Talent acquisition’s edge

by 18 Sep 2007

INDUSTRY-LEADING companies are nearly twice as likely to focus their talent acquisition efforts on long-term workforce planning, according to a recent US report.

Such companies also enjoy greater insight into immediate and anticipated talent needs and are able to respond proactively to these needs with highly targeted campaigns.

As a result, these ‘best-in-class’companies dominate other companies in their ability to improve critical talent acquisition. Contrary to the ‘best-in-class’ companies, the study also found that underperforming companies are three times as likely to describe their talent acquisition process as reactive and emergency-driven.

In addition to increasing quality of hire, companies that implement, integrate and communicate a talent acquisition strategy are up to five times as likely to experience decreased cost per hire.

The study also found a significant deviation between how HR executives and non-HR executive peers perceive talent acquisition, and who actually owns and/or influences talent acquisition strategy.

For example, 72 per cent of HR executives claim ownership over talent acquisition at their organisation, whereas 60 per cent of non-HR executives list corporate management as the owner.

Just as confusion has crept into issues such as talent acquisition ownership, so too has it reared its head in defining what metrics executives within organisations deem most critical.

For example, 63 per cent of non-HR executives perceive quality of hire as most important versus only 49 per cent of HR executives. This variance is compounded further as HR executives are nearly one-and-a-half times more likely than their non-HR counterparts to focus on time to hire and are 57 per cent more likely to focus on job vacancies outstanding.

There are number of resulting implications for HR professionals, according to Kevin Martin, research director of human capital management at US consulting firm Aberdeen, which conducted the study.

“Simply put, HR executives must take the initiative to be more strategic to their respective organisations. Without question, they must get into the business units in order to understand and communicate how HR can (and does) facilitate goal attainment,” he said.

Organisations worldwide are recognising the need to convert their human capital assets into a competitive advantage, and Martin said HR needs to step up and assume its role as a strategic enabler to achieve this objective.

Over the next few years, he said analytics will become very big. Basically, anything that allows more insight into predicting where gaps will exist (in terms of headcount, knowledge/skills and/or behaviours) will be critical.

“As part of this, there will be a push for the use of assessments and a strong push towards competency management – especially pertaining to behaviours,”he said.

“As skills vanish with retiring workers and the market for specific skills sets continues to shrink, many organisations will look to predict success of a new hire or promotional candidate by determining that person’s fit within the organisation or job role.”

Also, as talent acquisition continues to become a more strategic component of an organisation, Martin said the ability to leverage and integrate data across the talent management suite will be critical.

“For example, organisations will invest heavily in succession planning in order to gain further insight into positions that require backup candidates and those who may be in the best position to fill those leadership positions,” he said.

Additionally, for organisations seeking to measure employee performance, Martin said that the ability to look six months to two years down the road after the starting date and know which sources provided the best performers will be a competitive advantage.

“Thus, integration with employee performance management systems will also be popular,” he said.

Finally, there will be a big push by organisations to pursue talent acquisition much like a marketing initiative, Martin predicted. For companies that do not have the luxury of a brand that connotes “excellence”, he said this will be imperative.

The use of components that allow companies to communicate and maintain real-time contact with active and passive candidates will increase, and he said social networking and other tools that allow organisations to connect with prospective candidates with the voice of current employees, such as blogs, will be pervasive.

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