Talent Predictions For 2018

We’re fast approaching the closing out of 2017, so it’s time to look forwards and start getting ready for what the Future of Work trends will bring in 2018. Note I am writing this with a specific focus on the Australian market which of course has its unique characteristics vs the rest of the world.

Here’s my Top 4

  1. Unconscious Bias is the new Design Thinking

The case for change is compelling, the data is irrefutable and the tools are available to support change. However, it takes real intention and that is likely to take hold in 2018 as CEO’s recognise just how important recruiting diverse candidates is in realising performance goals.

Trusted global nonprofit resource Catalyst reports a “very strong correlation between corporate financial performance and gender diversity”. They found higher financial performance for companies with higher representation of women board directors in three important measures: Return on Equity, Return on Sales and Return on Invested Capital. And it’s not small numbers either, 53%, 42% and 66% higher respectively.

Therefore we can expect to see increased demand for D&I specialist roles rather than the so far ineffective efforts of simply adding it to the list of generalist HR responsibilities. It takes a focused approach to effect change, not a quota driven side project. And it requires full leadership sponsorship and accountability to deliver measurable outcomes.

In direct support of this change will be a laser focus on how unconscious bias impacts diversity efforts in talent acquisition, promotion and succession planning. We will see an increase in organisations taking action to educate entire workforces on managing unconscious bias to enable them to foster inclusion in their cultural DNA, crucial to data focused decision making. A few short years ago we saw similar organisation-wide rollouts with Agile and then Design Thinking.

2. The rise and rise of Employee Experience

Research shows, despite all the technology advancements and organisational redesign, productivity and engagement have not improved over the last 10 years. Glassdoor, still shows a 3.2 average employee rating, seven years on. The longtime bell-curve distribution of ratings continues with just as many terrible company ratings as great. And despite all the technology advancements, we’re not getting more done. People are still burning out, having heart attacks and divorces. So the question has to be — how do we help people stop burning out at work? What are those minority of companies at the top end of the Glassdoor ratings doing to achieve such high engagement? What do people need in order to reach optimum performance and be highly engaged?

Talent and people teams will be learning to embrace design thinking principles to approach such problem solving. Designing the candidate and employee journey and experiences along the way, rather than the usual HR derived “programs” that just don’t cut it.

As Dan Pink’s book Drive perfectly highlights, there is clear evidence that motivation through internally driven mastery, autonomy and purpose are the keys to achieving long term performance improvements. Companies will be striving to make themselves productive and great places to work by focusing on culture, engagement, and an end-to-end set of experiences that make sure all employees truly operate in a productive, customer centric, and collaborative way.

With design thinking (experience design not process design) and simplifying work, the focus will be on improving ‘human performance’ by improving work life.

3. Recruitment is Marketing

I have watched a growing trend build in Talent Acquisition — the adoption of digital marketing processes and methodologies to win the so called ‘war’ in talent. While not a solution in isolation, there is a definite advancement in this thinking and its backed up by the increase in tools and tech’ offerings.

However, the current internal recruiter profile doesn’t match up as ready for this new way of working. I sit on the APAC advisory board of Scotland based product Candidate.ID a talent pipelining tool, designed specifically for recruitment but using the same marketing process of building ‘nurture streams’ and with a content rich journey through from top of funnel to “hire ready”. Co-Founder Adam Gordon likens the process to spear-fishing instead of net fishing. The product makes the somewhat mythical ‘talent pool’ of old, a tangible reality. But, and here’s the rub, this requires recruiters to think and behave very differently to traditional talent acquisition professionals and frankly I see this taking the Australian market a while to catch up with. But it will happen because once a few of the more forward thinking global players introduce it into their teams here, others will follow.

There has already been a noticeable swing towards content marketing-like recruitment with content based marketplaces The Muse and The Martecmaking headway. Both have increasingly gained momentum with engaging content that drives targeted talent into their client’s funnels. The Martec CEO, Raaj Govintharaja told me recently their customer numbers have more than doubled in the last 18 months and include the likes of Airtasker, HiPages, Oakton, Deloitte, Telstra, Red Balloon and Ticketek. Companies recognising competitive hiring goes beyond the old ‘post and prey’ of marketing collateral.

Similarly, social sourcing has more than doubled in recent years, leading to a gargantuan leap in the power of the employer brand and this also sits firmly within this new and emerging breed of TA specialists.

4. Talent On Demand

40% of the workforce is already contingent. This isn’t likely to change as organisations are getting better at utilising on-demand resources to solve problems and stay lean. Scaling businesses is now less about scaling people and more about scaling products, reach and revenues.

This trend is backed up by the influx of talent-on-demand SaaS solutions to the market, for example the notoriously well funded Expert360 which claims to reduce costs of hiring management consulting-level experts by 60%, using their platform to bypass the typically pricey consultancies and going direct to the individuals.

Also managing contingent resources in complex or enterprise environments is getting easier with emerging platforms like Nvoi or the lesser known but superior product, Lightsapp. Using Lightsapp to engage and manage contingent workforces has has been likened to using Airbnb for hotel booking, only without the pretty UI (yet).

Australians haven’t yet harnessed the full power of crowd sourcing, despite its growth in recent years, and I believe there’s still a way to go yet before we do. We’re comfortable with tools like Airtasker and HiPages to help us with personal tasks and we’re ok getting design work needs met with crowdsourcing platforms like Freelancer, DesignCrowd and 99 Designs but beyond that there’s precious little uptake yet. There is a distinct lack of comfort with giving up control on more complex business problems and we’re still more likely to outsource than crowdsource.

What does it all mean to TA?

What all the above tells us, along with an array of other more general trends in the world of work, is that talent acquisition is an ever more critical ‘marriage’ of human and technology together. Talent acquisition is becoming a far more integrated part of business strategy and professionals working in this sector must move with the new ways of working this demands. The rise of AI and other technologies mean much of the heavy lifting is going to be automated. Therefore progressive recruiters will be leveraging all manner of digital technology and upping their ‘human’ impact by developing psychological and emotional connections to enhance employer brand and and social reach. They will also be able to work more closely with the business and hiring managers to help them make better decisions, based on the right things.