I think there’s one thing we can all agree on—any predictions regarding what 2021 has in store for the talent acquisition and management industry is pretty much an exercise in futility. In fact, what I emphasized last year, which was similar with the views of many industry analysts, now reads as if it was written for an alternate world.
Of course, nobody could have possibly imagined last January that a global health pandemic would upend everything about the way we work and the way we hire. So, rather than attempting to predict what we should expect from 2021 as it relates to talent attraction and management, I believe it is more valuable to focus on how 2020, with all its upheaval and uncertainty, reinforced three things we already knew about talent acquisition.
#1. Great talent will always have options.
Even with an unemployment rate that’s nearly double what it was at the beginning of last year, attracting and retaining top talent remains extremely difficult. An XpertHR survey conducted in the fall finds that “recruiting and hiring” was cited as the top challenge among employers out of a dozen potential HR issues for 2021.
This is why employee experience remains front and center, with issues around flexibility—both where and when employees work—internal mobility, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) finally receiving the level of attention they deserve. Addressing these aspects of the employment offering is essential in order for organizations to create and maintain a culture that is attractive to top talent. The ability to hire and retain workers who are resilient and adaptable adds a new layer of complexity to hiring as the best workers possess the right mix of both technical and soft skills.
#2. The right technology moves people and organizations forward.
It’s easy when things are humming along to forget the vital role that technology plays both strategically and in the day-to-day operations of the recruiting function. COVID-19 was a stark reminder of how teams with the right tools and solutions in place are far more effective in navigating huge changes in the business than those still struggling with outdated systems.
The most obvious example of this was the scramble among organizations to implement collaboration tools for a newly remote workforce. But talent acquisition also learned right away how essential it is to have an agile tech stack in place—one that allows them to respond immediately to rapid shifts in hiring demand and dramatic changes to the process.
Another aspect of technology that 2020 solidified is that high-performing software isn’t about technical capabilities alone. The partnership and support provided by the vendor makes a huge difference, too. Close partnerships ensure that the vendor is there to evolve its features and functionality quickly while sharing insights with users regarding ways other customers have been able to leverage the technology for emerging needs.
#3. Talent acquisition’s business impact is extraordinary.
As TA teams maneuvered around the landmines that emerged in 2020, they continued to show just how capable they are at successfully steering their organizations to new ways of doing and, in some cases, in entirely new directions.
For example, forward-thinking talent acquisition teams didn’t simply move their recruiting operations online to keep going during the pandemic. They accomplished a seamless transition in record time while achieving major gains in hiring process efficiency and effectiveness. Part of this is because they took advantage of every opportunity to use automation across their newly virtual hiring processes, a critically important step given that many recruiters were already being tasked to do more with less. Allowing the technology to do the heavy lifting produced impressive results across various measures, from significant reductions in time to hire averages to exceptional new hire retention rates.
Talent acquisition’s business impact, especially during a tumultuous year, is among the main reasons why the role of the CHRO was elevated last year. HR functions that capitalized on this unique opportunity to lead will find continued appreciation for the value they deliver, especially as organizations further adapt how they attract, develop and retain the talent that is needed to meet the demands of the future of work.
It’s for these reasons, and countless others, that I am incredibly excited about how our industry will evolve in 2021 and the new heights that talent acquisition is poised to realize. Best wishes for the New Year and for your continued success!