Talent Management

Aug 17, 2021 14 min read

Talent Experience

An experience is defined as an encounter, an event that you come in contact with, react to, face up to, and remember. Focusing on the Talent Experience is a significant competitive advantage, as I firmly believe that the employees are the most powerful employer brand ambassadors. Talent experience is a broader concept over employee experience as it even includes the time while the employee is a just a candidate and it continues even after the employee's exit and becomes an organizational alumnus. Talent experience begins when a candidate / potential employee interacts with the organization through the processes of how a job is found and applied for and continues lifelong thereafter.

Most of the organizations ignore the aspect of talent engagement during the pre-joining phase and post an employee exits. How easy or difficult it is to navigate through the careers page, application process, interview process, candidate experience – all these give a glimpse of the organizational culture and it creates a perception in the candidate's mind of the organization as well as it's brand. This perception then starts to spread in the talent market influencing the decision of the talent to either consider the organization for the next move or give it a pass. On the other end of the spectrum, what the ex-employee speaks about the organization has a larger influence on the potential candidates as well as in shaping the talent market perspective on the organization. Connect with the alumni also makes business reasoning as the ex-employee is also a consumer and many times, unfavorable employee experience leads to unfavorable consumer behaviors – after all, why should someone buy a product of an organization where the experience was awful!

An organisation needs to consider a number of factors that shape the talent experience, which includes organization's ways of working, culture, interactions, relationships within the team and with the manager, working environment, career development learning opportunities, processes tools, social platforms the employee uses to collaborate on various work-related activities, etc. During this pandemic, we have also experienced that the possibility to engage in and support a company's societal engagement becomes increasingly important and contributes to the overall talent experience.

Starting point of defining an organization's talent experience is clear articulation of it's People Culture Strategy. The People Culture Strategy goes beyond just functional HR Strategy and is owned and executed by everyone in the organization; it is it's Workforce Strategy, which every leader, every function, every business and every employee should own. It goes beyond the traditional HR areas of Talent Acquisition, Talent Management, Employee Engagement, Employee Relations, Capability Development, Total Rewards, etc. and spotlights on defining what kind of workforce the organization needs to meet it's strategic business objectives; it defines the key capabilities, mindsets behaviours of the required workforce. E.g. at Volvo Group, Our People Culture Strategy focuses on our employees being:

Truly Connected

By collaborating without boundaries, both within and outside the Group, taking the end-to end perspective, becoming the center of the ecosystem. When they feel included and connect the purpose and direction of the company to their own context, organization unleashes their full potential.

Leading the Way

The leadership reflects the business ambitions and is rooted in the culture. Trust, passion and empowerment are key. Employees must all take the lead by using empowerment to act, holding themselves accountable and delivering on the promises.

Sustainable for Real

Through business-driven lifelong learning and constant development, they grow together. They value and encourage different perspectives and strive for an inclusive and sustainable future; for people, society, customers and business.

In Constant Motion

Change is permanent and accelerating. Employees must remain curious and constantly evolve to stay ahead. They aim for flexibility and simplicity in all they do. . Once the People Culture Strategy is articulated, it then serves as the true north compass towards all the workforce processes and the talent experience is an offshoot of the same.

Organizations should continuously focus and monitor the talent experience throughout the various stages of talent's lifecycle, driven by the following aspects:

Connecting the external talent with the Organizational Purpose, Vision Mission, communicating the authentic Employer Value Proposition, Leveraging partnerships with universities, sharing Corporate Social Responsibility practices and Sustainability Goals.

Ensuring positive experience from the time the potential employees decide to apply for jobs, simplified application process, getting interviewed through a fair unbiased process, respectful interview experience and engaging onboarding process.

Leaders and managers play a critical role in building the competencies of their team members. Talent Management has to be an integral part of an overall People Plan, enabling fact-based decisions by aligning competence with business strategies and needs, with the right balance of organizational focus and individual aspirations. Major steps towards this are: o Identifying Business priorities and plans o Understanding impact on competence and competence gaps (current as well future, including supply constraints) o Identifying the people competence shift based on business needs o Identifying the Tailwinds and Headwinds o Defining / monitoring development plans to bridge critical gaps (restructure, reduce, buy, partner up with…)

Inclusion is the fundamental bedrock of high impact talent experience. Policies around inclusion diversity; workplace flexibility basis various life stages of an employee; respectful behavior towards all - irrespective of background, hierarchy, gender, region, color, etc.; strong redressal channels and creating adequate awareness around them; using gender neutral tones in job descriptions, job postings and career sites are the critical ingredients. Ensuring that the organization is free conscious unconscious biases and being an equal opportunity employer defines this experience.

Culture is the key element towards ensuring high quality talent experience, as it is the culture that either makes the talent stick or leave the organization. Culture either makes a person comfortable or causes discomfort. It's the culture that makes or breaks the organizational bond of the employee. Outstanding talent experience is about building a culture of care by being responsible not only to the employees but also to the society, culture of inclusion where everyone is valued irrespective of who you are, culture that promotes innovation where people's ideas matter, culture of continuous listening through our employee pulse surveys and frequent performance touchpoints, culture of wellbeing where work life balance and psychological safe work environment are valued, culture of real time recognition, and culture of growth wherein everyone is empowered to design their learning / career paths.

Establishing a physical office environment which fosters dialogue, innovation, development and generates positive energy nurtures positive talent experience at the workplace. And not to forget the importance of safety at workplace along with hygienic working environment.

Reflecting upon the experiences of the employees who have chosen to leave the organization and taking actions on that feedback continuously improves the talent experience. Way an employee is treated during the notice period, the exit processes, rehire program, employee referrals from ex-employees and keeping a connect with the alumni forms the core here. Having looked at the above aspects, we need to understand that as the employees' needs and aspirations are changing and that the organizations are working in a very dynamic environment, there are certain aspects which will define the talent experience going forward. Organizational need to be adaptable, find new ways of working, have speed in actions and innovate consistently. Some of the significant dimensions towards this are:

Shedding the tyranny of OR and embracing the power of AND. It's no longer about Either Or; it's about ensuring Both e.g. You I, Perform Transform, Common Unique, Global Local, Centralized Decentralized, Collective fairness Individual expectations and recognition, Daily operations Innovation, Human Technology, Legacy Future, etc.

Moving from Silos to providing End-to-end perspectives. Organizations are generally structured on the concept of Differentiation Integration; and this integration happens at the topmost levels only. Employees working in the functions / departments have only a siloed view of the picture and don't get to see the full picture. So organizations that deliver great talent experience are the ones who are able to provide this End-to-End perspective to the employees, which helps them develop strategic thinking and wholistic business outlook.

Aspirational Talent is not satisfied by just solving a given task. They don't look at the job as a daily chore or activity; they want to connect with the higher purpose behind what they are supposed to do. High impact talent experience is about helping them know how they are contributing to this purpose and ensuring alignment of their purpose with the organizational purpose.

Moving from Internal focus to more Collaboration focus - both internal and external is another imperative towards sustainable talent experience. How much organizations are open to new ideas, ideas from external world, ideas from other fields, working with partners (internal and external) provides that breadth to the talent, which helps them grow personally as well professionally.

Related aspect is moving from working with Hierarchies to working with Networks to leverage the competence and deliver results. Is the organization obsessed with following the hierarchy in all working aspects or is there a flexibility and culture where a talent can reach out to anyone towards making an initiative a success? Many times, hierarchies kill some brilliant ideas, or they are never taken up, thus causing disengagement in the talent.

Ensuring Accountability and providing empowerment is an important aspect of outstanding talent experience. Many organizations have the culture of command and control, which leads to employees feeling stifled, micro-managed, not valued for their intellect and being considered as just another resource. Human being is not a resource but is boundless bundle of potential and energy. Providing them appropriate empowerment, along with ensuring a sense of accountability is critical towards high quality talent experience.

Organizations create policies processes to manage various situations. In this VUCA world, situations are dynamic; new situations keep emerging and needs of the employees too evolve and change. But unfortunately, in organizations the polices and processes don't keep pace with the changing times and organizations continue to be the slaves' of the processes policies. To provide customized and individualized Talent Experience, organizations need to be guided by Principles over being governed by extensive processes.

One person, One position mindset is another bane against wholistic talent experience. Today's workforce aspires for multi-dimensional, flexible work arrangements. They need to see how other cogs in the wheel are fitted. Hence organizations need to provide them with broader exposure.

How many times, when we conceive a new initiative and come up with the new idea, have heard this term from those who are in the organization since long, We have always done this way or This is how it always happens here. Such a culture can never breed innovation and brings stagnation. Great talent experience fosters on curiosity and constant growth. Hence organizations, that intend to shape great talent experience, are completely open to new and varied perspectives and ideas.

Gone are the days when there used to pre-defined career paths and careerladders for the employees! Current times are of empowering the employees to form their own career journeys. It's about guiding them towards what it takes to succeed in various different roles and letting them choose their paths and journeys. This is a hallmark of customized talent experience.

HR team should be on a mission towards making every touchpoint of the talent much simpler and empower them through a workplace friendly environment and creating the safe space for efficient interactions at each step of the employee lifecycle. Change is permanent and accelerating; Companies need innovation to survive; People are the source of innovation; people move the world. When Employees win, Customers win, and when Customers win, the Organization succeeds.

Talent Experience is something which is taking place every moment, its organizational choice that it either shapes it basis what it wants or allows itself to be shaped by the experience! Choice is yours.

Photo by Edward Howell on Unsplash


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