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Thanks to advances in technology, organizations are beginning to understand their workforce on a deeper level than ever before. New human resources portals, artificial intelligence and cloud technologies help companies not only gather a wealth of insight from their employees, but also analyze and put that information to use in a more productive and inclusive way.

This approach to talent management is what Bersin calls a "systemic relationship" with talent. We spoke with Stacia Sherman Garr, vice president of talent management and workforce research at Deloitte Consulting, LLP, about the implications of embracing a systemic relationship with talent and how it can help organizations drive employee engagement, improve financial outcomes and enhance overall performance.

Keeping Pace with Technology

Despite the vast amount of information available to HR professionals today, organizations still struggle to use people data in a productive way. Garr says it's tough for many companies to keep pace with the rapid evolution of technology and resulting onslaught of information, and this may be a factor contributing to why we are continuing to see low levels of employee satisfaction and engagement.

The good news? Garr says Deloitte's research shows that more mature organizations are changing their approach to how they manage individuals and teams. Creating a systemic relationship with talent is a big part of this change.

“What that means, practically speaking, is that the organization has a way of getting insights from employees at scale (and for employees to give those insights at scale), a process to absorb that information and analyze it and then, most importantly, a process to enable employees – not just management – to respond to the prioritized needs," she explains.

Using technology to gather data, analyze that information and make a decision that is carried out through a top-down initiative doesn't always work, Garr says, since the volume of information and needs often far exceed senior management’s time and resources to respond. Rather, by building a systemic relationship with talent, the organization develops an approach to allow individuals to contribute their thoughts and needs at scale and for the organization to understand and prioritize key themes and previously unidentified insights.  Critically, organizations with a systemic relationship with talent then leverage the scale of its employees to respond to those themes and insights, giving them opportunities to develop new ideas, projects or programs.

Engaging with Committed Talent

A key part to developing a systemic relationship with talent involves finding people who are committed to delivering value, excited to learn and ready to take action on insights. To remain competitive in the future, employees will need to continue to expand their skillsets and adapt to change.

“The focus is really on who you should be bringing into the organization," Garr says. “Yes, the ability to meet the current job is important, but the bigger question is, 'Are these people going to be able to learn to meet the needs of the organization in three years, in five years?'"

It's no coincidence that top performing organizations are learning organizations—consistently bringing in new information, responding to change and testing out new technologies.

Enhancing Business Outcomes

Organizations that are able to develop a systemic relationship with their workforce are more prepared to thrive in our current environment of continuous change, Garr says. Rather than having a transactional employer-employee approach to talent management, organizations need to recognize the broader value that employees can bring to the business,  and work towards cultivating a deeper relationship.

“It goes from seeing employees as people who are just there to do a task, to people with whom you are trying to... create a more productive and agile organization – and in the process create an employment experience that is mutually beneficial," she says.

At the heart of a systematic relationship is an organizational culture of learning where leaders listen to new ideas and value diversity of thought. The most successful organizations, Garr says, make employees feel valued for what they bring to the table as individuals.

Photo: Twenty20