Special Report: Xref founder and CEO Lee-Martin Seymour is fired up over the silent skills crisis unfolding in Australia and tells Stockhead this week’s launch of the HR-tech firm’s ‘hire-to-retire’  SaaS solution called ‘Xref Enterprise’ is all about waking Australia up to the fact we’re all in a new, more challenging employment market.

This week the National Skills Commission will reveal the full extent of the jobs carnage facing Australian employers trying to get off their knees and on with some kind of work-life, post-COVID.

In short: it’s not happening.

Not only because the NSC says an incredible 31% of all Australian occupations are now considered “in demand”, but the very fact the NSC is actually leaking this data ahead of its Thursday release, should have employers chaining their remaining workers to the nearest heavy object.

Lee-Martin Seymour the co-founder and CEO of Aussie-listed HR-tech firm Xref (ASX:XF1)  says the transformation of the Australian workforce has happened while distracted officials were asleep at the wheel.

Seymour says: Skills crisis is an HR crisis

“The release this week of the national skills priority list – just part of the essential work coming out of the National Skills Commission – should help inform and guide the new government’s policy focus on training and migration,” Seymour says.

According to early reports, that list has just blown out from 153 to 286 occupations over the past 12 months as workers across the country reboot, reimagine or just straight up retire.

“The government needs to understand that Australian employers are already knee-deep in a nationwide skills crisis and unless employers get every leg-up they can, then that skills crisis is going to become a full-on HR crisis,” Seymour told Stockhead.

Speaking to the ABC on Tuesday, Skills Minister Brendan O’Connor said Australia was grappling with the “really difficult challenge” of a “remarkable” surge in industries searching for workers.

“We need to transform industries by providing them with the tools to build, understand and retain a post-COVID workforce. It’s that simple,” Seymour says.

This is why this week Seymour’s Xref – a locally-listed, globally-focused HR-tech specialist – is rolling out an entirely transformed HR platform which his team dubbed the ‘hire-to-retire’ enterprise SaaS platform.

“The new Xref Enterprise platform will now follow an employee from candidacy through to employment, engagement, company exit – and even re-hiring,” he says.

The new platform a Culture Amp eater

Shifting the global business model away from solely usage-based, to a 360-degree SaaS platform for enterprises, will allow the company to decouple revenue recognition from recruiting trends,  increasing XF1’s addressable market ten-fold by offering solutions beyond pre-employment.

“It’s great for our stakeholders, building out an already significant global market and it’s great for enterprises – we remove the friction, all the floating pieces of the HR puzzle and put it all in the hands of the employee.”

Solutions across the entire hire-to-retire journey

At candidacy phase, Xref’s automated ID and reference checking algorithms – already used in 195 countries – slashes time to hire, negates unconscious bias, alerts suspicious activity and fraud, and quantifies the full diversity of feedback for actionable insights.

Once a candidate has been employed, HR teams can then continuously measure employee satisfaction and understand how employees feel about their job by deriving Net Promoter Scores (NPS).

“If an employee does choose to leave, HR teams can then gather important organisational metrics via exit surveys,” Seymour says.

“This can help to both improve the organisational culture and practices, as well as build a talent pipeline of potential returning employees. And right now, that’s essential.”

In the future, if a suitable role for the past-employee pops up, then the HR team is ready and able to reach out, and even address    the pain points which caused them to leave in the first place.

“Despite the economic headwinds currently blowing us all over the place here at home in Australia, our labour markets haven’t been this tight for well over a generation, maybe two. What’s more they’ve never ever been this weird, post-COVID shape.”

According to the latest ABS data, by June this year almost one-third of Australian businesses were unable to find suitable staff to fill jobs.

Labour shortages were even worse in medium (62%) and large (66%) businesses.

Engaging the new HR paradigm: Tracking talent flow

Xref says the data collection right across critical candidate and employee metrics is the only hard, true and fast way a business can improve itself to become genuinely attractive to talent.

And right now, it’s a buyers market like never before.

“We allow firms to better compete for talent, expand talent pipelines, and speed up the hiring processes,” Seymour says.

Seymour says competition for talent has become cut-throat – barely within a year – meaning employers need the right processes in place now.

“All the conferences and studies in the world won’t help employers make confident hiring decisions rapidly and accurately if they wish to hire and retain the best talent,” he said.

“The shortage of available candidates plaguing almost every industry urgently calls for products that significantly expand an organisation’s talent pool.

“In such a market the best source of new employees may actually be former employees, or the many qualified candidates who didn’t get through during previous hiring rounds.

“Extracting quality candidates from these extra talent pools is exactly what our new Xref Enterprise platform will help innovative organisations do.”

Exponential market growth

The move to an enterprise SaaS platform will allow Xref to address a vastly wider (and clearly struggling) market by offering whole-of-career solutions.

Over the past 12 months, 1.3 million new users engaged on the platform across 195 countries, and Seymour says the company is already in testing for its enhanced new platform features to be released in stages throughout FY23.

”Xref began the design and development of these new products during the height of the pandemic and at a time when the business was focused on becoming profitable,” Seymour says.

Seymour says XF1’s R&D “and our ideation came through that shared experience.

“And it taught us that not only is everything, everyone, everywhere thought they knew about HR back on the table, but the entire HR experience needs someone to just own a single solution. That’s what we try to do.

“Employers worldwide are justly questioning – or they should be questioning – the legacy processes and the tech that helped them recruit, retain and then go and lose the talent they worked so hard on getting.

“So, yes. We’re right on time.”

This article was developed in collaboration with Xref, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.