Weekly Wrap: A Good Look at the State of Talent Management in 2013

OK, I admit it — I’m a sucker for anything that tries to dig down into the “state” of HR or talent management.

That’s why the State of Management 2013 report this week from SilkRoad, a “leading provider of cloud-based social talent management solutions,” got my full attention.

Two parts of it were instructive: the brief overview of the talent management environment at the end of 2012 (and I found this particularly insightful), and, the top insights for talent management professionals this year.

Where we stood in 2012

Here are the key issues at the end of 2012, along with SilkRoad’s analysis:

  • Managing virtual workforces outside the company four walls is the “new normal.” From SilkRoad: Disruptive technologies and tools, such as personal mobile devices, tablet computing, and social media give the workforce access to a wealth of information beyond the 9-to-5 day. HR professionals must prepare and retrain themselves, so that they can work in multi-disciplinary teams to develop a cohesive strategy for new technology.
  • Talent management professionals must help manage more risk, protecting vital human resources and data. From SilkRoad: The natural disaster of Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast of the United States drove home the message that organizations must protect their critical information. Against a backdrop of human and economic loss, many businesses lost essential assets and records to water and wind.
  • Disruption and movement in the makeup of the workforce continues. From SilkRoad: The workplace blending of Baby Boomers, Gen Y, and Gen X will challenge professionals to engage and motivate these different groups. The conventional wisdom is that the Baby Boomers are retiring. Yet, statistics show that with the need to supplement their incomes, Boomers are working longer than ever. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the proportion of workers who are over 55, less than an eighth in the mid-1990s, will rise to more than a quarter by 2020, with many working beyond 65.
  • The turbulent economy around the globe continues to drive demand for temporary staffing. From SilkRoad: Talent management professionals will look for innovative ways to manage a revolving workforce. In the U.S. alone, temporary hires across all industries are predicted to reach 106 percent of their historical high during 2013. Some sectors will far exceed the average, including IT, industrial, engineering, scientific, creative, and temporary physicians.

Where we’re heading this year

That’s a great (and concise) summary of the talent management environment heading into the New Year, but here are the “top insights” from the research for 2013:

  • Talent Management becomes even more “social,” driven by mobile and tablet computing. From SilkRoad: Findings showed that most employees access social media sites from personal mobile devices frequently during work hours. Talent management professionals can expect the new workforce to demand 24/7 access from tablets, cell phones, and other handheld devices… Innovative software applications for HR management and Learning must accommodate this new reality.
  • The “cloud” isn’t just a fad. From SilkRoad: Organizations are either incorporating partial or complete cloud-based approaches into their Human Resource Management Systems. Cloud computing systems are able to host geographically dispersed applications, accessible to the workforce anywhere and at anytime … HR is going virtual, using more sophisticated tools to interact with employees.
  • Integrated talent management should provide a clear picture of the workforce across the organization. From SilkRoad: Surprisingly though, SilkRoad’s HRMS survey showed that integration did not extend widely beyond the “core” functions of HR to Performance, Onboarding, and Learning. Many companies use a hodgepodge of standalone systems, whether spreadsheets or single-function software applications — and in a few cases paper filing systems. Without integration of HR functions, “information at your fingertips” will never be a reality for organizationsCompliance reporting for Learning is the “Achilles heel” of most organizations
  • Many companies are managing compliance tracking and reporting using a patchwork of technologies and processes. From SilkRoad: Professionals can build a stronger business case for improving the process by “hooking” compliance, learning, and reporting to business objectives that demonstrate productivity and time savings.
  • Managing employee transitions beyond onboarding. From SilkRoad: Far-seeing companies are using onboarding tools and techniques to manage talent and acculturate workers beyond initial hiring stages. These organizations have automated forms management, are providing employees with personalized portals, and in a few cases, are experimenting with social technology. Yet, there’s definite room for improvement in employee lifecycle management. Employees who are promoted or transferred internally are less likely to have the help of a formal process — as are employees brought into an organization via merger or acquisition.
  • Talent management professionals go back to the classroom in 2013. From SilkRoad: Many professionals say they want to sharpen their “numbers” skills and that they could be more confident analyzing metrics. Moreover, survey findings show that organizations could take greater advantage of the metrics at their disposal, especially for recruiting: In particular, cost per hire is a less commonly used metric, but it ties HR activity directly to a company’s bottom line. That’s just one way HR professionals can demonstrate strategic value to their organizations.
  • Employee engagement programs are missing some pieces. From SilkRoad: Though companies were fairly evenly split in whether they had explicit engagement programs, survey participants who did have programs were vocal about the shortcomings: an absence of metrics for assessing value; a lack of buy-in at the executive level; and strategies for engaging different levels and types of employees.
  • Organizations stand to benefit by providing managers with self service systems. From SilkRoad: The majority of employees have access to self service applications, but managers do not. There’s a negative impact on productivity when managers are forced to call HR … to access employees’ reports, process simple changes in employment status, or view employees’ education records. Companies can reduce the workload — for HR and managers — by adopting tools that make managers more self sufficient.

Driving change — or just a witness to it?

Yes, I’m a sucker for these kind of surveys — and this is a big one, with more than 5,700 talent management professionals responding to eight (8) different surveys between January and October 2012 — and they always seem to provide some insight that is useful for most every talent management professional in their day-to-day work.

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And in this survey, there is a tremendous amount of details and deeper insights that I just can’t do justice to in a brief blog post like this. You should get a copy of the report from SilkRoad (and you can download one here) if you really want to get under the hood of what all those talent management and HR pros had to say.

And the conclusion to the research put an exclamation point on this:

Despite evident vulnerabilities, the State of Talent Management is sound. Professionals in the survey are well aware that change is in the air—and they know what needs to be done to effect it. What remains to be seen is whether they can stay ahead of the transformation. Will they help drive change, or will they simply be witness to it?”

Can you give exempt employees a second job?

Of course, there’s a lot more than SilkRoad’s latest talent management survey in the news this week. Here are some HR and workplace-related items you may have missed. This is TLNT’s weekly round-up of news, trends, and insights from the world of talent management. I do it so you don’t have to.

  • Paying exempt employees for a second job? Only in California. I live in California, so I am well aware of how royally screwed up it is when it comes to the general lack of smart workplace and talent management policies at all levels of government. But even I was shocked at how some exempt state employees were able to take on a second state job in order to get around restrictions on exempt employees getting overtime, as the Sacramento Bee recently reported. Although the state has now halted the practice until it can investigate, it raises a good question: does anybody in California state government understand the basic principles of HR or labor law?
  • Union membership dropped (again) in 2012. Organized labor lost another 400,000 members in the U.S. last year, as The New York Times reports, with the percentage of workers in unions falling to 11.3 percent, “down from 11.8 percent in 2011 … that brought unionization to its lowest level since 1916.” That’s bad news for unions, of course — except in California. The Los Angeles Times note that the Golden State bucked this trend by adding 100,000 new (and largely Latino) members last year.
  • Why Google is a great place to work. Lots has been written about all the great benefits and perks at Google, but Slate recently wrote about how it is the People Operations department at Google, headed by Lazlo Bock, that “functions more like a rigorous science lab than the pesky hall monitor most of us picture when we think of HR. At the heart of POPS is a sophisticated employee-data tracking program, an effort to gain empirical certainty about every aspect of Google’s workers’ lives — not just the right level of pay and benefits but also such trivial-sounding details as the optimal size and shape of the cafeteria tables and the length of the lunch lines.” If you want to know how a proactive, cutting-edge HR department operates, this is well worth a read.

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.


1 Comment on “Weekly Wrap: A Good Look at the State of Talent Management in 2013

  1. Absolutely loved this article! I am pretty aware that Employee Engagement programs have their shortcomings and I wanted to know how they can be improved from their current state. My initial idea was an engagement program that had some sort of “social” influence, that will allow people to see it as more than just another program.

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