations. Potential employees are likely evaluating organizations’ AI strategy, and if it’s not playing a part within different programs just yet, this may factor into whether or not they accept a job offer. Today’s candidates want to know that they’re joining a company focused on growth, and for a wide range of industries like finance, cybersecurity, and healthcare, the potential to work with advanced technology that also helps make their jobs easier can be an attractive perk to any position.

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Laura Hanson Chief Human Resources Officer at insightsoftware

Laura Hanson has over 27 years of experience, leading high-performing human resources (HR) teams at global organizations. As CHRO of insightsoftware, Hanson leads the company’s global HR strategy, improving operational effectiveness and aligning with the company’s business priorities as it continues its explosive growth story. She works with the global HR team and senior leaders to design programs that focus on employee training and development, and increase employee engagement, retention, and recruitment. insightsoftware is a global provider of comprehensive solutions for the Office of the CFO with solutions across financial planning and analysis (FP&A), accounting, and operations.