Getting creative

TALiNT Partners and Guidant Global hosted a dinner for talent leaders at The Ivy in Birmingham to talk about football, airplane maintenance and the most important – workforce planning and the challenges faced by TA and TM teams.

Better late than never, as they say. It seems like an age ago that we were back in the Archer Room at The Ivy in Birmingham for another regional HR and Talent Leaders’ dinner. It’s always my intention to write up the key findings from these sessions as soon as possible but sometimes things get in the way and so here we are five weeks later. But like a fine wine, the insights from our guests have matured over time and, like The Ivy’s famous shepherd’s pie, are worth revisiting.

Our guests were HR and TA leaders representing a cracking cross section of the Midlands’ largest and most dynamic companies and our lively discussion ranged across topics from workforce planning, managing a TA function in a downturn, DE&I, balancing attraction and retention, early careers, how attractive the Midlands is for talent, line manger engagement, new hire attrition and onboarding and finally, some creative thinking about jobs of the future.

An action-packed agenda for sure and one which was also very helpful in distracting me from the dreadful result Rangers had against Liverpool that evening (7-1).

Anyway, one of the first great observations was this: There was a lot of agreement that the TA function has much more of a cross-business impact and influence than ever before. Clearly this is a good thing but can be a double-edged sword with the additional workload it can bring. For example, technically, workforce planning isn’t really the job of TA but they can’t function without it so if no one else is doing it then it will often fall to them.

Likewise, the impact that a good tech stack can have, not just on the TA function, but wider talent management and HR capability can’t be underestimated but again; it’s more work which can often feel like mid-air repairs and there is never the option to ‘land the plane’ to give it a proper re-fit.

This led quite elegantly (if I say so myself) onto a discussion about the interface between TA and TM and the inevitable tensions between attraction and attrition. Clearly, they are both challenging in their own ways, but the latter is especially complex in the current market as employers race to develop sustainable flexible and hybrid working strategies whilst combatting significant external pay differentials often across every level of their organisation.

Another trend specific to the TA function that we discussed was the impact of outsourcing. It was interesting that our partner for the evening, Guidant Global, were not only able to give some great examples of some of the interesting and complex work they do across both permanent and contingent workforces, but also to talk about the trends they see of employers increasingly scaling back their TA functions to a core of experts and outsourcing the rest. There was a pretty high degree of agreement that this is a trend but whether it is a long structural shift or a short-term response to the current economic uncertainty remains to be seen.

One of the key points highlighted by our group was the importance of authenticity in describing a role – being honest about the pluses and minuses whilst still demonstrating how a prospective employee can still do great work. It was the same for job descriptions which need to explain why someone should want to work for you and not just what the work is (they probably already know!).

Finally, and after perhaps more than one glass of red wine we ventured onto what some roles in the TA and HR function of the future might look like. Who’s up for a ‘Head of Attrition’, an ‘Onboarding Director’ or perhaps even ‘Chief Authenticity Officer’.

One prediction we can make for sure, is that we will be back at the Ivy again as early as we can in  2023.

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