The HR industry is witnessing an unforeseen perfect storm. HR has had to address stay at home orders across the globe, some industries furloughing in masses, some industries shifting millions of employees to remote work, some industries adapting to the new needs of an “essential worker” category.
Technology had played a key role in 2019 with new applications to help source candidates, give employees self-service capabilities on mobile, train employees used augmented and virtual reality, adaptive learning, and more. The massive shift to online has exacerbated both the gaps technology fills and the blatant need for understanding people better. Let’s take a look at overnight seismic shifts that will become the new 2020 roadmap for HR:

Sources: Korn Ferry, PwC, Spencer Stuart.

We’ll evaluate the three talent management trends impacting HR in 2020:

  • Emphasis on the human element
  • Unified view of people throughout the employee life cycle
  • New era of recruiting

Key takeaways

Emphasis on the Human Element: Know and Value Your People

As digital operations become the norm, businesses have to evolve through the people that make them different. According to PWC’s People Strategy For the Digital Age Survey Report,

“It’s easy to lose sight of the value of people in a digital world. The real winners won’t necessarily be the organisations that secure the best and latest technology; it’ll be those that use the technology they have to get the best out of their people – and vice versa. And that means using talent data wisely. We have access to more data than ever, but information means nothing unless it’s intelligently analysed and the results fed into talent strategy.”

Organizations that left the understanding of people to on-the-fly judgements based on in-person interactions are at a clear disadvantage here. Organizations are forced to develop that “human understanding muscle” and build the frameworks, at scale, to gain that organizational intelligence in order to make the critical people moves that will make the company endure. 

Unified View of People Through the Employee Life Cycle: Recognize Cross-Functional Development As an Opportunity

In the Spencer Stuart CHRO 2025 Report, Willie Smit, chief human resources officer of Nyrstar states,

“We must also have a more flexible approach to talent management, moving people around the business — the days of keeping someone in a role for three to five years are gone.”

Building a strong people analytics foundation means that organizations can recognize available pivots. In addition to retaining top talent, cross-functional development is a direct way businesses can apply people intelligence insights for greater performance. David Farris and Kelli Vukelic of Korn Ferry have a metaphor: coaches of professional sports teams use various statistics to get to know each player inside and out to tweak performance, often in playing different sports during off-season. David Farris and Kelli Vukelic write,

“You want to make sure to develop the areas most critical to the organization. Do you know what sets your firm’s top performers apart from their peers? If not, use this time to assess your company’s stars and then compare them against their peers to make sure we are focused on development in the right areas.”

A New Era of Recruiting

PWC’s People Strategy For the Digital Age Survey highlights:

“The abundance of information – from both internal and external sources – is the richest possible mine when it comes to understanding the employer brand, employee engagement and what employees want and need from the organisation. The vital, and apparently missing, step is to transform the data collected into strategic advantage.”

The definition of talent management expanding beyond full-time employee has wide-ranging implications for recruiting practices and employer brand strategy. CEOs with the help of CHROs are turning their attention to people intelligence as an effective business growth strategy for every function. Internal hiring, cross-functional development, and outside recruitment are areas where people analytics are changing the face of talent management.

Summing it up

Q1 2020 has forced the business world to recognize that being people centric is the key to adapting through dramatic changes in landscapes. As a result, in order to weather storms in Q2 and beyond, leading with people intelligence is no longer an option, but a necessity alongside market projections. The workforce is leading the way forcing employers to think more widely about sources of talent. Organizations that adapt by exploring not only new geographies and sectors but investing in their current employees and encouraging them to gain valuable, performance-driven skills through cross-functional development are best positioned to enter Q3 and Q4 stronger.

So, how do Chief Human Resources Officers start putting modern talent management frameworks in place?

  • Start augmenting people insights at an organizational level. Behavioral platforms like Aptology help HR and Business leaders take stock of another dimension of their workforce.
  • Define Success Profiles for roles, starting with roles where objective metrics are available (eg. quota attainment or time to resolution)
  • Start by rolling out pilots in organizations to avoid multi-year, multi-million dollar rollouts

For more information on the Aptology platform, talk to an expert.