Engaging with a changing global workforce to drive business performance

MT IN ASSOCIATION WITH ALEXANDER MANN SOLUTIONS: Martin Cerullo of Alexander Mann Solutions suggests businesses must better engage their talent, embrace new technology to manage high performing workforces and optimise their employer brand.

by Martin Cerullo
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013
The notion of ‘permanent work’ is changing forever. A gradual shift in the mind-set of today’s professionals, fuelled by unsettling economic events and the limitless independence offered by digital technology, is changing the way people prefer to work.

In sharp contrast to previous generations, who anticipated a stable nine to five job for life, professionals now require different types of work to suit their lifestyles and ambitions. This could mean contract work, flexible hours or short-term assignments. And in respect of the next generation, witness the trend of increasing numbers of Ivy League university students getting involved with business ventures instead of completing their studies.

There’s also a new breed of entrepreneurial professional emerging that prefers to enrich their knowledge through the internet, television or social media. This segment may reject the corporate environment, preferring to operate as self-employed and maintain their independence. Indeed, with ‘online talent exchanges’ flourishing, between a fifth and a third of US workers are now freelancers, contractors or temporary workers, a significant increase, according to Accenture.

Of course, these changing requirements exist against a backdrop of ever-increasing globalisation, meaning that seeking talent from an international talent pool, including markets formally considered as ‘emerging’, will be ever more important.

Integrated global talent acquisition and management

Permanent work must be more ‘chameleon-like’ in the future, with forward-looking businesses adopting blended talent acquisition and talent management strategies - clearly linked to commercial objectives - to drive performance. Companies that respond positively to evolving social and technological trends, and recognise the need for universal consistency, will be well placed to reap the business benefits of a motivated workforce and effective employer branding.

For instance, we know that 64% of candidates are less likely to buy a company’s products or services if they have a negative experience during the recruitment process. Transforming candidates and employees into brand advocates and consumers can deliver significant incremental revenue. So, staying ahead of the game and engaging positively with today’s diverse mix of workers is vital.

Technology will also play an ever more central role. As whole generations of students grow up communicating via instant messaging apps and social media, enlightened engagement with future talent via the right channel will be fundamental. Mobile technology is the future of communication, so progressive companies will need to adjust their global talent management strategies accordingly.   

Integrating technology into global talent acquisition and management

HR professionals must completely realign their practices to make mobile the primary avenue for engaging with new and existing talent. With mobile technology rocketing in popularity around the world, ‘social’ communication becoming the norm and global smartphone sales due to hit 1bn per year in 2013, going mobile should be among businesses’ top priorities.

Barclays is already making major strides towards addressing this technological conundrum by introducing online chat rooms for candidates to enhance the candidate experience, while Telefonica and Sky are also dialling into the digital phenomenon by bringing gamification into the recruitment process. Its futuristic role play game is both in tune with social trends and addresses the fundamental question of cultural fit.

Augmented reality is also predicted to go mainstream in 2014. A recent video created for BAE Systems Marine is an excellent example of augmented reality in action. The compelling animated video quickly became that company’s most viewed video on YouTube, and helped BAE Systems Marine to increase its external hires via LinkedIn from 7% in 2011 to 20% in 2012.

Add to this the rise of automation – where we might even see robots interviewing candidates and analysing their reactions in the future – and our growing application of big data - and it’s clear that technology will play an ever more instrumental role in the selection process.

In summary: get your blend right

For multi-nationals, building teams around the world, capable of delivering 24/7 is becoming essential. For such companies, the value of achieving the right cross-boundary cultural fit becomes key.

It’s clear that high performing businesses do not regard hiring graduates and experienced staff, temporary workers, contractors and consultants as separate activities, owned by separate organisations and powered by different systems.  The acquisition and retention of talent and capability requires an integrated and approach that is consistent globally, with due consideration for candidate preference, employer branding, innovative technology and company culture.

Conversations are rapidly turning to how best to support blended workforces - workforces comprised of many different types of permanent employees and contractors. Companies must create the right structure to attract, engage and retain tomorrow’s rich mix of professionals and accommodate their work preferences. We recommend employers take an all-in approach to reviewing the needs of their workforce.

- Alexander Mann Solutions is the world’s leading provider of talent acquisition and management services, providing a full range of consultancy and outsourcing services to help clients attract, engage and retain top talent.

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