Emerging HR Discipline Is Among 2012 Predictions

By Kathy Gurchiek Dec 8, 2011

“Talent mobility”—looking at patterns of movement among employees and making it easier for them to move inside their organizations—is an emerging formal HR discipline, according to a Bersin & Associates report released in November 2011. Strategies addressing it will become mainstream in 2012, according to the report.

That is one of 14 workplace predictions in the 41-page report that highlights how strategic HR and talent management are undergoing what research and consulting firm Bersin & Associates calls “some radical changes.”

[See HR Magazine's trends graphics here.]

“Many of the talent management executives we talk to have a function called talent mobility,” said Josh Bersin, president and CEO of Bersin & Associates and the report’s principal analyst.

“There’s a gap in the workforce skills in general,” in large part because of recession-related downsizing since 2009, Bersin told SHRM Online. The skills of unemployed workers atrophy, making it harder for organizations to find the people with the skills they need, he noted. Additionally, many disengaged employees, impacted by the slow economy, remain in their current jobs.

“You want to have a dynamic system for moving people around internally. Most of the companies we talk to don’t and are not good at moving people between positions,” so the career path “usually is up or out,” he said.

“Even if you’re a small company the same practices apply, just in a small way,” he said. “The difference is in a small company, the HR professionals have to do more of this themselves” along with their other tasks.

Other predictions:

Skills gaps in technical and functional roles will continue to create challenges in hiring and leadership in 2012. Brazil, Russia, India, China, Eastern Europe and Singapore are exploding with growth, while the U.S. and Western Europe continue to suffer from high unemployment and sluggish economies.

HR and talent team goes “glocal.” This involves thinking about their workforces in a global way—building global tools and best practices—while empowering local managers and HR teams to act locally.

Deep integration of talent acquisitions—recruiting and staffing—into talent management.

Social tools and ads for finding talent will grow dramatically in 2012, forcing staffing agencies and job boards to re-engineer their offerings.

A heavy focus on building programs to drive engagement of workers under the age of 30.

By 2013, 47 percent of all employees will be those born after 1977.

Corporate training will continue to transform from the centralized program-centric, university model to programs that are social, informal and on demand. This includes using online courses that take 30 minutes to complete and is broken into small chunks, and applying gaming techniques such as points, badges and missions to training.

More large organizations will rethink their traditional performance appraisal process. Companies will incorporate a more transparent coaching and development model. It will involve input from others in the organization in addition to the employee’s manager.

Social rewards, social learning, social performance management, social recruiting and social career management will start to revolutionize rewards and recognition, learning, performance management, recruiting and career management.

Organizations will accelerate their focus on career development.

Command and control-type leadership styles will be replaced with high-powered influencers and strategists, and the increasingly young workforce will exert growing pressure on organizations to build new leaders. This includes a serious focus on diversity and what Bersin & Associates calls “girl power” in developing top leaders. “Companies are realizing that women leaders are more modern, more effective and very much wanted,” said Bersin, who sees the beginning of “significant changes in gender makeup of top leadership. Bersin sees the new type of leadership as more collaborative, requiring “skills that women have in greater supply than men.”

The talent management software market will continue to grow, but bigger players and agile startups will start to disrupt it.

Data science will become a hot HR topic; organizations will differentiate themselves by focusing on smart talent segmentation and analysis. Any HR team that does not have an “analysis” team should consider building one, according to the report. “We’re in the golden years in figuring out how to analyze that data,” which ranges from performance and turnover to engagement to demographics, Bersin said. “Every HR department should have someone in that department who is interested enough [to] go through it and try to identify trends and patterns to help them build high-performing programs.”

HR, training, recruiting and generalist professionals are going to be trained in 2012 to become comfortable with the many new approaches, tools and solutions in the market.

HR professionals have to be [technologically] aware. They don’t have to be gurus, but they can’t just ignore it,” Bersin said, pointing out that employees and potential hires use social media to communicate. That includes tweeting on Twitter and posting on Facebook about their jobs and employers.

Bersin will discuss this report in a webinar, “Predictions 2012: Your Crystal Ball for Building the Borderless and Agile Workplace,” set for Jan. 12, 2012.

Kathy Gurchiek is associate editor for HR News.


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