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What the fourth industrial revolution means for talent management

Lauren Reeves, principal consultant at PSI Talent Management

Against a background of growing automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) it’s clear that future jobs could be dramatically different from those of today. As a result, CVs and other static assessment tools will soon be out of date, and the need to engage and immerse candidates will become even more vital.

But how do you recruit for potential when your business or client’s future needs are still unknown? What are the most valuable attributes to recruit for to future proof your workforce? When it comes to creating assessment processes that stand the test of time, combining psychology with cutting edge technology is the best place to start.

Driven by digitalisation

The fourth industrial revolution is the interconnection of physical systems and virtual networks, allowing the technological and physical worlds to be combined, and it is having a major impact on the workforce. High speed internet, cloud technology and AI are all affecting the velocity, scope and impact of change. On the demand side this leads to new patterns of consumer behaviour. On the supply side it drives the need for innovative new ways to meet customer needs.

Traditional organisational structures and talent management approaches must adapt quickly in response to these changes. While the workforce is currently augmented by technology, rather than fully automated, the picture is changing. In the future, it is the jobs that require creative thinking, empathy, learning agility, coordinating, managing, communicating and interacting that will stay with humans.

Integrated response

There is an urgent need to recruit for and develop these uniquely human skills. As Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum puts it, “Talent, more than capital, will represent the critical factor of production”. That’s why organisations must develop an integrated and comprehensive response. While advances in technology will be vital for business success, the critical factor will be the humans that work alongside the machines.

Effective employees will need to embrace every opportunity to build and develop their skills, and be able to work well in a mix of cultures, values and ages. Equally, organisational design should be set up for speed and agility – established hierarchies will become networks, demands on leadership will continue to change, and communication and accountability will be critical.

Talent attraction

In this new world, getting the right people is key. When there is more competition for talent, the focus needs to be on delivering a superb candidate experience. Employee brand and reputation becomes even more important and outstanding recruitment processes will showcase technology and innovation, as well as giving candidates a realistic job preview.

To best serve their clients and organisations, recruiters must draw on a wide range of technology that goes beyond competencies, to explore a candidate’s ability to acquire knowledge, update their skills, learn and unlearn. For example, a virtual assessment centre (VAC) can measure  decision making skills, innovation, learning agility and entrepreneurial thinking, whilst online psychometrics can assess whether an individual is fully prepared to learn and grow.

What’s more, specific assessments for emotional intelligence (EI) provide the opportunity to look into the minds of candidates and explore their levels of creativity, resilience and ability to move outside of their comfort zones. Research shows EI predicts performance at work, and emotionally intelligent individuals who build relationships, innovate, collaborate and grow are far more likely to remain satisfied in their job.

Select for the future

Of course, the wealth of information captured during the recruitment process can – and should – be used when a candidate is in post. More so than ever before, learning and development are ongoing processes and are key to staff retention. Organisations would be foolish to drop the focus on innovation and learning when new recruits join.

Perhaps, most importantly, a recruiter should select for the future and not just the immediate role. While technology and innovative tools can support this, recruiters are most effective when they work in partnership with technology – the human touch is still very much needed.

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