A “Hire for attitude, train for skill…” this has been a core strategy for several talent management think tanks of late. Is it asking too much to hire for both… what’s stopping us from making this a reality? Can we augment skill and attitude with compensation fitment? These are questions that have started emerging in select HR circles and point towards a need to change in the way we view talent availability.
To understand this better, one must first retrace the evolution of the skills. Early days saw “skill” as a nomenclature for expertise in a certain area that may or may not have been quantified. It denoted a rarity which came at a price primarily due to a demand-supply incongruity. With time, the concept of trainability of skills also evolved. This broke some serious barriers in the evolution of the people function and led to the institutionalization of the learning departments in organizations. As businesses and economies evolved, demand for talent grew at a geometric pace. Cost & profitability tenets dictated that a healthy balance had to be attained between hiring skilled manpower from the market and training manpower internally to avoid internal labor cost spirals. This, over time, led to the famous “build vs. buy” debate and traditional wisdom in most cases prescribed that building was a better and a more sustainable option than buying from the market. However, in today’s VUCA scenario, does this still hold good…?
With rapid evolution of technology, the only undeniable reality that exists today is disruption. Traditional ways of doing business are fast being replaced by digital fundamentals of Social, Mobility, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC) that ensure fast adoption, maximization of reach and reimagination of how we pay for goods and services. Given this landscape, enterprises are being compelled to reimagine not only business fundamentals, but also talent management principles. In a burgeoning startup environment, talent strategy is no longer driven by long-term value drivers, but by the need to ensure a more immediate view to business growth and in turn assist in rapid capital acquisition. The demand-supply mismatch of talent in the country will exacerbate over the next couple of years especially with the startup boom and due to a large number of skilled individuals dropping out of active employment to become entrepreneurs. Some might term this as a more transient state of affairs in the corporate world today, yet with business sustainability in question; do we really have the luxury of waiting this out? Trends in industry show that traditional enterprises are being pushed to rethink their talent fitment & deployment strategies in the face of rapidly changing business needs.
The concept of “fitment” is no longer just a compensation concept but a comprehensive compatibility measure for an individual’s fit into an organization. Traditional assumptions need to be dispelled with a realization that this concept is not restricted to external talent. The crux of this change would be to look at fast changing business needs in a VUCA environment and commensurate talent availability and fitment from any source (Build/Buy/Borrow). What’s essential in all this is ‘timing’ and deployment of the right kinds of tools to ascertain fitment. With dynamic talent fitment firmly at its center, an overarching talent strategy can lend significant competitive advantage to a firm. However, alignment of enabling talent infrastructure like learning, performance management, career management and programs & policies is essential to the success of this model. Each cog in the talent wheel needs to constantly re-evaluate its value impact on the talent fitment process in order to remain relevant.
A pictorial representation of the dynamic talent fitment model has been shared in the following page. For this model to be a success, HR outfits need to adopt the following five tenets:
Hire Smart: From a talent acquisition standpoint, firms would need to deploy unified technical and behavior assessment platforms to evaluate suitable candidates faster and to improve hit rates. This would mean firms would need to filter through active profiles and lock on to prospects faster than competition in order to retain a healthy talent pipeline from the market
Skill-based Pay: With the proliferation of skills, firms can no longer follow grade-based approaches to compensation. Skill-cost understanding is imperative both from a market as well as a people deployment
cost standpoint. This means, behavioral and technical platforms need to be augmented with skill or function based fitment solutions to help manage talent cost better through the employee lifecycle.
Equip Workforce: From an internal talent management standpoint, career platforms and succession plans have always precluded technical and behavioral evaluation in most progressive firms. This environment will compel managers of all organizations to adopt a combined platform to ensure speed of talent identification to tackle rapid change
Rapid Training & Reskilling: With rapid entry and exit of skills & functions in the Indian industry today, skill gestation and learning are no longer heavily time invested processes. In order to develop competitive advantage with talent fitment at the core of business strategy, firms need to adopt technology-enabled, fast upgrading, gamified learning platforms. Progressive organizations have already started pre-empting the need of such platforms and are investing in developing full blown learning universities providing coverage across the addressable universe of relevant skills and competencies
Use of Technology: The central theme being rapid disruption and re-fabrication of business fundamentals, leveraging technology seems to have become more of a necessity than a mere productivity tool. Technology today not only lends competitive business advantage to a firm but also provides significant advantage from a talent perspective. Every aspect of an employee lifecycle today can be enhanced and optimized for the current environment using a strong technology backbone. For e.g.,
a. Hiring – Cloud-based technical, behavioral and comp fitment platforms to improve hiring efficiency and ensure better talent fit & retention.
b. On-boarding & Learning – Cloud-based LMS with internal social network capability that would break barriers in terms of location, language and cost. This will completely redefine the way learning is imparted and accepted across employees especially with Gen Y and Z entering the workforce.
c. Performance Management – Gamified performance roadmaps created through intuitive platforms that help track and manage performance on a real-time basis and seamlessly link back to other aspects of talent management like Total Rewards and careers.
d. Career Management – Gamified career management systems that help individuals chart out their own careers at their own pace without compromising on the larger business objective through seamless integration with LMS.
e. Total Rewards – Fully integrated workforce analytics and rewards systems that not only help manage fitment and current rewards outlays, but also manage non-linear people cost metrics.
f. Development – Intelligent assessment and development platforms to identify potential and customize programs to build the next generation of leaders.
Some would claim all these tenets are a thing of the future, while some others would claim that they have already started using them… however, one truth stands out… these tenets are necessary in the future we’re staring into.
Some might argue that hi-tech industry is the only industry that would find these tenets relevant. Hi-tech industry is no doubt at the helm of this change, however, it won’t be long before all other industries being impacted by rapid evolution of technology start adopting these tenets to survive & sustain. Talent fitment will therefore steadily become the new norm in human capital strategy going forward… thus reinforcing the phrase – “Hire for Skill, Attitude and Cost”
Director, Performance, Rewards and Talent Consulting,
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