Look Beyond Hiring and Development to Close Digital Talent Gaps

Critical talent is scarce. Refocusing roles, workflows and systems can help HR leaders to close talent gaps.

It’s no secret that nearly every work environment is becoming more digital, and more than half of functional leaders report the digital talent gap is widening at their organization. Even more concerning is that only 29% of functional leaders believe they have the talent they need to meet current performance requirements.

Only 24% of functional leaders report that they can quickly hire the talent they need with their current resources and processes

“In addition to not having the talent they need already, organizations are finding it incredibly difficult to access the right talent,” said Leah Johnson, Vice President, Gartner at Gartner ReimagineHR in London today.

In fact, a recent Gartner survey found that only 24% of functional leaders report that they can quickly hire the talent they need with their current resources and processes.

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Recruiting and development aren’t enough

One reason organizations are finding it hard to get the right talent in the door is the hypercompetitive labor market where demand for talent is converging sharply on critical roles. Gartner TalentNeuron™ data on millions of job postings in the U.K. and the U.S. showed that 41% of all job postings by FTSE 100 companies in 2018 were for just 20 roles, the remaining 59% were for 641 other roles. Similarly, 90% of S&P 100 companies in 2018 were competing to fill just 39 roles.

While recruiting talent has proved challenging, so has training the workforce. The Gartner 2019 Digital Talent Gap Survey revealed that only 31% of functional leaders report they can quickly develop the talent they need with their current resources and processes.

Organizations will realize the greatest results by combining talent strategies and work design strategies

In order to close talent gaps, many organizations focus on talent strategies around recruiting and development. And that is valuable, but work design strategies — focused on role structure, workflow and systems enablement — can have a bigger impact.

The 2019 Gartner Digital Talent Gap Survey found that leveraging effective talent strategies can increase an organization’s ability to quickly hire and develop talent by 13%, yet focusing on work design strategies has more than double the impact, increasing an organization’s ability to quickly hire and develop talent by 32%. 

Organizations can better empower their employees to perform by leveraging the following work design strategies:

Redeploy staff continuously across teams

Rather than focusing on optimizing individuals against everyneeded skill competency or adding new roles to legacy teams, scale and distribute the critical competencies available. The first step to mitigating skill imbalances is to understand the capabilities of individuals — to create teams, functions and/or units with the optimal mix of capabilities to address business needs. After evaluating individual capabilities, focus on identifying and managing areas of need for specific competencies within the organization.

Streamline workflows to focus on value creation     

Drive business productivity by reevaluating the priorities of all employees to ensure everyone is focused on the right activities. Start by identifying the high-impact activities that equal success in each role. Then enable managers to better support and coach their employees by eliminating low-value tasks, such as reporting and responding to one-off requests.

Additionally, breaking down large-scale projects into their component tasks can help leaders determine how to allocate resources. This allows organizations to stop looking for someone who can do everything on a project — that rare, elusive and expensive unicorn — and instead take a more agile approach to resourcing each of the individual tasks, and together form the project.

Leverage technology systems and tools to reduce talent dependencies

Only 30% of functional leaders surveyed agree that their organization uses technology systems and tools to minimize their need for staff with specialized competencies. To use technology more effectively, determine which tasks are repetitive and can be automated versus those that are cognitive and need to be owned by people. Next, assess training and technology costs before recommending specific technology changes that can streamline processes.

“Ultimately, organizations will realize the greatest results by combining talent strategies and work design strategies. Together, this approach has a 45% impact on the ability to hire and develop talent,” said Johnson. 

This article is based on insights that are part of an in-depth collection of research, tools, templates and advice available to Gartner clients.

 

Gartner for HR clients can read more in The Other Front in the Talent War.

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