5 Talent Management Trends and the HR Skills They Require
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This time of year is traditionally filled with conversations about strategic plans, individual goals and next year’s budgets. The COVID-19 pandemic is making this already difficult process even more difficult as we don’t have a clear idea of what will happen next.
However, as HR professionals and business leaders, we know that having a well-thought-out talent management strategy provides organizational competitive advantage. As we look to the months ahead, here are five talent management trends to consider, and what’s needed to manage them effectively.
Trend #1: Organizations want to see a more diverse candidate list for each position.
Michael Keleman, a Canadian recruiter who hosts a podcast titled The Recruitment Animal Show and runs a Facebook discussion group for recruiters, reports that he has seen a number of recruiters comment on management’s strenuous efforts to increase the number of diverse applicants.
It’s not an unreasonable goal, Keleman said. Recruiters just need to understand how to do diversity sourcing. “They need to know where to look for people and they need to build networks of people who can give them appropriate referrals.”
He also noted that recruitment should be part of a bigger picture that includes talent development. “Companies may have to hire unqualified people and train them – and eventually start cultivating and developing high school students,” he said.
Ultimately, HR specialists will need to effectively track and report on the improvements they make, and then share that data with senior management.
Trend #2: Companies must focus on training, development and retraining.
Amazon, Walmart and PwC have announced plans to reskill large segments of their workforce in the coming years. The challenge for other companies that will follow will be to go beyond designing one-off training programs and focus on long-term retraining efforts.
The key to success will be flexibility, according to Jenni Stone, SHRM-CP, partner and director of human resources at HR Shield, podcaster at HR Rescue and volunteer leader of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) in Greenville, SC
“Retraining is about treating the workforce as flexible rather than seeing each employee only in a defined role,” Stone said. “If you have talented employees working for you but their area of expertise is becoming less relevant, you don’t want to just wait for them to become obsolete and then have to hire someone new. Instead, it’s much better to recycle them so you can put their talent to good use elsewhere.”
Stone suggested that the best place to start any kind of retraining effort is with assessments. “The first step is to have a clear view of your organization’s talent ecosystem, such as technologies, agile processes and systems [or ways of working] that allow greater connectivity. The second step is to identify jobs that include the skills and competencies that overlap with the new jobs. And the third step is to develop career paths and critical experiences that will lift your people out of ‘stagnant’ roles,” she said.
Trend #3: Benefits packages need to reflect the new world of work.
If organizations want employees to do their best, they need to have access to wellness resources. In one SHRM online article, Stephen Miller, CEBS, noted that a growing number of employers were offering enhanced emotional and mental health benefits even before the pandemic. With COVID-19, this trend is accelerating, he wrote.
COVID-19 has challenged people in ways they have never experienced before. Individuals have been unable to leave their homes, making it difficult to socialize with family and friends, for example. With limited opportunities for stress relief, emotional support, and self-care, employees may seek other options.
But mental health is only one aspect of the picture of well-being. Employers will also want to address remote work arrangements, professional development, employee resource groups and more. HR might find this a great opportunity to revamp and reintroduce cafeteria-style benefits programs where employees can choose a benefits package tailored to their individual needs.
Trend #4: Managers must learn how to effectively manage a remote workforce.
One of the things we’ve learned over the past few months is that the remote work environment has many benefits. According to Tim Sackett, SHRM-SCP, author of The talent solution and HR consultant, the biggest challenge we’ve seen is how difficult it is for organizations to encourage and measure high performance.
“Historically, most performance management was about seeing an employee’s butt on a seat: ‘Oh, Tim’s here, he’s got to work!’ Then all of a sudden, Tim’s home and the managers can’t see Tim working,” Sackett said. “Finally, the light has come on and now organizations understand how important it is to have big, measurable goals to improve the business.”
For managers to have the most impact in performance management, they must provide clear communication. “Do your employees truly understand what success looks like, how they will be measured against it, and what your role is in helping them achieve that success? For many of us, that means developing processes and measures that are entirely new ones, and a lot of training and leadership development,” Sackett said.
Trend #5: HR professionals need to lead talent management efforts.
During the financial crisis of 2008, it was the CFO who brought the organization back to normal by providing corporate strategy. During this period, the ball is in HR’s court, according to Ron Thomas, former vice president of HR and now managing director of Strategy Focused HR in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
“People strategy will and should be the driver to reinvent the workplace,” Thomas said.
In response, HR professionals must strive to develop greater business acumen to effectively lead the organization into the new normal.
“We need to be present at every meeting to guide the people process,” he said. “HR has always yearned for that seat at the table. Well, now we’re at the head of the table, and the question becomes ‘can we deliver?’ We must become a student of our industry, a student of our company and a student of the DNA of our workforce.”
All of these trends require HR to understand and assess the analytics for success. And they all require some change management capability, whether it’s changing our skills or helping the organization add skills to employees and managers.
For organizations to leverage talent as a competitive business advantage, talent management must be aligned with business strategy. This means viewing these trends as more than just a passing fad. None are leaving anytime soon. In fact, they are the new baseline of talent management and will determine the organization’s ability to compete for many years to come.
Sharlyn Lauby, SHRM-SCP, is the author of the HR Bartender blog and president of ITM Group Inc., a Florida-based training and human resources consulting firm that helps companies retain and engage talent. The author of The Recruiter’s Handbook (SHRM, 2018) and Onboarding Managers: 5 Steps to Preparing New Leaders for Success (SHRM, 2016) made it a personal goal to find the best cheeseburger on the planet.