8 Biggest Talent Management Challenges
2021 promises to be an interesting year for the business world. Many industries, lead into it facing a strong head-wind of regulatory demands, a growing appetite from customers to buy and work remotely, and the unfortunate majority are still in recovery mode having seen their results nose-dive in 2020.
Some things haven’t changed:
- There remains a global shortage of talent
- Competition is increasingly ‘global’ in any market
- Digital technology is rampant, and growing more impactful each day
Jumping off from what has to be described as one of the most remarkable (or should I say dysfunctional) years in business history, the coming year has the hallmarks of being challenging for business leaders.
How companies plan to resource their business plans is one of the first items on the offsite workshop agenda. Hence why we asked our team for their perspectives of the challenges presented to large employers who wish to tackle resourcing plans in the post-pandemic era. In no particular order, here are eight of the most challenging aspects of enterprise recruitment/placement services:
1. Evolving into an Agile Workforce
When COVID-19 first struck, it was possible to see how well companies reacted to a series of sudden and irrevocable changes; most notably, a significant fluctuation in consumer habits, leading to structural industry changes to markets and business models, a shift to remote working, and a seismic shift in resourcing capacities. The variations in the ‘speed to react’ exampled by organizations was palpable.
The pandemic has shown that failure to adapt is a critical threat for all enterprises. Having the ability to adapt the skills and capacity of a workforce is a key influencing factor in the necessary make-up of an agile enterprise. Numerous organizations today combine a permanent and contingent workforce to balance risk with capacity, continuity with agility, and competencies with an ever-evolving resourcing profile.
2. Embracing a Total Talent Management (TTM) Approach
Organizations know that inefficiencies are built into processes when there’s more than one way to source talent. If not checked, the resourcing demands that pass through HR and Procurement get processed differently; potentially in parallel.
There are numerous ways jobs can get done. Enlightened talent practitioners agree that, to maximize time-to-hire while minimizing operating costs, a Total Talent Management approach is the way to go. It installs common governance through a unifying triage process that is the responsibility of just one organizational entity. That said, achieving a TTM approach is non-trivial. given that many departments need to be involved, and requires a people-process-technology—data approach.
All in all, that makes for a challenging ‘change project’ best served through an outside-looking-in perspective. Notably, it also requires a best-fit technology able to embrace best practice solutions and established systems. Visibility of key metrics, such as the total cost of talent, is challenging due to the fragmentation of systems, organizational silos, and command and control structures.
3. Implementing Adaptive Processes Through Adaptive Technologies
As business models change, processes must adapt. No two Vendor Management Systems are ever the same, and they must adapt to new technologies, attitudes, and regulations over time.
Organizations want workflows that combine a blend of best-in-class tools. They will also have differing supplier tiers and structures, along with purchase-to-pay journeys.
Technology needs to be built to flex and be configured, not customized. This is today more possible thanks to digital innovations like cloud computing containerization, big data flat file structure, evolving interoperability standards like RESTful APIs, etc.
4. Satisfying Compliance and Regulation
The regulatory structures have tightened in most places recently. Laws surrounding the privileges and rights of consumers and individuals are adding to the already complex areas, such as Data Security.
As organizations move towards a global commercial footprint, they are looking to source talent from further afield. This presents the risk of falling foul to regulatory variations between territories, not limited to employment and pay laws, data privacy and financial conduct principles.
Programs have to reinforce onboarding, training, and practical details such as travel insurances. Additionally, programs must seek to consistently federate common working practices across permanent and contingent parts of the workforce.
5. Embracing Fairness and Equality by Adopting an Inclusive Approach to Governance Across the Workforce
Organizations must model programs to instil the right values, act on inappropriate attitudes, and reinforce cultural diversity. Talent management approaches and technologies have a key role to day in supporting and amplifying these initiatives.
6. Embracing Remote Work as the New Normal
Remote working has proven itself to be a viable go-forward approach. Companies, including Microsoft, have already signalled their intentions not to go back to age old inflexible management attitudes that prohibited home working and insisted workers suffered the daily commute to an office. Talent management methods and systems have now to step in to fill the void in remote recruiting, skills testing, interviewing, etc. that have been historically framed on the assumption that ‘things would happen in an office.’
7. Becoming Data Driven
Digital technologies have sped up the pace of systems. Business happens in real-time, and businesses today need to adapt how they work at the speed of light. All of this presupposes that decisions are able to be made at a far lower level in the enterprise, in a more granular way, and that they can happen in a cadence that is at—or at least near—real-time.
8. Reinforcing Brand Culture into a Workforce of Permanent and Contingent Workers
The 21st century has become the era of purpose, and every brand needs a purpose to stand out. It’s never been more important to achieve above and beyond customer experiences. As consumers have become ever more discerning and ‘Want-What-They-Want-When-They-Want-It’, businesses have had to respond accordingly. Customer experience has become the major competitive differentiator in a variety of industries and disciplines. Customer experiences generally fails when a human doesn’t achieve a level of behavior consistent to the brand values, ethos and story. When organizations adopt a blended approach to their talent pool, combining permanent and continent workforces to cater for varying demands, they need to find smarter ways of reinforcing norms of behaviour consistent to their brand values.
With all of these challenges to contemplate, talent leaders might feel somewhat dejected: At first glance, the talent management challenges facing organizations might appear an impossible mountain to climb.
Nevertheless, there is hope that 2021 might still turn out to a watershed for the talent management discipline for three good reasons:
1. One of the biggest inhibitors to innovative talent management change programs in the past has been a shortage of boardroom sponsorship. We think the pandemic has helped management teams turn a corner. Old ways clearly don’t fit in the digital era. Executive sponsors are ready to change. They need to create an adaptive workforce able to respond to the pressures of market forces because, if they don’t, then to make ‘no decision’ might be the last decision they ever make.
2. Digital technologies are becoming ever more enabling, and they are facilitating a faster pace of change.
3. Millennials and zoomers are increasing their influence in the boardroom—and it will be them, who know that a ‘job for life’ is a pipe dream for most, that will dictate the agenda for talent management strategies in the future.
Ian Tomlin is a marketer, entrepreneur, business leader and management consultant. His passion is to help make great ideas happen. Relentlessly optimistic about the potential of technology for good, Ian’s 30+ year career has focused around the intersect of strategy, technology and marketing. He writes on subjects including workforce management, future of work, talent acquisition technology and organizational design.
Ian has written books, articles and guides on brand, digital transformation, enterprise applications, data science, and organizational design. He can be reached via LinkedIn or Twitter.