Talent scarcity and organisation design dominate human capital agenda

06 April 2017 Consultancy.uk

Attracting talent is likely to become an area of increased difficulty, according to a new study. While companies battle it out for talent, almost 80% say that they will also focus on developing their talent internally. Companies too note that they are likely to change their organisation structure in the coming years in the face of wider changes to business models and ways of working. A disconnect between what employers and employees see as important continues, with employees focused on pay, while executives focus more on culture.

Last year was marked by global uncertainty as a range of geo-political factors, such as Brexit and the somewhat unexpected win of the new Trump administration shifted global dynamics. These events, and their long-term consequences, are set to continue to shape business decisions across Europe and Norther America. At the same time, new technologies are affecting the internal dynamics of organisations, particularly due to automation and digitalisation affecting business models, as well as new dynamics around employment as companies seek to take advantage of weaker employment agreements.

Top six factors for talent into 2017

In a new report from Mercer, titled ‘Talent Trends: Global Study 2017’, the consulting firm explores key trends in the employment space. The report is based on input from more than 400 senior executives, more than 1,700 HR professionals and more than 5,400 employees across 37 countries and 20 industries.

The headline findings are that firms will primarily focus on attracting top talent externally (1) as well as developing leaders for succession internally (2). Other areas of focus in the people management space include the identification of high potentials, building skills across the workforce, supporting employees with career growth and increasing employee engagement across the business.

Talent strategy and areas of undersupply

In terms of the strategy for talent planning for the next 12 months, surveyed firms indicate that they will largely focus on building their already acquired talent, as cited by 79% of respondents, followed by attracting new talent, at 48% of respondents, while 40% of respondents say that they plan to borrow talent where possible. According to 43% of C-Suite respondents, the competition for talent is expected to be significant, somewhat above that of HR professionals at 36% of respondents in the category.

The respondents also indicated that they expect there to be a ‘dearth of quality workplace talent’ over the coming years. Particularly in the IT/Technology and core ops segments, which were both indicated by respondents as areas in which undersupply outweighed oversupply. Marketing and leadership saw slightly unfavourable weightings towards undersupply. Finance, customer service and administration were the areas in which considerable oversupply is noted.

Organisational change planned for the coming two years

The vast majority of respondents said that their organisation will be making design changes over the next two years to their organisational structure. 41% of respondents said that they would be ‘moving support functions to shared services’, and 33% of respondents said that they would be ‘flatting the organisational structure’. 31% of organisations said that they would be ‘eliminating roles/departments’, with an identical percentage saying that they would be ‘decentralising authority’.

The areas in which the fewest respondents said they would be implementing organisational design changes are in ‘moving operations to low-cost locations’, cited by 16% of respondents, ‘outsourcing parts of the business model’, cited by 20% of respondents and ‘increasing regional control’, also cited by 20% of respondents.

Employees are keen for

Money concerns remain a key area of concern form employees globally, with on average employees worrying about their finances for 13 hours per month. In terms of the key area of positive impact on employees’ work situation, ‘fair & competitive compensation’ is noted by 47% of all surveyed employees globally. The factor is number of for employees in Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Singapore and the US.

‘Promotion opportunity’ comes in second spot globally, followed by ‘leaders who set clear direction’. Oher areas of concern for employees include ‘working with the best and brightest’, ‘transparency on pay calculations’ and ‘career path information’.

While employees remain concerned about being paid enough to not need to count pennies, 28% of employers say rewards competitiveness will be an area of focus in 2017, while 16% of HR leaders have equitable pay on their list of top five priorities – reflecting a considerable disconnect. While economic reality may mean that employees are paid low wages, their respective level of engagement may be being affected by chronically low pay or poor benefits.

What makes a unique and compelling EVP

The research explored how three different parties within the wider organisation see the Employee Value Proposition, which broadly indicates how the passion for the job is affected by a range of factors.

The results show a considerable disconnect between employees, HR and the executive. 80% of the executive is convinced that culture will drive a compelling EVP, with which 22% of employees agree. Brand recognition, too is of key importance according to 40% of executives, about which 6% of HR and 13% of employee respondents agree. Pay and rewards was cited by 14% of the executive as an area of importance to the EVP, while HR and employees themselves are considerably more concerned with the area, at 38% and 33% respectively.

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Why leaders must balance technical expertise with soft skills

17 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

Soft skills matter in the workplace just as much as technical expertise, writes Samantha Caine, Managing Director of Business Linked Teams.

For too long technical expertise has been seen as the marker of a strong candidate for development into a sales or leadership position. Sales and leadership candidates are tasked with demonstrating a diverse and wide-ranging set of technical skills, yet their aptitude in these technical skills or ‘hard skills’ cannot signify great leadership potential. This is why a healthy balance of soft skills and technical ability is required. 

So what exactly is the difference between technical skills and soft skills? In engineering, it’s crucial to demonstrate knowledge of physics as well as a strong grasp on mathematical equations. Yet, in any industry, it’s important for leaders to be able to interact with other people effectively with soft skills like communication, empathy and adaptability. 

Business Linked Team’s 2018 study into internal leadership development revealed that 69% of large organisations are prioritising the identification and development of future leaders from within the workforce. As more and more organisations begin to invest in sales or leadership development within their existing workforces, more focus needs to be placed on ensuring the right soft skills are in place. 

With those soft skills in place throughout the workforce, the business will benefit from a wider pool of potential leaders developing under their noses, and it should be the same where sales candidates are concerned. 

It’s not just about easier access to ideal candidates for these positions without the rigmarole of recruiting from outside of the organisation. The leadership development study also found that 89% of HR decision makers say succession planning has become a top priority. Those currently serving in leadership positions can’t lead forever and the same goes for those generating sales for the business.

Why leaders must balance technical expertise with soft skills

From people leaving for new opportunities or retirement, to people simply stepping aside to focus on other areas of the business, successful leaders and salespeople require experienced and capable successors that will be ready and able to confidently step into their shoes and pick up the mantle without the business experiencing any lapse in performance.

Soft skills make stronger candidates

When it comes to the soft skills required, a strong leader must be able to manage through clear communication and effective time management, coaching and goal setting. They must be able to demonstrate empathy and empower their teams to be successful, productive and fully engaged. And beyond simply giving direction, they must also be able to take direction from those above them and cascade the business strategy down through their teams. 

A strong sales candidate must possess the ability to communicate value to the customer, negotiate well and protect margin or the ability to increase the scope of a particular sales opportunity. 

With the relevant soft skills in place, the business will benefit from increased productivity, greater agility against changing market conditions and greater transparency. In turn, this will provide visibility on issues and inefficiencies while removing opportunity for miscommunication. All of this can transform the culture of a department, improving employee satisfaction and reducing staff turnover. 

Ultimately, developing leadership or sales candidates will require the business to strike the right balance between technical skills and soft skills, and this requires an effective and sustained learning journey.

A balanced learning journey

Facilitating and supporting the development of leadership and sales is best achieved by establishing training groups. By cultivating training groups, businesses are creating talent pools that will inspire and support each other on the learning journey. However, personal goals and learning objectives must be defined for each individual based on their own existing skillsets and the skills that each individual needs to develop. 

With the emergence of e-learning, businesses recognise the value of online-based learning activities, yet many make the mistake of opting for one-size-fits-all solutions which are solely focused on self-study. A development solution will only deliver true return on investment if it combines e-learning activities with group learning activities that provide opportunity for shared experiences and support.

A blended learning solution that combines self-study and face-to-face group learning activities will aid strong development of the talent pool through shared experiences. Through these shared experiences, those undergoing the training will organically develop a support network that supports the development of the group as much as it supports the development of each individual. 

The blended learning approach is supported by one of the seven principles of human learning that socially supported interactions aid the individual development of expertise, metacognitive skills, and formation of the learner’s sense of self. The strongest opportunities for development can be unlocked by blending workshops with online activities such as virtual sessions, peer coaching, self-study, online games and business simulations. But it’s crucial to provide a blend of one-to-one and group sessions too.

Beyond delivering a better learning outcome for the employee, the blended learning approach allows organisations to adapt their training quickly and easily to shifting business demands in an ever-changing landscape.