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Reshaping Talent Management in the Millennial Era

Chintan Jain
July 9, 2018

Reshaping Talent Management in the Millennial Era

The war for talent is more intense than ever. Just when organizations are starting to adapt to the demands of millennials, their successors–Generation Z–are ready to stir up a storm. Satisfying these tech-savvy workers is notoriously tricky. Now, HR leaders aren’t just competing against other employers–they’re also battling demands from their potential recruits.

Generation-based stereotypes are broad judgments, but there is often a lot of truth to the observations when it comes to recruiting and workplace culture. Younger generations demand convenience, and job-hopping doesn’t carry a stigma anymore–it is a way of life. If a role fails to fulfill their expectations, the next-generation workforce will gladly trade it in for another opportunity.

HR staff move mountains to find qualified workers and hire them. Once new employees sign on, the grueling task of training and engaging them begins. Consequently,  one slip in this phase can invoke churn, dump all of HR’s efforts down the drain, and leave them back at square one with seats to fill. The truth is, nearly 56% of all new hires leave their job within the first year.

2017 saw a steep rise in employee turnover rates, and 2018 doesn’t look any better. Work Institute’s retention report predicts a hike in voluntary turnover. Notably, they expect one in four workers to quit their job by the end of 2018. Organizations blame the opportunistic mindset of new-gen workers. But is it the only reason behind this ghastly churn rate? Not really.

Who Takes The Blame?

The major issue is that retention isn’t owned by anyone in the organization. Usually, from the perspective of the rest of the organization, the responsibility of trimming this deluge lies with HR. HR executives, on the other hand, insinuate that the bad management of line managers chucks out good talent. Managers blame the training team for not bringing the new hires up to scratch and so on.

Whatever the reason, turnover impacts team cohesion, employee morale, productivity, and overall culture. Rebuilding after attrition takes a lot of effort and time for everyone. Without trimming the churn, organizations can never be sustainable in this competitive business world.

In the digital world, old-school talent management tactics no longer work. Organizations need to diagnose the issues in their talent strategy and work towards resolving them. To put a stop to churn, organizations need to redefine their talent strategy into something much more compelling, that allows them to attract, manage, and retain millennials efficiently.  

What Is Talent Management?

No matter how optimized key business processes are, they will never return profitable results if an organization’s most valuable assets–their people–aren’t managed properly. This is where talent management comes in. A good talent management strategy helps managers step back and take stock of how they are using their best people.

Understandably, organizations aren’t excited by the never-ending cycle of hiring and firing. They have started to recognize how counterproductive that strategy is. Rather than opting for bulk recruitment and layoffs, they are focusing on finding the right candidate and helping him/her grow into new roles within the organization. This shift from the war for talent to the renaissance of existing talent is a huge leap.

Ultimately, talent management is no longer just recruiting, developing, and retaining the right talent. The new talent equation has a more holistic approach. It is the process of developing in-house leaders who hold the technical and managerial expertise to deliver desired results that align with the business strategy, and the potential to grow with the organization.

The new approach is changing the talent landscape at an unparalleled pace. Employees and managers will no longer work hard to protect their turf. Instead, they will spend more time to share and collaborate with each other for the greater good of the company.  Today, talent management focuses on getting their existing workforce ready to meet agile business needs.

Still, even today, “talent management” remains an umbrella term that covers various aspects of people management, including:

1. Recruitment

While old-school talent management focused solely on job responsibilities and skill sets, the new requirements take cultural aspects into account. It is mandatory to ensure that the new hire fits seamlessly into an organization’s existing cultural fabric. The recruitment phase has become much more selective and intense due to the strict spending constraints.

In today’s turbulent business landscape, many organizations have started to focus on internal talent identification to fill the talent gaps. Instead of seeking to bring in new recruits with the right qualifications, organizations are building skills within their organization through constant learning, unlearning, and relearning.

2. Onboarding

Employee Onboarding is no longer just piles of paperwork and presentations about organizational values, as the new-gen workforce concentrates on fun, collaboration, and levity. Organizations need to move past the boring practices and focusing on creating an engaging onboarding experience that reflects organizational values and culture in a unique way.

Be it welcoming the new hires with swag gift bags like LinkedIn, or rotating every employee through every department like Etsy, or following the Zappos way of paying new hires $3,000 to quit after training, organizations are going an extra mile to leave a good first impression.

3. Training

Old school “Death by Presentation” training programs are pretty much useless for the digital generation. The conventional practice of dumping employees in a dark and dingy classroom to train them the conventional way turn out to be counter-productive. Rather than making the employees attentive, these training sessions end up numbing their brains.

The short attention span of Generation Y and Z rules out long training sessions. This calls for micro-learning, the process of breaking down vital information into bite-sized training capsules. Companies like Deloitte and Cisco use interactive elements like Gamification, HD videos, and social learning to make the training program fun and engaging.

4. Performance Management

Hiring, managing, and retaining strong talent in the 21st-century is overwhelming. Today’s workers don’t look for a career; they seek an experience. Outdated employee engagement programs are non-responsive to the demands of this workforce. To sustain employees in the age of job hopping, the workplace needs to offer a magnetic environment with a flat hierarchy.  

Organizations like Adobe, Accenture, and GE have removed the narrow-minded single view evaluation aspect of performance management and made it continuous. This focuses on the broader aspects of employee development throughout the year, with a series of informal communication between managers and employees.

5. Succession Planning

For the current workforce, planning for what comes next isn’t a mere afterthought–it is their core focus. Millenials don’t let their job positions or organizations define them. They operate by an elusive Me Inc. principle. Impractical position-centric career paths with the tacit promise of ongoing promotions are of no interest to them. In other words, they want to develop marketable skills and learn new things so that they are challenged and impactful, no matter what position they’re in.

What attracts millennials
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Organizations need to design a succession strategy that emphasizes the key capabilities required for talent-mobility rather than providing linear pathways. These qualities must unleash the growth potential in the new age workers and help them establish their personal brand. A good succession plan needs to aspire to the likes of Alphabet (Google’s parent company), which spots, nurtures, challenges and creates leaders within the existing talent pool.

Role of Technology in Talent Management

Most employees today have no qualms about digitalization. Having grown up with the internet, cell phones, and social media throughout their lives, this tech-savvy workforce is comfortable adopting new digital tools. They expect their employers to do the same. In fact, 59% of millennials are more likely to accept a job if their employers embraced technology during the recruiting process.

Talent management software has been around for a while, but established solutions are changing and new solutions are being introduced to cater to millennial talent. Trends like cloud computing, big data, gamification, and automation have the potential to transform HR and talent management processes for the better.

Here’s how automation is impacting the primary elements of talent management so that HR professionals can focus more on strategy and less on execution and administrative tasks:

1. Automation: The Future of Recruitment

Automating the recruitment process saves time and money for all stakeholders. Recruiting software streamlines the recruitment phase by integrating an applicant tracking system with, job board postings, the company’s internal website, analytics, and so on. Users can optimize the recruitment process and find prospective candidates faster, offering HR staff time to focus on the strategic side of recruitment.

Automation can also take bias and discrimination out of the recruiting process.

Additionally, ATS or recruitment automation tools offer organizations:

    • Career sites that target desired skill sets and shortlist potential candidates
    • All-in-one interfaces to manage applicants, shortlist candidates, send invites, schedule interviews, engage, evaluate, review, and reject/hire
    • Interactive dashboards to view real-time candidate metrics and insights
    • Inbuilt analytics to effectively analyze and spot opportunities, and pinpoint problems
    • Collaborative functionalities that help stakeholders ‘team up’ in the process
    • Seamless integration to connect with internal or external sites and job boards
  • A completely transparent recruitment experience, from sourcing to hiring

2. Automation for Employee Onboarding

HR managers trust onboarding checklists implicitly. While checklists come in handy, when they are managed manually it can also increase the possibility for errors and the time it takes to complete the process. On the other hand, software offers a less stressful onboarding experience for both employees and HR staff.

An automated onboarding experience will bring new hires up to speed in no time. The easily customizable nature of onboarding automation tools lets HR executives tailor-make an app that fits their business requirements. All in all, onboarding automation raises employee morale, improves engagement, reduces churn rate, and makes employees’ more productive.

Employee onboarding automation tools may offer:

    • A new hire portal with necessary resources, forms, and documentation
    • Seamless integration with other stages of talent and HR management
    • An effortless collaboration of stakeholders with a pre-defined workflow
    • Automated notifications in case of delays in task completion
    • Transparency to check the status of new hire documentation
    • Compliance tools to ensure policy and legal compliance throughout the process
  • Alerts to all stakeholders, notifying non-compliance or security breaches

3. Streamline Training With Automation

Automating the training and development process helps organizations identify tasks that will be better handled by a machine–collecting data, scheduling, easy integrations, and transferring data.

With automation, businesses can manage the 360-degree view of their training process, including skill gap analysis, training requirement determination, creation and implementation of training, feedback loop, and evaluation the training effectiveness in a unified interface.

Corporate learning software allows users to:

    • Set training goals, create unique lesson plans, and quizzes that align with individual and organizational goals
    • Integrate and obtain data from performance and HR management software to shortlist candidates and determine training requirements
    • Create training courses based on performance goals, training needs, and skill gaps
    • Automate training schedule, send reminders, surveys, and evaluations
    • Store, view, monitor, and evaluate the progress of trainees in a single interface
    • Analyse training records and feedback to ensure training objectives are being met
  • See complete overviews of training programs from courses, schedules, venues, equipment, and trainers to ensure transparency

4. Automate Performance Management

Automation aligns the goal of individuals with the organization’s mission and overall business strategy. An organization can use automation to streamline performance reviews, minimize human intervention, and keep the review process transparent and short

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Performance management software follows pre-defined rules that consistently execute every step of the performance review process, like scheduling check-ins, setting/revising/reviewing goals, monitoring progress, and offering feedback for improvements.

A high-quality automated performance management system will:

    • Support all types of performance reviews (annual, half-yearly, quarterly, 360-degree feedbacks, and informal check-ins)
    • Establish individual goals that are in line with the organization’s overall objectives
    • Enhance the visibility of goals to promote shared accountability for success
    • Gather accurate insights from dashboards and ad-hoc reports to provide quality feedback
    • Help managers make quantifiable decisions based on performance data collected throughout the year
    • Automate workflows and constantly engage individuals to encourage active participation
  • Ensure deadline and policy compliance, and adherence to security restrictions for a quantifiable performance evaluation

5. Automating Succession Planning & Career Path Development

Automated succession planning and leadership development (or career path planning, from the perspective of employees) helps organizations develop dynamic plans to identify talented employees within the organization and coordinate training programs that groom them for leadership.

The automated system determines core competencies required for critical posts and matches them with the individuals who possess the required skill set. Automation integrates success planning into an organization’s long-term business strategy, performance management, and individual career development goals. For an organization wishing to improve their internal recruiting strategy, this is critical. 

Automating strategic planning will help organizations:

    • Identify key competencies required for a wide range of positions (including roles that don’t currently exist)
    • Evaluate current capabilities to develop skill sets that fill competency gaps
    • Design leadership development programs, leveraging a multifaceted training approach
    • Maintain transparency and accuracy with data-driven reporting and analytics
    • Accelerate talent development by identifying, managing, and nurturing high performers
    • Targeted communication to improve engagement and retention of top talent
    • Follow-up with the goals set up during 360-degree performance review and sketch a plan to achieve them
  • Integration with other talent management aspects like training, performance management, rewards, and recognition

Let’s Wrap It Up

Organizations will succeed in retaining their millennials with a targeted talent management strategy. Truly, retaining millennials is not impossible–all these demanding workers seek is deeper engagement and job satisfaction. These new-age workers expect their employers to show a commitment to developing the skill set of their workers through structured training programs.

Organizations that engage their employees in creating active talent relationships will build long-term value. Rather than confining them to specific roles, businesses need to let this new breed of workers define their own roles. In short, all your millennials expect is career progression, personalized training, regular feedback, and timely recognition. The first step in meeting these expectations is to break out of traditional talent management practices.

Leveraging the power of automation, organizations can establish a talent management strategy that is flexible, transparent, and consistent. With automation, companies won’t just attract the right talent, but also develop, retain and grow the talent within them. So, organizations should stop questioning whether or not talent management is a fad, and start pondering over the consequences of failing to implement a strategic talent management process.

About the Author

Chintan Jain

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