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Does your organisation have a future without talent mobility?

When you are in the midst of a crisis it is hard to focus on anything other than immediate survival. David Perring, our director of research explores why talent mobility can be such an important lever to success in an uncertain world.

Let me begin by first talking about being realistic. It’s great for organisations to have ambitious plans – but in 2020 we have all been trying to navigate through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and respond to how the situation is evolving. Just as we had to suddenly transition to a virtual workforce, now many are dealing with the realities of a socially distanced workplace. The ripple effects of the economic shock are already being felt. And for many of us the harsh reality of a post COVID-19 economy is something that is still unfolding. If the projections are true, they paint a pretty grim picture. There is no easy way to say it, but there are tough times ahead…

The good news is that despite the pain, we are apparently entering a phase of recuperation and recovery. And that is a time to also ask some much needed questions about the future of our organisations once we have stabilised and reset them.

Because even as we survive the current ‘once in a lifetime’ event, more might be on their way. There is a whole host of even equally unparalleled challenges, which were stalking before COVID-19 hit.

The Gamechangers

Let’s consider four: population growth, climate change, global sustainability and the technological explosion heralded as the 4th Industrial revolution. These are some of the biggest challenges of our lifetime and many have been building momentum for the last 50 years. As a result, we are potentially entering a phase of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity like never before. But as as a recent Trending Capabilities report points out:

“Organisations that prosper now are those that are clear on the capabilities needed to drive their business strategy whilst acknowledging the authentic needs of their people in the wake of world events.”

The future is not a given, but it is in our hands to shape it. HR has a duty to rethink how we create organisations that can thrive going forwards. Not just for the good of our own people, but everyone we serve directly and in the wider community. And that might be significantly different from how our organisation looks today. This might include some of these key areas identified in the same report:

Talent mobility as a key lever for future success

The reality is that much of the innovation organisations achieve are through their people. And the opportunity to create higher performing organisations is already at HR’s fingertips if we choose to harness it. The mantra at least is simple: Have the best people, in the right roles, at the right time being the best they can be.

It sounds easy right? But in the absence of the right approach to your people and talent, this is not possible. There needs to a deep systemic organisational commitment, investment and passion for the growth of people and their skills. And within that, a commitment to harness talent mobility as a lever for building skills and harnessing talent. This is at the root of organisational and personal resilience. People who have a growth mindset, a passion for continuous learning and an expanding skills set, are better able to embrace change with greater confidence.

This relies on having a much deeper and wider view of people’s skills and capabilities and a much more intelligent and detailed view of the talent available to your organisation – whether internal marketplaces, contingent or gig workers, or external partners.

Only by having a full view of drivers, personality, inclusion and diversity can you both counter inherent societal bias, and ensure you have the best teams working together in the right roles. This insight also powers people’s development and engagement. And that’s important because all our research indicates a very virtuous circle between skills development, internal career progression, learning and the ability to attract a pool of even richer talent. Having a reputation for developing the best – attracts the best.

Getting beyond traditional talent management

Make no mistake, we are now at a tipping point where we are starting to diverge significantly from the traditional sense of talent management, internal recruitment and succession. There is a need for speed and automation to enable the organisation to connect people intelligence with working opportunities and avoid the slow governance of management decision making. Whilst it is still possible to put in the political checks and balances of management decisions about mobility, the opportunity is for HR to be a much more agile and seamless servant to workers; empowering them to take advantage of opportunities without restriction. Truly making sure the best people are working on the right things, at the best time.

This isn’t a fantasy either. The truth is that technology exists today that can power the sort of organisational agility, and intelligence to make sure that you are optimising your people, harnessing their potential and powering your organisational growth. Not through laboured career paths, but through rapid reskilling, continuous improvement, and dynamic architectures.

Given the scale of the challenges we now face, it might just be something we should be planning to do today. Because in all likelihood, whilst your organisation might survive COVID-19, it might not be able to respond to the next even more formidable challenges of tomorrow without thinking differently about how your people will drive its future success.

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