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Q&A with Josh Bersin: The No. 1 Problem Facing HR Departments Today — and How to Fix it

Cornerstone Editors

The way many human resources departments are structured and operate needs to change, says Josh Bersin, principal and founder of Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP a human resources research and advisory firm. As the need for talent grows, the traditional approach to "centers of expertise" with HR generalists has to change, argues Bersin, driving more embedded talent expertise within the business. Bersin suggests that companies have to redefine talent management from "integrated" to a configurable "talent system."

Why are companies rethinking their approaches to talent management?

We are entering a crisis in retention and engagement. Coming out of the recession skills are in short supply and organizations need to reinvigorate the value proposition and work experience for their employees. We like to call it "building passion in the workplace" – it goes far beyond the traditional definition of engagement.

Over the last ten years companies have been focused on "integrated talent management" – bringing the various talent teams together to implement coaching, performance management, development planning and other practices.

Now, in 2014, we need to take the next step, and build what we call the "corporate talent system" — not software. Rather than think about how to "tweak" or "change" the performance appraisal and compensation process to improve engagement or retention, for example, we now need to shift our thinking to all elements of talent management at the same time. The whole talent "system" works together, so you really can’t change one process without looking at all the others.

Suppose you want to improve employee engagement and performance in a given business area. First, of course, you have to look at management skills and behaviors. But beyond this, the likely solution may involve a change in performance management, an increase in diversity and inclusion, changing the work environment and work rules, modifying compensation, tweaking the employee development environment, and just about everything else. Rather than look at one talent practice as a solution to a problem, now we need to look at the "system" as a whole.

This takes a consultative approach. In 2014 we have to design HR to think about these problems in a systemic way and then take a systemic approach to solutions. Companies are not only going to need integrated software, but they’re going to need to have teams that work on problems in a consultative way.

Describe a company that solved a problem by taking a jigsaw puzzle approach to HR?

A Midwest electric utilities company is having a hard time recruiting engineers to work in its two nuclear power plants. The head of the nuclear division told HR that he wanted to raise the compensation by 35 percent to attract engineers.

The HR leader said "not so fast" and created a small consulting team of HR experts that’s basically a SWAT team. After several months of study, the team concluded, "Yes, we’re not getting enough candidates, despite there being people in the market for these jobs. The reason we’re not getting them has nothing to do with compensation — it’s our employment brand. We have no brand value proposition, we’re unknown, and no one thinks we’re a cool company. You can raise the comp all you want, but we’re still not going to get them." They implemented these recommendations, and sure enough, within six to nine months they developed a strong pipeline of engineers.

How can a company begin to change its approach to HR?

We have to redesign HR to think about the entire "talent system" as a whole — and put in place senior specialists in the field who can implement and tweak these processes as needed.

Generally there are three things in the way of this. First, many people in HR lack domain expertise. In one of our most recent surveys, nearly 45 percent of respondents ranked "reskilling HR" as a top priority. Second, HR structure is designed well for integrated consulting. Companies have spent a long time setting up HR generalists that serve the needs of line managers — these people have to become embedded specialists, connected to the center of expertise. Third, we have defined the HR roles based on service delivery, and HR people get paid based on the "customer satisfaction" of their line managers. While this is a good thing, it draws them away from becoming consultants and encourages them to spend time on administration. We need to shift HR teams into consulting roles and need to train managers how to implement HR practices through self-service wherever possible.

2014 will be a challenging year to hire and retain people. It’s time to rethink about HR and redesign our teams to build a highly engaging workplace, drive development and performance, and attract the most highly skilled candidates.

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4 Ways to Expand Your Social Media Recruiting Strategy

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4 Ways to Expand Your Social Media Recruiting Strategy

Social media is ubiquitous, and companies are using it in many different and innovative ways for enhancing their sales, marketing and customer services. So why is it then that many HR departments still fail to see social media as more than a job board? Outside of the office, the same HR people happily engage with friends on Facebook, share news and ideas on Twitter, look at pictures on Instagram and send snaps on Snapchat. But when they put their work hat on they seemingly forget why they use social in the way they (and hundreds of millions of other users) do every day, and resort back to just posting jobs (in a boring way) on social media! Of course there is nothing wrong with job posting, and it's often an effective approach to reaching an audience, but not all of the time. According to LinkedIn, only 12 percent of the working population are actively seeking new employment. So, if all you do is post jobs on your LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook page, you are consciously ignoring the other 88 percent of the working population who might be interested in hearing more about your company in general. Creating and sharing interesting content about your company such as employee stories or volunteer days help bring your employer brand to life. It might even trigger people to reach out to you and find out more about your job opportunities. In truth, mixing up your social media feeds with a variety of content will provide more depth and candidate engagement. Here are four ways to expand your social media strategy and engage with new potential candidates. 1) Candidate Sourcing With people using an average of more than five social networks, sourcing talent via social media makes absolute sense. Branch out from just using LinkedIn and look to sites like Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to search for and engage with prospective talent. Try search tools like Followerwonk to search Twitter bios for keywords and job titles, a clever Chrome browser extension called Intelligence Search that easily searches Facebook and using the search bar at the top of Google+. They will help you identify new talent. If you are looking to build social media pipelines then try Hello Talent. It is a great free tool that allows you to build talent pipelines from many different social networks by using a browser extension. 2) Competitor Monitoring Social media is a fantastic source of information and data. By using tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, you can monitor the social media activity of your competitors. Both of these tools allow you to set up search columns, where you can enter things like keywords, hashtags, Twitter names and track when any of these are mentioned on sites such as Twitter. You can use the interact or use the insights accordingly. 3) Resources for Candidates Consider your Facebook page (or Twitter channel) as a real-time customer services channel for you to engage and communicate with both new and existing candidates in the recruitment process. Provide links to your social media pages to candidates at all stages in the process and encourage them to visit the pages and ask questions about any part of the process. You can also share useful information about working for the company, including locations, employees and other relevant news. 4) Live Recruitment Events Not everyone can attend the many recruitment events happening every month. But by using social media like Twitter, Facebook Live, Instagram and Snapchat, you can easily provide live commentary for these events you attend or host. Real-time video via Facebook Live and interaction via Twitter chats are superb examples of ways to regularly engage with a live audience of potential candidates. With social media firmly established in our working lives, I question how much more evidence HR departments will need to fully embrace this "new" form of candidate engagement. Photo: Twenty20

Cartoon Coffee Break: Unconventional Recruiting

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Cartoon Coffee Break: Unconventional Recruiting

Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back every two weeks for a new ReWork cartoon. Missed the Recruiting Trends conference? From the state of recruiting automation adoption, to the role that the human element still plays in recruiting, our recap covers everything you need to know. Header photo: Creative Commons

The Latest Office Benefit Is Tackling Student Debt

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The Latest Office Benefit Is Tackling Student Debt

Modern companies are more than just employers — increasingly, they are also gyms, cafeterias and even laundromats. As perks like yoga class, free lunch and complimentary dry cleaning become the norm, companies continue to push the boundaries on ways to attract and retain top talent by providing much more than a paycheck to employees. The latest in the slew of new workplace benefits? Student loan assistance. In April, Chegg partnered with to give full-time employees extra cash for student loan reduction. Then in September, consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers announced it would provide up to $1,200 to help employees pay off loans annually. As a benefit, student loan assistance programs are certainly still in their infancy— one survey found that only 3 percent of companies offer such a benefit. But experts say that may soon change as companies seek to differentiate themselves in a competitive hiring environment. "We think student loan benefits are poised to be the next big benefit; similar to what 401(k) matching was when it was first introduced," says Dana Rosenberg, who leads employer and affinity group partnerships at Earnest, a lender that offers student loan refinancing and works with companies to create loan pay-down programs. The Burden of Student Debt Such programs could be extremely attractive to debt-laden Millennials. Around 40 million Americans collectively carry $1.2 trillion in student loan debt, and the graduating class of 2015 was the most indebted class in history with an average debt of $35,000 (a superlative they won't hold for long come May 2016.) For employers looking to adjust benefits to correspond to the changing demographics of their employee base, student loan programs hit the mark. "In 2016, our employees will be 80 percent millennials, and we also hire close to 11,000 employees directly out of school each year," says Terri McClements, Washington Metro managing partner of PwC. With student debt often preventing young people from participating in 401(k) plans and reaching traditional life milestones, the benefit could potentially make a large impact on employees' financial and personal well-being. A study from the American Student Association found that 73 percent of people with student loans reported putting off saving for retirement or other investments due to their debt, 75 percent reported delaying a home purchase and 27 percent reported it was difficult to buy daily necessities. "Student loans can be a very stressful thing to deal with, so if we can give our employees peace of mind, that's great," says Caroline Gennaro, corporate communications manager at Chegg. The Allure for Employers Student debt assistance programs aren't just attractive to employees, either. Rosenberg says there are significant benefits for the organizations that offer them as well. "Employers that offer programs to help their employees get out from under their debt load are seeing big benefits: increased retention, more competitive recruiting and, perhaps most importantly, happier employees who have additional cash flow to put towards their life goals," Rosenberg explains. Rosenberg says happier employees are more engaged employees, who tend to be more productive. Studies show that companies with high employee engagement experience lower turnover and have double the rate of organizational success than their less-engaged counterparts. Student loan benefit programs may also lead to a more diverse workforce, attracting employees whose financial backgrounds meant they had to take on more debt for their education. "Diversity and inclusion are also very important to us, so the ability to offer this benefit can help minorities who come out of school with a higher debt burden," says McClements. A Promising Response Companies say the response to their student loan assistance programs have been overwhelmingly positive. Chegg has had more than 80 people sign up since they started their program this summer, and they've already eliminated roughly 86 years of collective loan repayments for their employees. Companies are also finding these programs are a way to differentiate themselves from organizations that may offer more generic benefits. "As a company in the San Francisco Bay Area, we are always looking to attract the best and brightest in the industry, and this benefit is a big draw," says Gennaro. Photo: Shutterstock

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