By now talent managers are aware that an economic upswing is imminent, but it's up to them to be proactive in the interim and put in place the right strategies and processes so their organizations will be positioned to scale up quickly when the economy recovers.
"[The key lies in] the ability to foresee or make decisions in anticipation of what the organization is going to need in the near term as well as the long term," said Kevin Martin, vice president and principal analyst of human capital management at Aberdeen Group, a research firm. "It's looking beyond the current state, where many executives right now are in a stalemate given the immediate urgency pressures they're feeling."
Martin outlined steps talent managers can take now to ensure workforce alignment to business objectives in a recent Talent Management magazine webinar titled "Preparing for the Economic Recovery: Putting the Right Strategy in Place."
Build a competency framework. Competency management is an integral hub to talent management, Martin explained.
"Building a competency framework enables companies to align the workforce with business objectives to create a high-performance culture," he said. "[Companies] need to make sure [employees] are on development plans aligned with the objectives of the business and align hiring processes to anticipate skills needs - how else [can they] anticipate what skills needs are going to be unless [they've] defined what those competencies are for forward-looking positions [they] anticipate as a business?"
Redefining core competencies for the company or for any job role provides a competitive advantage. An example of this is Northeast Georgia Health System, an organization that aligned compensation with competencies, Martin explained.
"They're so keen on core competencies that they've told their employees: ‘Once you get training on these competencies [and] can demonstrate proficiencies in these core competencies, we'll pay you more,'" he said. "So now they've got incentives in place for employees to continue their professional development, which then drives greater productivity from their business."
Build and cultivate a candidate pipeline. Once core competencies have been defined, talent managers must start thinking about how to effectively screen or assess the applicant pool to identify candidates with the necessary skills.
"Right now, if you're an organization that's unable to recruit because of requisition, budget cuts, hiring freezes, forget about recruiting - what are you doing to build and nurture a candidate pipeline?" Martin said.
Research shows many organizations are using software to track candidate communication, Martin explained.
"Maintaining and engaging an informative company portal is important as well," he said. "Companies that don't have a new employee portal or Web site can provide information on their existing Web site that puts a human face on the company and allows people to get a sense of the company's culture."
Get familiar with Web 2.0 tools. Now is the time for companies that don't use Web 2.0 to improve talent management processes - such as including recruitment, on-boarding, and learning and development - to test these tools out, Martin explained.
"Best-in-class organizations have started with small project teams or maybe a recruiter who started blogging," Martin said. "Test it against the current state so you can benchmark: Where did I improve in quality, time to fill, reaction of the candidates, [etc.] for my outreach here versus the typical vehicle?"