Blockchain is to the exchange of data what the internet was to the exchange of information.
It won’t perform open-heart surgery or read minds, but it will revolutionize how we do business – including how we manage and engage people.
Blockchain is most commonly known for the transfer of the electronic currency, bitcoins, but it can be equally effective in the transfer of people data, too. A blockchain is a decentralized database shared among a network of computers, all of which must approve an exchange of currency or data before it can be recorded. It is a consensual model, removing the need for an independent third party or a bank to verify the exchange.
The technology is secure and stores data in strings of blocks, so that every single transaction or exchange is recorded forever, and can be reviewed at any time.
So how could blockchain be used by HR and People teams? We think there are five areas this could have an impact in.
A talent database
Firstly, HR and People teams in the future could use blockchain technology to manage their talent database, with individuals having ‘skills passports’.
It could potentially hold information about an individual’s skills, training, qualifications and workplace performances throughout their careers. This ‘passport’ could be exchanged directly between a candidate and an HR team. It could also be verified instantly, as relevant parties such as past employers would have all agreed to the exchange of this data.
Because the data is recorded in strings of blocks, it could be possible to see the individual’s progression throughout their careers.
It’s could be equally valuable to candidates, who have an easily accessible ‘skills passport’ which they can share directly with potential employers when looking for a job.
The ability to see a candidate’s ‘skills passport’ could also help HR and People teams deliver great candidate experiences for recruits; they could have all the information together in one place that may usually have to be manually gathered, speeding up the time to recruit, and smoothing out the overall candidate experience.
Recruitment and development
With blockchain technology, HR teams could have comprehensive data at their fingertips, and quickly assess whether it’s worth interviewing the candidate, or taking them to the next stage of the recruitment process.
HR and People teams need only access the blockchain to find a comprehensive record of an individual’s employment history. They needn’t rely on the candidate’s resume alone, or word of mouth, which can take time to source. They also don’t need to worry about verifying all the information, as by the very virtue of it being on blockchain, it has already been verified by the relevant parties.
It also means that HR and People teams can analyze more accurately and efficiently where employees’ strengths lie, and where in the talent pipeline they can be placed, again, ultimately creating better candidate and workforce experiences.
Finding the right talent isn’t always easy. Blockchain technology on its own can’t replace the role of recruitment teams – but what it can do is enhance their work alongside virtual reality (VR) and augmented intelligence (AI).
Together, they can help save HR and People professionals’ valuable time – time that can be used more effectively to focus on people management and strategy.
Blockchain technology could also be used in admin heavy jobs such as payroll – freeing up businesses’ time to focus on their people, serving their customers, and growing their businesses.
The most obvious use of blockchain for multinational companies could be the use of the transfer of currency between offices and suppliers. But the impact on HR and People teams regarding international staff could be massive regarding the expense process, too. Blockchain could eliminate the complex system of approvals and signatures into one system across offices to exchange data, with built-in procedures for making expenses claims.
The same applies for employees relocating and complying with tax rules in different jurisdictions; by using blockchain, all the data is held in one secure, decentralised database across all offices. This ultimately could make it easier for employees to manage expenses, ensuring a better workforce experiences for them.
Blockchain works on a consensual basis to establish facts before data can be recorded, so it’s difficult for fraud to take hold. Similarly, cyber threats can come about from a lack of transparency in systems and data.
Because block chain is a transparent platform, it is more protected from cyber threats. It can also help companies comply with new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules coming into force in 2018 thanks to its security.
Blockchain is the new disruptor on the block and it’s quickly becoming obvious that companies that do not integrate it into their systems alongside other VR and AI technologies could be left behind. The new technology could have a huge impact on a whole range of areas in HR and People teams, including recruitment, development, productivity, expenses and fraud prevention.
What’s less obvious is how companies will move to implement it in these areas. Who will take the first bold steps?
Find out more about the future of HR. Download our infographic on how HR is changing today.