Organizations Must Improve Their “Grade” on Talent Management

When asked to make an assessment on talent management, organizations give themselves a pretty dismal grade: a C minus, or a 1.5 grade point average (GPA), according to a recent, ambitious survey report from Deloitte.

Organizations are struggling

Specifically, more than 2,530 business and HR leaders evaluated their proficiencies on a number of “urgent” needs for the report, which is titled Global Human Capital Trends 2014: Engaging the 21st-Century Workforce. On the HR side, only 16% of survey participants say they’re fully prepared to take on leadership challenges, and a mere one-in-five indicate that they’re ready to address demands related to global personnel and talent management, in addition to retention and engagement. Perhaps most tellingly, just 12% feel confident in their HR analytics capabilities.

Overall, respondents from business departments gave even more discouraging appraisals on nearly all of these essential functions. On the bright side, however, the latest “report card” is slightly better than 2013’s, when organizations graded themselves with a D plus.

Well, at least there’s room for improvement, right? And a notable share of leaders are heading in that direction, as 47% plan to increase HR investment in 2014.

That’s somewhat encouraging, especially if the investment helps tackle the analytics shortcomings. In fact, 54% of survey participants say they’re downright “weak” when it comes to using analytics for recruitment and staffing. In the modern age, this is a recipe for failure.

Reason for optimism 

While this survey and results are focused on the private sector, it parallels with many of my observations in the federal market. My company, NGA.NET, is working with government customers and we see first-hand how many have struggled with leveraging analytics for some time now.  We work with them to integrate cloud-based solutions which explore Big Data in ways they never could before.

Once the transformation takes hold, our government customers immediately “see” their recruitment, onboarding, training and retention systems and processes with profound clarity. For the first time, they obtain a sense of the hiring bottlenecks that exist within the pipeline, and how to swiftly respond to them. They can instantly pinpoint where employee engagement is high and where it’s low, so best practices from the latter areas can be shared. And they know well in advance which valued, long-term performers are likely to retire – and when – so they can direct future and near-future succession efforts accordingly.

The power of data and analytics

The burden of proof within any modern organization rests within hard data. HR departments traditionally don’t put a heavy focus on technology and numbers/data, but there needs to be a change. As the Deloitte report notes, shifting demographics, technical advancements, globalization and new work arrangements are mandating a re-engineering of “people strategies,” with analytics driving the transition. Many leaders are “refocusing HR as a ‘business contribution’ function—a role that demands deeper skills in data and analytics as well as MBA-level business capabilities,” it states. “The critical question is whether HR teams have the skills they need to rise to the challenge.”

Given the most recent report card, it’s safe to assume the answer is “No” for the majority of organizations. But it doesn’t have to be that way – not when the tools and expertise required to empower talent management professionals with analytics are readily available.

Liam Ackland is president of NGA.NET North America.

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