Enabling accelerated career progression of HiPOs is of critical importance. What we have seen is a re-thinking of the way in which the workplaces are structured, the need of the hour is to bring agility along with supporting the need of individuals who join the organization
In the backdrop of People Matters & Right Management’s initiative ‘HiPO week’ (running for the 3rd year in a row), we spoke to Shakun Khanna, Country Head, Right Management on the factors that drive the significant changes in the way organizations approach the career management of High Potential employees.
Q. What is driving the need for organizations to re-look at HiPO programs?
In a global competitive business environment and volatile economic cycles, challenges related to business strategies and competition has increased considerably. To confront such a scenario, employers today need a pool of resources with in-demand skill sets to deal with economic uncertainties and value/margin compressions. And acquiring critical talent is a major challenge.
Moreover, the Manpower Group’s 2014 Global Survey reveals that 64% of Indian organizations are finding it difficult to find candidates with the right skills—this number is on the rise, and is currently 36% globally, the highest level in seven years. Talent shortage has tremendous implications for businesses today and severely impacts the entire business — reduced competitiveness and productivity, reduced ability to serve clients, less innovation and creativity, lower engagement and high compensation costs.
Today, employers feel that this in turn results in reduction in ability to serve clients along with reduced competitiveness and productivity, with 42% of employers each crediting to this. The survey claims that 30% expect an increase in employee turnover and 26% anticipate lower employee engagement and morale. Where 25% of the employers feel that talent shortage results in higher compensation costs, another 25% expect reduced innovation and creativity in their organization. This further impacts the ability for organizations to attract and retain talent in a competitive context.
To this demand-supply mismatch of talent, one also needs to add up the demographic shifts that the millennial entering the workforce brings. This is a generation that looks at multiple career shifts, multiple experiences in a much shorter span of time compared to other previous generations.
Q. What are the strategies that employers are taking to overcome such talent shortages?
Globally, it is estimated that 45% of the employers use People Practice as a strategy to overcome talent shortage; 27% of the employers choose Work Models; 24% use talent sources and 22% do not pursue any such strategies. For the employers who use People Practice as a strategy, they align themselves to providing additional training and development to the existent staff, use unutilized or non-traditional practices, refine qualifying criteria to include potential candidates and other measures such as enhancing benefits and salaries, provide career development opportunities or creating interim roles. For choosers of the Work Models, increasing focus on improving talent pipeline, redesigning work procedures flexible work arrangements and virtual work options are looked at. For the choosers of talent resources, talent sourcing is a main option apart from appointing candidates who have the potential to learn.
However, today, there are two major shifts that this context is driving in organizations. Firstly, we have seen a shift from being an ‘Employer of Choice’ to an “Enabler of ‘Careers of Choice’’’ – which means that employees are expecting organizations to provide career choices within their employment period or in the absence of which they will seek such careers outside the organization. This takes us to the second shift, from jobs and competencies to individual capabilities and aspirations. Individual’s capabilities and aspirations are the main driver for jobs and roles within the organization. Attainment of work-life balance is of paramount importance currently. And if not achieved, it actually is reported to be the number 1 reason for attrition. Any misalignment between what one does at work and what is one’s purpose or source of fulfillment, is a contributory factor to attrition. So the strategy is to align individual’s aspirations, enabling opportunities and careers for greater productivity, engagement and retention.
Q. How do these strategies drill down to a change in the talent management and in particular HiPO career management?
Enabling accelerated career progression of HiPOs is of critical importance. What we have seen is a re-thinking of the way in which the workplaces are structured, the need of the hour is to bring agility along with supporting the need of individuals who join the organization. It means re-thinking of the ways we look at the following:
· Organizational structures (bringing flexibility)
· Talent development (aligning it to people’s career aspirations)
· Retaining High Potentials (by creating custom-made career opportunities)
There are many ways this can be achieved:
Defining career paths and creating actionable and achievable development plans
These need to be aligned to individual’s career aspirations and expectations; should include ‘stretch roles’ for HiPOs; should help achieve long and short term goals.
Identifying Development Opportunities or scaled competencies and enabling experiences
Such development opportunities should include areas such as accountability, change management, innovating problem solving, leadership and support, strategic thinking, supervisory skills.
Rewarding and Recognizing HiPOs
Frequent and open conversations with HiPOs for surfacing concerns, preferences and job interests, recognition for achievements.
Other organizations have introduced measures such as discretionary time in the working hours, so a percentage of time is allocated to a project the employee is interested in. Other organizations are introducing an opportunity to choose your manager, and even your project, so managers pitch to attract their team members, empowering the employee to take charge of the work and the manager. Increasingly, we see more and more companies embracing flexible working hours, where what matters is the output and not the input, the result and not how long it took or where did you work from. Finally, another example is to create incubators, where talent can explore their entrepreneurial aspirations within the company itself. All these different approaches are a way to adapt to the new requirements of talent, and will lead to higher engagement and retention specifically in the High Potential Segment.