“Employee Experience.” This two-word phrase has taken the HR world by storm over the past several years. In fact, if you were to search employee experience on LinkedIn, you would return a list of nearly 5 million people globally, who have employee experience as part of their job title.
While employee experience has taken off in several core HR areas such as talent acquisition, onboarding, and learning, one area has seemed to lag behind.
Talent management is a function that seems to have missed the “experience” renaissance of HR until very recently. Traditional talent management processes and systems have been set up primarily to meet the needs of HR. As a result, those traditional processes are complex, systems are integrated but difficult to navigate, and the focus is on document management, data collection, and discussion in very small circles; typically, between select leaders and HR.
I believe this traditional approach to talent management misses the mark in two big ways. First, employee expectations for employers in terms of learning, growth, and career opportunities have changed. Second, employee expectations around technology are changing to better reflect the technology we interact with in our personal lives.
Changing Employer Expectations
In their 2020 Global Talent Trends Study, Mercer reports that one in three employees who report as engaged and satisfied with their employer still plan to leave due to a lack of career options. It is no longer enough for companies to focus solely on traditional learning, career development, and retention metrics to keep employees happy. Employees today have new
expectations of their employers, some of which include:
• Holistic wellbeing resources: Employees want wellbeing programs focused on their mental, physical, and financial wellness. They see their work and lives becoming increasingly integrated and they are looking for synergy between the two.
• Personalized learning: Employees don’t want to wait on their manager or HR to learn. They want to choose their own adventure and learn about topics in the way that suits them.
• Skills are the new career currency: As the world of work becomes more focused on agility, disruption, and reskilling. It will be skills, not jobs that become the currency by which successful careers are built. Anna A. Tavis outlines this trend in her article: Rise of the Skills Economy.
• Internal Talent Marketplace: In the Transformational Leadership Podcast, host: Henna Inam discusses the idea of an internal talent marketplace. One where employees aren’t tied to traditional org structures, but are brought together for projects and aligned by skillsets. This way of working would allow employees to continually build skills and gain new experiences while staying within the same organization.
Changing Technology Expectations
Employees today have high expectations when it comes to technology, and it makes sense! Consider the technology we use in our personal lives; how many emails, IMs, messages, and notifications all compete for our attention simultaneously? It’s no wonder that we have widely adapted the adage, “If it doesn’t make my life better, I’m not using it.”
Those same expectations of technology in our personal lives have bled into the technology we use at work. We want our technology to recognize our individual needs, to be fun to use, and to make our lives better. Contrast that with the way that traditional HCM platforms have operated, and it’s no wonder our more traditional HR technology experiences have left us less than satisfied. In order to create more engaging and enabling experiences in talent management, it’s important for us to think through a consumer experience lens. Some examples of translating consumer technology experiences into workplace technology are shown below.
Where do We go from Here?
The good news in all of this is that we’re beginning to see successful shifts from more traditional talent management to talent experience. Companies like Unilever and Microsoft among others have shown promise through experimentation and innovative ideas and tactics.
Additionally, there is an ever-increasing marketplace of “talent experience” vendors popping up and disrupting the traditional marketplace. These vendors don’t take the approach of being a one-stop-shop for all areas of HR, rather they focus in on one or two specific areas like learning
or career mobility. When you look at these vendors, you find several interesting things:
• They are employee-centric— they are focused around the employees’ journey and important milestones and moments that matter
• They flow with our work— they use nudges, suggestions, mobile and chat tobe more conversational and integrate with our normal streams of working
• They use AI— through data collection, they become more tailored and predictive over time
• They are designed for experience— fun and enjoyable, they use gamification and other techniques to be more social and connect people together
As you think about your current talent management practices, I would encourage you to begin to shift your mindset from management to experience. Your organization and employees will be better for it!