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As the digital landscape morphs and redefines whole industries, HR departments need to reconsider how they do their work. Methods that in the past worked for recruiting and retaining talented employees are quickly becoming outdated, if not obsolete.

Finding employees with the talent to meet the needs of an ever-evolving workforce is more challenging, especially in technical and emerging fields. New players in certain sectors can disrupt existing business models and gain market share; the competition is fierce. Newer interlopers can create opportunities for employees that seem too enticing to pass up, causing many HR executives to throw up their hands as they are at a loss for how to proceed.

Effective leadership redefines the HR game plan
A recent report by IBM titled "Redefining Talent: Insights from the Global C-suite Study - The CHRO Perspective" sought input from more than 5,200 C-level leaders from around the globe, with a close focus on the perspectives of 600 chief human resource officers.

The chief concerns among many of those human resource leaders are:

  • The evolving nature of work itself
  • The rising demand for digital talent
  • Obsolescence of certain skills as technology transforms work

A particular challenge is the cross-over effect of companies into new industrial sectors. As these boundaries collapse, CHROs say their companies face new competitors all seeking the same pool of talent, consisting of those candidates with specialized skills needed in today's digital economy.

Responding to new pressures
To respond to the increasing competition, organizations need to ask themselves some crucial and challenging questions. Candid answers to these questions can help lend clarity to the model used to attract the most talented candidates. The questions are:

    • What attracts a potential candidate to us?
    • Why would someone want to work for us?
    • What do we offer that our competitors don't?
These insights allow for effective leadership in human resources to rethink two core components of the HR program, one related to recruitment and one related to retention.

A new talent acquisition model and employee experience
Companies need new processes to differentiate their organization among the talent that you most want to target. HR needs to think about acquisition from a marketing perspective, borrowing creative ideas that will attract the next generation of talent. The IBM report also urges organizations to consider partnerships with third-party providers that can offer specific skills.

HR leaders cannot disregard their current workforce either, predicated on a firm understanding that the employee experience is evolving. Much like companies change strategies and tactics to respond to shifting consumer expectations, HR offices must do the same with shifting employee expectations.

Employers should consider new investments in training and leadership development. Such programs should improve productivity and employee engagement while providing workers with the chance to acquire some of the new, in-demand digital skills.

In both cases, HR offices need to be sure to use analytics to track recruitment and retention efforts, evaluate new technologies and test innovative new methods of recruitment and retention.

The need for new thinking is evident when it comes to HR in a digital world. With new approaches comes an opportunity to differentiate, attract new talent, and to hold on to that talent.