Chris Howard | Founding Member, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board Member

Chris Howard | Founding Member, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board Member

Please welcome Chris Howard as the newest member of the HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board. Chris is a vice president and co-founder of Bersin & Associates. He leads the company’s research and product strategy as well as many internal corporate initiatives. Howard has an extensive background in learning and enterprise systems technology. Over the past decade, he has contributed numerous articles and has been quoted in learning and technology publications and has served as speaker at leading industry events. Full Bio

We’re starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel.

Periodically, Bersin & Associates surveys senior business executives about key talent trends, including those related to workforce planning, HR and learning investments, and priorities.   The latest survey drew responses from 225 corporations in a wide variety of industries, including a good representation from smaller companies  (44% with fewer than 5,000 employees) and companies outside the United States (about 25%).  We put a lot of stock in the findings; over the course of more than a year, we’ve established a strong baseline for results.

The trends are encouraging, despite recent reports of terribly slow job growth.   The big take-away:  From a talent standpoint, business and HR attitudes have shifted.  For the first time in the last 18 months, the need to accelerate innovation has jumped up as the second highest business priority (with number one being “reducing costs”). This increased focus on innovation (34 percent of all respondents versus 30 percent last fall), coupled with a major increase in focus on market expansion (26 percent of all respondents versus 16 percent a year ago), shows that leaders are now planning for future growth.

So what does this mean for HR?  Here are some things to consider:

  • Get ready to assist business managers with their plans.  As HR budgets increase, you may need to improve recruiting processes, select and purchase new HR systems, and quickly align onboarding and new employee development programs.
  • Prepare to move people into product, service and customer-facing roles again.  We’ve seen strong evidence that people succeed in these roles when the environment includes knowledge-sharing, informal learning, broader spans of control and strong onboarding programs.
  • Make engagement and retention of key employees a top priority.  After nearly two years of recession, many managers tell us that their employees are “burned out” and, as the market heats back up, top talent is beginning to move.  Almost a quarter of respondents indicated they are focusing on improving employee retention and engagement – nearly double the number from the prior period.   Build performance planning processes that create clearly visible and aligned goals throughout the organization and include career development, coaching, compensation reviews and skills development in your talent programs.
  • Don’t lose sight of the inevitable retirement of baby boomers.  Include in your planning efforts skills transfer, mentoring and emerging leadership development to meet these impending talent gaps.
  • Revamp your talent acquisition process and employment brand so that you are prepared to attract the highest-quality candidates as your business needs grow.  Know that talent acquisition today is far different than it was during the last business cycle.  To compete, you’ll need to get highly interactive through social media and a savvy employee branding strategy.

In short:  we’re hopeful.  Now is the time to try and get out ahead of the curve, and change your talent mindset from one of cost-cutting and restructuring to one of growth.  Click here if you’d like to read the full findings of the TalentWatch survey.

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