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10 emerging global talent trends for 2019



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From conversations with 30 of its talent acquisition, development and compensation experts globally, Korn Ferry has identified 10 emerging global talent trends for 2019, summarised below:

1. (Don’t) mind the gap!

Traditionally, employers raised eyebrows when candidates had employment gaps in their resumes for reasons such as caring for children or aging loved ones, or simply learning a new skill or travelling.

Today, the stigma of taking time off between jobs is fading. Tactics to reach professionals who have been out of the workforce include targeted proactive sourcing, talent communities, workshops, customised landing pages and microsites, alumni networks, and buddy systems for effective onboarding.

2. Making artificial intelligence more ‘intelligent’

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been touted as a new holy grail in recruiting; however, care must be taken that using AI doesn’t undermine efforts to boost diversity. For example, job descriptions should be drafted to ensure that they are gender, race and age neutral.

When it comes to reviewing resumes, practices such as ‘blind screening’, whereby personal information, such as name, date of birth, college the candidate went to or the city they were born in are not revealed until later in the hiring process, are becoming more prevalent.

Even when resumes are anonymised, AI can still embed gender biases. One way to help alleviate that is to feed the AI with non-partial data that highlights success factors. This way, AI can be trained to look more for the skills needed, such as the ability to program specific computer codes, instead of focusing on subjective modifiers (e.g. ‘collaborative’ or ‘tough task master’) that may have gender bias.

3. Personalised pay: Go ahead, we’re listening

With four generations now in the workforce, there are different expectations when it comes to pay and rewards packages. In order to understand the differences in what might incentivise one group, from another group, organisations are beginning to listen to what matters to employees. They are doing this through social listening, focus groups and surveys.

With information from these efforts, they are able to tailor rewards packages, offering different mixes of pay, flex time, paid time off, international assignments, student loan repayment, etc. This turns the rewards discussion from a company communicating with the entire employee population to a 1:1 discussion with employees.

4. Rethinking the annual performance review

The days of ‘40 years and a gold watch at the end’ are long over. Job tenure is short: about four years on average and half that or less for younger professionals. With such short tenure, annual reviews are no longer the primary way to help employees develop professionally.

In a recent Korn Ferry survey of professionals, nearly all (96%) of respondents said real-time feedback and ongoing performance discussions with their bosses are more effective than an annual review.

As such, even if the employee does not have a long tenure, ongoing feedback will help them learn, stay engaged, and create an employer value proposition to help attract future employees.

5. Digging deeper into the diversity and inclusion pipeline

Organisations are more readily seeing that there has to be an increased focus across all levels to create an ongoing pipeline of diverse talent, including women, people of colour, disabled persons and LGBTQ employees.

To measure their progress, many have begun using applicant tracking systems (ATS) to find out what percentage of minority applicants were hired. While it is against the law in most parts of the world to favour those in minority groups, organisations are working to increase their diverse candidate pool and using unbiased assessments to ensure the most qualified persons are hired.

6. How are we doing?

Technology is allowing for real-time feedback from candidates about their experiences during the recruiting cycle. The survey tools seek feedback at all points within the process, which gives recruiters and hiring managers data-driven insights and intelligence.

With the data, they can amend recruiting practices, including specific job requirements and interactions with candidates, to successfully hire the best people.

7. That’s really a title?

New roles and titles are emerging across many industries. From an executive perspective, many industries, including healthcare, finance and retail, are creating Chief Experience Officer roles, driven by a stronger need than ever for customers to have positive experiences at every touchpoint.

Another emerging C-suite title is Chief Transformation Officer, who is usually tasked with change management initiatives, often during times of mergers and acquisitions.

Organisations are also placing greater emphasis on the well-being of their employees, with titles such as Chief Happiness Officer and Chief People Officer becoming more prevalent.

To attract younger employees drawn to titles more interesting than ‘associate’ or ‘assistant’, titles such as ‘data wrangler’ (responsible for interpreting mounds of data), ‘legal ninja’ (legal aide), and ‘customer relations advocate’ are popping up at many organisations.

8. Talent analytics becoming just as important as business analytics

Traditionally, business leaders set their strategy by analysing business analytics to determine cost and operational effectiveness.

For example, they may determine where to open an office based on cost and proximity to raw materials. However, they may fail because they don’t have access to the right type of employees – especially as digital disruption puts a premium on people who can learn new skills.

Increasingly, analytics that look at the talent landscape in specific markets, including competition for and availability of qualified talent in one city or region, as well as compensation norms, are coming into play in tandem with business analytics to create the most effective, sustainable approach.

9. Talking to talent holistically, from hire to retire

With the massive influx of data, one would assume organisations would have one integrated way to analyse all elements of talent decisions, including recruiting, compensation and development. Unfortunately, in many organisations, each of these functions is operating under a different ‘language’ often unable to talk with one another.

There is a trend toward a more foundational, data-centric approach, which is informed by data across functions, which allows for a calibrated approach to talent that is tightly linked to business outcomes.

A key benefit of this process is that assessment data garnered during the recruitment process that provides insight into the candidate’s strengths and development areas can be used to help create a customised development programme once the candidate is hired.

10. Balancing act: Managing short-term hiring needs with long-term business goals

Despite best efforts to look into the future, the speed of technological advances and changing business priorities makes knowing what’s going to happen next year extremely difficult. In fact, in a recent Korn Ferry survey of talent acquisition professionals, 77% say they are hiring for roles today that didn’t even exist a year ago.

Industry leaders are taking a holistic approach to talent acquisition. In the short term they can increase speed to hire by understanding the right mix of short-term contractors, gig workers and full-time employees, who bring the right skills and experiences to meet current and future needs.

At the same time, it’s imperative to have a longer-term approach by analysing business imperatives to create a total strategic plan that has clearly defined goals, but one that can be amended as needs change.



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