Winning The War For Talent
People Matters|October 2019
With most companies embracing a sweeping program of digital transformation, businesses increasingly need to access a new generation of workforce that can exploit new technology and drive this change.
Mastufa Ahmed

Talent acquisition has never been fiercer with advanced organizations coming to recognize “talent” as a critical element of growth. With the increasing skill shortages and low employment rates, the talent acquisition process has become harder. Seventy percent of respondents to the Global Human Capital Trends 2019 survey done by Deloitte cited recruitment as an important issue, and 16 percent said it was one of the three most urgent issues their organization would face in 2019.

Winning the war for talent for organizations today calls for more than conventional approaches of recruitment. Today, it’s nearly impossible to operate a scalable recruitment function without a variety of tools for job placement, advertising, candidate relationship management, pre-hire screening, assessment, scheduling, and onboarding. Each of these processes are complex and almost all are being reinvented with AI. While the recruiter is still central to all great recruiting, companies now realize that without a strong technology infrastructure, they can’t scale or measure their results. As the economy slows and technology continues to mature, it’s important for TA teams to stay current on the tools market and make sure they select vendors that have proven solutions that scale to their needs.

Experts say companies that make more informed decisions about hiring, skilling and retaining talent will be the ones that survive the future of work. But how do organizations go about it? Plus, in a candidate-driven market right now, with candidates having multiple offers to choose from, how would companies reinforce that their employees are committed and engaged?

The cover story delves deep into strategies organizations follow to hire and retain best talent, how they plan to harness technology to reinvent recruitment and hiring, aspects of talent acquisition they plan to improve in the coming year, and the hiring challenges HR organizations face.

Organizations should embrace agile approach to transform lengthy recruiting processes into efficient ones

Moving from requisition-based hiring to pipeline hiring will be more agile and effective in bringing the best talent to the table, says Tracy keogh, Chief human resource Officer of hp, in an interaction with people matters

Tracy Keogh has worldwide responsibility for HP's strategic human resources activities, employee communications and social responsibility initiatives. She leads all aspects of HR, including workforce development and organization effectiveness, benefits and compensation, staffing, global inclusion and diversity, and HR processes and information management.

Prior to joining HP in 2011, Tracy was the Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Hewitt Associates, the world’s largest provider of human resources consulting services. Her accomplishments included creating an award-winning virtual learning and development network, implementing a disciplined global succession planning process, and designing a comprehensive and successful employee engagement program.

Previously, Tracy held the top HR job at Bloomberg LP, the financial data, news, and analytics provider. Prior to joining Bloomberg, Tracy was Vice President of Human Resources for Analog Devices. In addition to her human resources background, Tracy has a wide range of leadership experience in operations, sales, marketing, and consulting for a number of organizations.

Here are the excerpts of the interview.

How do you view the current talent acquisition landscape? Do you think recruiting is tougher in 2019?

With the rapid acceleration of technology advancements in all industries, pretty much every company is being faced with the reality of having to prepare their employees with new skill sets. With unemployment rates at an all-time low, and niche skill sets on the rise, companies will be competing more fiercely for talent, particularly in the hottest marketplaces across the globe.

The key will be staying ahead of what skills are needed for your company going forward. It starts with understanding the skillsets of your current employee base to determine whether they are the right ones for the company’s path forward. And then, the next step is to develop accelerated training programs to help employees learn these skills, supplementing that with hiring external talent to fill the skill gaps.

From an external talent view, it is critical to build and maintain a strong pipeline of active and passive talent so that recruiters can easily tap this network at any time. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can provide possibilities for automation and efficiency by helping streamline the process and enable recruiters to spend more time selling the company and providing a strong candidate and hiring manager experience. At the same time, you must also keep an eye out to make sure that the algorithm itself is not biased and doesn’t inadvertently exclude entire pools of talent. The key here is balancing AI with human review and constantly fine-tuning.

What are the top strategies that you follow to win the war for top talent?

At HP, we believe in hiring leaders at all levels and we embrace a talent mindset of developing our own employees first, with external hiring focused on high potential and niche skilled talent. We enable recruiters to become true talent consultants and we educate managers to embrace a talent scout culture.

Ultimately, we strive to build an employer value proposition that makes both internal and external talent see our company as a best place to work. It is also about creating a personal journey and an emotional connection with our employer brand. Having a well-articulated EVP that is shared by internal brand ambassadors and communicated in a way that resonates with different candidate personas helps us differentiate ourselves in the market.

Agile isn't just for tech anymore, it's transforming how organizations hire, develop and manage their people. How can HR organizations leverage the power of agile practices in recruitment and hiring?

Agile recruiting and hiring practices can have many benefits to the company and the employees. All efficiencies will maximize the work your team does, saving time and money, and enabling for both scalability and growth. An agile approach can help transform lengthy recruiting processes into highly efficient ones. The key is having recruiters do frequent checkpoints in the hiring lifecycle providing clear communication among stakeholders to identify any changes. This way, the recruitment team can modify the different processes based on the feedback. This allows the recruiters to adapt the modifications so that the next candidate cycle can move more quickly to identify and qualify top talent.

What can business leaders do to ensure that their recruiting processes are truly maximizing their organization’s ability to attract and retain the best possible talent as they grow?

Here’s the key thing that everyone in the company should understand: hiring is a community effort. It is not just part of your DNA, and each employee should understand and be committed to hire great people into the company. Good talent brings good results, great talent brings extraordinary results.

Think outside the box with hiring, educate managers to be great talent scouts, teach them how to identify talent, stress the importance of hiring for growth mindset and aligning with the culture. Hold them accountable for the quality of talent they hire and how that talent progresses and reward the ones who are importers and exporters of talent.

What are some of the hiring strategies that you follow at HP to identify soft skills?

At HP, throughout our recruiting lifecycle we are assessing candidate soft skills. We have built an assessment tool which is aligned with our company culture, highlighting key attributes on the talent we want to hire and who will be successful at HP. This tool enables recruiters and the interview team to delve further into the individual’s softer skills, helping determine whether this is the right fit. In addition, we assess talent for a growth mindset, this assessment helps us determine those candidates who have an aptitude and curiosity to continuous learning.

With Artificial Intelligence set to impact every aspect of HR and talent acquisition in particular, how do you see the rise of next-gen technologies and its role on recruitment in general?

Artificial Intelligence and its impact on the recruitment of women and minorities is currently a topic of high concern in the HR community. In the US, software development continues to be dominated by white men: only 25 percent computer scientists are women in the US and minorities are in the single digits. Hence, the algorithms that are supposed to be more impartial than humans, in fact perpetuate the same biases. And that is causing, among others, automatic rejections for job applications due to racialized names.

Algorithms for online job ads sometimes inadvertently omit entire populations, including the very pool of diverse talent companies are trying to tap into. The engineers and scientists who are developing AI technology must do a better job of building inclusion and diversity into AI design by using the right data to train AI systems to be inclusive.

At HP, we are aware that algorithms can perpetuate human bias and we take a balanced approach to recruitment with an emphasis on human interaction.

What’s the future of talent acquisition? What are the top challenges HR organizations face when it comes to talent acquisition and recruitment?

The future of talent acquisition revolves around the ability to identify and attract the right talent, faster. In order to this, moving from requisition based hiring to pipeline hiring will be more agile and effective in bringing the best talent to the table. It is also critical to remove time-consuming administrative tasks and invest in AI to empower recruiters to focus on building relationships both with qualified talent and hiring managers. HR organizations will be most prepared if they are keeping their own on the latest trends in AI, but as I said earlier, it is critical to constantly review tools and fine-tune algorithms with an eye on ensuring diversity in the pipeline.

At Walmart, we are engaged in a significant transformation of talent acquisition

Amy Goldfinger, SVP, Global talent acquisition, Walmart, in an interaction with people matters, shares her take on new-age talent acquisition, strategies they follow at Walmart, and how HR organizations can leverage the power of agile practices in hiring

Amy leads the effort to attract market-making talent to Walmart, the Fortune #1 company. Previously, she led the Global Human Resources Advisory Practice at Heidrick & Struggles, where she focused on senior level searches across industry and advised clients in the areas of HR transformation, talent management program strategy and execution, and onboarding.

Prior to joining the Firm, Amy was a Product Director at Dun & Bradstreet, managing a portfolio of risk management products and services. Earlier, Amy spent six years at Booz Allen Hamilton, specializing in the design and implementation of leadership development programs and competency-based human capital systems, including selection and recruitment, and post-merger integrations for both public and private organizations.

Amy earned her MBA from Columbia Business School and a BA in Psychology with a minor in Business from the University of Rochester. She is a Certified Professional in Human Resources Management and has a certificate in executive coaching.

Here are the excerpts of the interview.

Do you think the demands on HR leaders from the CEOs have shifted from support to being truly anchored in the business?

HR has become a true unlock to the strategy of organizations. This is not new, but it’s become more widely accepted by CEOs and Boards alike that the people function is a critical enabler to achieving company objectives. As a result, the demands on HR leaders have shifted from support to being truly anchored in the business. The commercial mindset of an HR leader is not discretionary; it’s a must-have.

Do you think attracting and hiring talent in a candidate-driven job market is tougher than ever?

There are always companies with great jobs out there, and so the more difficult activity is retaining great talent, particularly in today’s competitive labor market, where the most talented people have a lot of choices. In some ways, with the use of technology, recruiting is easier. But you can only systematize so much – it is still about the personal touch. I would say that hasn’t changed, but some of the tools have made our jobs easier. Also, generally, people prioritize a company’s purpose and culture with family, health concerns, and financial needs, more than they used to. That means we are constantly asking ourselves how we can tell our story and share our purpose.

What are the top strategies that you follow at Walmart to win the war for top talent?

We always strive for consistency. When we hire candidates we’re really clear about what we stand for—we communicate our values, hiring goals and keep candidates informed during the hiring process. We encourage slates of diverse candidates and encourage managers to hire people who are different to them because diverse perspectives help make us stronger. We have certainly seen the benefits of inclusion and diversity at Walmart. We also ask about real-life experiences and dig deep into what candidates have done and how they did it. We also identify and hire for key personality traits. For example, at Walmart altruism is a key trait that managers look for. Many of our officers score high in altruism. It is core to our culture of customer service. As I mentioned earlier, we also strive to tell our story well. Candidates will be more inclined to apply if they’ve heard about what Walmart is doing.

How can HR organizations leverage the power of agile practices in recruitment and hiring?

Walmart is keenly focused on building an agile mindset throughout the company, in every function, including HR. I think the test and learn mentality and the agile mindset in HR are where we can become more product enabled, move faster and infuse our function with innovation. In our TA team, we created a test-and-learn function to pilot innovation before rolling it out to our hiring of tens of thousands of individuals.

What are some of the hiring strategies that you follow at Walmart to identify soft skills?

We use behavioral interviews to understand how people lead and manage through change and transformation, which are constants at Walmart. We also use assessments to understand a candidate’s strengths so we can tap into that when they come on board. By using data and technology, our goal is to mitigate against unconscious bias. In fact, we are very focused on ensuring that whatever we do does not have any adverse impact on candidates or infuse bias into the process.

Do you have a plan on transforming your talent acquisition strategy to improve the overall hiring experience for the candidates?

We are engaged in a significant transformation of talent acquisition that will focus on the candidate experience, similar to how we focus on the customer experience. We also want to make sure we are delivering for today’s business needs and, at the same time, hiring for the future of retail. It’s exciting to be at the Fortune #1 company that is reshaping the retail landscape. Talent Acquisition is working lockstep with the business in that rapid evolution of how we meet our customers where they are today and in the future.

How do you see the future of talent acquisition?

Talent Acquisition in the future will be a highly data-driven, more proactive function than it is today. We already see the benefits of using all types of data to make a difference. It’s including the data and hard analysis together with the human, unquantifiable approach that drives successful talent acquisition. At the same time, the humanity of recruiting will not be replaced. The biggest challenges are in keeping the bar really high in all the ways in which we interact with people – making sure we are always reinforcing our employer and customer brand.

At Autodesk, we place significant focus on employee experience

In an exclusive interaction with people matters, Carmel galvin, senior vice president and Chief human resources Officer, Auto desk shares her views on how recruiting has become more challenging in recent years and how organizations can leverage the power of agile practices in recruitment and hiring

Carmel Galvin is Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer of Autodesk, Inc. and is responsible for leading the company’s efforts to attract, develop and retain the best talent. In addition, Galvin oversees Corporate Real Estate, Travel, Safety and Security (CREFTS).

Prior to joining Autodesk in 2018, Galvin was the Chief Human Resources Officer of Glassdoor where she led all people functions of the company, including human resources planning, learning & development, talent acquisition, employee relations and engagement, and more.

Galvin brings 25 years of human resources experience at global companies including Deloitte, Advent Software and MSCI Barra Inc. where she developed a particular focus on leadership coaching, developing organizational culture and employee engagement programs.

A native of Ireland, Galvin received her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Business from Trinity College Dublin and Master’s Degree in Business Studies from the University College Dublin’s Smurfit School of Business.

Here are the excerpts of the interview.

How do you think HR has evolved over the years and how do you see the role of HR as a business partner?

In many organizations, HR has already moved from being a purely administrative function to playing a more strategic role internally. HR professionals have increasingly shifted into a coaching and advisory role and have become, in many respects, the guardians of the culture and the employee experience. What is new and exciting is the increased role HR is playing both internally and at the board level, not just as it relates to governance but as a key player in defining and creating long term shareholder value.

Do you think recruiting is tougher in 2019?

Recruiting globally has become more challenging over the last several years. And while drivers can shift from region to region, two key factors include the amount of available talent and the evolving expectations of the multi-generational talent pool. We have also entered an era of continuous change where the skills needed for individuals and companies to succeed are constantly evolving making it harder to target your recruiting efforts.

What are the top strategies that you follow at Autodesk to win the war for top talent?

We are very fortunate at Autodesk to be a purpose-driven company, and our number one strategy for hiring great people is to ensure prospective employees understand that joining Autodesk is a real opportunity to make a direct and positive impact on the world. In fact, it was this vision that first drew me to Autodesk eighteen months ago when I decided to join the company. Another key element of our strategy for attracting and retaining top talent is the strength of our corporate culture. To provide some background, with Autodesk’s significant growth over the last few years, we saw an opportunity to influence the company’s culture – shifting it in a new and more purposeful direction. The goal of this cultural transformation has been to evolve and be intentional in setting the behaviors needed to be successful as an organization. I’m convinced that our culture transformation has made us a more desirable employer. We leverage our culture to help our employees see what’s possible when we work together and align around our mission.

And finally, we place significant focus on creating a great employee experience across the entire organization so that our employees know that Autodesk is a place where they are valued and can do their best work.

Agile isn't just for tech anymore, it's transforming how organizations hire, develop and manage their people. How can HR organizations leverage the power of agile practices in recruitment and hiring?

We have embraced the spirit of Agile in terms of how we approach our talent practices, including recruitment and hiring. We use this approach when building our key talent programs with an emphasis on experimentation, testing, learning and iterating. A specific example of this was the recent creation of our Hiring Manager Bootcamp, which was a program developed in response to a specific hiring surge that required us to not only move fast but also avail of this moment as a key opportunity to bring in new talent that would be positive, cultural “adds”, to the company. We followed an agile approach when developing this program, complete with multiple focus groups with tight feedback loops and iterations over a 3-month window. This resulted in an impactful new approach to hiring that not only helped Autodesk hire the talent we needed quickly but also transformed how our hiring managers think about their role in the hiring process, while at the same time significantly improving our candidate experience.

What are some of the hiring strategies that you follow at Autodesk to identify soft skills?

I referenced earlier how we have been intentional about evolving our culture. Our culture framework, or what we call our Culture Code, includes a defined set of values, and we have integrated interview questions tied to these values as a way of identifying a candidate’s alignment to our culture. So beyond evaluating a candidate’s skill set and work experience, we strive to determine if they will be a “culture add” for the organization. Not only does this help us test their critical soft skills, but it also makes for a richer interview experience for the candidate.

With Artificial Intelligence set to impact every aspect of HR and talent acquisition in particular, how do you see the rise of next-gen technologies and its role on HR in general?

There are many ways disruptive technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning will influence HR and talent acquisition. AI, for example, can be used to better screen and understand large numbers of job applications and other input sources to identify and provide richer profiles of prospective candidates. Another example is using automated interview scheduling tools, which will free-up recruiters to spend more time with candidates. At Autodesk, we’ve already experienced the power of AI first-hand as it relates to our employee engagement survey tool, which enables us to better analyze the comments submitted by our employees and move much more quickly into targeted conversations and responses. In addition, leveraging AI and machine learning to generate data driven insights from our wealth of employee data can be hugely helpful in predicting turnover trends and shaping our HR strategy.

What aspects of talent acquisition do you plan to improve or implement in the coming year?

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