88 percent of the executives in India predicted significant disruption in the upcoming three years, as compared to only 40 percent the year before, according to Mercer’s 2019 Global Talent trends.
As executives focus on making their organizations “future-ready”, they are faced with a number of roadblocks – including human capital risks like bridging the skills gap, overcoming change fatigue and finding the right talent. Businesses are also dealing with newer talent challenges. In the IT sector, for instance, there is an ongoing focus on creating a leaner middle and senior management layer even as companies are hiring extensively at the entry level. This is a trend that is linked directly to the skills gap challenge – where fresh candidates are being trained with new skills, while experienced workers unwilling to upskill are fired.
In order to navigate growth or to drive productivity, companies need to find the right talent. 42% of the companies that participated in Mercer-Mettl’s “Tech hiring and technology adoption trends 2019” study said that they are unable to source the desired quality of candidates. This is despite the fact that companies already using a number of screening tools which include a combination of MCQ and coding simulators, paper based and white board technical assessments. According to the same report, companies are planning to increase their tech hiring by 21% over the last year. And the success of the tech hiring process rate is currently only 50 percent, on average.
To make the most of the process, companies need to be able to evaluate a candidate holistically – they need to assess their technical knowledge, behavioural competencies and readiness. For the first time, companies have access to tools that can measure learning readiness as well as skill proximity. Raghavendra K, Vice President and Head, Human Resources, Infosys BPM said that ‘holistic assessments’ are extremely critical. He added that a dedicated Center of Excellence (COE) at the company evaluates existing competencies, their potential and readiness of the talent.
As the number of companies strategizing for the future rises, here’s how companies can identify the skills they need for the future:
1. Define a competency framework
One way of breaking down the job requirements for the future is by identifying different competencies by categories of skills needed in the form of a ‘competency framework’. The aim is to break down competencies according to cognitive skills, behavioral skills and technical/domain specific skills. Aligning specific competencies to jobs can help identify current and future candidates.
For example, take the case of a financial analyst – the domain specific knowledge would knowledge about the Balance sheet reconciliation, Accounts receivable/ payable. The behavioral skills could include planning and organization, stress management, establishing trust, teamwork etc., while the cognitive skills would include numerical reasoning, analytical ability, problem solving etc. This step can include any emerging skills either in technology or experience in working in cross functional teams etc.,
2. Align assessments mapped to the jobs
The next step in ensuring that you’re identifying the right talent for the job is to ensure that you assess candidates based on these competencies. By aligning assessments for the job, not only can employees be upskilled, prospective candidates can also be directly assessed.
At Infosys, Raghavendra pointed out that the hiring and role change consideration requests are linked to the company’s competency framework.
“Virtual assessments, leadership assessments,360-Degree assessments are linked to the Infosys BPM competency framework that enable the company to strengthen data-driven decision making for role change considerations. In addition to providing insights on learning & development interventions, the assessments help in talent pipeline building, career development, talent engagement and retention,” he said.
3. Measure impact and work on the feedback
Assessments can help bring a qualitative shift in hiring. The costs incurred on hiring the wrong candidates and losing productivity at work can be brought down by hiring for the right fit. Speaking about the impact of holistic talent assessments, Sheetal Sandhu, CHRO, ICRA noted that “holistic talent assessments lead to significant results, including productivity increase, cost savings, decreased attrition.”
Administering tests online also cuts down on the time. It offers a quick and hassle free process that speeds up the hiring process. “Organizations using immersive, compelling assessments experiences with technology enabled online assessments are seeing immediate results and feedback,” Sheetal said.
4. Keep up with new content and assessments
One of the key challenges in administering tests on future readiness is staying up to date on advances in testing content and methods. Unless a company has access to a dedicated team that can monitor and plug-in developments across the business and map them to future needs, there’s little progress that companies can make themselves. This is where the effectiveness of specialists can greatly reduce the work and effort needed to bring best practices.
“Focusing on industry specific best practices is knowledge that most companies need, but not all companies can afford to invest in. This is where specialist assessment experts come in. They can help map your hiring needs to future-looking trends with benchmarked data,” said Siddhartha Gupta, CEO, Mercer Mettl. Having access to such data can help align the business needs to industry shifts.
Hiring the right candidate necessitates a strong understanding of the market, and being able to articulate what your ideal candidate should look like in the context of your company’s culture. As new jobs emerge, and old ones get augmented with the power of automation, having a robust skills roadmap is the only way to weather the uncertain storm. Continuous digital transformation is changing the landscape of business – right from the way companies allocate resources, the way they innovate and how they hire.
Companies need to invest not just in identifying the right courses, but they need to continuously ensure that the program is personalized to the learning needs of the employee. The input about the method of learning – whether that’s formal learning programs like classroom sessions etc., or informal learning channels like byte sized learning tools, gamification tools and so on needs to be aligned to the content. Assessments can help in understand the effectiveness of the content, the learning delivery as well as the learning potential of the employee.