Future technologies and their impact on the Future of Work has been a hot debate. It is reassuring to see the debate move forward from AI led automation leading to mass job losses to themes like crafting meaningful work in the age of AI - or how data analytics and machine learning could come handy in employee life-cycle management and strategic human resources management interventions. Blockchain technologies are also undergoing a similar cycle. Their impact was somehow overshadowed by just one of their applications - the cryptocurrency. But the true potential of blockchain extends to almost all aspects that touch our day-to-day lives - including Human Resources and People Management.
Technology leader IBM defines blockchain technology as “a shared, immutable ledger that facilitates the process of recording transactions and tracking assets in a business network.” These assets can be tangible or intangible - and that distinction defines its true value.
So what are the most common ‘assets’ that people managers deal with and can blockchain or the larger ambit of distributed ledger technologies enable better utilisation and tracking of these assets?
Background, ref-checks and credentials check
One of the most relatable uses of blockchain technology is its possible use to verify credentials of potential employees. If employment history and qualifications including degrees and credentials can be verified via blockchain - employers can save a lot of time, money and inefficiencies that they have to deal with in background checks and remove the information asymmetry challenge. Conversations around how individuals can control who can view their data and for how long makes this more powerful, giving the individual the agency for their credentials.
Employee data protection
Huge volumes of employee data currently reside with employers - ranging from health and insurance records, salary and related financial data. While legal guidance around employee data protection differs from one country to another, there is growing consensus that employee data must be collected and maintained securely. Blockchain enables this seamlessly by giving employees the power to manage access to their Personal Identifiable Information (PII). It also reduces the probability of single point failure - which refers to the vulnerability or loss of data because one single platform, having all the PII was compromised. For employers, this also reduces the burden that may be placed on them to ensure complete security of employee data while also giving them access to verified, validated and transparent sources of data.
Hiring, talent fulfillment and smart contracts
Traditional recruitment processes take weeks of screening, skills matching, interviewing and assessing person job fit via a battery of assessments, including psychometric tests. The idea that some, if not all of these might have been already done by a previous employer and if available, that data can be utilised than freshly created again needs some getting used to. In a similar manner, blockchain powered smart contracts are considered to be the future. This promises faster on-boarding processes, setting up of employee log-ins and access as well as on-time payouts on completion of tasks - for example, in a gig set-up.
Some common questions that come up in the context of blockchain and HR are if recruiters will lose their jobs or if resumes will become redundant. The answer to both of those questions is the same - it is not going to be the same.Recruiters will need to work on leveraging blockchain for hiring because it makes their hires more efficient. Employees on the other hand will need to work with multiple stakeholders to ensure that their data is current and updated and take the steps required to secure them - in short, exercise their agency.
While all of this seems to be in the future, it is closer than it appears. Taking stock of the areas within their organisation that will need to transform to leverage blockchain will be a great starting point for people managers, which can go a long way in defining their HR powered by blockchain roadmap.