Digital technology, changing workforce demographics and a shift in what people expect from their employer are affecting the way businesses manage talent. Chris Martin from Silvermaple shares eight trends.
What’s driving this change?
Digitalisation is transforming the way individuals interact with their employers. Technology can now shape all aspects of the employee lifecycle including attraction, assessment, development and recognition.
Changing workforce demographics within the UK continue to put pressure on the competition for talent. This trend is likely to be compounded by the continuing uncertainties about Brexit and freedom of movement.
Those joining the workplace for the first time, as with previous generations, bring with them different ideals, values and expectations. These are shifting both the cultural and structural fabric of our workplace and in turn the nature of the relationship between employee and employer.
Businesses are increasingly focused on engagement, health and well-being as they strive to differentiate themselves on the quality of their employment experience.
A global survey conducted by Mercers this year found that 93% of business executives plan to make a design change in their company within the next two years. Keeping up with the pace of change and anticipating the talent required for the future remains a priority for many organisations.
The use of gamification
Gamification has spread to almost every aspect of talent management. The earliest examples to gamify recruitment were used by the US Army in 1999. They (together with the MOD) continue to use games to attract and assess potential candidates using life like simulations and experiences. Recruitment consultancies, accountancy firms and business as diverse as L’Oréal and GCHQ have all now used gamification to aid attraction and recruitment of talent.
This is not limited to recruitment. Gamification is used to recognise and reward talent (both individual and team) within contact centre environments where it contributes to retention and productivity. It has also been found to work well in a talent development context for remote workers or virtual teams. Individuals can learn together through shared and interactive experiences.
The end of the talent pool
A key premise of talent management has always been to focus on (and not squander) the opportunities that lie within. The benefits of utilising internal talent are well established and frequently associated with reduced recruitment costs and increase retention.
However, as the workforce becomes increasingly mobile and businesses focus more on partnerships and collaboration, the boundaries between internal and external talent pools become blurred. Businesses of all sizes are finding they need to maintain relationships and keep up to date with individuals regardless of their employer, location or employment status. In short, this is about a shift of mind-set from talent pool to talent network.
The growth of talent analytics
The market for talent management software is growing rapidly, with a combined value in the US alone of over $6 billion. Talent analytics are now being utilised for talent acquisition, retention, placement, promotion, remuneration, and succession planning.
Software algorithms are being used to identify talent and match it to business needs. Initial screening processes are being accelerated through the pinpointing of core traits. Greater predictive insights are being established into the qualities required for future talent.
Enhanced quality and immediacy of feedback
The availability, quality and immediacy of feedback plays a critical role in enabling talented leaders and their teams to perform and develop.
As business and people metrics improve so does the opportunity to provide leaders and their teams with real time feedback about their immediate performance and wider impact on the business. From a talent perspective, this can give teams and individuals insight of the factors impacting upon their effectiveness. It can also support the implementation of more agile and tailored interventions that support talent development on an ongoing basis.
The way we measure potential will continue to evolve
Potential remains a challenging variable to measure. At an individual level, it is a dynamic and changing characteristic which may vary one month to the next. At an organisational level, it is incredibly context specific i.e. potential for what? Given the rapidly changing nature or roles and leadership requirements in many businesses this context is constantly evolving.
Whilst data analytics provide interesting insights into the predictors of potential these are only as good as the quality of the data analysed. Given many existing measures of potential are heavily influenced by current performance and context we need to be careful about assuming data or talent analytics hold all the answers. It seems likely that our definitions and measures of potential will be a continuing source of debate and change.
A diverse team is a talented team
Diverse teams have commercial and competitive advantages over those that are less diverse. Businesses are increasingly understanding the need for talent and diversity strategies to be combined if they are to attract and retain the most talented people. Teams that successfully apply inclusive talent management experience greater opportunities for innovation and learning together with higher responsiveness to customer needs. They also display greater flexibility and insight when operating within different cultures.
Wider definitions of performance and potential
Definitions of talent, performance and potential have tended to be narrow and the measures are often linear rather than multi-dimensional.
Increasingly these are considered to limit our understanding of the breadth of capabilities, motivations and needs of individuals. This can create problems for organisations and individuals. From a business perspective, the number of people identified as talented will be restricted and some of your ‘best people’ could be excluded. From an individual perspective, people can miss opportunities that might have allowed them to flourish.
An increasing focus on the individual
The concept of providing an individualised employment experience is not new. Despite this, many organisations still struggle to apply these principles in practice. Those who do, are experiencing a positive impact in relation to both the attraction and retention of talent.
An increasing number of businesses are creating greater alignment between role requirements and the needs and aspirations individuals. This requires employers to focus on how roles can be adapted to enable individuals rather than expecting people to mould themselves around inflexible frameworks.
We are also seeing more individualised development, co-designed around the needs of individuals which is responsive not just to their development priorities but learning style, lifestyle and personality preferences.
The application of technology within talent management is a consistent thread which connects many of the trends above. It provides competitive intelligence through social media and an engaging and efficient way to support most aspects of the talent cycle. Gamification and the application of HR analytics are well established in a number of businesses, the latter offering huge opportunities but also risks.
The application of artificial intelligence within talent management is also being trialled. There are companies selling machine learning algorithms which claim to provide more efficient screening, better candidate experience and engagement, and improved prediction of behaviour and performance.
Whilst the growth of this technology provides genuine opportunities for individuals and businesses, it also has its limitations. Good talent management is as much about mind-set as process and needs to focus on the differences between people as well as the similarities. Most fundamentally it is also about human relationships. Businesses who neglect these core principles will struggle to remain attractive places to for people to work in an increasingly competitive employment market.
About the author
Chris Martin is a Business Psychologist and Founding Partner of Silvermaple. You can visit at www.Silvermaple.co.uk