Mark Condon, Founding Partner of QuantumWork Advisory, spoke at a panel about how Talent Acquisition (TA) and Human Resources (HR) leaders need to adapt in today’s rapidly changing talent market. Allegis Global Solutions led a virtual roundtable discussion called “The Time is Now: Are Your Talent and Workforce Strategies Ready for the New Future?” Other companies that spoke in the webinar include Australian advisory firm TQ Solutions and software company SmartRecruiters. 

Although this event was held in the summer of 2020, these insights still ring true today with COVID-19 continuing to globally impact business strategies. Read below for Mark Condon’s expert observations on business agility, total talent management and digital transformation. 

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In this blog, we’re going to discuss:

  • The impact of organizations lacking business agility
  • The definition of total talent management
  • What TA leaders need to succeed in total talent management
  • How to encourage the case for digital transformation
  • The people needed to sponsor a digital transformation program
  • What Hiring Managers value in a TA function

What are your thoughts about companies that are not agile and how will this impact their ability to attract candidates, candidate experience and talent acquisition? 


MC: In talking with many clients, most, if not all, traditional companies understand they need to become more agile to attract the workforce of the future. When I talk about traditional, I mean companies that have so called “legacy business models” that are currently profitable and they can’t simply stop and become a cool, asset-light platform company overnight. They are worried their digital strategies will look great on paper, but will not get executed without setting up a company that is attractive to top talent.

Companies want to hire talent that strengthens their learning agility and provides greater creative problem-solving skills. Many processes will be run by robots in the future, so there will be less of a need for basic process execution, but other skills are in hot demand. For example, people that can organize and analyze data, build algorithms, design new digital ways of working and implement change management. Do not forget we need someone to monitor and run the robots to keep them honest! And that was all before COVID-19.

I do not think, however, digital strategies need to be all-or-nothing. It is a balance of protecting the current business profit and continuous improvement of the core business, while being aggressive with transformation projects that create new products and ways of interacting with customers. In the book “Lead and Disrupt: How to Solve the Innovator’s Dilemma“, by Charles A. O’Reilly and Michael L. Tushman, they talk about successful companies being “ambidextrous organizations”. They define ambidextrous organizations as companies that attempted to simultaneously pursue modest, incremental innovations and more dramatic, breakthrough innovation. More than 90% of the ambidextrous organizations achieved their goals.  


What do you define as Total Talent Management? 


MC: Total Talent Management is a key strategy for agility and is a win-win for both companies and talent. It is an integrated approach to understanding and managing talent across all workforce categories. The reason it is gaining traction as a strategy is that leadership now understands that a traditional employee-employer relationship was the only way to access certain skills sets, but this is starting to change. Top performing talent wants access to work they’re really interested in and companies want talent for projects, not necessarily forever. For companies there is a lot to be gained by having multiple workforce options to support the business strategy and being agile means changing the mix of workforce categories as required.  


What do TA leaders need to do to make the move to a total talent solution? 


MC: Self-service is really devolving work back to the user and making the system more automated. The key is using a self-service approach in a way that feels easy and intuitive and one that the user is happy to engage in, without a lot of conscious effort. Therefore, the more self-service can harness preferences of users, the better. Apps, mobile experiences, chatbots and conversational AI are important for simple and seamless user experiences. 

There’s a lot of opportunities to have candidates and talent, across all workforce categories, to opt-in a process by providing them with more information about applying for a role. This includes realistic job previews and VR that shows company culture. This is achieved beyond repeating the punch lines, authentic delivery and with real world examples. 


It is a great time to transform, but lots of companies are tightening their belts post-COVID-19. How do you encourage momentum when there is a business-wide urge to be conservative with spend? 


MC: The key is to link to broader business initiatives, which have C-level mandate and ensure digital transformation fits neatly. Agility could be interpreted at being better at matching the work to the optimal workforce, which many not only be traditional full-time employees [FTEs]. It may also be understanding the internal workforce better and building one integrated pipeline for talent. 

My view is we need to clearly understand the prize of digital transformation. A wonderful way to do this is to use design thinking principles; an outside provider can be helpful if you are not experienced in facilitating workshops or just want to gently cut through interdepartmental sensitivity. At this stage once the size of the prize is known, you can start to build out the future state services blueprint. You will need a top-level view of this to develop a solid business case. At the same time, you can start to engage vendors to understand what is possible and the potential costs of innovative technologies. While I have outlined a linear process, I would encourage you to be agile and reiterative, especially once you have the business case agreed upon. 


In your experience, who in a company are the sponsors of such a transformation program? Do you see the Corporate Strategy having a role in this process? 


MC: Yes, I have seen Corporate Strategy sponsor transformation, but at the end of the day there must be a digital transformation mandate through the CEO and Chief Human Resources Officer [CHRO] 


I think the panel may need to put themselves in the shoes of the Hiring Manager (customer) and see what they truly value when it comes to a TA function and the hiring process.


MC: I cannot agree more. Therefore, design thinking is central to building superior service experiences, and that means listening to users and understanding what they value. Sometimes it is not as straight forward as it seems. What a technology company or supplier thinks is important may not be the same as the Hiring Manager. And the Hiring Manager’s preferences may vary by industry. I agree that engaging users and understanding their needs is crucial. That is why I love empathy mapping and experience journey maps to understand users, the friction points they face and the waste in the current process. 

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