In 2019, TQ’s consulting business supported an unprecedented number of client engagements. Most involved us undertaking a deep-dive, current state review of Talent and Recruitment related functions with a client-stated goal of ‘fixing them’ to become more fit for purpose and in line with business needs. We supported businesses that operate in a broad range of sectors; Logistics & Transportation, Financial Services, Professional Services, Investment Banking, Healthcare, Sports & Entertainment, Facilities Management and Retail.
We appreciate that this access gives us a privileged window into these organisations, so we are keen to share our learnings and continue to play a role in moving the whole TA industry forward. This opening piece for 2020 lays out the macro trends and challenges, then through the course of 2020 we will continue to share our insights, ‘how-to’ guides, case studies and more. Together, we can fix the business of TA.
Looking back, to move us forward
Whilst the markets and regions our client organisations serve is diverse, we notice common themes and trends;
- Hiring and retaining good people with scarce or in-demand skills is increasingly a challenge. This is starting to impact business performance, resulting in increased focus on HR / TA by Executives and Business Leaders.
- In-house talent and recruitment functions are woefully under-funded. This means teams can’t resource with sufficient capacity and capability. The result is often a reactive and highly administrative service which operate with ‘post and prey’ mindsets.
- Many business leaders are starting to lose faith in traditional, centralised in-house recruitment related. With a perception that their needs are not being met, there is a growing sentiment that alternative models may work better. These include RPO and Augmentation providers, specialist Agencies and niche suppliers as well as decentralised business-led hiring teams.
- Legacy HR / TA technology, systems and processes are seen as a handbrake on efficiency and effectiveness. Most companies are embarking on much-needed HR Tech transformation but are struggling with where to focus their investment dollars given the highly fragmented and dynamic vendor market. The perception persists in many organisations that major HRIS systems will be sufficient and solve for business requirements – this is simply not the case in more mature and progressive hiring functions.
- Businesses are starting to understand the need for more sophisticated employer branding investment and more segmented recruitment marketing activity. The days of ‘selling’ opportunities via job-board advertising alone are long gone. A ‘Recruitment is Marketing’ mindset is increasingly driving segmented approaches to attraction and engagement supported by smart CRM technology.
- ‘Fixing’ Talent Acquisition is still mostly seen as HR’s problem. As opposed to an organisational priority and responsibility. Businesses appear reluctant to challenge themselves on deeper and more fundamental issues such as retention and attraction issues caused by an unattractive culture and values or poor leadership. Talent Acquisition would not have as much to ‘fix’ in many businesses if poor management practices and attrition could be addressed.
- Access to meaningful TA data is generally poor or very onerous. This results in a lack of valuable insights to the business. Many companies struggle to provide even the basics of reporting let alone higher value market insights or predictive analytics.
This is a long list of issues and challenges being faced by organisations, further compounded by tightening labour markets, rising expectations of consumers (employees, candidates, hiring leaders) and constantly transforming business models. We also see many businesses, and leaders of TA / HR functions, operating in a ‘vortex of frenzy’, perpetually fire-fighting, reacting to issues without stopping to really assess and analyse root causes.
As we move into this new decade, it’s time to challenge and change the conversation. Especially regarding the role and operations of TA. We need to rediscover some of the industry’s roots and reconnect it to a human focus on people and relationships.
So, what needs to be done?
We are not underestimating the scale of the challenge ahead. We will share lots more through the course of the year, but to start with, we see 2 macro dynamics that need to be brought into focus;
Priority 1. Connections, Networks and Relationships
The value drivers of recruitment and recruiters have changed very little over the last 20-30 years. It’s really about who you know and how you can best assess their match for opportunities.
TQ interviews hundreds of line leaders each year for our consulting projects and we hear the same business requirement repeated around the world, “I just want my TA partner to know and show me the best people in the market for our opportunity” (they also want this to happen quickly).
Whilst we don’t rely on Rolodex’s anymore, the concept of ‘knowing your market’ does involve a significant external focus on making connections, creating personal networks and building meaningful relationships. The agency model successfully drove this approach in the 1980’s and 1990’s with the best recruiters being the most networked and connected in a talent segment, often globally.
In-house TA functions, more reliant on post and prey advertising, process efficiency and speed have lost their networking skills. Nor is it incentivised. TQ’s time and motion studies show more time is spent administering a process than on human to human interactions such as phone screening and interviewing! Our analysis has even shown that ‘Sourcing focused’ specialists are spending almost half of their time buried in administration and process.
TQ believes we need to change how TA functions operate and the time is right to re-introduce a focus on human-to-human connections, networks and relationships. To do this effectively we will need to radically shift how we enable, structure and measure TA functions and we will need to change the service and engagement models operating with the business.
Rather than being single-point sensitive and reliant on an individual recruiter’s network, TA and business need to work together to leverage organisational connections and networks. Many industries are highly-networked and through active collaboration the business can significantly contribute to sourcing and engagement activities. TA functions should be seen less as a service provider to the business and more of a facilitator/partner of sourcing and hiring activity leveraging the business for market intelligence as needed.
The skills and mindsets of TA functions will need to change in this new world, there will be less need for process administrators and greater need for externally focused brand ambassadors, networkers and marketeers with much deeper industry and domain expertise.
Priority 2. Mindset over Technology
Genuine TA Transformation is not just about technology. It’s about organisational mindset, capability and enablement. Yes, underlying technology and systems are important and will enable the function to excel. However, technology without the mindset and capability shifts will not deliver the outcomes business leaders are calling for.
TA transformation is dependent on deeper cultural shifts within an organisation. It requires;
- Elevating the recruitment and personal branding skills among line leaders as well as the TA function.
- The business investing in robust talent development, retention and workforce planning.
- An approach that ‘recruitment is experience’ rather than ‘recruitment is process’.
- An obsessive focus on organisational and human connections, networks and relationships.
None of this is going to be easy, but we simply cannot keep doing the same thing and expect different outcomes. It’s time to fix the business of Talent Acquisition in 2020 and we look forward to being part of the conversation and in the thick of the action!
TQSolutions (TQ) is regarded as Australia’s leading Advisory and Solutions firm for Talent Acquisition, Recruitment and Careers related projects – this is the world of organisational Joiners, Movers and Leavers. We do this through:
Partnering with organisations about to embark upon significant change or transformation programmes. Our advisory services cover areas such as independent technology, capability and operating model reviews, deep market intelligence, employer brand and candidate experience.
Our scalable, on-demand model delivers exceptional results for our clients. With a national team of experts, all with at least 15 years’ experience, we deploy brilliant people on an ongoing basis or to support key projects and spikes in activity.
We curate insights, provide thought leadership, community and training – all geared to help you cut through the noise with the informed perspective you need to make smart decisions.