Kelly Services: Strategy Beats Tactics in the Talent War
The war for talent is damaging many companies and a glance to the future shows the conflict will only intensify. Rolf Kleiner and Pam Berklich from Kelly Services tell Jim Banks that successful strategies for recruiting and retaining the right people could reduce costs and simplify HR.
There have been many warnings about human resources problems, but only now, with many organisations encountering a yawning skills gap, are those warnings being heeded. The war for talent is causing casualties and companies need protection.
The main problem they face is simply a lack of talent. Key skills remain scarce and will become more so.
Rolf Kleiner, senior vice-president, general manager, international/outsourcing and consulting for HR consultancy Kelly Services, says: 'The talent shortage is the single biggest driver in HR at the moment. It is emerging in some places, but it is already acute in others. It is a megatrend that is not about to end. In some cases, it may even threaten a company's viability.'
Kelly Services, which is active in 33 countries, including the US, provides solutions for temporary staffing, HR outsourcing, vendor on-site management and full-time staff recruitment, giving it a broad view of global recruitment that helps it see the trends challenging HR strategies.
Shortening business cycles demand more flexible access to skills. Globalisation adds complexity as companies look further afield for talent and expand their operations to markets where labour laws are less clearly defined. Retaining key staff is also a big problem. Companies need more from HR, but also want to cut costs and improve efficiency.
It is no surprise, then, that many companies are hitting roadblocks. Staffing is undoubtedly becoming a strategic issue, affecting management's ability to deliver on long-term goals.
Kleiner believes that companies do not do as good a job as they should in HR management and there are few examples of highly disciplined processes: 'It is not only recruitment that needs more focus, but also the processes for sourcing, developing and retaining talent.'
THE HOLISTIC VIEW
For Kelly Services, the solution is to adopt a more holistic view of HR. Its total workforce management (TWM) concept brings together many strands of HR policy to improve efficiency.
Vendor managed solutions (VMS) for outsourced contingent workers are key to TWM, as are many elements of the rapidly growing recruitment process outsourcing market. The global spend on HR outsourcing, measured at $25 billion in 2006, is growing at around 20% each year. VMS enables more efficient sourcing delivered by a specialist, reducing costs and facilitating flexible access to niche expertise when required.
Technology is also vital to TWM, particularly when focused on integrating key tools for vendor management software, applicant tracking, skills monitoring and staff development. The most valuable ingredient, however, is the close partnership that TWM demands between a company and its HR advisors.
Pam Berklich, Kelly Services' senior vice-president, operations, outsourcing and consulting, says: 'HR executives need to be more aligned with their businesses. They must look internally and recognise that there are experts who can improve results, which is especially important when there is a shortage of talent. They need to be strategic partners.'
Kleiner adds: 'HR is definitely becoming more strategic, so companies must select their partners on the right criteria – experience, global reach, their capacity as a thought leader and, most importantly, their cultural fit. A partnership is not like a vendor/client relationship. It requires a team approach and collective responsibility.'
Partnerships built on trust realise the full benefits of TWM, allowing many companies to heal the split, where contingent labour is handled through procurement and direct hiring of full-time staff is handled by the HR department.
TWM helps companies gather those responsibilities together to optimise their full scope of talent.
Such partnerships need, above all, formal governance of HR strategy at leadership level. Senior executives must sponsor HR programmes to ensure their companies' long-term survival.