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Talent Leadership: Strategically Aligning with Business Partners

How can Talent Leaders get into executives’ heads and adopt their strategic mindsets?

Photo by @travelarium via Twenty20

Unleash HR’s Strategic Value UNLEASH and Gem recently hosted an exclusive roundtable discussion with senior talent leaders dealing with the challenges and opportunities of modern recruiting. Find out what was discussed here!

  • How can Talent Leadership influence the organization’s executive team, using data-driven recruiting strategies?
  • What methods have worked, and not worked, to actively target top talent to improve the candidate quality in the recruitment funnel?
  • What strategies have been effective (and ineffective) for hiring talent in new markets?

In recent years, reliable recruiting analytics and robust reporting capabilities have finally become available to talent acquisition teams. In fact, talent leaders are arguably swimming in data. But the strategic business partners these talent leaders collaborate with care about very specific elements of their data-driven story. 

What’s more, only 12% of CEOs have faith in the metrics talent acquisition brings to the table, according to Gem’s Talent Leader’s Guide to Reporting.  

Clearly, one of the biggest challenges for talent leaders is how to showcase that their team’s tangible business value is relevant to the strategic powers that be.   

Gaining a true understanding of what to measure and what to report on can enable talent leaders to strategically align with the needs of the business, prove out their ROI, and establish a seat at the decision-making table.

UNLEASH Head of Content Labs and Insights, Kate Graham, moderated our recent closed-door roundtable session where talent leaders shared valuable insights from their experiences, success stories, and challenges, and their thoughts on the future of the talent space.

Topline Talent Leadership Pains:

  • One of the main outcomes of the conversation with our HR leaders in this roundtable was the challenge of the lack of talent. An interesting outcome, in consideration with how often we hear how terrible the jobs market is and in context with the current economic environment and unemployment figures.
  • Many of the organizations that joined this closed-door discussion are ‘hidden’ brands – they sit behind other well-known brands. Therefore, for these organizations, there were some clear barriers for their recruitment funnels due to their employer brand and presence in the job market (or lack of).
  • The need to be creative. As with almost every aspect of work, the pandemic has caused a situation many were unprepared for, and an environment, specifically for talent leaders, where the normalcy of face-to-face interactions has driven the need for them to be super creative in how they attract applicants and almost have to think like marketers.

Proving out the ROI with creating an employer brand

From our conversation, it’s apparent that there’s a need for talent leaders to understand, through hard data, where the biggest pains are in the talent acquisition ecosystem and then be able to interpret and use this data to optimize the push to drive candidates through the door and the most effective channels.

A repeated insight that came out of our roundtable discussion, was the severity of the pain that the current job market is causing to our talent leaders. Many of the organizations had the additional challenge of not being a known brand name, and therefore feel that the state of the talent economy and the challenge in attracting and nurturing, specifically passive candidates, is only more intense for them.

One HR leader noted that they find themselves “competing for talent against organizations from industries that haven’t ever been in the same talent pool before.” Also, one participant noted that the trend towards localization of industry, due to the impact on supply chains as a result of the pandemic, has had a measured impact on their hiring due to the proximity of their competitors – in some instances, being as close as next door.

Equally, with evidential concerns from potential candidates around health and safety and thus low labor force participation in several frontline sectors, it’s clear that specific industries are struggling more than others.

Having the data to find the pitfalls in the talent acquisition processes – where candidates are becoming disengaged and falling out of the funnel – will enable HR leaders to bring an evidence-based business case to the organization’s leadership to work on the employer brand and investigate the differentiators of their business. This should, in turn, enable them to attract and retain the top talent.

The impact of employee turnover

We wanted to understand if our HR leaders felt there was a leadership disconnect with staffing and attraction realities through this roundtable.

A number of the talent leadership figures present in the discussion believed this to be the case. One recurrent theme was around the understanding (or lack of) of the impact of employee turnover on the business. One leader noted that turnover for them is such a difficult measurement to unpack, calling it a “soft, hidden cost, as it doesn’t hit a P&L directly”.

Another participant considered that understanding where the greatest turnover is within the business and identifying what’s causing this turnover would be vital to their work to provide good coaching to the hiring and recruitment field staff and in turn, provide valuable insights to the leadership team on how the organization can strategize to drive the business forward. Mirroring this sentiment, another leader commented that due to the pressure of getting viable candidates through the door, sharing retention challenges would be critical for them to determine the real cost per hire.

…And open positions

Given that job listings on job boards are up 50% year over year compared to pre-pandemic, cited by one of our participants, it’s apparent that money in TA isn’t stretching as far as it used to. But it’s not just the cost of job advertising, there’s also the practical and financial implications of having positions left open.

Having understandable and digestible metrics that demonstrate what the true implications are to the business of having positions left open, and even more so if organizations have a hyper-growth trajectory and aggressive headcount goals, can provide the tangible and necessary support to talent leadership – whether it’s so they can grow their teams internally, leverage external agencies, or onboard automation tools that will assist with the day-to-day.

Enabling talent leaders to make the case for additional support through the ability to measure the quality of hire by the source is important for HR operations and their cost forecasting.

Unlocking the complexities of processes and systems

Our leaders think good data and reporting can help improve efficiency, effectiveness, and business alignment across all key stakeholders’ needs. Decent analytics and reporting can enable HR to speak in a language that is accessible and understandable to the wider business, and most importantly, to the leadership team.

One participant said that they can demonstrate where legacy systems are inefficient and therefore enable HR teams to make the candidate experience more streamlined, providing the differentiator to attract and retain top talent.

Stopping the blame game was another benefit tooted in the discussion for good reporting and data. Sometimes there can be adversarial views between operations and HR with their approaches, said one leader – making it easy to blame recruitment or Talent Acquisition for any staffing or hiring gaps. But, being able to leverage data can mean that teams really understand what’s going on and can actually become advocates for each other.

From our conversation with our senior talent leaders, it’s obvious that poor recruiting and hiring data and analytics will result in money wasted and business opportunities missed. And, the impact is even more significant when non-optimized processes meet massive hiring volumes.

If you want to know more about Gem, get a personalized demo here.

If you enjoyed this topic, UNLEASH and Gem are hosting a free webinar discussion on Driving Talent Acquisition’s Value with Robust Recruiting Analytics on Tuesday 27th July. Sign up now!

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