“Acknowledging the importance of talent is easy. Transforming a company into a talent-first organization is hard.” - Talent Wins, R. Charan, D,. Barton, D. Carey
We know this to be true first-hand at Beamery, because we see live examples of talent teams struggling with that transformation every day. Sometimes they don’t have buy-in from the rest of the organiztion, but most of the time they just don’t know how to frame the changes they want to make in a way that takes into account the entire enterprise.
The conversations that talent leaders have with the rest of the business around change and transformation are usually limited to technology or internal processes, but becoming talent-first needs a “raze everything, start from scratch” approach, because it touches on even the fundamental role that HR and talent acquisition play in the organization.
What is the ideal state of TA?
Let’s start even further up: what is the ideal state of business when it comes to talent? Many companies think that the answer to that question lies in bringing HR and Finance together, and elevating “talent” to the same status as “capital”.
CFOs have been given much more responsibility in steering the business's strategy in the past years, but CHROs are still playing catch-up. A large part of that gap comes from the reactionary approach to talent acquisition, which is slightly outdated when you think about how much of a challenge it is for businesses today. Few business leaders spend time thinking about the 2.2x impact that talent allocation has on their shareholder returns, for example, or the 3x gains in productivity that even a small increase in talent quality would bring them.
In an ideal world, the talent acquisition strategy would be discussed in quarterly board meetings at the same time as go-to-market strategies, and be given the same attention as an M&A proposal or a financing decision. The CHRO would have an input in these strategic conversations and enable the company to reduce risks around its ability to attract the people it needs for success, in the same way that the CFO reassures the company about its ability to hit financial performance targets.
What needs to be true for this transformation to happen?
Talent needs to operate in an ambitious framework that starts much further upstream, in the boardroom when business strategy is set, as opposed to in the hiring manager’s office when they finally get a budget and then request new hires. For leadership to bring talent in that much earlier, the talent team needs to raise the bar for both the information and capabilities it offers.
The information needs to come in the form of deep insights on the state of the talent market, the organization’s candidate experience and the target audience’s perception of the company’s employer brand. Think sophisticated reporting and analytics, world-class data governance practices, 360 candidate profiles and real candidate lifecycle management.
The capabilities of the talent organization are not limited to its ability to effectively attract, retain and engage talent, even though there is a considerable margin for improvement there, with anything from personalization to specialized recruiting processes to proactive sourcing and pipeline management. Beyond that, however, the talent team needs to change at a more fundamental level. It needs to drive business transformation by partnering with other functions, especially with Finance and IT, and play a more proactive role in the business.
This is why talent needs to live in a single operating system, and not across disparate tools and inside the talent team only.
What does a Talent Operating System do?
As you would expect, more complex recruiting processes to manage and master lead to an increase in tooling requirements, because human beings can’t hold all these separate workflows in their minds or run them manually out of spreadsheets. That’s the capabilities piece of the TOS.
It’s also hugely inefficient to consolidate data across systems after the fact, or to jump between different systems mid-workflow. Reporting across the candidate journey ends up being is limited, and market insights remain at surface-level. That’s the information piece of the TOS.
An elevated talent acquisition function that can bring valuable input to business decisions needs to operate proactively, and provide new ways of working to the company: new team structures, new approaches to role design, more flexibility in work formats, and a closer, long-term relationship with the talent market.
A talent operating system is built in a way that allows for those vastly different expectations. It enables all talent acquisition activities to live in the sample place, provides a single source of truth, and is made for companies who are in the process of becoming people-first.
It’s important, however, to keep in mind that technology is the last step needed in this transformation process. It is crucial, but it does not drive the transformation–the relationships, the processes, the people, the talent strategy is what drives talent transformation.
Selecting the Right Recruitment Marketing Technology for your Business
According to Aptitude Research, over 70% of enterprise organizations are investing in recruitment marketing capabilities this year. In order to help with this process, Kelly Cartwright, head of Talent Acquisition Technology Strategy at Amazon Web Services, and Madeline Laurano, founder of Aptitude Research, joined us to discuss some of the latest trends in recruitment marketing and key recommendations for evaluating providers.