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Talent Development Strategy for Today's Flexible Work

Are you still unable to fully launch that Digital Transformation project that your CEO approved months ago? The savvy CIOs and CTOs know that business model innovation progress is achieved by better people, process, and technology advancements -- specifically in that order. Are you ready now?

If your current 'team' of employees are unprepared, well you're not alone. Furthermore, many organizations are struggling to hire 'quality talent' as only 16 percent of new hires possess the needed skills for both their current role and the future, according to the latest worldwide market study by Gartner. Moreover, what's the likelihood that this 'cream of the crop' wants to work at your company?

Ongoing Quest for Aptly Skilled Talent

To hire quality talent, recruiting leaders must shift their strategies from replacing the workforce to instead 'shaping the workforce' by defining needs based on skills, sourcing talent more broadly and creating responsive employment value propositions (EVPs).

Historically, the value of the HR recruiting function has been to acquire quality talent with critical skills to meet the organization’s short- and long-term objectives.

Accomplishing this objective centered around 'replacing the workforce' through a similar set of candidate profiles from known talent pool sources that were attracted to existing EVP attributes.

"Traditional recruiting methods are unable to compete with the large-scale shifts to the workplace and the labor market," said Lauren Smith, vice president at Gartner.

Gartner data shows that existing roles may require up to ten new skills by 2021. Today’s current environment of economic instability due to COVID-19 has made traditional talent pools less viable for sourcing talent, as high-quality candidates are unlikely to leave their current positions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced employers to rethink how to best get work done and what skills their employees will need to adapt in this new context. Candidates are scrutinizing organizations’ responses to the pandemic, looking to see how companies have treated employees during this time.

Leading organizations are already shaping the workforce through strategies based on the realities of the new recruiting landscape. Shaping the workforce means acquiring new skillsets from a diverse skills market that influences an organization’s EVP.

According to Gartner's assessment, recruiters must make 3 key shifts:
  • Define talent needs by prioritizing skills instead of hiring profiles
  • Uncover the total skills market instead of targeting known talent pools
  • Create responsive EVPs, not just responsive candidates

"The best recruiting functions that excel in these workforce-shaping behaviors see a 24 percent increase in quality of hire," added Ms. Smith. "High-quality talent can have a significant impact on business outcomes, including individuals who successfully perform in their roles 20 percent faster and teams that get a 19 percent boost in their ability to meet future challenges."

Hiring managers often focus on candidate profiles, recycling the last job description and adding new desired skills to the list, which creates an impossible task for recruiters to find these elusive 'unicorn' candidates.

Leading organizations are shifting the focus of needs-definition conversations towards defining the essential skills required to get the job done. To be effective in this new approach, recruiters need to understand skill needs in the larger context of the organization-wide strategy.

To equip recruiters with this knowledge, the best organizations leverage HR partnerships to map future skill needs. Recruiters can then consult the line of business leaders on how to best align job strategy with organization-wide objectives.

Recruiters have long sourced skills from known talent pools based on credentials and background. This strategy misses out on highly skilled candidates, as Gartner research shows that 43 percent of candidates today are self-taught in one or more of their role's requirements.

In addition, organizations are increasingly developing high-value skill sets in employees through accelerated training programs. However, this approach is often problematic, due to corporate cultural constraints.

HR leaders should also consider where their search criteria can be broadened. For instance, can the organization look at candidate potential over candidate credentials -- or hire based on where the talent is located, not where the business is located? Key point: a distributed workforce offers a sizable talent pool, not a mere talent puddle.

HR leaders should also audit their entire hiring process for exclusionary practices that advantage one talent segment over another.

Outlook for Progressive Talent Recruitment Leadership

Gartner research finds that 65 percent of candidates have cut short the hiring process because they found certain aspects of the employer's job (e.g. work-life balance, development opportunities, company culture) to be unattractive. Do you survey why the best high-caliber candidates decline your employment offers?

"To deliver on changing candidate expectations, the best organizations are leveraging labor market insights – direct candidate feedback, competitor EVP offerings, employee needs – to inform and adapt their EVP to today’s environment," Ms. Smith said. "Progressive organizations use these insights to inform job design and new employee experience initiatives."

Frankly, there's a much greater problem holding-back meaningful progress at traditional employers. HR performance appraisal processes are not applied in such a way that they lead to the desired business outcome (better talent). Instead, too many large enterprise managers reward people for being 'nice' -- and for not challenging the status quo. Bold and brave talent is seen as a threat, not an asset.

The quintessential passive-aggressive middle manager has typically mastered the art of ensuring that all their direct reports are appropriately 'compliant' and 'non-threatening' to the accepted corporate culture. Given that backdrop, how do you really attract high-quality candidates that willingly want to be a part of that dismal existence? Yes, it's a rhetorical question. Of course, we all know the answer.

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