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The Emerging Talent Odyssey: Acquiring, Managing & Developing

From the origin to the present day, HR strategies have revolved around the acquisition, management, and development of the asset – the talent, to fulfill organizational needs, methods, and approaches of which have evolved over time. While India is a kaleidoscope of varying HR Practices, several trends that emerged or emerging, reflect a broader shift towards the democratization of work. This shift involves a psychological change in ownership, moving from management to employees, and a sociological shift from directive decision-making to shared decision-making. Here are some notable examples of how this shift is being adopted in three major segments of HR:

Talent Acquisition (TA):

Decades back mindset of both organizations and in turn HR were primarily seen as providers of employment for job seekers, to fill vacancies. However, the perception has now shifted towards fulfilling the human capital requirements of businesses by attracting talent, which is a shared need between job seekers and employers. This shift has led to the adoption of various approaches, such as:

1. Eligibility Shift:

Earlier age and experience were sacrosanct needs, but organizations now value an individual’s ability to perform, irrespective of age, though a preference for a younger workforce still exists. Employment records with frequent job changes and career gaps, once viewed negatively, are now acceptable. Qualification labels of premier institutions matter less compared to skill sets. In fact, professional certifications, and cross-functional capabilities hold greater value in today’s workforce. This shift signifies a move towards a dynamic, value-driven approach to talent acquisition.

2. Adaptability & Responsiveness:

HR has undergone a drastic shift in transforming its acquisition approaches by being more flexible and pragmatic. This includes virtual interviews, joining dates alignment as per mutual agreement, buying notice periods and bonds, pre-joining bonuses and joining-related expenses, pre-joining meetings, and regular pre-joining connects – all signify valuing people. This has also led to acquisition cycle time getting shrunk to the advantage of both.

3. Harnessing Technology & Outsourcing:

Amid the tech era, acquisition teams have turned to customized software/ERPs to hasten the process. While the past years witnessed the rise of job portals, the trend is shifting toward organizations outsourcing the entire transactional aspect of acquisition such as candidate sourcing, screening, and shortlisting. Additionally, they are opting to hire staffing agencies to meet their bulk talent needs, reshaping the TA landscape, and propelling it towards efficiency and effectiveness. With the emergence of generative AI, the changes will be even more fast-paced.

4. Diversity in Talent:

In the past, organizations primarily sought candidates who matched their criteria, as a recipe for a capable workforce. This homogeneity was believed to ensure talent fungibility. However, in today’s evolving environment, the key to better responsiveness is not clones but disparate sets of employees who think differently and act out of the box. Consequently, this necessitated seeking individuals with varied backgrounds and personalities. While many HRs prioritize gender diversity, only a few extend their efforts to the entire range of diversity, securing invaluable gains.

Talent Management (TM):

Transitioning from its origins as the Establishment or Staff Administration Department to people processes/employee services or human capital management function, this domain has undergone a swift metamorphosis, highlighting the changing dynamo within HR, with aspects such as:

1. Evolution of Policies:

It has transitioned from rigid to employee-centric approaches, embracing flexible compensation & benefits acknowledging employees’ diverse needs. The shift involves geographic flexibility in workplace (WFH), sabbatical leave options, flexi work hours & dress code, wellness programs, on-site childcare, counseling services, concierge assistance, and an online Employee helpdesk, marking a departure from ‘One size fit all’ approach. Moreover, organizations now seek feedback on policy implementation and engagement initiatives, recognizing the unique importance of Talent.

2. Democratization of Structure:

Beyond employee-centric approaches, organizations are moving away from rigid hierarchies towards more collaborative, less controlled structures, driven by a democratization trend. Even the job designs, and nature of boss-subordinate relationships are becoming consultative and informal. This reflects a shift towards creating inclusive workplaces where every individual feels valued and accepted.

3. Performance Management:

The process of presenting, reviewing, and scoring performance has undergone a significant shift in recent times with newer trends. These include joint agreement on targets, frequent check-ins, focus on review rather than rating & rewards, post-mortem of performance to development focus, bell-curve to open self-appraisal, and individual KPI-business goal alignment, are some of the trends making a mark on this crucial people process.

4. Deployment of Technology and Outsourcing:

The tech deployment and the use of outsourcing have enabled organizations to delve into HR analytics for HR policy and facilitate real-time communication with employees. As a strategic shift, some companies are shifting transactional tasks to outsourced agencies or to an internal Shared Services. This allows them to focus on core functions of employee engagement, fostering connections, and driving retention initiatives.

Talent Development (TD):

This era brings the shift from following mundane duties to a dynamic learning and development function that enables employees to meet overall collective needs. If the focus in the past was on clocking high training man-days, the thrust now is in preparing the organization for the future. Here are some notable indicators of this shift:

1. Need-Based Strategies:

The L&D approach used to focus on providing employees with generalized training, overlooking individual upskilling needs. However, this has now shifted to capturing individual demands through discussions, identification of specific business needs, competency mapping, and assessment for development interventions. Moreover, emphasizing purposeful employee-manager discussions on short, mid, and long-term plans, along with restructuring L&D strategies for career alignment, reflects how TD teams are adopting a business partner role to meet organizational needs.

2. Personalized Learning Paths:

Amidst the rise of remote work and tech shifts, organizations confront the challenge of catering to diverse learning needs in their diversified workforce. Recognizing this, a shift toward personalized learning paths is unfolding, given that 78% of employees already seek course recommendations linked to their career aspirations. Organizations are anticipated to adopt Learning Management Systems to facilitate self-paced learning, allowing employees to pick content aligned with their preferences. By integrating advanced analytics and AI capabilities, these systems can curate personalized learning journeys the moment an employee expresses interest in a course, ultimately reshaping the entire learning landscape in the future.

3. Dawn of Foundational Skills:

Organizations acknowledge now that traditional education falls short in meeting evolving job demands and the future workplace needs soft + tech-based skill sets that foster resilience. This recognition has prompted the adoption of certification courses to fulfill job needs. Additionally, soft skills development also involves a range of customized learnings like workshops, mentoring, coaching, and more. What remains crucial is HR’s ability to quickly understand needs, adapt to opportunities, and engage employees as partners on the journey to make them future-ready.

4. Multicultural Competence:

Organizations have shifted from mere discussions about accepting and being open towards diverse backgrounds and cultures to instilling these qualities in their workforce by addressing mental models. Rather than altering innate beliefs, L&D teams are educating employees about the positive impact of embracing cultural diversity through Experiential Learning, Action Workshops, Group Intervention, Coaching, and more. Cross-functional assignments are also being employed to promote inclusivity and a deeper understanding of the business alignment with it.

Our philosophy is deeply rooted in gleaning wisdom from the past, maintaining consistency in the present, and aligning aspirations with a positive outlook for the future. Equipped with a range of customized, and evidence-based methodologies such as L&D workshops, Organization Diagnosis, Coaching, Leadership Development, and more, we are resolute in propelling transformative growth for our clients, nurturing the seeds for success. To be part of this progressive evolution, contact us now.

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