Building future-fit workforces: using technology to pipeline talent

According to the latest PwC CEO Survey, sourcing and hiring employees with the key skills they need to succeed in the digital world continues to keep CEOs awake at night, with 80% saying they’re worried about the availability of digital skills.

In the retail banking sector, this need for technical expertise is particularly acute as organisations embark on digital transformation projects in order to compete with challenger banks in response to changing customer behaviour and demands.

In fact, recent analysis by LinkedIn, which was commissioned by the Financial Times, discovered that European banks have increased recruitment of technology specialists more than tenfold in the past three years as they rush to fight rising competition and find new sources of growth. The number of adverts for IT and engineering roles in the first quarter of 2018 was 11.4 times higher than in the same period in 2015.

According to Mercer’s 2018 Global Talent Trends Study, 96% of C-suite respondents are planning organisational redesign in the coming months. However, the same survey found that only 18% of C-suite leaders describe their company as “change agile”. The crux of the issue for many firms is that they simply are not taking full advantage of the people data which is available to them.

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The answer lies in the use of talent analytics. New global research from the CIPD in association with Workday illustrates an important relationship between the use of people data and strong business outcomes. However, almost two-fifths of HR leaders (39%) say they have no access to people data for decision-making purposes.

Many companies are investing in technology to support HR processes, but are not joining the dots to create a total talent management model. Workforce planning must be viewed as absolutely integral to wider organisational strategy and in the financial services sector this concern is particularly apparent, as the digitisation of retail banking, ongoing changes in legislation and increased security risks continue to drive demand for specialist professionals.

A total talent management mind-set ultimately means initiating joined-up thinking around strategic workforce planning which takes into account all workers, including permanent, contingent and robots. By taking this approach, organisations can ensure they have the skills they need to thrive in the short-term – and the means to acquire and develop the talent required to succeed in an uncertain future.

The benefits of harnessing data to implement total workforce planning strategies, in order to aid organisational efficiency, should not be underestimated. By digitally tracking the availability of skills,both within the business and externally in the market, leaders can map where permanent workforces can be deployed most effectively, the places where artificial intelligence can pick up process-driven tasks which zap productivity, identify the skills they are lacking, and determine if these can or should be acquired on a full-time, flexible or contingent basis.

By working in this way, organisations can ensure that teams are performing to maximum efficiency, without skills gaps – or a skills surplus. Ultimately, however a workforce is structured, it should be built to maximise output, reduce costs and increase productivity – and also be adaptable to future needs.

The signs are positive that business leaders are realising the potential of using technology to plan future workforces: while 72% of HR leaders say digital technology is not a core part of their people strategy today, 47% believe it will become so in the next 12 months.

Digitisation has, for the first time, become a bigger priority for bank executives than the threat of regulatory fines. In a survey of 400 global banking executives by the Economist Intelligence Unit and Temenos, almost half (48%) of respondents said technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain would have a big impact on retail banks in the next three years, compared to 43% who cited regulation as a key concern.The challenge of sourcing and attracting the digital talent that banks need to thrive can be met through the use of talent analytics – to ensure that skills supply matches work demand both now and in the future.

  • Vanessa Byrnes, Sector Managing Director – Retail Banking & Insurance, Alexander Mann Solutions

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