Talent Management: Halted in the Here & Now or Filled with Foresight?

Dan Solomon, Head of Marketing & Comms

Over the years, at some point or another, we’ve all read why companies should be approaching both the acquisition and management of talent proactively. I know I’m not alone when I say that phrases such as ‘future-proofing’ or ‘talent pooling’ have been forever ingrained in my mind. 

The industry has been flooded with content on proactive recruitment for some time now and we are all well aware of its benefits, so we ran a survey to find out whether companies had made progress in reshaping their talent strategies to become more future-looking (i.e. proactive) and less focussed on the here and now (i.e. reactive).

We asked a large group of senior HR, Talent, In-House Recruitment and Learning & Development professionals to anonymously rate their organisation’s own approaches to talent management. This worldwide survey was conducted across 13 different sectors and questions ranged from candidate attraction through to talent development.

Firstly, we wanted to benchmark how respondents felt about the capabilities of the organisation’s current workforce and how they would score their existing talent acquisition and management practices. Below are the results:

The ratings which respondents gave to their internal development and their engagement with external talent were fairly good. Although, we were actually surprised to find that only a very slight majority felt their existing workforce was capable of meeting current needs.

When you factor in that we’re still experiencing widespread skills shortages across a multitude of industries and we remain in the midst of the much-discussed ‘war for talent’, you can begin to understand why 49% of respondents feel the condition of the current workforce needs to be improved.

However, looking to the future, another finding from our study is actually quite staggering:

Let’s think about this for a minute…

The majority of senior professionals (81%) who participated in this survey, all of whom directly have a hand in their organisation’s recruitment and/or talent management, don’t feel their collective workforce have the skills or capabilities to support the company’s future needs.

In some regards, it’s admirable of them to voice this and it also demonstrates that they don’t have their head in the sand when it comes to a potentially major issue for their organisation. However, the question has to be asked, what’s causing this large segment of people to hold such a negative outlook towards the future and what is being done to drive significant change?

We can answer the first part of this question with confidence by drawing from other findings in the study where we asked respondents to select their biggest problem areas from a list of 20 common issues. Below are the top three which people chose:

We can see there’s a strong correlation between the two most common problem areas and the ability of their existing workforce to meet the organisation’s future needs. In other words, succession planning and talent pipelining are activities designed to strengthen long-term recruitment activity and we know from the survey that the vast majority of respondents are worried about exactly this – the long term.

We know the problem and we know the solution. Create a robust and well-oiled talent pipeline, which is backed by a well-thought-out succession plan across all key business areas and the outlook begins to become a lot brighter.

Great, so why aren’t enough people doing this? Or, if they are, how come it’s not giving them comfort about the capabilities of their future workforce?

There’s likely to be a number of reasons. Talent pipelining can be time-intensive and requires continual maintenance which a company may not have the resources for. Succession planning is an intricate task which can involve an organisational redesign and rigorous, individual assessments of future leaders across an entire business.

However, the challenges mentioned above do not dismiss the indisputable fact that strengthening how you acquire and manage your talent is absolutely essential for the future success of a business.

Whether it’s through your own company’s initiative or in partnership with an industry specialist, define your organisation’s mid-to-long-term talent management strategy and implement the activities you will need to drive lasting change.

6 Group has been a leading facilitator of transformational change for some of the world’s largest organisations for over a decade. Across 2017 alone, we’ve conducted a number of organisational redesign projects, succession plans and leadership assessment programmes. An overview of one of the projects in question is available here.

To find out how we can help you transform your talent management strategy, get in touch.

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