We surveyed over 400 CEO, CHROs and talent leaders in our latest talent transformation research.
The resulting data uncovers a number of areas where companies are at risk of seeing their transformation efforts fail. "The Missing Link in Talent Transformation" report goes into the details of these risks and challenges, but we also highlight five of these insights just below.
C-suite believes that technology influences TA strategy 2 to 3x more than operations do
Multiple factors influence any talent strategy, but for leaders navigating the post-pandemic world of work, it is important to identify quickly which concerns must be addressed first.
We asked business and talent leaders to consider which of three types of factors are most likely to influence their TA strategy: technology, operations, and stakeholders. What the data revealed was that C-suite leaders find that technology gaps impact the organization’s talent strategy the most, and by a strong margin, with 62% of CEOs and 59% of CHROs prioritizing this category. On the other hand, talent leaders find that it’s the operational gaps that they are facing that are most likely to have an impact.
Technology matters to talent leaders as well, and they consider it a major obstacle, but not more than the processes and resources that keep the machine running. The fact that their point of view is so misaligned with that of business leadership raises a few questions. Do business leaders see talent technology as the ultimate answer to their challenges in hiring and retaining great talent? Do they allocate resources accordingly? Are they setting up their transformation plans for failure by only looking at technology changes and not considering operational changes, or new ways to relate to the business?
There is more to transformation than technology. According to Tim Sackett, President of HRU Technical Resources and trusted advisor to many recruiting leaders, showing ROI for any transformation relies on considering all of its aspects, and not just the implementation of new technology.
“There’s an assumption that with the implementation of new tools, operational changes are a part of that,” he says. “But tech is going to amplify your inefficiencies; you have to have a strong operation, not just good ideas.”
If your talent processes are failing, technology will just make you fail faster. You have to be good at what you do operationally. Tim Sackett, SPHR, SCP, President HRU Technical Resources
AI is now part of the talent team, but in what capacity?
Talent AI is here to stay, but in what capacity is what talent teams are still figuring out. As an important component of the “new foundations” of talent acquisition, AI is on the mind of all talent stakeholders, from VPs to Managers. It’s considered as a way to improve every aspect of the talent strategy, from resource utilization to hiring outcomes, making it easy to fall in the trap of rushing the buying decision without considering where the technology will fit first.
One area where AI is clearly demonstrating value and fitting smoothly in recruiting workflows is candidate searches and matching. For most recruiters and sourcers, the search for a new candidate starts with a boolean search string. Boolean searches enable them to quickly find individuals that are likely to check the boxes on their requisitions, but they also invite all sorts of challenges: from narrowing down the pool of candidates to introducing bias at the very start of the hiring process.
As Athena Karp, CEO and founder of Hiredscore, points out, that is a perfect place to introduce AI in the recruiting workflow. By using AI to explore existing databases in the ATS or CRM, and by carefully training machine learning models on a selection of successful and unbiased hiring decisions, the talent team actually integrates this technology into its workflows in a thoughtful manner.
AI-powered talent tools can bring immeasurable value to recruiting teams, but they have to be integrated into a strategy, and not be the strategy themselves.
Talent organizations are pursuing recruiter efficiency but neglecting recruiter experience
When thinking about how to get better at attracting and retaining talent, companies need to consider both step-changes and incremental improvements, as there is value to be gained from both. However, there is usually a threshold to the value that incremental improvements can create, which is why transformation plans need to be about much more than just more efficient use of resources and recruiter time.
For many respondents in this study, “transformation” may be a bit of a misnomer, as more than half -54%- identified improving recruiter efficiency and resource utilization as a leading priority for the next two years, while at the same time relegating recruiter experience at the bottom of the list.
More specifically, 59% percent of CHROs and 57% of talent leaders consider improving recruiter experience and resource utilization a leading priority over the next two years. In contrast, only 27% of CHRO’s and 32% of talent leaders cited improving recruiter experience.
By putting recruiter experience at the bottom of their list, these companies are making a trade-off that is entirely unnecessary. “Efficiency vs experience” is a false dichotomy; it is actually far more likely that the biggest resource optimization and recruiter efficiency gains will be realized by talent teams that also aim to improve the recruiter’s experience.
Every aspect of recruiters’ experience has a direct impact on their ability to stay efficient and productive over the long term: how they interact with their daily processes and systems, how they receive and share information back with the organization, or how they manage their workflows. Aiming for efficiency but neglecting experience will simply result in changes that do not stick.
As much as 62% of CHROs want to improve data-driven decision making above all else
As uncertainty rises in the current talent market, businesses are working on ways to reduce risk by improving their ability to report on talent activities in real time and understand drivers of success. Given this context, it is not surprising that CHROs are pushing hard for data-driven decision making.
The challenge in achieving this goal will reside in the talent organization’s ability to not only build on data analysis skills, but also to manage its data properly. One of the many costs of bad talent data quality is the inability to make good decisions about every aspect of the talent strategy—which brings us to our final insight.
Talent teams need to implement a new approach to data quality
Data is everyone’s problem. To fix the gap in data accuracy, we need to create a sense of ownership. If people feel like inaccurate data impacts them directly, they have more incentive to fix it. Jean-Christophe Font, HR and TA leader (Nestlé, Bayer, Roche) Strategy Consultant at Kinetic Consulting
Recruiting teams are invariably more successful at maintaining high-quality data when the whole team sees data quality as a shared goal. “This is not achieved by making everyone into a data expert,” says Jean-Christophe Font, previously leader of talent teams at companies such as Nestlé, Bayer and Roche, “but rather by helping team members see the link between their data-related behaviors and the impact they have on recruiting activities downstream.
For instance, a sourcing team member might not know what entering a phone number in the wrong format or not resolving a small duplicate warning means for the quality of email campaigns or reporting insights going out to executives. When recruiters can see the concrete ways in which their decisions impede automation, narrow down talent pools, or skew forecasts, they have more motivation to adopt good data hygiene practices at every level of the talent team.
Without a clear view of the gaps in their talent data, talent and people leaders cannot adequately prepare for the future and won’t be able to fully realize the gains promised by new technologies. With good data strategies, they can steal a march on competitors by discovering new opportunities in the talent market earlier and completely optimizing their internal operations for impact and agility.
This means that organizations must establish early in their transformation plan both the technical and the operational aspects of their data strategy: the systems where data will live, how it will be maintained, and how it will be enriched. They must also consider what resources will be dedicated to collecting and analyzing said data, and what skills will be needed to get full value from it.
As a talent leader in 2021, you are either helping your business quickly recover from a bad pandemic year, or you are trying to keep up with an unpredicted surge of growth. In either case, speed is of the essence, so how do you lead the talent organization through a successful transformation? What should you be looking at? What will the rest of the market look like in 6 months and will you be prepared for it?
The goal of our talent transformation research is to bring an answer to these questions, or at least to highlight how talent and business leaders are choosing to address them for the coming year. It is, after all, essential to bring data into the conversation when making plans to shape the future of your talent organization.