How should we approach talent management in the future?

Managing a dispersed network of workers will require a new approach to talent management.

Many ideas around the workforce of the future focus on the type of work done or where it will take place, but what will working in a different, less rigid way mean for talent management? 

If predictions of future workforces made up of a small nucleus of in-house staff and a much larger virtual networks of freelancers, contractors and suppliers come true, then HR will need to get savvier about nurturing talent.

By the very nature of what it is and does, technology in the shape of social media and collaboration tools is starting to break down organisational silos and hierarchies. This situation is enabling people in different departments, functions and countries to connect and communicate much more easily.

But, as everything becomes more fluid and networked, this scenario is also starting to erode the traditionally rigid notion of a job and the strict work divisions that have been applied in the past.

If you think about the employee lifecycle, you’ll have to attract people in a different way.” – Colin Sloman, Accenture Strategy

According to Accenture’s latest research, Humanising Work Through Digital, 44% of high-growth companies already use temporary, collaborative teams made up of “people coalescing around joint goals”.

Having invested in collaboration tools such as interactive portals and wikis, these businesses found that productivity increased by 80%.

Revising how we see talent

But, despite the apparent upsides, this does raise a number of issues for HR. As the report points out: “Whole HR departments organise nearly every talent practice around the concept of jobs, and managers and employees use the notion of the job to hire, manage and organise teams.”

Clearly, transitioning out of the old world view into the new will not be easy. In fact, there will be ramifications in everything from recruitment to engagement and succession management.

Colin Sloman, managing director of Accenture Strategy, explains: “If you think about the employee lifecycle, you’ll have to attract people in a different way, for instance, using social media to tap into networks.”

“You might also want to select someone less for their current knowledge and more on their future learning ability.”

He also believes that it will become vital to understand who your “critical talent” is, ie those people “who create differentiation” for the company.

And, in a world where much of the work is outsourced, how will you give them development opportunities?

He comments: “You’ll need to think about whether you could give them a development assignment at a third party or a stint in a shared services function.”

“Because if you’re moving work around the ecosystem, you’ll have to be more creative about creating career experiences that are more flexible and dynamic,” he adds. This has to be a positive development for nurturing the talent of tomorrow.

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