Preparing for the Future of Work: Challenges and Opportunities for Talent Management Strategy
Having a talent management strategy in times of constant change can yield numerous benefits for organizations.
We are living in exciting times. A year ago, just a few of us were thinking about prompts for AI, a robust language model for both mundane and creative tasks, or becoming a Prompt Engineer and Librarian (yes, that is a real job). Companies have been experiencing a skill gap for some time, and now, with the advancement of digitalization, the gap is even more palpable. McKinsey survey reveals that 87 % of companies are either experiencing gaps now or expecting them in the future.
Although many survey participants claim that their companies prioritize addressing skill shortages, a majority of them acknowledge their organizations’ lack of understanding in the preparation of a workforce with the most needed skills. In fact, only one-third of respondents state that their companies are ready to tackle workforce disruptions due to market trends and technological advancements.
Business leaders in the Future of Jobs report estimate that 50 % of all employees will need reskilling by 2025. Also, 40 % of the current workers’ core skills are expected to change by the same time. With the increasing unpredictability of the future, indicated by the recent “Black Swans” events, the whole “talent” topic is becoming vital.
Hiring the workforce of the past
Although we are facing the urgency to prepare for the future, many HR tools remain inflexible. Job descriptions reflect immediate needs and fail to consider the inevitable evolution of skills. By the time an organization fills a position, the necessary skills have often shifted. In essence, by relying on static job descriptions instead of comprehending the dynamic nature of skill requirements, companies end up hiring employees based on outdated workforce needs. This is a worrying trend for HR leaders as 64% of them lack a practical strategy to tackle how technology will reshape the skill sets needed in the workforce (Gartner, 2020).
Under such circumstances, designing a talent development strategy may be challenging. However, one thing is clear: talent is essential to withstand the changes in your industry, retain a competitive edge, and follow the vision or recreate it to succeed.
Who are talents anyway?
There are many ways how to approach the whole talent management topic. Are talents all the employees with the potential to grow? Are they the individuals who go above and beyond the norm and excel in their roles? Those who are top experts with the ability to invent or those who show exceptional people skills?
The topic of talent was discussed vividly in McKinsey’s revolutionary article War for Talent in 1998. The authors suggested hiring only stellar graduates from prestigious universities and creating an elite of top performers who are worth developing. This resulted in lavish salaries and fast-tracked promotions regardless of experience. Remember Enron? They followed this strategy too, and we know what happened. Focusing only on A-players might be short-sighted.
Everyone has potential, the question is which talents and potentials the company needs to succeed in the unknown future. Yet that is where the crux of the problem lies. To a certain extent, companies can forecast the essential hard skills required now and in the future, nevertheless, new roles are emerging all the time. While focusing on expertise is still necessary, it is not enough to cope with a rapidly changing and unpredictable environment.
The talents that help us adapt to changes are a mix of skills, soft competencies, and attitudes. Interestingly, they are all linked to self-management and collaboration competencies. They do not represent a revolutionary new set of talents, but they seem to be more crucial than ever. Moreover, some of these talents are moving to a next level. For example, when speaking about learning ability, it is becoming essential not only to improve what we already know, but even to “forget” what we knew and learn it differently or learn something completely new.
Talent management in age of disruption
Having a talent management strategy in times of constant change can yield numerous benefits for organizations, including:
- Attracting and retaining top talent: With a strong talent management strategy in place, companies can attract and retain the best employees by providing them with opportunities for growth, development, and advancement within the organization.
- Developing a pipeline of future leaders: A talent management strategy can help identify and develop high-potential employees who have the skills and capabilities to become future leaders in the organization.
- Improving employee engagement and morale: A talent management strategy can help employees feel valued and supported in their careers by providing them with opportunities for learning and development, career advancement, and recognition.
- Enhancing business agility and adaptability: A talent management strategy can help organizations build a workforce that is adaptable and can quickly respond to the changing market conditions, emerging technologies, and evolving customer needs.
- Aligning talent management with business objectives: A talent management strategy closely aligned with the organization’s overall business objectives can help ensure that the right talent is in place to achieve those objectives, both now and in the future.
Overall, having a talent management strategy can help organizations navigate the challenges of an ever-changing business environment and build a strong, engaged, and adaptable workforce that can drive business success.
Dealing with complexity
Talent management strategies have traditionally prioritized the competitive advantage of the company over the experience of the employee as an internal customer, leaving it unclear who the HR customer really is. This results in the perception, especially among millennials, that the pendulum has swung toward the employer. To address this, progressive HR organizations are reinventing talent management with a new focus on agility, customized solutions, letting go of control, and finding the sustainability sweet spot. They acknowledge the need to deal with change and complexity instead of maintaining the status quo and develop organizational agility to tackle new challenges created by workforce shifts.
The reinvented approach designs creative and customized solutions for workers, regardless of their employment status, using design thinking to create meaningful experiences. It is based on the willingness to experiment and test new solutions that meet the needs of all stakeholders, even if this means disregarding traditional HR policies and procedures. Reinvented talent management focuses on the intersection of the collective needs and expectations of the organization, the employee, and the customer to create sustainable HR solutions (Claus, 2019).
In today’s rapidly evolving business environment, the need for talent has become more vital than ever. Organizations are struggling to cope with the skill gap caused by technological advancements and market trends. Reskilling has become a key term in many company strategies and a cause of headaches for most HR directors and leaders.
As the hard skills of the future seem more unclear than ever, the treasure probably lies in a mix of soft competencies, skills, and attitudes linked to self-management and collaboration. A talent management strategy closely aligned with the organization’s overall business objectives can help organizations navigate the challenges of an ever-changing business environment and build a strong, engaged, and adaptable workforce that can drive business success. The approach to talent management needs to be reinvented to design a customized solution that is agile and acknowledges the need to deal with change and complexity instead of maintaining the status quo.