Research & Thought Leadership

Talent Management: Shaping the future workforce

Sofi Jaku

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As we enter a new decade filled with AI platforms, digital transformation and changes in the talent market, the challenges faced by Talent Management professionals today are much different from the past.

To mark the 100th event of iVentiv– the global leader of Corporate Executive conferences – we spoke to David Watkins, Board member of iVentiv and Senior VP of Group Talent, Transformation & Engagement at Oerlikon. Based on 27 years of experience in business and leadership in over 30 countries, David shares the challenges and opportunities faced by talent management today.

Talent Management: Core Pillars

Talent management is not a relatively new term, it’s something organizations have been doing for a long time. The role of talent management, however, is evolving rapidly.

Talent Management done well can be a value-added and highly strategic discipline reaching deep into the structures of an organization. It’s the centre of excellence that can support people during times of disruption and help ensure the continuity of business excellence while contributing positively to organizational transformation efforts and employee experience.

“Our responsibility in Oerlikon is not only to look after the soft part of Human Resources but to ensure the wellbeing and development of our employees. We create a positive experience and look after the people who will work to protect the future of our not only our business but also the workplace. In other words, we are a contributor to the key strategies and processes that support the added value of HR”

David lists three core pillars in talent management today:

  • Business Sustainability and Security:

Talent Management is responsible for building the organization’s succession pool, ensuring the company leadership is self-sustainable and future leaders will be ready to run the company in the future. This pillar is about building a talent pipeline that needs to be grown and evolved and ensuring our external stakeholders can trust in building a long-lasting relationship with the firm.

  • Cross-pollination of people and organizational expertise:

Workforces need to learn, adapt and grow fast in a world that is under constant disruption.

As employees move from job A to job C, they experience the organization in a different way and face new challenges as they work across boundaries. Talent Management needs to be in a position to support and guide employees on their journey while ensuring critical business knowledge is fed into the organization ecosystem.

  • Attraction of a multi-generational workforce from young talent to the “silver” generation:

Attracting young talent and helping them gain experience, providing an environment of life-long learning, and opportunities for “trial and error” are all essential. Just as, helping the maturing generation remain in the workforce as motivated contributors adding value to the organization.

Talent Management needs to enable the multi-generational workforce to be attracted and retained within an organization in a multitude of ways.

Employee engagement: A challenge knocking on your door

The incorporation of new digital tools presents new challenges for organizations affecting the focus of talent management and its strategies.

“Being a part of the talent transformation journey, I need to think about this topic more than ever. With the incorporation of new digital tools, we need to be mindful of the new challenges and be agile to adapt to these new ways of working.

Digitalization will help us as it gives us the capability to look at data, use new tools, learn and work fast while creating an anticipatory, adaptive and action-orientated environment that allows us to recover faster from our failures. It provides the opportunity to try things on a small scale and quickly incorporate them into the organization.

In a fast-changing business world, we are now discussing the future of work which we never had to do in the past.

Our expectations as professionals have changed. The parents of many of us reading this blog may have encouraged us to stay in the same organization throughout our working life. In contrast, younger generations seek more purpose; they tend to move from role to role and between organization far faster than before and as a consequence, their expectations from employers and the workplace are fundamentally different.

The US labor statistics show that by the age of 35, today’s average 15-year-old would’ve had 4 to 5 jobs if they enter the workforce at the age of 20. With that in mind, the work benefits sought by employees are much different too”.

It’s important to focus on employee motivation and retention to keep your talent engaged and reduce your employee turnover. “What’s different about HR as we move to the future, is that there is a crucial need to listen to what employees want and ensure we provide a good employee experience throughout.

Experience is not just another buzzword; it is a shift in focus that every HR should be worrying about. Our focus shouldn’t be on telling someone what the organization will provide you. Rather than asking what they want and working out how to provide it in an affordable and sustainable manner. It’s about remaining in contact with your employee base and providing an experiential environment. An environment that makes employees excited to come to every day”.

Talent acquisition: Understanding Longevity

According to David, we need to take a step back and look at talent acquisition differently.

“The age of retirement is extending. It is not 65 anymore. But 67, 71, 73… who knows when we get to retire anymore?!. People are living longer and therefore, want and need to work longer. For me, this presents a super opportunity. Acquiring new talent doesn’t mean keeping a lookout for young people anymore. Why should apprentices and interns be 18-24?

The trend is moving towards understanding longevity and the multi-generational workforce. Once you start looking at these aspects, lots of opportunities and challenges will come to your door.

The first one is about helping the older generations acquire new sets of skills such as adapting to new technologies and to the new digital platforms.

A 65-year-old employee might not be familiar with the latest technologies or social media platforms such as LinkedIn. But they have 30 years of business experience so why not give the opportunity to them the same way it’s provided to a younger professional with less working experience? This is a talent pool that we shouldn’t be missing.

We also need to be mindful of the digital platforms that we have access to nowadays.

These tools are becoming extremely important and can alter the way people think, feel and touch our organization. They are a key part of recruitment and onboarding processes allowing automation of work. Technology can bring efficiency and effectiveness gains to Talent Management that were not previously available.

Imagine that an individual could check your company and the opinions of other employees before joining. The same way, someone would search their hotel on TripAdvisor before booking their holidays! This is now possible via Glassdoor and other sites. Do you know what others are writing and sharing about your company online?

At the same time, it’s important to understand that not everyone is using these social media platforms. So you might be missing a pool of talent that uses different channels. Although they are crucial tools in your talent acquisition, it cannot be the only part of your process.

The times we are working in today present plenty of new opportunities to succeed in a fast-moving world. However, it’s important not to underestimate the efforts needed to get to where you want to be. Organizations should focus their efforts on their key strategies before taking on too many challenges. Otherwise, it’s doomed to fail as the playing field is ever-expanding in a multi-generational ecosystem of work.

Sofi Jaku

Digital Marketing Manager, Hult EF

Argentinian born and raised, with a passion for languages and travel. After living in America and the UK, I developed a strong interest in how people acquire new skills, particularly those which allow them to connect with their peers around the world. As a Digital Marketing Manager at Hult EF, I share tips and insights into developing a workforce fit for the future. You can find me on LinkedIn here:

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Sofi Jaku

Argentinian born and raised, with a passion for languages and travel. After living in America and the UK, I developed a strong interest in how people acquire new skills, particularly those which allow them to connect with their peers around the world. As a Digital Marketing Manager at Hult EF, I share tips and insights into developing a workforce fit for the future. You can find me on LinkedIn here:

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