Thirty-three of the 2018 Fortune 500 companies were not featured in 2017. Forty-five per cent of employers can’t find the skills they need, the highest in a decade. Talent management in 2019 must rapidly change.
Talent management is today’s most vital function. Barriers to entry like technological advantage, global supply chains and access to capital are falling, making an organisation’s access to skills critical. In addition to access to skills is the real-time mobilisation of the workforce to meet changing customer needs. Every executive is talking about “agile” organisations; in fact, 84 per cent of companies have a shift in focus from careers to skills but only 37per cent are ready to meet expectations.
But it’s not just companies wanting this flexibility. We’re watching continued expansion of the gig economy, from Uber and Deliveroo drivers, to include white-collar workers such as lawyers, management consultants and even doctors. Over 30 per cent of the global workforce will be millennials by 2020, with half open to non-traditional employment. Compounding this, the unstoppable rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) impacting all functions, including HR.
Lastly and on a less positive note, Brexit is making the market more volatile and competitive for organisations. This means businesses are going to have to make the most of the people that they’ve got.
But what’s possible?
A more fluid workforce. Talent doesn’t only take the form of a permanent employee anymore. Now, there are more freelancers, contractors and even people returning to work or alumni who can occasionally help. In the UK, the number of self-employed has risen from 3.3 million in 2001 to 4.8 million in 2017.
Retaining and developing only the people on the payroll is a short-sighted approach to take for 2019. Instead, the focus for HR needs to be on expanding existing talent networks and accessing a whole untapped resource of external talent available to them. Organisations will need to utilise technology to maintain connections and drive collaboration between transient workforces.
Improving data sources. HR can sometimes be reputed to have disparate, messy data. That might explain why only 27 per cent of organisations use workforce data as part of their decision making, despite 60 per cent stating that they see it as important. 2019 will see more HR leaders working to clean and consolidate their data, the first step in effective talent analytics. There will also have to be a culture change within HR and the wider organisation. Many HR practices are created on gut instinct (recruitment, development and progression). With data as the foundation to HR decision making, there will be less unconscious bias in the system. But that requires people to trust the insights from the data first and to buy into talent analytics.
The rise of AI. With better data comes the ability to use AI. There are some basic functions that AI (and its subset Machine Learning) can currently achieve. Routine admin processes such as data entry can be done with Machine Learning, freeing up HR teams to work on more strategic and critical tasks. AI can provide more personalised talent experiences. By analysing an employee’s past experience, skills and goals, they can be intelligently matched to tasks and roles, or learning experiences.
The power of one. Marketing has been used to targeting one customer with personalised communications for years. A key trend in 2019 will see more HR departments move beyond crude segmentation to a more individual approach. This targeted approach works well in talent management. Knowing the true capabilities of an employee, their ambitions and goals, helps you tailor opportunities to their specific needs and desires. Delving into the data behind each worker will tell you whether they’d excel on a project, if they’re in the right department and what goals will motivate them.
Improving the talent experience. Workplaces will come under more scrutiny in 2019, partly due to social media. People regularly post photos of their first day on LinkedIn. It can lead to some serious FOMO (fear of missing out) for other employees, especially if a new employer is seen to gift new employees. Improving the employee experience has a knock-on positive impact on employer branding. It can go further than offering physical gifts, however. Organisations are starting to embrace more agile working methods by not just offering flexible working but also by breaking down specific roles into skills, and jobs into tasks. This method then provides employees with the ability to be able to find and match to internal roles available, that they would be a good fit for.
Learning evolves. Self-directed learning, delivered at a time and in a format of someone’s choosing, will become more commonplace in 2019. Course providers such as LinkedIn Learning and Coursera offer alternatives to a traditional university education. While platforms like Degreed help the enterprise track it all. With Brexit looming on the horizon, employees will want to upskill in the event of job shortages and organisations will want to train workforces to remain competitive.
Brexit on the HR horizon. Brexit casts a dark shadow over talent in 2019. Uncertainty is already impacting some companies’ performance and may cause some tough economic times for organisations. If free movement is limited (or more difficult and costly) after Brexit, then organisations may struggle to recruit more talent. Retention becomes vital, which influences all aspects of talent management – from employee experience, to using technology to build talent networks.
Cross functional collaboration. Finally, to grasp most of this, functions will have to work together. It’s no longer just about HR but having Procurement (if they look after non-permanent workers), IT and Operations all being involved that will be the differentiator.
But first, focus on today. That all being said, today’s talent management processes need to be focused on having a current-day impact. In fact, the term ‘talent management’ is becoming increasingly more outdated as terms such as ‘Total Talent’ replace it. Those organisations that will ensure success in 2019 and into the future, will be those that focus on matching people to the work they want to be doing.