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TecHRseries Interview with Brandon DeCaro, Sales Director, Aon

As we move into the rest of 2021, what are some of the biggest tech hiring challenges and trends that will dominate the industry through the year? Brandon DeCaro, Sales Director at Aon shares his views in this quick QnA:

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Tell us a little about yourself Brandon…tell us about the Aon Talent Assessment platform and its growth story…

I’ve been working in the HR Tech and assessment space for almost 13 years. I joined Aon back in March of 2020 largely because of the company’s strong Enterprise client base & the scientifically validated assessment offerings. Aon’s Talent Assessment platform has been a staple in the talent industry for decades and companies such as Siemens and Procter & Gamble leverage our assessments across their organizations. Our platform helps companies make smarter, more effective people decisions across the entire employee lifecycle and can deliver tremendous business impact, along with improving the diversity of talent.

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Can you share a few ways in which you’ve seen leaders in tech and HR utilize innovative talent assessment platforms to strengthen their hiring initiatives?

All of Aon’s client engagements start with the end goal in mind. To that end, we work with the client to establish the key KPI’s/performance metrics they want to impact by utilizing our tools. By analyzing the data sets, we can directly correlate that higher performers on the assessments perform better on the job.

Some of the primary examples include:

  • Helping a Fortune 100 client create a seamless candidate and hiring manager experience, while also reducing the time their staff spent on interviews by 60,000+ hours in a year.
  • A global Telecom company reduced turnover by over 25%, resulting in over $8m in savings.
  • A major apparel retailer increased sales by double digits

How do you feel HR and business leaders today need to revisit their hiring plans given the way the workforce is evolving and demand for skills is changing as a result of it?

The shortage in skilled workers has been a topic of discussion for several years. However, the digital era and COVID-19 have exacerbated the challenge significantly. The companies who succeed will be the ones that figure out how to effectively upskill their current employees at a rapid pace, continually repurpose talent based on their skills and motivations, and build a deep bench of highly skilled future-ready employees. Assessments can serve as the foundation of all these strategies. Hiring is no longer about filling seats. HR Leaders need to work hand in hand with the CEO, CFO and business line leaders to build out a cohesive talent strategy that will ensure the organization has the talent able to adapt as ways of working, business models and market conditions change to operate at maximum efficiency.

Can you talk about some of the biggest challenges that businesses can alleviate with the right pre-hire talent assessment processes?

The right pre-hire assessment program can be the foundation of an organization’s talent acquisition and talent development strategy. A strong pre-hire assessment program can put an end to bad hires, which are expensive, stunt productivity and can damage morale. They allow you to accurately predict which candidates will be successful in the role and organization. Assessments can be matched to the required competencies, those linked to job performance. ; The ability to identify candidates who are best aligned to the critical skills required for success allows you to fill the entire workforce with people who are the most likely top performers for each job family and for the organization as a whole. If an organization can adopt a tailored assessment strategy across all of its major job families it can alleviate problems with turnover, poor performance, safety related incidents, leadership challenges, and more. This science backed approach can be validated showing the correlation between those who score high on the assessments and those who perform well on the job. In addition, the tools can directly link low performers on the assessment with lower performance on the job.

As HR trends shift and today’s workforce adapts to a new normal, what are some of the biggest hiring / career trends you see shaping the industry?

There are a few trends we are seeing. First, the pandemic forced organizations to adapt in several ways. One big change was obviously the bulk of people working remotely. Many companies have figured out their employees can perform just as well in a remote environment. As a result, we are seeing data showing that even when COVID is a thing of the past, a large percentage of organizations may never go back to a full onsite workforce. Therefore, as part of their current hiring strategy, companies are measuring whether a candidate will be comfortable and successful in a remote environment. Assessments can help answer this question. Another career trend we are seeing is this concept of virtual leadership. Managing a remote workforce brings with it a whole new set of challenges. Many mid-level managers relied on face to face interaction to maintain performance and morale. Assessments can also help identify managers who are naturally a better fit for remote leadership vs those who may struggle; while providing development feedback and tips for improvement. Finally, in highly skilled roles, particularly in Manufacturing we are seeing creative ways for companies to overcome the skills gap. Baby Boomers are retiring and someone needs to fill the void. One example is a large Consumer Goods manufacturer has developed apprenticeship programs designed for people without any formal skills training. This is opening the door for the younger generation to gain valuable skills training while transitioning into a new career path.

Can you share a few thoughts on the future of hiring in tech?

We’ve seen a few shifts in the demands of clients in the tech sector.  First, as most tech companies are re-orienting themselves to a virtual or hybrid work environment, there’s been an emphasis on understanding how tech talent can adjust to this shift and be able to work remotely – a big shift for companies that emphasized physical offices.  Second, research shows that the lifecycle of tech skills continues to shrink, with some estimates that the ‘half-life’ of new professional skill is now 5 years.  This means that the hiring of a tech workforce needs to take in more behavioral dimensions, so they’re looking for talent with competencies like agility, adaptability and learnability that allow them to adapt at the pace of change.  Finally, there is a big push to increase diversity across the sector, and a recognition that in order to do this, hiring practices need to encourage participation and inclusion across demographic groups.

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A few of your biggest takeaways and tips on working through a pandemic…and what business leaders/ employees should inculcate more of through 2021…

Many businesses have adapted exceptionally well to this new world of 100% virtual work. Some have progressed without skipping a beat. Autonomous roles such as sales have always leaned towards an openness to remote work, however, typically this was reserved for more senior roles. Now large salesforces have recognized all levels of their workforce can perform well in a virtual capacity. On the flip side, there is a growing number of workers who strongly desire getting back into the office. The face to face interaction is something many people may have taken for granted prior to COVID. We are seeing many employees feeling isolated, which is affecting mental health and motivation. This will be a very interesting trend to follow as we move deeper into 2021. Do some companies give the option of splitting time between an office & working remotely? How will organizations balance the obvious desire to cut operating costs via closing offices while also giving employees the ability to interact in person? Time will tell.

Aon

Aon’s talent assessment practice, a segment of the firm’s human capital business, provides clients in more than 90 countries with powerful tools and insights to help them make better talent decisions at every stage of the employee lifecycle. This includes pre-hire assessments, identifying future leaders, screening for digital skills and agility, and AI-enabled solutions.

Brandon DeCaro is Director of Sales for Aon’s Assessment Solutions. He’s spent his entire career partnering with client organizations to enable their growth through improving their talent selection and development processes.  For the past 13 years Brandon has worked in the Human Capital Management (space) with a focus on technology sales. He specializes in helping Enterprise organizations evaluate and implement large scale, global assessment programs. His focus is to ensure maximum ROI for clients in the form of increased sales, net promoter scores, reduction in employee turnover improved recruitment process efficiencies, enhanced employee branding, and much more.

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