It doesn’t look like skills shortages and talent market competitiveness is going away anytime soon. For HR and business leaders, it means they have to take an alternative approach to get the capabilities they desperately need: thinking laterally about what they already have within the organization and looking at creating an internal talent marketplace. This is something that might not only mitigate against talent resource issues but can also boost their external employment brand, too. More than ever, they also need to think about where gig, contingent, and flexible approaches to employment fit in as well.
Internal opportunity vs external acquisition: It just isn’t that simple!
The sheer saturation of headlines around talent acquisition and retention difficulties – the so-called Great Resignation, statistics on active vacancies outstripping the number of unemployed, and an-argued-about ‘Great Retirement’ – and how long they’ve been going on for might have some in HR and business thinking the market has passed its most troublesome period. They’d be wrong.
The latest research shows that global recruitment struggles are at a 16-year peak, meaning many firms are having to think laterally about how they source the skills they need. For some, it means they’re thinking about what skills they have inside the organization rather than solely looking externally. Yet, as one talent professional on the roundtable explained, this doesn’t mean it’s an either-or approach (internal skills sourcing vs. external hiring). In their view, these talent pools can supplement each other to create a total talent approach that can also boost diversity, retention, and individual opportunities. For example, an organization could get, or retain, much-needed skills by offering, to the right individual, a promotion and upskilling; they needn’t always hire from outside. HR can also plan for this – it doesn’t have to be reactive.
The roundtable discussion took this concept one step further: what does an organization need to do if it begins to consider its internal talent marketplace as somewhere that can deliver the skills it requires? As one attendee noted, it isn’t necessarily about an employee having the exact skill set they’re looking for at that moment, but having an ambitious, learning-oriented, or driven mindset. If organizations have access to these employees, they could grow future capabilities, said attendee argued.
However, the needs of the organization have to be matched with what employees want if this approach is to successfully plug gaps in, or drive, the overall approach to talent. If employees aren’t happy with the options HR is telling them to exist, it just won’t work. Therefore, asking simple questions like: ‘Where do you want to be in five years’ can be very effective here. It also shows businesses where they might have surprising access to talent, especially if they break down silo walls and make their internal employment landscape more porous. Here, using technology to showcase different opportunities can be very effective as well as giving employees autonomy over their own career paths.
Putting the total in total talent
Total talent isn’t just about searching for new skills or individuals to fill roles, whether that is externally or internally, it’s about retaining talent, too. Pandemic-changed expectations around what company loyalty, flexibility, work-life balance, career management, and remuneration are playing out in the employment marketplace in very real ways so, as one talent acquisition leader told the roundtable, organizations need to look at this from a retention perspective, too.
Another attendee added that talent management and talent acquisition strategies and programs need to better match up if a business can consider its approach to talent a total one. So, what can they do here to get towards that goal of having a total talent strategy? One talent leader told the roundtable, having experienced a journey towards a total talent approach at their own organization, that one of the key parts was defining what total talent would be. From that, they can create succession plans and talent pools, and if HR leads this it should give them a helicopter view of both external and internal options.
This is where technology plays a critical role. If organizations are using siloed systems that limit the flow of data and visibility, this approach is almost impossible. On the other hand, a one-platform approach provides organizations with a multi-solution ecosystem, driven by data and capable of bridging the gaps between performance management, employee upskilling, career-pathing, workforce engagement and talent acquisition activity. However, for this approach to be successful, it requires good HR communication with externally-focused talent acquisition practitioners and good flow between these parts. Here, a skills model, talent matching process, and good visibility of all talent mechanisms can also help.
Whilst this approach takes in the strategic view, there are on-the-ground things that HR can focus on as well to get towards a total talent approach. Transparency around opportunities can help. As can improved learning opportunities. Additionally, these focus in these areas was also mentioned: training managers on how to spot talent within their own teams that could solve different skills needs; better flexibility and benefit offerings; considering what the employee experience offers to the talent conversation. To make this scalable, technologies such as AI can help managers with the identification process, as well as delivering personalized recommendations for learning and training opportunities to every employee.
For firms who rely on less full-time employment and more gig and contingent work, they might be thinking: “Well, this larger trend doesn’t really apply to me.” However, as the discussion continued, attendees laid out how typical trends within these workforces, such as a high turnover, might be mitigated. Here, establishing pipelines is useful, and experimenting with employment practices that align with evolving local legislation – something that this type of employment is increasingly having to contend with – is something that attendees thought would be useful. Indeed, another added that simple things such as considering how the employer brand sits with those who might engage with you is also key, as well as how technology intersects here. The right solution can help you showcase your employer value proposition effectively to contingent workers, nurturing relationships over time thanks to the right automation and campaign tools.
The ‘never assume’ approach to talent
In fact, as the roundtable discussion highlighted, there are things that HR and talent professionals in industries of all stripes can do to take a more total talent-oriented approach. Often, this requires keeping people at the center of HR thinking: whether it’s how your employer brand might attract external individuals or how you allow incumbent talent to progress in the way they want. It also requires not making assumptions about how individuals want their work-life to play out and leveraging the right technology to deliver more personalized experiences at scale.
And with one talent professional shared a tale about how one employee, who had been in the same job for circa 20 years, did not want to talk about future progression opportunities because being so good in one role freed up mental space to think about their true outside-of-work passions, it acted as a good HR moral: remember, there is always more at play than meets the eye! Never assume and work hard to think laterally and consider every factor.
Why join an UNLEASH roundtable?
Amid the current disruption, HR leaders need to get ahead of the exponential trend where work, technology, and how work gets done have changed forever. But how should we approach the relevant questions, given the radical uncertainty we continue to face as the pandemic becomes more protracted than anyone imagined? Our exclusive Virtual Roundtables are designed to explore where business leaders are focused now, key challenges and prioritization for the rest of the year, and what matters most in planning for what’s next.
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