Savvy talent management strategies will be a key differentiator in 2015.
By Russ Banham
The competitive talent landscape has put RPO on the front burner of HR, with several trends heating up as the New Year approaches. No organization wants to be caught with skill sets that are inferior to the competition or risk highly talented individuals heading in their direction. This explains why RPO has moved from the back office to the strategy table. Automating manual processes are still important, but only if they achieve global strategic talent management aims.
Trends that focus on strategy include enhanced interest in global RPO solutions that look, act, and pretty much work differently across global entities, followed by greater use of predictive data analytics to gauge retention risks; the creation of progressively unique workforce compositions; heightened interest in assessing current employees for internal hiring; and stepped-up movement toward the development of talent communities.
The Shift To Global
In this regard, one size fits all is not the answer. “We all think that ‘global RPO’ means one program all over the world, where the processes and systems are standardized and consistent, but this is not the best solution because recruiting is a local business,” says Sue Marks, CEO of RPO provider Cielo. “While there is an evolution toward centralized global delivery design, there is still a need for more decentralized approaches in each market.”
She explains that a global client wants its recruitment platform to look one way in the U.S. and another way in Germany, tailored to reflect each market’s cultural differences and unique workflows. Nevertheless, the core of the RPO system from a delivery standpoint is consistent across all countries. “This type of hybrid solution continues to gain more traction,” says Marks.
A factor in this acceleration is that many companies may brand themselves as global, but the truth is they still tend to operate on a country-by-country basis, given cultural, economic, and regulatory differences. To create more efficiency from an operations and recruitment standpoint, many global companies have developed regional shared service centers, gradually easing the way for these businesses to be serviced by a single global RPO provider.
In other words, global is becoming more global by the day. “The move to shared service centers is shifting the dynamic from country-by country organizations to more global organizations in the ways they operate and acquire talent,” explains Jeanne MacDonald, president of talent solutions at RPO provider Futurestep. “This is rousing the interest and belief that having one global RPO provider network can work.”
Changing Workforce Demographics
Another trend that continues to have legs is the migration of unique workforce compositions that include all sorts of workers—full-time employees, part-time employees, independent contractors, and even retired employees brought back for a project or two, among other configurations. The challenge from a recruitment standpoint is to identify the optimum composition and dynamically assist its evolution.
While this progression has been more evident in the U.K. and throughout parts of Europe, the implementation of the employer mandate component of the Affordable Care Act on January 1, 2015, is expected to change many full-time employees into contractors, creating new recruitment challenges.
“Companies will likely move to more of a blended talent acquisition strategy like we see in EMEA, which has implications for RPO strategy, systems, and vendor management,” says Beth Roekle, senior vice president, operations, at RPO provider Advantage xPO.
George Vollmer, global business partner at talent acquisition firm Alexander Mann Solutions, suggests another wrinkle to this new workforce model. “More and more of our customers are not focused just on external hiring, but internal too,” says Vollmer. “Why actively recruit externally for a position when the organization may have people internally who fit the bill? The goal should be to focus on existing assets and optimizing them.”
Re-recruiting this internal talent extends beyond simply posting a job opening. “Companies are looking for technologies like a skills register, where they can populate internal profiles of employees,” Vollmer says. “This then gives them a good sense of the talent they already have inside the business.”
When a job becomes available or is about to open, employees can peruse this information in real time on their mobile devices. HR also can reach out directly
to certain employees whose skills register indicates appropriateness for the position. Finally, employees expressing interest in certain types of jobs can sign up to be immediately notified when these positions become available.
This makes sense as companies have spent all this money getting top talent in the door—as well as training and developing them. The next logical step would be to assess their respective strengths and skills and their applicability to wide-ranging types of jobs—an engineer with an interest in finance.
As this form of internal re-recruitment takes hold, it will have significant cultural implications. As reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person born in the latter years of the baby boom (1957-1964) held 11.3 jobs during their career. “I think we will see much longer job tenures for the Millennial generation, compared to baby boomers that moved from one company to the next,” Vollmer projects. “The pendulum is swinging the other way.”
It is also swinging toward the development of talent communities as a recruitment device. Spawned by social media, such communities are an interactive way for people of like minds and interests to join together conversationally, albeit online. “We’re seeing more investment in talent communities as recruitment vehicles,” says MacDonald.
One way in which a talent community can be leveraged from a recruiting standpoint is when an employer develops a micro-site focused on a specific topic. For example, say Microsoft is looking to increase its diversity by hiring more female programmers. The company launches a micro-site for women that discusses why working for a technology company can be a dynamic experience. This then triggers women to be interested in a job with the organization, while also cementing Microsoft as a female-focused culture. “The goal is to proactively engage people with specific skill sets, even if you don’t need these skills today,” MacDonald explains.
Roekle agrees that social media has finally caught on as a recruitment tool. “Five years ago, a lot of customers were afraid of social media,” she says. “Three years ago the fear had faded, but there was still some lingering skepticism. Now people really understand the importance of leveraging social media and putting out content that maybe isn’t at all job-related. This is how one builds a truly engaging talent community that soon proliferates.”
And when it does, an employment brand is forged.
Russ Banham is a veteran business and financial journalist and author. His new book, “Higher: 100 Years of Boeing,” will be in bookstores in Spring 2015. He can be reached at www.russbanham.com.
BOX: High Growth Industries
Big population trends, such as aging baby boomers, improved healthcare, and explosive technology growth, are causing significant waves of change in the types of roles needed globally, finds Qualigence’s 2015 Talent Acquisition Forecast whitepaper.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Business, the following jobs are becoming the most in demand for candidates in 2015 and beyond:
• Biomedical engineers: a 61.7 percent increase by 2020.
• Network systems analysts and data communications analysts: a 25 percent increase within the next few years.
• Financial analysts: an increase of 16 percent within the next few years.
• Medical scientists: an increase of 36 percent by 2020.
• Physician’s assistant: a 38 percent increase by 2022.
• Biochemists and biophysicists: an expected growth rate of 19 percent by 2022.
• Athletics trainer: an expected growth rate of 19 percent within the next few years.
• Dental hygienist: a growth rate of 33 percent within the next few years.
• Veterinary technologists and assistant: a growth rate of 30 percent within the next few years.
• Dental assistant: a growth rate of 25 percent within the next few years.
• Computer applications software engineers: a growth rate of 22 percent within the next few years.
• Physical therapist assistant: a growth rate of about 41 percent within the next few years.
• Veterinarians: job growth at 35 percent by 2020.
• Compliance officers: job growth is about 20 percent.
• Environmental engineers: a job growth of 15 percent within the next few years.
• Physical therapists: a job growth rate of 36 percent.
• Personal finance advisor: a job growth of 27 percent within the next few years.