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What will society believe about talent in 2020?

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9th May 2016
Editor HRZone
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This is an interview with Geoffroy de Lestrange, Product Marketing Manager EMEA at Cornerstone OnDemand, on the future of talent and the steps organisations need to take to redefine their views on talent in order to keep pace with societal change. We discuss the current structure of the HR department, the need for new learning methods and predictive technology, among other things.

Jamie Lawrence, Editor, HRzone: What does 'talent' mean and how should organisations go about defining it?

Geoffroy de Lestrange: There are many definitions of talent, and we prefer to go for the broadest one: we consider ‘talent’ to be anyone whose work has a direct impact on your organisation.

First and foremost, we believe this includes every employee (and not just management or high potentials). We also advise to add contractual workers, but you may also add partners, resellers, distributors, suppliers and clients.

The correlated question is how we define talent management. We consider it to be the processes that help ensure that the organisation has the right person with the right competencies at the right position, and the right moment.

The first consequence for organisations is to ensure there is a regular dialog between HR and line managers

At the core of talent management is talent development: indeed, the company needs to ensure that the employee’s skills are always up to date, so that he/she is able to perform his/her tasks efficiently. Including external partners guarantees they know the company’s products and services, and taking the supply chain into account helps safeguard a high level of quality.

From a practical point of view, talent management usually includes the following processes that all need to be carefully organised and analysed: recruiting, onboarding, learning & development, performance management, compensation, succession and workforce planning and employee data management.

The main issue is that structuring those processes used to end up in siloed HR departments, where the L&D team would not be aware of what their colleagues in recruiting were up to.

Yet from the employee’s point of view, he/she isn’t just part of a process (e.g. a candidate, then a new hire and an entry in the payroll system, then a delegate…), but a person with work and training history, capabilities, wishes, interests…

The goal becomes then to be able to both manage the processes successfully and to take this holistic view of the employee into account.

Jamie Lawrence, Editor, HRzone: What will society believe about talent in 2020?

Geoffroy de Lestrange: This may vary from one country to another, but we’re being optimistic and we hope that society – and all organisations – will be convinced that talent isn’t limited to specific categories.

The high unemployment rate observed in specific groups over Europe (young and elderly people for example) isn’t sustainable in the long term. Any form of discrimination – for example women being paid on average less than men – will also hopefully disappear.

Beyond this, we hope that some stereotypes will disappear.

The success of new learning methods such as MOOCs prove that there is a need for easily accessible and flexible training content.

We can illustrate this with some of the big data analysis that Cornerstone has performed in the US, where we could prove that both so-called ‘job hoppers’, and people undergoing a long period of unemployment, were both very good candidates whose results were as high as those candidates who were in the same role or roles for long periods of time, or who had no periods of unemployment.

This means that a significant effort might be needed to help everyone remain employable, which is why talent development is so important and will become more popular in the coming years.

The success of new learning methods such as MOOCs prove that there is a need for easily accessible and flexible training content.

We consider ‘talent’ to be anyone whose work has a direct impact on your organisation.

The other big trend is that more people will want to share and discuss knowledge. As already observed on social networks, many private individuals post very interesting pieces of content on all topics. LinkedIn and Facebook have become content providers without creating any content themselves.

For readers, this requires caution around the quality and the originality of content, and to reach to more sources of information.

Jamie Lawrence, Editor, HRzone: How do organisations need to change to embrace the shifting talent management landscape?

Geoffroy de Lestrange: Cornerstone has just finalised a survey with IDC, interrogating HR and Line of Business managers across Europe, and the main observation from this analysis is that operations would want HR to be successful in daily operations (HR admin, training and recruiting first and foremost), whereas HR itself desires to focus on longer term issues such as planning and workforce strategy.

A successful talent management strategy will need to join both aspects.

The first consequence for organisations is to ensure there is a regular dialog between HR and line managers, as the latter play a significant role in making the workplace enjoyable and efficient.

As the saying goes: you join a company and you leave a manager. The second consequence is for HR to have a deep understanding of both the day-to-day work of each employee, but also a clear vision of the company strategy in the longer term, in order to anticipate future needs in terms of skills and know-how.

Having a comprehensive view of the entire organisation means having reliable employee data to analyse the current situation, observe the evolution over time and plan for the future.

As the saying goes: you join a company and you leave a manager.

New predictive technologies can help anticipate future trends, mitigate risks (e.g. compliance) and avoid skill gaps.

Yet HR also needs to relay on all employees as contributors to the success of the talent management strategy: each and every team member is part of the employer’s branding, as the success of Glassdoor and the likes proves.

Employees can recommend the organisation and refer good people. In addition, they can be active participants in learning and development through creating their own content and sharing knowledge.

Jamie Lawrence, Editor, HRzone: What will the vendor landscape look like in 2020?

Geoffroy de Lestrange: There are two opposite trends that we see. On the one hand, there is an environment of start-ups and niche players in specific talent processes that bring interesting ideas.

On the other hand, we see that companies tend to have a comprehensive view of the main HR processes (talent management, payroll, time management and benefits management), for which they’ll work with the market leaders in each segment.

Those are investing in advanced technologies such as Big Data, which needs a wide customer base to ensure that the machine-learning algorithms run on sufficient data to be applicable.

We observe a very strong need to have reliable employee data, precise and accessible analytics and predictive dashboards to help the decision-making process, but with a clear demand to guarantee data privacy according to the local regulations.

This means the market leaders have to invest in IT protection, audits and strong service level agreements.

Another trend we see arriving is the necessity to have more access to the system in order to create additional features that would be too specific for the provider to develop. This has happened in other areas before (see Salesforce and its force.com platform) and is now reaching the HR department.

This “Platform as a Service” offering is the new trend among market players.

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