By | Dave Ulrich | Speaker, Author, Professor, Thought Partner on HR, Leadership, and Organization
The focus on talent (workforce, individual competence, employee) continues to gain attention. In the past year, there have been some talent-related themes that shape how people think, act, and feel within their organization.
These include unconscious bias (evolution of diversity agenda), types of workers (evolution of full-time versus part-time and contractor employees), use of digital technology (talent apps) to innovate employee interactions within the firm, and employee analytics to predict employee behaviors.
Many have and will comment on these and other talent-related innovations. My bias is to look forward and envision the next talent agenda.
Talent Innovation #1: Employee Guidance
Many of the talent initiatives listed above focus on employees to help them have a better experience in their organization. We have found that a key to talent sustainable experience comes from thinking about talent from the outside-in to better justify talent investments. Talent choices, practices, and activities deliver value to customers and investors, or seeing talent from the outside-in. Some of this outside-in logic correlates employee experience with customer experience (usually in the 0.6 to 0.8 range) and investor confidence (intangible market value).
Going forward, this outside-in logic should lead to better employee guidance. Guidance is a fascinating concept for many groups: students wanting career guidance, families wanting investment guidance, or investors seeking corporate guidance. In these and other settings, guidance implies setting a direction (career goal, financial independence, or corporate performance), and then building a pathway (or pathways) to that direction.
Going forward, I envision more focus on employee guidance than activity. In this scenario, HR might propose a host of talent-related investments (staffing, training, career planning, communication, performance management, and so forth), and then an assessment can be made as to the relative impact of these investments on stakeholders who matter (customers, investors). This combines digital HR and HR analytics into a forward-looking, outside-in perspective on talent. When HR has limited resources to invest in talent, they should focus on those talent-related activities that deliver the most value to key stakeholders through a talent guidance logic.
Talent Innovation #2: Employee Experience
Employee experience has become the new mantra for how employees respond to work. While it builds on previous work on employee motives, motivation, commitment, and engagement, there are a few trends for employee experience that should emerge going forward.
One evolution will be employee responsibility for their experience. This has led Marshall Goldsmith to add the personal choice antecedent (“Did I do my best…?”) to traditional employee sentiment questions about boss, friends at work, pay, and working conditions. Employee experience may also open the way to synthesize more clearly how to help employees respond favorably to their work setting through the essence of their experience—the extent work increases their ability to believe, become, and belong.
- Believing: An employee finds personal meaning from organizations because employees realize that their personal values derive from and align with the organizations’ purpose and values.
- Becoming: An employee learns and grows through participation in organizations because they enable employees to pursue new talents through opportunities.
- Belonging: An employee has a personal identity and develops new relationships because organizations put employees in contact with others.
By meeting these needs, organizations increase employee sentiment that delivers value to customers and investors.