Talent Management Strategy for an Agile Workforce in a Disruptive World
When was the last time your employer asked if you’re satisfied with your job and if you are equipped with the skills you need to flourish? These questions are commonplace at a company with an effective talent management program.
Companies are transforming operations to stay ahead of disruption, whether that’s working remotely or changing business models. However, as organizations shift, talent gaps are even more stark. Companies need to meet the increasing expectations of the employee experience by having an engaged workforce with the right skills in place. A talent management strategy helps achieve this – and drives business results.
Talent management encompasses recruiting, onboarding, performance and goals, compensation, learning, and succession and development. When all those things work in harmony, effective talent management becomes a company’s competitive advantage.
The trends shaping talent management
The lines are blurring between people’s work and personal lives, and businesses are transforming how they operate as a result. A tsunami of trends is shaping talent management strategies to support employee success and well-being, but here are three big ones:
- New technologies have widened the skills gap. Artificial intelligence (AI), data, and advanced analytics require people to work alongside and manage machines productively and ethically. Whether you fill the gaps through recruiting, training (including an assessment and skilling initiative), the external market, or an ecosystem partner, talent management planning should help define and then support the optimal path for an organization.
- Diversity and inclusion also must remain a priority, as both customers and employees demand greater efforts, accountability, and transparency. Research continues to show better business outcomes with a more diverse workforce, so talent management strategies should measure the progress of DEI initiatives and push further action. This includes managing a multigenerational workforce, reducing unconscious bias in recruiting and the employee life cycle, and looking at candidates’ potential, not just their résumés.
- Effective employee management and engagement requires clear objectives in an era of remote work. Employees should know the answers to questions such as “How am I being measured?” and “How is success measured?” Fortunately, digital technologies are providing new ways to track performance globally, and many leaders are placing greater emphasis on well-being, awards, and recognition as part of the larger trend toward a better employee experience.
These three trends won’t slow down anytime soon and they will affect the workplace and the bottom line in ways that require elevating the basics of talent management.
5 best practices for an effective talent management strategy
Despite the best of intentions, common barriers can hold back the most thoughtful talent management planning. These challenges include inaccurate data, manual and disparate processes, lack of executive buy-in, and unconscious bias in decision-making.
There are five fundamentals of effective talent management strategy that can help companies overcome these and other common challenges.
- Drive goal alignment and determine metrics.
If people and their skills are critical to a business, shouldn’t HR and talent management help build the vision and goals of a company? When HR is an active part of the overall business and not operating in a silo, employee and business goals align more closely, from the top down.
Under a North Star, goal alignment helps employees understand their responsibilities more clearly. This leads to greater accountability as well as stronger job performance and employee ownership of the company’s success. All of this requires clearly communicating the business’s objectives across the entire company, with managers being able to access and view the goals of other departments to reduce redundancy and build cross-functional support. With everyone working together toward the same objectives, teams can perform with greater confidence and speed.
When auto industry supplier Kongsberg Automotive, which has 25 global production facilities, realized it needed the right skills and competencies to adapt to increasing automation in manufacturing, it linked its business needs and expectations with its approach to learning and reskilling. Its HR learning management system went fully digital and gave employees more control, and therefore responsibility, over their professional development and careers.
To meet the greater prevalence of AI and augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) in the car industry, Kongsberg Automotive is providing continuous development for employees to work more closely with machines – which is aligned with business goals.
- Create a strong employer brand.
More and more job candidates are asking questions that require HR to rethink talent planning and recruitment well beyond salary and benefits. “Is this a company I will be proud to work for? Does this company align with my values?” Those are just some of the questions talent management best practices should help address.
Sustainability, DEI, and well-being efforts should not be limited to the corporate social responsibility office. Recruiters should be well aware that they are in a weaker position to attract and retain top talent without a strong employer brand. And an effective talent management strategy ensures there are multiple ways for employees to stay engaged and find support for their values.
- Focus on employee experience.
Employees are expecting the same kind of consumer-grade experience when they access their benefits online as when they shop on e-commerce sites. Modern, cloud-based HR solutions (such as human capital management (HCM) and talent management tools) can now deliver an improved experience with modern user interfaces that support a mobile workforce across a wide range of HR and talent management processes. This facilitates high performance – so people can focus on their jobs and productivity improves. And importantly, businesses can now continually seek feedback from employees, allowing leaders to listen and respond to their people’s needs.
Kansas rail company Watco Companies, for example, experienced massive growth followed by a surge in paperwork to handle team member information. This hindered the work experience for the company’s 5,000 employees and HR team members. The company rolled out new HCM software that helps focus on the employee experience and now information is instantly available when and where it’s needed. Personnel data, for example, is available electronically for all other HR purposes once entered. More self-service, mobile access and an easy interface have contributed to a better experience for employees, which then translates to a better experience for customers. HCM software can also support overall talent management strategies to keep employees engaged, focused, and motivated.
- Encourage a high-performance culture.
The best talent management strategies fine-tune learning and development, compensation and rewards, and internal promotions so employees feel motivated, productive, and able to perform at their peak. And when goals are aligned, talent management can both help employees be their best and improve business outcomes.
In a high-performance culture, continuous performance management will feel more like a list of to-dos than a time-consuming and unfulfilling end-of-year project. When employees receive more frequent, specific pieces of feedback instead of hearing “Good job,” they can grow professionally while advancing business outcomes.
- Gain a single-source view of employees.
Managers and employees seek flexibility, consistency, and visibility, especially as the needs of the business change. A flexible system with an end-to-end view of the workforce will allow leaders across functions to target learning gaps and recognize employee potential that opens new career paths. And a single data source will allow employees, managers, HR, and other leaders to regularly and transparently reassess performance and follow any employee’s development.
With a single platform, American Airlines gave team members the greater reliability and clearer processes they lacked when they had multiple systems. The largest airline in the world also unified its global workforce of 130,000 employees with consistent, accurate, and trusted employee data. Employees have a seamless, consistent user experience in a new system that has eliminated payroll errors. Now everyone can focus on their jobs while the company focuses on supporting its people-first culture. Other advantages of the single platform include a decrease in the time it takes to complete a job application (from 45 minutes to 10 minutes) and a three-fold increase in the number of job applications, for a more robust talent pipeline.
Reaping the benefits of a successful talent management strategy
How do you know if your talent management strategy is working? Measurable employee satisfaction should show that people feel valued and report opportunities to learn and grow. And employee retention rates will show not only whether people want to stay with an organization, but internal mobility and promotion rates could also show that employees are gaining the skills to move into new positions. The outcomes proliferate from there, starting with high-performing employees’ increased productivity and engagement.
In addition, a fruitful talent management strategy will show progress toward a “Business Beyond Bias.” That means using analytics and metrics that can change behavior toward inclusion and reduce unconscious bias from decision-making across the entire employee lifecycle.
With more flexibility, innovation, and personalization for employee preferences and needs, companies will see value in a system that can continually scale and adapt as an organization changes. And with a marketplace that moves faster each day, organizations have little choice but to start thinking about talent management in a holistic manner. Those are the places where people will choose to work and deliver their best.
Talent management strategy FAQs
Talent management encompasses recruiting, onboarding, performance and goals, compensation, learning, and succession and development. Effective talent management goes beyond traditional processes to deliver talent experiences that enable organizations to hire, develop, and retain the best talent. It can include local and global talent sourcing, a great candidate and employee experience, effective learning and development, an optimized compensation and recognition program, and more.
There are many key components of talent management. They include aligned goals and metrics, a strong employer brand with values that engage employees, and a focus on the employee experience. Effective talent management also encourages a high-performance culture and provides a single-source view of employees.
Talent management processes support the entire employee lifecycle, from recruiting to succession and development. For example, the recruiting process to identify top candidates falls under talent management. It could also include developing a highly skilled internal talent pool as a succession planning process.
A talent management strategy helps identify and fill missing key skills, supports a productive, engaged workforce, and drives business results. As the workforce increasingly expects a consumer-grade employee experience and employers engage in a fight for talent, an effective talent management strategy will provide employers with higher retention and the ability to compete in the global economy. These organizations can more nimbly adapt to new opportunities and disruptions.
The ultimate objective of talent management is to achieve the business goals of an enterprise. To do so, talent management strives for high-performing employees and the retention of top talent. Though different organizations have varying business goals, the best outcomes of talent management include higher employee satisfaction, internal mobility and promotion rates, and a more diverse and inclusive workforce.
A company creates its talent management model to support the goals of the business. How a company attracts, retains, and develops its employees should align with the vision of how and where an organization wants to lead and grow. The model should also account for future disruption or downturns, and how people and new technologies can be redeployed to sustain company growth amidst challenging macroeconomic conditions.