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We are all aware of the rapid pace of change in technology and its increasing impact on the economy and the markets in which companies compete. In many ways, technology is now even driving business change and creating new markets, which is well beyond its supposed role of servicing the needs of business. Internet shopping, online banking, social media and the rise of online review sites are just some of the ways in which technology has transformed the world of business very recently.

There is another force of change at play today that is less often discussed but also has a major effect on the performance of companies. The workforce today is very different to what it was in the past, with the pace of change accelerating all the time. With the decline of the ‘job for life’, young people entering the workplace are increasingly doing so with an understanding of the need to develop themselves constantly and to build a career that may span more years and employers than ever before. Graduates today, raised on social media, are more savvy and highly aware of the need to develop their own brand. As a result, they expect their employers to provide opportunities and support for them to develop their skills consistently over time. Being able to demonstrate that you do this is a significant competitive advantage in the recruitment market and makes it much more likely that you will be able to maximise employee retention.

The workplace is evolving

On average, approximately 70% of a typical organisation’s costs are related to staff. Despite being the largest single cost for many companies, this is also the area that has seen the least investment in recent years. Competition for the best employees is again a major feature and the fact that your institutional knowledge and expertise can literally walk out the door is something that merits consideration and investment.

The digital revolution has resulted in a blurring of the line between work and personal time. Most of us are contactable for work virtually all the time – something that was unthinkable not so long ago. Many companies see this as part of a trade-off that includes flexible working arrangements and results-based performance management. This often goes hand-in-hand with taking employee development seriously and providing a framework within which employees can take more control of their careers and avail of the opportunities being offered to develop their skills.

Working in these environments empowers employees and can result in real personal and professional development if they are provided with the correct support and opportunity. It is no accident that innovation tends to thrive in this type of organisation.

Industries are changing

The rapid pace of change in business is resulting in specific challenges for many industries. For example, retail banking has undergone a dramatic transformation in recent years, largely driven by competitive pressures and the shift to online and mobile banking. Compare how often you went to a bank branch five years ago to now and the reasons for those visits. This change has transformed the roles of many branch staff – where they previously processed transactions, they now have more of a sales and customer service focus. Identifying the skills needed and enabling people to operate successfully in their new roles are real challenges.

A new type of solution

To begin to effectively manage performance and employee development, it is necessary to understand the competencies that you need in your business roles and the match of your employees’ skills against those competencies. The gaps represent the development needs of your employees. Once these competencies and skills are understood, your hiring becomes more effective and your people can understand what development is required in order to change their role or achieve promotion to the next level. Link this to self-service e-learning and you are putting more control in employees’ hands and allowing them to play a more active role in their career development.

The modern workforce was brought up on technology and consumes digital services without a second thought. This is why the new breed of talent management solutions have been designed to look and feel like social media applications. This has resulted in them being very intuitive and easy to use. In addition, these applications offer a standard set of processes, ideal for organisations that have failed to address talent management up to now. HCM applications such as SuccessFactors and Workday are already very established in the market.

If you want to succeed in the battle for talent, there are worse things you could do than providing an easy to navigate framework for performance management and career development in a manner that appeals to your employees. We are in the process of implementing SuccessFactors at BearingPoint to provide a tool that employees can use to play a more active role in the management of their careers.

What is your experience with the new breed of talent management solutions?

How is the changing workplace affecting your industry?

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