What is the future of talent acquisition?

Written by
Tom Ritchie

21 Jun 2017

21 Jun 2017 • by Tom Ritchie

Cielo’s Talent Rising Summit welcomed over 150 talent acquisition and HR leaders to the unique venue of Dutch Church in the heart of the City of London. Steeped in historical significance, the venue made for the perfect foil for a day discussing the future of talent acquisition. With a broad range of speakers, the agenda looked at both the wider and more specific trends influencing the talent acquisition market today.

The summit was bookended by a discussion of the macro trends that are influencing businesses and the workforce in the current climate and beyond. Opening the day with an engaging look into the not too distant future was Dr. Graeme Codrington, an expert in how technological and societal trends will change our working lives.

The changing workplace

Dr. Codrington put forward a four-point argument on how businesses can “look beyond the horizon, look beyond the next three to five years to future-proof their businesses.” He posited that leaders firstly need to “switch on their radars” and pay closer attention to technological and societal trends to unpick the effect developments such as automation, virtual and augmented reality and the growth of the on-demand economy will have on their business.

He also called on leaders to ‘be more curious’, to ‘experiment and embrace difference’ and ‘challenge the accepted orthodoxies’ that may actually be holding their teams back. Dr Codrington asserted: “We need to be curious, the best leaders in a changing world are those that can ask the right questions.”

The future workforce

During his presentation, Dr. Codrington briefly touched on the effects of an ageing workforce, a theme that was expanded on by Professor Sarah Harper, co-director of the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing. Due to medical advancements and a greater understanding of the trends that cause mortalities, the population of the earth is the oldest it has ever been, with some estimates of life expectancy reporting that a child born in the UK today will live to 104.

What does this mean for both current and future workforces? Professor Harper suggested that we need to change the ways in which we view old age, citing the example that a British man in his seventies now has the same health status as his grandfather at the age of 59. Not only that, but with the advancement of technologies, older workers that may have been in physically demanding roles can now be supported by automation and robot machinery.

With the retirement age like to be raised beyond 68 in the next few years, Professor Harper suggested that talent leaders must look to older workers in tandem with young people creating inter-generational teams that can leverage the different skills these demographics can provide.

Attracting and managing talent

Looking beyond macro trends, speakers explored topics including compliance, change management, the increasing use of technology in recruitment processes and talent attraction.

Dawn Hollingworth, Cielo’s strategy director, outlined how recruitment functions can make their businesses a draw for top talent. She argued that to be a magnet for candidates, you must focus on your ‘reach, reputation and experience’ – extolling the virtues of allowing your current workforce to help you promote your business with their own positive feedback.

Presenting a case study on how to ‘Embrace Change’, Michelle Adams, director of talent and development at O2, laid out her framework for how to lead employees through time of uncertainty. Drawing on her experience during a failed takeover of the business, Adams put forward a people-first approach for dealing with organisational fluctuations. By taking a pro-active approach, Adams said she found that, “People are more open to change than we may think.”