Let's put our heads together

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Let's put our heads together

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Talent Function Strategy for a Multi-Speed Economy

This article is intended to provide HR & Talent Leaders with a perspective on how they can reshape their Talent Functions based on the organisational context they may be facing as a result of the Pandemic.

It’s been four months since our world changed forever, and whilst many organisations are still grappling with the immediacy of the crisis, others are starting to formulate and initiate meaningful plans for the future. It appears companies mostly fall into one of the following camps:

  1. Commercially impacted: business and executive focus is cash preservation and OPEX reduction, mostly through organisational restructures and down-sizing. Some are fast-tracking planned digital transformation and automation projects to support headcount reductions.
  2. Busier than ever: in this multi-speed economy, some organisations are struggling to keep up with the demands on their business and their people. Several industries are expanding rapidly and urgently needing to add headcount to bolster capacity. Enabling functions are adding much needed resource and are, in many cases, receiving funding for investment in new technology and capability.
  3. Wait and see: there are large numbers of organisations in limbo trying to ride out the storm without knee-jerk cost cutting or headcount reductions, hoping for a V-shaped recovery of sorts. They are not dramatically re-shaping their organisation, nor are they in investment mode when it comes to resource, capability or technology.

HR & Talent Leaders are responding as best they can to the context and situation they find themselves operating in and many are adapting service and operating models for their ‘new normal’. TQSolutions has developed a simple framework for Talent Leaders to consider when planning their functional strategy.

 

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For most businesses, ‘Talent Acquisition’ functions have been orientated towards ‘Acquisition & Mobility’ in the top-right quadrant, and in reality, mostly ‘Acquisition’ services. In growth business cycles when there is a high demand for external recruitment services, this made commercial sense.

However, Covid-19 has rendered many ‘Talent Acquisition’ functions irrelevant as their organisation rapidly moves into a contracting business cycle. Without immediate adaptation or service pivots, these functions will be downsized as part of the CFO’s OPEX reduction goals.

Talent & HR Leaders need to consider their service and operating options carefully, and at pace, if they are to remain relevant in the future.

If you find yourself in Camp 1 (Commercially Impacted) and the organisation is likely to be downsizing, then you should rapidly re-orientate the function towards Transition, Exit and Mobility services. This will deliver commercial value to the business through in-sourcing activities traditionally managed by third party out-placement providers.

This is not necessarily going to save your function from future downsizing efforts but it may extend your relevance in the months ahead, giving you time to pivot and re-frame your function. It will be wise to explore investment opportunities e.g. technology that will reduce your on-going OPEX and / or support internal mobility and workforce visibility goals. In your situation, internal mobility and critical talent retention is likely to be a primary focus in the months and perhaps years ahead.

If you are in Camp 2 (Busier than ever) you are likely to be experiencing high demand on your functions services. In which case you are, a) very fortunate in the current market, and b) in a great position to re-set your longer-term functional strategy. Yes, you will need to hire people to lift your capacity in the immediate term and you may even need to invest in new tech or assessment tools to help you cope with hiring volumes.

However, and more importantly, you are in a really strong position to re-set your functional strategy to maintain your relevance in the future. This is a golden opportunity to rethink your operating and service model and fast-track your function’s capability build. We strongly recommend you pitch for investment that will reduce your future OPEX e.g. Technology Enablement whilst rethinking the services you are providing. Now could also be a great time to seek investment in your Recruitment Marketing and Employer Branding capabilities and projects.

With Camp 2, TQ’s framework advises you orientate services towards Acquisition & Mobility. You can add significant commercial value to your organisation by enhancing internal mobility and talent retention, reducing the need for more expensive external hiring you have traditionally focused on.

If you are in Camp 3 (Wait and See) it’s probably a good time to take stock of your function and align to business priorities. Consider using some of your capacity to baseline and review your function’s performance and relevance to the organisation.

Whilst you are unlikely to receive funding for ‘big-ticket’ investment opportunities, you can mobilise smaller improvement projects, run pilots of new services or initiatives, or work with the business to enhance the recruitment skills and capabilities of the hiring leaders. It may also be opportune to develop your employer brand strategy and recruitment marketing capabilities for your strategic and / or critical workforce segments.

Once again, TQ recommends you review your broader service model and consider extending your offerings into Transition, Exit and Mobility especially if you think it’s likely you will enter a business downturn.

In each of these scenarios, TQSolutions is advocating the need to have a Mobility play of some sort.

Whilst this may be ‘Acquisition and Mobility’ oriented for organisations in a growth cycle, and ‘Transition, Exit and Mobility’ for those in a contracting cycle, there is a constant – it’s Mobility – and it will help you drive commercial value to your organisation.

The final consideration is what do you build and what do you buy?

Except those operating in Camp 2, hiring lots of people into your team is unrealistic, so TQSolutions recommends you consider augmentation or outsourcing aspects of your service model to give you sufficient capacity and flex to cope with volatile and unpredictable business demands.

The addition of third party resource, especially through a variable cost commercial model, will drive value to the organisation whilst allowing you to extend your service offering and better respond to business needs.

Let’s face it, Workforce Planning and Demand Management was struggling before the crisis and is likely to worsen in the short term. The result will be unexpected speaks and troughs in service demands.

In summary, these are volatile times, and no-one has a clear playbook to use. However, there are some consistencies and common threads regardless of your Camp:

  • Urgently take stock of your business context and adapt your service orientation to drive commercial value in the near term (avoid the Sub-Optimal quadrants)
  • Regardless of business cycle, Internal Mobility services should be developed to drive commercial value and to retain your functional relevance
  • Seize the opportunity to fast-track digital transformation and automation to support OPEX reduction goals or to enable a suite of new mobility services
  • You don’t need to deliver it all, having taken stock of your position, consider extending your capacity or service model capabilities through strategic partnerships with augmentation and / or outsourcing providers. Focus on variable costs in your operating model rather than fixed cost and headcount

What Next?

To support the development of your Talent Strategy, TQSolutions has developed a Talent Maturity Model with a free self-diagnostic tool for you to use.

This will provide you with some meaningful data and insights on the organisational maturity towards talent, as well as the maturity of the Talent function itself and its enablers.

This small time investment in self-discovery will help you check that you are working on the right problems for your business as you evolve your strategy and service model for the future.

You can find out more about the TQSolutions Talent Maturity Model on our website, where the self-diagnostic can also be found:

https://tqsolutions.com.au/talent-maturity-model/

 

 

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