Talent teams report ‘alarmingly’ low maturity

Talent teams in Australia are maturing at a faster rate than those overseas, but none consider themselves “ahead of the curve”, new research shows.

The latest TQSolutions Talent Maturity Model report, which is based on a survey of 124 respondents from more than 50 local and global organisations, says people and talent teams have been growing in their maturity – especially in Australia and New Zealand, where some 36% of ANZ businesses rate themselves as “progressive”, compared to 28% elsewhere.

But there are also more talent laggards in ANZ, with 15% of respondents self-assessing as “foundational” compared to 3% of their global counterparts.

The model, developed in partnership with PwC, evaluates businesses’ mindset and enablement across eight critical talent dimensions: strategy, accountability, decision-making, analytics, capabilities, technology, employer branding, and policies. Respondents rank themselves across five levels ranging from “foundational” to “ahead of the curve”.

In 2023, however, no participating organisations have reported being “ahead of the curve”, and organisational maturity around extracting “predictive insights that inform or enable more effective people and talent service delivery” is just 37%. Having effective measures of ROI from related programs and initiatives is only slightly higher, at 38%.

TQSolutions managing director Gareth Flynn says the results show talent teams lack data and insights to be proactive in their work, prompting “reactive fire-fighting modes”.

Improving their ability to make predictive insights will enable “significantly far superior talent decisions and outcomes” to stem the “avalanche of talent” walking out the door, he adds.

The maturity level for effectively capturing feedback and measuring success on talent engagement and employer brand initiatives is similarly low (39%); the level for effective visibility of internal skills, potential and mobility preferences is only slightly higher (41%).

Flynn says he isn’t surprised to see employer brand ranking as one of the lowest-performing talent maturity dimensions.

“Employer brand teams are traditionally under-funded, often in industries with tight labour markets where your employer brand is needed the most to differentiate your work/career offering to existing and prospective talent,” he says.

“Without the right tech and tooling for employer branding, organisations cannot generate meaningful insights and this results in subjective and sub-optimal decision making because those in charge of these decisions lack the tools required to measure success. In a post-pandemic working world, where talent has won the ‘war for talent’, there is some maturity occurring in this critical area, but more needs to be done.”

The report says this year’s results show employers are missing “critical data points and insights”, including flight-risk indicators, mobility opportunities, career development and planning activities, due to ongoing reliance on “antiquated systems”, which it blames on a lack of engagement and development, and a flow of post-pandemic resignations.

Flynn notes that organisational maturity around removing bias in hiring processes (41%), a key means of meeting DE&I goals, ranks “surprisingly low”, and he says employers are “losing the war for talent because they lack adequate visibility of their people“, resulting in “sub-optimal people and talent decision making across the organisation”.

“It’s also disappointing to see that bias remains in internal and external hiring processes,” he says. “AI will continue to grow its role in hiring processes, but clean data will be essential to training the AI to remove bias. Put simply, without the tech you don’t have the data and without the data you will have sub-optimal AI – and human – decision-making.”

Self-interest and talent hoarding

Another critical issue is around whether people leaders and hiring managers in organisations are willing to collaborate internally and share talent (internally and externally), to support their organisation’s people and talent plan – the maturity level is just 63%.

“This strongly indicates the existence of self-interest and ‘talent hoarding’,” Flynn says. “Historically, leaders think they ‘own’ their talent, which is a false assumption. The only people that own talent is the talent itself.

“It’s a better strategy to understand the career aspirations of your people and try to align with opportunities internally rather than the talent exploring opportunities in the external market. A lack of career development and mobility is often the main reason for people leaving organisations,” he says.

This article originally appeared here on Shortlist.net.au and has been reproduced with permission.

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