In 1997, a groundbreaking McKinsey study exposed workforce vulnerabilities for human resource teams in their book, The War for Talent, yet almost 20 years later as the human capital field is desperate for a revolution, most organizations are not prepared for battle. The dynamics of talent’s low supply and high demand are playing out across the globe, affecting every industry sector and continent. Amid the readiness concerns for the overall workforce, retention and succession gaps are leading to anemic levels of qualified leaders.
In sum, the soft approach many HR teams have taken in the past won’t cut it as organizations strive to meet hard business vulnerabilities.
No doubt, it’s difficult to change. The war for talent will involve far more than novel recruiting tactics. It will take wholesale HR adaptation. To some enterprises, this might be quite disruptive. However, the need for organizations to morph how they manage and grow talent is about as fundamental as Darwin’s principles for evolutionary theory itself.
Conditions have changed remarkably. The demographic shifts, revamped business models, digitization of products, rise in big data analytics and new forms of competition require organizations to fuel perpetual skill upgrades.
HR must evolve to apply new paradigms toward talent attraction, mine for unrealized capability, build rapid development tactics, implement highly effective engagement strategies and unveil succession pathways with far more innovation than has been demonstrated to date. Old assumptions and stale practices need to be abandoned. Organizations who will successfully compete for talent will exploit technology to achieve a smarter way, build a healthier culture and develop a more resilient workforce.
When talent and learning are interwoven, the ability for employees and the organization to achieve its strategic results can be systemically actualized instead of coincidental. It is vital that HR analyze the business aims and align the talent and learning to directly support each other.
Achieving this type of symbiotic relationship between talent and learning not only dissolves silos, it also creates competitive differentiation. Organizations that apply this modern approach build superior employer brands, entice a higher level of talent to join its ranks and optimize its existing workforce in new ways.
A key part of accomplishing better outcomes involves breaking down the artificial walls between talent management and learning. Talent management teams possess a wealth of insights into how the workforce needs to be shaped, while inordinate numbers of L&D departments are operating independent of this vital information. In fact, many organizations unintentionally silo the talent management processes from learning process.
This “bolted-on” approach results in a clunky experience for employees and it causes HR to apply focus toward fixing integration issues instead of building capabilities for the organization.
Kieran King is VP of Global Customer Insight at Skillsoft