The top 10 talent management trends for 2014

Top 10

Too often in business we only look back – what happened last month, quarter or year? Progressive companies, though, look forward, predicting what will be and proactively planning for it. As we look forward, here are our views of the emerging trends that will impact HR over the next 12 months, and those already started trends that will finally come to fruition.

1. Talent management will go real-time (and the annual appraisal is dying).

Technology is starting to shift a boring, annual process into a real-time, collaborative feedback process. The relationship between fixed-frequency performance reviews and actual performance will start to break as performance management becomes oriented around task completion. The same is true of learning – where just-in-time and real-time, delivered often and via a mobile device, will transform how and where we learn. Our children will laugh at our current performance management processes.

2. Big data will start to deliver on its big promises,

Talent management technologies will generate more and more data but for most this will simply accumulate into bigger piles waiting for someone to make sense of it. In 2014 we will see good examples of data being used for predictive analytics. Integrated within workflows, this data will start to enable HR and line managers to become talent managers. Driven by increasingly open IT systems, real-time talent analytics will support better decision-making and managers will be empowered to make better quality decisions. For many organisations, however, data will continue to be a challenge. According to IDC, 79% of companies with 501 to 1,000 employees say their IT departments view big data as a ‘significant’ challenge versus 55% of organisations with more than 3,000 workers.

3. …but HR will realise it’s a small cog in a much bigger wheel.

To the man with a hammer everything is a nail. And to many HR professionals the truth about employee happiness and retention is hidden in HR systems. Big data in talent management will require businesses to integrate all sources of data within an organisation to understand those things that influence people outcomes. To the supermarket that discovered that the difference between stores’ turnover was the number of shelves at child height – we salute you. And as the CIPD states in its recent report, ‘Talent analytics and big data are now must-have capabilities in HR.’ It is time for HR to ditch the administrative work and become highly trained performance consultants, according to Josh Bersin.

4. Employees are consumers, not conscripts.

Talent Management produces services that we want employees to consume and new technology will enable that at a faster rate than ever. Talent management technology will increasingly empower employees – and it’s already happening thanks to the ‘bring your own device’ trend. Harnessed well, the technology could unleash significant innovation and business performance. As John Hagel from Deloitte’s Center for the Edge argues “Just as we are now asking how we can engage customers to deliver more value to them, we should shift our focus inward to ask what we can do to engage our employees so that they can get better faster. The same four emerging technologies – cloud, mobile, social, and analytics – have the potential to re-craft the employee experience so that they can learn faster on the job in their day-to-day work environments.”

5. Recruitment will look more like marketing (and less like supply chain management).

The fundamentals of marketing are identical to the fundamentals of talent acquisition and the more you look at them the harder it is to tell them apart. From PepsiCo’s great Talent Pipeline presentation at iRecruit in Europe, which outlined velocity, talent pools and nurturing to the basic concepts of employer branding, recruitment is once again breaking away from HR. In the long run that’s a good thing (see point 8). What marketing has that recruitment often doesn’t is a hunger for innovation and competitive advantage. Recruitment must change. Getting to your prospective customer first, and with more impact, is a critical success factor.

6. Recruitment is now mobile. You have at most 12 months to follow before you will lose the race for talent.

Jobseekers want to browse and apply for jobs on their mobile devices. Your recruiting needs to allow them to do it and do it easily. You are guaranteed to lose candidates if your site is not optimised for mobile. It doesn’t have to be a full experience, but browsing jobs on the train, or even the plane, is now a standard way of job-hunting.

7. Talent management will become an ‘experience’ and that experience will become a competitive advantage.

HR will move away from designing and facilitating processes towards designing experiences. This will mean an understanding of the talent ‘journey’ in minute detail and an optimisation of these steps, processes or transactions to encourage adoption. This will involve mystery shopping your talent management experience as a consumer of it. As the talent management experience improves and becomes pleasurable it will prove to be a competitive advantage in the race for talent.

8. If you love something – set it free.

HR practices will start to orient towards the individual and away from the organisation, mediating between the two to ensure mutual advantage as the role of HR shifts towards creating the conditions in which talent succeeds, and not, as so often happens, mitigating the impact of bad decision-making and poor management. HR professionals will start to understand that talent is truly a commodity that can walk and the organisation needs to compete daily for it – with new and existing employees. If bad management, bad practices or poor working conditions stand in the way of that, HR must be empowered to challenge beyond its own function.

9. A shift from attraction to retention (and a big problem with knowledge workers).


The Employment Policy Foundation estimated the cost of losing staff at around $15,000 per employee. This seems like a gross underestimation to us. Big data will start to uncover the true, and hidden, costs of staff turnover. The costs will start to be factored in to additional investments in driving staff retention. This will be particularly useful in retaining in-demand knowledge workers, who, due to the combination of a recovering economy and squeezed incomes will create wage pressures as they seek greater reward elsewhere. Organisations will need to be more flexible, agile and creative with their approach to reward but cost rises here will be easily offset against reducing staff turnover. With good ‘big data’ this kind of spend will become a ‘no-brainer’.

10. Speed will be the new measure for success.

In all business practices fortune favours the bold. Speed is an under-rated value in HR as it too often falsely contrasted with quality. In today’s technologically empowered world this is a false conflict. Speed and quality are easy bedfellows. We believe the new key metric across many talent management tasks is Time to Effectiveness. This is the time between start date and optimal performance or the time between a new skill being required and the successful demonstration of that skill. Time to Effectiveness in talent management needs to be measured in days and not months.

In conclusion, that perfect storm is already engulfing us. The speed of change is remarkable, and HR systems are under massive pressure to find a way to integrate the latest innovations to gain competitive advantage. If yours doesn’t, faster-moving organisations are going to start stealing the best talent from under your nose. And the problem with the ‘best’ is that you only get one bite at the cherry.

So that’s it, we’re done for another 12 months. It’s certainly an interesting time to be in HR and Talent Management and I look forward to riding the storm with you.

By Neal Bruce, Director of Product Strategy for Lumesse