Talent management has evolved over the years as one of the most important aspects of HR practices. Crucial to sustainable growth, it is now an indispensable part of strategic planning of organisations. Challenges it faces, however, are manifold, particularly so in the pandemic-hit environment.
COVID-19 has changed the way we work. Work from home (WFH) will remain the norm, rather than an exception, at least in the near future. WFH has many advantages, no two ways about it. The challenge for HR practitioners, however, is grooming talent and retaining them in the WFH environment.
Inculcating the right work ethics is an integral part of grooming the right talent and it is perhaps the toughest task for HR in the WFH environment. HR needs to invent a new toolkit to gauge the integrity, communication skills, attitude, character and the ability to work in a remote team as part of its talent acquisition and management. The challenges are as varied as poor or inadequate hiring strategies and amateur or improper training in tech skills.
Going by the classic textbook definition, talent management has four wheels- identifying the right people, hiring them, imparting training and nurturing and retaining the talent. It has been observed that hiring, the first step in talent management, often goes awfully wrong due to various reasons. A poor recruitment plan ends up creating a workforce that is inadequately skilled and low in morale and output. The root of this problem can be found in the mismatch between recruitment strategy and the organisation’s stated objectives. Organisations need to chalk out a hiring strategy that is in perfect sync with its laid-out work ethics, principles, goals and objectives.
A leadership that does not inspire is a major hindrance as far as grooming talent is concerned. Everyone is not a born leader. But effective leadership can be nurtured. So, in practice talent management flows from top to bottom. Right leaders at right positions are essential for effective and fruitful talent management.
It goes without saying that technology is a great tool for grooming talent and has greatly improved internal processes. It can be deployed to identify and enhance core competency of employees, making it easier for HR to retain potential talent. But have HR professionals upskilled themselves to embrace the fast-changing technology? One cannot say yes with certainty.
The significance of technology in hiring cannot be overemphasised. Of course, we have moved from traditional hiring avenues such as campus recruitment and job fairs to hiring virtually. From application tracking systems to the cloud, technology is increasingly deployed in recruitment now. But I am of the firm belief that hiring is yet to fully leverage the full and varied benefits of technology.
Let us take the example of automation tools in recruitment. The biggest strength of Artificial Intelligence is that it can help spot the right talent for you from a flood of applications which otherwise is a cumbersome process and would take many man hours. The cloud is another example. It effectively breaks the geographical barriers for HR in its constant lookout for fresh talents.
Retention of talent is also directly linked to supply of raw talent which deserves the immediate attention of both industry and academia. It has been pointed out at various fora that the present curricula in universities and educational institutions need revision to meet the industry demands to bridge the enormous skill gaps.
The need of the hour is redesigning the curricula with a focus on meeting the industry demands. Potential raw talents are not identified for lack of real-time work exposure to students. Summer training, on-the-job projects, internships, etc. will go a long way to spot and retain talent.
Equally needed is greater collaboration between the industry and educational institutes. The interaction and flow of ideas between the two—much needed for talent acquisition- leave a lot to be desired. Industry representations in education institutes will also help in talent management.
All this and much more will be needed to discover the hidden talent.