Who knows what will happen in the wild world of Talent Management in the coming year? Everyone has an opinion, but what takes hold and what doesn’t depend on so many variables that predictions are the ultimate folly.

But what Brandon Hall Group thought leaders do feel good about is sharing what should happen in 2014 based on what we believe are the developments most needed to drive breakthrough business results next year and beyond. Our thinking is based on our own research, and ongoing discussions with business leaders, the vendor community and talent management executives and practitioners.

So as you (hopefully) take a holiday breather to gear up for the challenges of 2014, here are the top developments that should happen next year: 

Evolution from Big Data to Small Data with Big Stories

Neural research tells us that, in most cases, the human brain does not readily process or respond positively to numbers, particularly in overwhelming amounts. So, it makes sense that while 2013 was the year of “big HR data, few of us were able to process the volumes of data as intended — to make sound business and talent decisions more accurately and more quickly than we did during the pre-“big HR data” years.

Overwhelming leaders with more bar and pie charts, supply and demand numbers, predictive analytics and talent forecasting numbers — whether in portals, dashboards, or other talent technology tools — are unlikely to drive accelerated results. Why? Because numbers simply do not lead to the emotional connection needed to jump leaders into action.

Therefore, rather than the acceleration of big data usage, what should happen is that the “small data” proposition comes alive in 2014 via what I’ll call data-driven stories. Executives, HR and business leaders should learn to create personal power stories driven by one or two pieces of relevant data. This approach will transform the availability of “HR Big Data” to action-focused discussions oriented around a critical one or two HR data points. Data-driven stories won’t be a hunt for more data, but rather a process focused on helping leaders to use select HR data to drive engaging, personal dialogues that lead to measurable business results. — Laci Loew, Vice President and Practice Leader of Talent Management    

Work Should Become Team-Centric

Work is continuing to grow in complexity and the ability to find expertise in one individual to be in charge is becoming increasingly difficult. Organizations are also becoming much more reluctant to have one individual be the “custodian” of work performed and solely rely on this individual to be the one “with all the knowledge.” With ever-changing business conditions, dynamic customer requirements and intense competition, organizations should create small teams that have multi-tasking capabilities to be deployed on a moment’s notice to take on a variety of business initiatives. The military has taken this approach, shifting away from having large armies and fleets standing by to take on similar size forces to small teams highly trained and extremely versatile to go anywhere on a moment’s notice. The world of warfare has changed in the 21st century and so should the battlefield of business. The new classroom should be made up of teams learning and training together. The new career path should be based on the ability to work in a team environment. Training, learning and career development should shift to emphasizing the development of teams. -Michael Rochelle, Chief Strategy Officer

Everything Talent is Social

Social media and tools should define every talent process. High-performing organizations will create or evolve their talent strategies around social tools. The tools will create and sustain collaborative, connected and cooperative work environments regardless of where the employees physically sit.  For instance:

  • In performance management, social tools should define and monitor employee objectives, goals and feedback. We should see employee-generated updates with options to share performance goals confidentially or by manager request. We should see publishable task lists by goal viewable by others who may be part of a network or group working collaboratively toward achievement of a goal. Finally, should will see a crowd-sourced performance management process.
  • In succession planning, competency profiles and talent profiles should be made transparent to the enterprise via social platforms. This transparency transformation equates to the birth and growth of open talent markets where employees have the freedom to search independently for open positions and career options and raise awareness of their interest in a particular position using these public profiles. – Laci Loew

Rise in Candidate Experience Tools

For all the buzz surrounding candidate experience in 2013, there are relatively few options for hiring organizations looking to boost their ability to measure and manage key elements and contributing factors. 2014 should see increased demand for these types of tools, with preference given to solutions that can integrate with their existing talent acquisition technology. This will effectively kill two birds with one stone, giving organizations insight into the importance of user interface and candidate workflows – especially for those visiting company career sites via their mobile devices, thus driving greater awareness of the importance of mobile as a critical component of effective strategy. – Kyle Lagunas, Talent Acquisition Analyst

Reward Strategies Move to “Pay for Impact”

Companies should revise their incentive compensation structures. We should see a migration away from the common “pay for performance” model to a “pay for business impact model.” The latter  accounts not only for an employee’s prior performance (typically assessed over the prior year) but also ties in an employee’s potential, critical skills, risk of loss, domain knowledge, business-critical networks and contacts, and experiences – all of which can be leveraged to accelerate business performance.

This approach enables organizations to optimize their compensation budget in a way that boosts achievement of business goals and separates those employees who make a measurable impact on the business from those who don’t and won’t. This is a win-win for top talent and organizations. For top talent, it rewards performers and high potentials; for organizations, it drives top and bottom-line results and sustains competitive advantage.  -Laci Loew

Social Media: Bigger, Bolder, and More Image-Centric

Companies should be much more diverse in their social strategies. Many of us are still figuring out how to blend LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook with our business goals. Those social sites will continue to be front and center and right next to Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, SnapChat, BuzzFeed, and WhatsApp, LINE, and WeChat. These social sites enable content that businesses may (or may not!) find engaging, but regardless, our workforces are using them – both outside and inside of work. Those organizations that figure out how to adopt these social channels for purposes of providing rich and appealing content, knowledge and networking will find themselves outperforming those that don’t. Doing so will build brand, making those organizations much more attractive to prospective and current employees. While not every organization will choose to adopt every social channel, high-performing organizations will leverage more, rather than less, of them for growth, development, communication, and networking purposes.

12-30 BlogTo that, add imagery.  Whiteboard discussions, blogs, and social site posts should rely more on image-centric content.

In other words, the social channel posts will be infographics on steroids. The fewer words the better. Text-based content should fall out of favor to imagery. “A picture says a thousand words” and “less is more” should come to life in 2014. These sayings should no longer be empty phrases; they should be a way of life for our workforces – particularly for Millennials. –Laci Loew

 Talent Management Video Goes Viral

Video should go epidemic in the talent management space. We should see video invade nearly every talent process. A few examples:

  • Talent Acquisition: Envision video links in candidates’ cover letters, video testimonials from new hires building employer brand, video interviews, video links included on employers’ job posts to share what the organization’s work environment feels like.
  • Leadership Development: LD strategies should include video vignettes in development solutions for all leader levels.  I just saw this one from TEDFellow Simon Sinek showcasing how Apple leaders and others inspire action and execution. Check it out: http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html
  • Performance Management: Video should be used to showcase employee goal accomplishments, increasing engaging feedback and improving employee motivation and engagement.
  • Succession Management: Video should be used to show high potentials what a “day in the life” looks like in positions for which they are being groomed, allowing them to visualize the  responsibilities in real time. -Laci Loew 

Maturation of Social Talent Acquisition

Most of the conversations around social recruiting in 2013 were limited to use cases for candidate sourcing. As covered in a Brandon Hall Group research brief earlier this year, however, social technology has pervaded all aspects of talent acquisition – from recruitment marketing to candidate assessment and even into onboarding. The catalytic nature of social media has only just begun to work its magic in talent acquisition, and 2014 is rife with opportunities for discovering new and scalable uses for social talent acquisition tools and techniques. Supported by meaningful research on key practices, this trend should deepen the industry’s understanding of the potential of social technology, and pave the way for more sophisticated use cases. – Kyle Lagunas

Reinvention of the Workspace

As employees spend more time at work, companies will need to create a work environment that mimics or at least incorporates the world outside work. We are not just talking cool furniture and a cappuccino machine. Companies should completely rethink how their employees go about planning and doing their work. Heads down, assignment-based cultures are giving way to crowdsourcing ideation, shootouts, flash mobs, games and socialization of the world at work. Play hard, work hard should go to a whole new level as the play part becomes a bigger part of the work day. The Millennials and 2020s are driving these changes and want “work to imitate life.” These employees want work to feel like an extension of how they go about figuring out anything else they do in life and the fun they experience in doing it. The environment to make this happen must be collaborative, exciting, energizing, enjoyable, unencumbered, free of restrictions, fosters trial and error, embraces change, taking risks and the ability act, react, act again to shape the outcome. Companies today should rethink their culture. not just their décor, to create this type of environment.  – Michael Rochelle

Diversity Domination

Organizational commitment to diversity should go well beyond race, gender, inclusion and respect. Today’s employees are more determined to have whatever they want, the way they want it, and they want it now. Our diverse Millennial workforce will choose how they do work, where they do work, when they do work, and even if they do work. These diversity dimensions shout unprecedented needs and action plans for global change management, workforce agility and holistic talent management strategies. The best organizations should respond with diversity networks, empower employees to achieve full potential, and promote corporate cultures in which employees feel valued for the unique skills, networks, and experiences they bring.  — Laci Loew   

Artificial Intelligence

With the increasing need for employees to have specifically designed learning paths to make their learning more relevant and impactful, there will be greater demands placed on human resources professionals and managers to become more involved with directing the curriculum of employees.  With tight resources and having to do more with less, companies should be turning to technology to “predict” and “direct” learning using algorithms. Algorithms will also be leveraged to predict the “success” of an employee in future roles within the organization and create a predictive analytics profile of an employee. The profile should become the leading factor for how a company develops the employee, assessing their potential and ultimately deciding whether the employee is a “good investment for the long run.” – Michael Rochelle  

Recruitment Marketing, Front and Center

Recruitment marketing strategy should be top of mind for hiring organizations in 2014, as it encompasses many of the key deliverables of excellence in talent acquisition (employer brand, candidate experience, social talent acquisition, mobile readiness). Additionally, this should lay the groundwork for a new level of analysis, as talent acquisition leaders become more sophisticated in the way the gauge impact and effectiveness of marketing efforts – including email campaigns, content and social media marketing, candidate engagement, and more. Currently, there are only a few solution providers in talent acquisition with substantial offerings for recruitment marketing management, but that should change as value and viability of these tools increase. – Kyle Lagunas  

Workforce and Succession Planning Take Priority Positions

To meet head-on the business challenges of tomorrow, the best companies should realize not only that integrated talent management is the single most important business strategy but also that workforce and succession planning are enabling tickets to sustaining a competitive position. Better understanding the key talent – at all levels and in all functions – that exists today and the key talent that the organization needs for future success should be on more executive agendas. A clear line of sight to this talent demand and supply situation informs critical talent gaps. To close gaps, high-performing organizations should be steadfast in executing on the development component of succession planning. — Laci Loew 

Integration of Assessment Data

2013 saw a spike in the number of candidate assessment solutions in the market, many of which specialize in profiling candidate personality and evaluating key performance indicators like culture fit and team fit. While these assessments provide rich data that can be used to make more informed hiring decisions, few organizations are using the data beyond the hiring process. With an increased availability of sophisticated candidate assessment technology, as well as an industry-wide focus on integration (of systems and processes), this should change in 2014. – Kyle Lagunas

Laci Loew

A principal talent analyst and consultant with Brandon Hall Group, Laci is expert in all areas of human capital management particularly talent management, leadership, leadership development, and succession management. She has worked in the public and private sectors consulting global and matrix Fortune companies across all industries on integrated talent initiatives. Laci holds a bachelor of science from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; earned her MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management; and is currently a PhD candidate in organizational psychology. Laci’s hometown is Chicago and she is based in Las Vegas.

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