Facing the future: How Australian higher education organisations can get ahead with talent management

Australian higher education institutions face ever-increasing talent acquisition challenges, from talent shortages and rising costs, to managing, engaging and retaining existing talent. With an increasingly competitive industry aiming to attract the best faculty and staff, and the increase in casual academics, HR departments need to work harder than ever to manage their most valuable resource – talent.

Talent should be at the heart of every successful higher education organisation, and when it comes to the higher education workforce, outstanding performance is critical to institutional success. Without high performing, highly-engaged staff, it will be difficult or impossible for an institution to achieve its goals.

From the initial hiring process and onboarding, through to engagement, performance management and employee development, Australian higher education institutions have the opportunity to leverage HR technology to improve hiring and workforce performance.

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Implementing flexible talent acquisition and onboarding systems

Competition to attract top talent is enormous, with an increasing number of higher education institutions taking a digital-first approach to the recruitment process.

Recruiting a candidate can be a complex and expensive undertaking, but can be greatly simplified and costs reduced significantly by leveraging the many tools and capabilities offered by HR technology. From advertising the position to conducting formal training, HR technology can help you maximize your talent resources, which will spill over into crucial areas of the recruitment lifecycle, including onboarding.

Delivering an exceptional candidate experience immediately before and during hiring should involve presenting a higher education institution as a leader in its field through positive and well-articulated branding, as well as promotion of positive staff experiences.

Tight integration of the hiring and onboarding process ensures employees have a good experience with the institution right from their first day, highlighting to the individual that their new employer is committed to their performance and the development of their career within that institution. User interfaces can play a huge role in this presentation – if institutional processes are sleek and easy to use, in addition to being mobile-friendly, the institution will become more attractive to top candidates.

When establishing an onboarding strategy, it’s important that institutions pay attention to the big picture as well as the minute details. Designing and implementing formal induction processes, such as ensuring a defined workspace is available for the new employee from day one, and having all relevant paperwork ready to go, means the employee’s needs are personalised. This will make the onboarding process more efficient, and they can become integrated in the organisation in a stress-free, positive way.

Improving performance 

Building and maintaining a global reputation for research and teaching excellence is now more important than ever to secure funding and to attract faculty and staff from around the world for higher education institutions. To do this, higher education leaders need to team up with HR departments to engage and motivate staff, supporting them through this period. It is essential for institutions to offer programs that improve the leadership capabilities of employees, with the aim of encouraging both career development prospects, as well as supporting existing leaders to become more strategic. These initiatives will motivate staff towards service excellence and facilitate broader change initiatives.

Institutional leaders must think more broadly about the skills and competencies of the entire workforce as opposed to just individual employees, ensuring contributions are made across all levels of the organisation. Skilled employees must be given increased levels of responsibility and leadership opportunities – this will aid retention efforts as employees will have clearly defined growth paths, further encouraging them to stay on and build their careers.

To ensure higher education institutions have the right leadership talent in place for future demands, it is essential to implement the following practices as part of the overall talent management program:

  • Succession planning
  • People analytics
  • Employee Engagement Measurement Tools

There are tremendous hiring and employee retention challenges facing the highly-competitive higher education environment. HR technology is ultimately driving huge amounts of value throughout the entire institution and must be pursued to achieve growth.

Implementing flexible talent acquisition and onboarding systems along with a well-planned performance management strategy will be key for higher education institutions looking to get the very best people working for them and staying ahead of the competition.

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