Companies currently face a real global talent shortage regardless of the industry or geography
Dave Millner, Consulting Director, Kenexa, shares with People Matters his views on the role that HR will play in the future and how technology will help in overcoming some of the talent challenges to come. Excerpts:
What is your view on the role that HR professionals play today in businesses?
Right now HR doesn’t put itself in a credible position that shows our ability to have business discussions with other business leaders. Is the HR function truly aligned to the business? We know the answer. HR needs to look to become a commercial business partner with a commercial mindset. The word strategic provides the wrong emphasis. We need to change this inane desire to be strategic. A 5 year study across a range of different companies revealed that organizations with an effective Human Capital/HR strategy and practices create substantially more (3 times more) shareholder value than those that don’t value such an approach or implement ineffective commercial HR practices.
What should be the focus of the HR function?
The focus of HR has to be to prove value to the organization; be seen to be more commercial; drive change in the organization; provide leadership. We need to start with the science and the use of the core behavioral science as the foundation for our talent practices. We need to eliminate complexity by redesigning our processes to be simple to use and understand. And we need to add real value by providing line managers with solutions they understand and help them achieve their objectives. If you cannot clearly show how HR contributes directly to increase profitability, revenue and market share – no one will take HR seriously at an executive level.
In your opinion, what are the broad talent risks that companies face? Are these risks specific to industry and / or geography?
Companies currently face a real global talent shortage regardless of the industry or geography. Everyone is seeking the best available talent with global competition for good people becoming a reality. Organizations need to improve their capability in key positions and identify high potentials earlier and devise strategies to retain talent – if they don’t competitors will! There is less loyalty to organizations than in the past. And right now there is an ever increasing cost of replacing employees (minimum 1½ to 2½ times annual salary from our studies). Addressing talent shortages by increasing compensation won’t work this time or indeed be on offer! Organizations need to maximize existing talent and to do that they need to understand what that talent is; it’s all about information and data!
How can technology help in overcoming these challenges?
Technology can help in introducing ways of assessing talent. For example, in mass hiring scenarios when jobs attract many candidates with lower-than-average literacy levels, through careful interface design, coupled with the use of animations and audio, the use of simulation technology allows us to reliably assess such candidates. In usual written formats, candidates with lower-than-average literacy levels may perform poorly because their comprehension of a particular scenario, and of the possible responses, affects their results. Research in the 1990s indicated that replacing text-based scenarios with video and audio scenarios had a positive effect on minimizing some of these literacy effects and we can now measure skills specific to certain roles with a higher degree of accuracy, because we do not have to assume a certain level of literacy from the candidate. And because these tests are online, we can put tens of thousands of candidates through them with no additional work or effort on the part of recruiters.
Technology can also bring psychometrics tests accessible to companies, which are a measurement of the innate attributes and behaviors of an individual in terms of what they like to do; what they want to do and in the area of reasoning tests what can they do from an intellectual point of view. Whereas Simulation based tests have been designed to create a realistic job based situation in which the applicant or candidate is being asked to operate and demonstrate through their behavior how they would actually do a particular job.
As organizations try to make their recruitment processes more robust at an earlier stage, more assessment type solutions will become common place as a way of introducing efficiency data into the process, ensuring that people who get to meet representatives of the organizations have the core capability to fulfill the role.