The Soft Side Of Big Data: How Mount Sinai Leverages Technology To Enhance The Employee Experience

Sophie Wade

Technology has come a long way. We have gone from high tech to high touch – developing from mechanical machines, desktops, and laptops to touch pads and smartphones. We are now striving to evolve integration and applications from superficial to strategic and use artificial intelligence to add human sensitivity and enable more sophisticated capabilities, interactions, and responses.

Klaus Schwab, sxecutive chairman of the World Economic Forum, calls this next digital transformation the Fourth Industrial Revolution. “Building on the Third, the digital revolution [the Fourth Industrial Revolution is] characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.” No wonder it is disrupting people and organizations.

At the same time, Big Data seems poorly named and positioned. It sounds enormous and complicated and impersonal. It certainly doesn’t have to be. Strategic data gathering and utilization can have a significant impact on the “softer” elements of your operational objectives – such as integration with talent-related efforts specifically to enable connections, track and nurture relationships, and enhance engagement in meaningful ways.

I spoke with Bobby Matthews at Mount Sinai, which has embraced the increasing strategic role of human resources. It is integrating technology to advance its talent agenda in numerous ways, leveraging applications and platforms to enhance the experience all along the employee lifecycle. He has an appropriately “future of work” title as the innovation and transformation architect within talent acquisition and retention.

Wade: What approach does Mount Sinai take with regard to human resources and the integration of technology to facilitate its approach to talent?

Matthews: Sourcing technology has evolved from the first phase of digitization that opened the flood gates to people-data, to an iteration that is more strategic, higher touch and pivotal to accessing general and niche talent markets. Paper resumes and applications have been supplanted with a proliferation of online career boards. We use technology to leverage varied platforms in order to access discrete skill sets in high volume, increase candidate exposure to the Mount Sinai brand, while remaining within a framework closely aligned with in-person communication. We hypothesize that a relationship-centric approach to talent acquisition enables candidates to connect on cognitive and emotional planes, enhancing the new hire’s time-to-productivity. Early experience suggests this approach has merit.

Wade: How are you utilizing technology during the hiring process, both to reach possible candidates as well as connect with them about job opportunities?

Matthews: Social media outreach allows us to connect with people anytime, anywhere. We have developed an online ‘talent community’ borrowing concepts from McKinsey & Co relating to marketing and the conversion funnel and use Ascendify as a candidate relationship management tool. Applicants may explore the career section in a specific area of interest and read a multitude of real-time stories from current Mount Sinai employees. These anecdotes present a balanced view of the Mount Sinai Health System work environment in a way that is truly department-specific. It is our goal to give future Mount Sinai employees a window into what their “dream job” really looks like, day-to-day. Candidates can then drag and drop their resume into the portal and we nurture their experience over time as they browse, read and research. We are able to follow up with them when a relevant opportunity arises, share cutting edge research in their area of interest to enhance engagement, and develop a personal relationship with each individual over time.

Wade: Technology is deeply integrated into the employee experience once they are hired as well. How are you changing the employee relationship with colleagues and the organization itself?

Matthews: We leverage McKinsey & Co’s ‘Loyalty Loop’ concept and applied it to the employee lifecycle with a brand advocacy focus. Yammer is a core aspect of our internal employee experience. It is an enterprise communications platform – like a Facebook for work. It allows us to communicate transparently across the organization, which is essential given that our 38,000+ employees work in disparate locations. Yammer is also a great tool for employee engagement as it enables people to share ideas easily, among sub-committees, within user groups and across functions, as well as build relationships throughout the organization. Faculty and staff can share photos from employee events and other occasions, which adds depth to their connection.

Wade: You also use technology to support employees’ professional development, which is a cornerstone of Mount Sinai’s talent mission – how do you do this?

Matthews: We have multiple initiatives grounded in an employee-centric paradigm. An employee advocacy and engagement platform called LinkedIn Elevate has just entered the pilot phase. The platform was designed to market our professionals’ profiles and brands bringing complementary benefit to the participant and the larger organization. Curated content is easily accessible, with the intent of driving engagement and providing greater visibility within individual networks, which in turn benefits the Mount Sinai brand. In just one month, pilot participant engagement has tripled and sharing is up 17-fold. We also utilize a learning management system known as PEAK (Portal for Education and the Advancement of Knowledge) – which provides online educational and training curricula to employees. Considering the time constraints of our staff, this is critical benefit.

Wade: How have you helped to smooth the adoption and effective utilization of new tools, especially across very different levels of comfort with technology?

Matthews: We use many different methodologies, most of which are situation specific. As part of the effort to foster an environment in which employees actively pursue career development, we lead practical workshops such as “How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile”. This ensures participants can maximize their use of our online career portal and understand how best to search for internal opportunities in a particular area of interest.

Dr. Benjamin Kornitzer collaborated with Human Resources to develop a portal to specifically address the ability to connect with our physicians-in-training as well as attending physicians who are in the early stages of their careers. Dr. Kornitzer was not only heavily involved in developing this initiative, he was also extremely vested in communicating this talent pipeline to our employed physician community. With shared experiences and common language, he was able to explain the additional options the portal enabled, which were closely aligned with patient care objectives. He helped physicians transition from their personal recruitment networks to the on-line physician portal.

Mount Sinai’s strategic approach to technology integration is enabling Matthews and his team to utilize the fuller range of functionality and features that technology affords. The data collected and monitored is extremely useful to enhance the softer and more personal aspects of their business needs and interactions and create more compelling and effective relationships with prospective and existing employees. The intimate side of Big Data.

For more on helping your employees thrive, see How to Design a Flexible, Connected Workspace.