The role of people leaders has grown tremendously as they support businesses to scale and remain productive at a time when companies are still grappling with economic shifts and business disruption. While many still experiment to make hybrid work—in all its complexity— a successful model, evolving market conditions today have forced companies to reorganise how they deploy people, reassess skill requirements, and adopt improved people technologies at a faster rate.
The impact of evolving market forces isn't limited to a few industries but echoes across different sectors.Across industries, whether it is technology, manufacturing or services, the focus is on aligning to the changing consumer preferences and catering to future needs. For example, with the growing focus on ESG, the automotive industry has seen a significant movement towards manufacturing more electric cars and, in the next couple of years, will be ramping up EV production.
Increased business agility, focus on future skills, and the ability to overcome uncertainties remain essential business priorities.All these factors are likely to have a significant downstream impact on people attraction, management and retention strategies.
This evolution in business priorities to face uncertainty has begun reflecting how companies want to deploy different talent models. With HR today playing an indispensable role in enabling companies to grow, the pace and accuracy with which they can support business needs will remain crucial to see.
Aligning talent goals with business needs
Linking strategic priorities and talent goals is an essential driver of business success. A recent Mckinsey report identified this as the '"organisational need to know what to do in the short and long-term and who they need to do it. Once that link is solidified, organisations must consider investing in their existing workforce's skills and attracting and retaining the right new talent."
Successfully translating this change into how the workforce is managed will play a crucial role in supporting businesses as they find newer, more agile ways to grow. The only way to strengthen business and workforce goals is by creating new, more relevant talent models that reflect organisational priorities better and thus hire, reward, and retain the right people with the right skills.
Creating greater customer value
Driving greater customer value today is the cornerstone of successful business strategies. It is essential for organisations that want to grow with speed and agility and stay ahead of the curve in the next few years. It is responsible for it all— from dictating the transformation in the automotive industry's manufacturing priorities to mass lay-offs across companies in recent times.
As customer preferences evolve to dictate business viability and success, so do the talent models that help companies to respond to such changes. As HR leaders and people managers, evolving traditional models to keep up with changing preferences is vital to support business growth and success.
In a recent conversation with Ester Martinez, CEO and Editor-in-Chief at People Matters, Nitin Sethi, CEO of India and South Asia at Aon, expressed his concern on how the need to create value for customers has become a significant factor driving the future of successful talent models. Renewed focus on how customer-centric innovation can help companies tap into changing consumer preferences will outlast the other traditional ones that still operate in isolation and need more business alignment.
"Businesses will drive future talent models," noted Nitin, adding that they must be "closely aligned to evolving business needs. Therefore, the best organisations would be ones that use multiple talent models and infrastructures to deliver value to customers."
Fundamentally, consumer behaviour has changed. And that has an impact on talent models. Companies need to look closely at who delivers what work
Taking a closer look, companies that can drive customer-centric innovation will lead the race. For example, in consumer retail companies such as clothing, the brands need to transition into building a seamless omnichannel experience for the modern consumer rather than having a distinctive differentiation between retail and digital experiences. The modern consumer expects information, speed and decision making across all platforms as part of their shopping experience. Companies can achieve this by building high-breadth, high-impact jobs, looking to hire more generalists, and customising jobs according to skill sets so that the retail manager is not restricted to providing retail information alone, but also have an in-depth understanding of what the e-commerce and apps offer to provide a holistic and meaningful experience to the customer.
Looking beyond processes
To build a successful future, companies go beyond the traditional approach of process-based workforce management that puts processes over people. With skills today being a primary focus, companies still operating to hire, engage, and develop talent for processes might lag behind their competition. However, those who can align business demands and the need to create better customer value stay ahead of the curve in the coming years.
"It will be important to take a completely new look at existing talent models and prioritise skills over processes," noted Nitin. A recent Aon report noted a similar shift in focusing on skills and cited that over 80% of businesses in Asia are rethinking their operating models based on how their people work best.
This focus on creating customer value and driving customer-focused innovation has led many to hire more generalists with the right skills and capabilities. A learning mindset, complex problem-solving with high ambiguity, and the right socio-behavioural skills help generalists respond better to a changing business environment.
"Generalists," said Nitin, "have this unique ability to dig deep but also look around at what's working and to be able to link different aspects together for success."
Shedding their process-driven workforce approach, while critical to driving business growth and creating better customer value, will also be difficult for many. "Organisations were built around processes and not around how jobs could be customised to unique skill sets that individuals bring with them. Moving ahead, lots of organisations will have to take new steps towards building jobs unique to skill sets and capabilities," he noted.
Turning vision into reality
While a better alignment to business goals and driving customer value remain vital to HR's success, creating and adopting newer talent models will require refiguring the basics of people management.
As an advice to HR leaders today, the custodian of building future-ready ways of hiring, engaging, rewarding, and retaining the right people, Nitin noted that "today, there is a need for HR to go out and experiment and do these things differently. Don't focus just on the processes; look at how you contribute more to business value."
Reflecting on the nature of change HR leaders must undertake, Nitin added how it "would fundamentally change how companies hire, attract, pay, reward, and structure their value proposition."