In workforce planning, the organisation’s focus should be on optimal utilisation of talent through re-deployment or reducing existing manpower. Similarly, recruitment should either be frozen or highly selective. High performing, valuable employees should be identified from the less productive ones based on performance differentiation. This would help identify both talent which the company must strive to retain and manpower which can be released without a significant impact on company productivity. Returns on talent employed (ROTE).
Rewards too can be selective. Only those who contribute significantly should be rewarded. Policies should be reviewed to enhance centralisation wherever possible. Potential development and retention should be geared towards the best-performing talent. Thus, this approach helps improve ROTE through managing costs, optimal utilisation of talent and high involvement of top management.
Rapid growth: Any organisation operating in an environment of rapid growth will look to capture a large share of business. This obviously translates into a key strategic challenge talent acquisition and development.
In such a scenario, talent strategy is not so much focused on differentiation, as in a downturn/low growth situation, but on the speed of ramp up for building employee numbers, their skill development and retention across levels.
Rewards and benefits are liberal and aimed at retaining a large mass of the employee base to maintain high productivity levels and build capacity. High degree of delegation for decision-making is dispersed across the management hierarchy to provide control and authority at key positions in the organisation to facilitate quick turnarounds.
ROTE is enhanced through improved skill base availability, development of skills in line with business requirements, and building and maintaining talent capacity. Hence, the talent strategy and initiatives are geared towards enabling the firm to successfully meet growth targets.
Global expansion: As organisations grow and evolve, they are likely to look at global expansion for higher growth. In such a scenario, strategic objectives change dramatically. This necessitates the redesign of the organisation structure and roles and also needs a drastic shift in talent strategy.
The talent strategy in such a scenario is focused on shifting from known practices to redefining talent practices to make them relevant to a global, geographically dispersed entity. Hence, it will focus on redefining recruitment practices to successfully recruit in new geographies, establishing a new employment brand and company identity, adoption of global practices, global standardisation of policies and practices and compliance. These become the key areas to improve ROTE in an international, multicultural context.
A structured and sound methodology to formulate and deploy a talent strategy is necessary. The initial phase is primarily to understand the strategic objectives and ensure that there is an appropriate organisation structure, with clearly-defined roles, to support the achievement of company goals.
This is followed by an assessment of the processes in each link of the talent value chain. During this phase, a company may discover a complete absence of a process or gaps in the processes. These constitute the areas of improvement or new initiatives which are necessary to achieve company objectives.
These improvement areas/new initiatives are then prioritised depending on the strategic challenges and goals of the company and the presence of supporting systems/processes. This leads to a talent strategy defining specific steps or initiatives along each link of the talent value chain (talent levers). Based on this, a detailed implementation schedule can be developed with specific initiatives and timelines.
This approach, while simple and easily implementable, can provide disproportionate returns on talent employed. It provides a framework that can be used to ensure that an organisation’s talent is aligned towards achieving its strategic objectives. With such alignment, companies can maximise their ROTE in any industry or economic scenario and gain an advantage over their competitors.