"I want to bring the tech world and the HR world closer together"

August 7, 2023

Innovation within HRM and better collaboration between HR teams and tech companies. "That's the ultimate goal of the HR Technology Awards, and something I am very passionate about," says jury chair Anne Jaakke.

The HR Technology Awards will be presented for the first time this year. There are two categories: best HR technology transformation and best HRIT product innovation. The award ceremony is on September 19th in Eindhoven.

The HR Technology Awards is in collaboration with Founding Partner SuccessDay and Partners Mercer, Randstad, and UiPath. Anne was asked because of her passion for the profession and expertise by Bas Eggelaar, Founder SuccessDay.

In the current tight labour market, better HR service is more necessary than ever, says jury chair Jaakke. "If my washing machine breaks down, I can reach Coolblue by phone until midnight, and there's someone smiling on my doorstep at seven the next morning to replace it. But if I apply to the average company, it's still a miracle if I get a formal written response within thirty days. I think a real revolution is needed in recruitment. An application process should be able to be completed within five days, preferably within 48 hours for operational roles. If HRM and tech companies join forces, it can be done, even with a wow factor."


The entire candidate journey, from advertising to the first live contact with the recruiter or manager, can easily be automated according to Jaakke. This way, an organization can send personal automatic messages and video messages at different times, answer online questions, chat with candidates, and have artificial intelligence help with the selection. If the candidate is hired, the intake process and everything that follows can be further automated and enriched than most companies know.

Why doesn't this happen everywhere yet?

Jaakke: "Technology is often seen as both a solution and a problem in the HR world. The HR team wants to accelerate or automate the process and is interested in the latest cool HR-tech services or gadgets, but at the same time, they dread the many hoops they have to jump through internally. Think about discussions with ICT about integration and priorities, those with Finance about the budget, and those with Procurement about tendering. For HR-tech, you need both stamina and patience and drive."

From HR technology suppliers, Jaakke hears that they experience a lack of interest from HRM and that many CHROs lack knowledge about the subject. "One of them said to me: 'Talking to HR directors about innovation is like talking to a turkey about Christmas.' CHROs avoid the conversation about IT systems and applications, like turkeys avoid Christmas. On the other hand, products sometimes do not match the needs that the organization has at that moment. I am committed to bringing these two worlds together. I believe that HR-tech can ensure that employees receive the same service as customers. HR-tech can really be the gamechanger."

Online Visibility

Her love for HR-tech dates back to her time as Global HR Director at Hunkemöller International, a position she held from late 2014 to early 2020. "I was preparing a presentation for our annual event in AFAS at that time. I searched YouTube for juicy material about our competitor, Victoria's Secret. To my great shock, I stumbled upon a video of a former employee of Hunkemöller, who expressed her displeasure about working with us for twenty minutes. The video had already 70,000 views... How terrible, I thought. But also: how could this have gone unnoticed? And: what can I do about it?"

In the months that followed, Jaakke sought answers to questions such as: how does an HR team keep track of what is posted on social media, on which platforms are (former) employees active, what can the HR team do in such cases, and how do you ensure that your online visibility and reputation are better than that of your competitor? An additional question that came to her was: why does Marketing focus only on prospects and customers and not on (future) employees?

It was partly the reason for her to resign two weeks before the outbreak of the Covid epidemic and to found the HR-tech start-up Fanployer. "An MBA in one," she calls this adventure. "I learned an incredible amount from it. Not only about entrepreneurship but also about what is going on in the world of HR-tech and that of start-ups and scale-ups. As a coach and boardroom consultant, I also saw that HR innovation within large organizations often consumes more energy than it yields."

Virtual RealityIt was one of the reasons she was keen to sit on the jury of the HR Technology Awards. Building bridges, connecting parties, and encouraging changemakers to keep going, that's what she loves to do. She was asked in part because she became CHRO of the year in the Netherlands in 2016 and in Germany in 2017, she sat on the jury of the CHRO of the year election for four years, and because she is known as a driver of innovation.

She talks passionately about the possibilities that digitisation offers. "Take virtual reality: at Hunkemöller, we were already looking at using it to remotely train store staff worldwide in the proper fitting of underwear. But I'm also on the advisory board of a company that uses VR to allow remote teams to design new products together."

Chatbots like ChatGPT also offer unprecedented new possibilities, according to her. "A recruitment team could use this for employer branding, or simply for writing job advertisements. But unfortunately, that often goes more smoothly at home than at work, as some corporates even block the use of Google, let alone that of AI."


That it's still going too slowly with HR-tech, she attributes to wanting to stick to what is known, a lack of knowledge, and traditional leadership. "There are few visionary leaders who also have execution power. You often see short-term objectives prevail in organizations, while HR-tech requires more significant investments, and the result is not visible today but only tomorrow. A culture of not being allowed to make mistakes, compliance, and security regulations also often prevail. With such a culture, you lock down an organization, and innovation doesn't get off the ground."

"For HR-tech, you need both stamina and patience and drive."

What helps a lot is if the CEO and CHRO are in the driver's seat when it comes to technological renewal. "If the top sucks, it all sucks," says Jaakke. That's why she focuses strongly on CEOs and CHROs with the help of coaching, consultancy, and leadership programs. "Transformation comes about through awareness, and that's why I offer them plenty of opportunities to reflect and spar together, and I provide an energetic boost for them and their leadership team."

Innovation Day

A good first step that CHROs can take on the path of HR-tech is to organize an innovation day for their team, she says. "Let four or five suppliers with completely different products/services give an online demonstration. This way, you increase internal familiarity with the technology and simultaneously bring those two worlds closer together."

Anne Jaakke
HR ChangeMaker
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