Emerging global talent trends for 2019 (part 1)

By Korn Ferry | Wednesday, 23 Jan 2019

We are in for an interesting year in Hong Kong – amongst others, the city will see an increase in demand for in niche talents like those in the cutting edge of tech or healthcare, as well as a shift in people’s way of evaluating compensation driven by emerging technologies. To succeed in attracting, developing and retaining top talent as we head into another year, it’s critical to be agile and forward thinking. Following are 10 emerging trends identified, based on input from talent acquisition, development and compensation experts from across the globe.

1. (Don’t) Mind the Gap!

Traditionally, employers raised eyebrows when candidates had employment gaps in their resumes for reasons such as caring for children or ageing loved ones, or simply learning a new skill or travelling. Today, the stigma of taking time off between jobs is fading. Tactics to reach professionals who have been out of the workforce include targeted proactive sourcing, talent communities, workshops, customised landing pages and microsites, alumni networks for those who have left the company and may consider returning, and ‘buddy’ systems for effective onboarding.

2. Making Artificial Intelligence More ‘Intelligent’

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been touted as a new holy grail in recruiting – particularly in helping to source qualified candidates. However, left unchecked, its ‘intelligence’ could undermine recent efforts to boost diversity.

In the beginning of the recruiting process, great care should be taken when drafting job descriptions to ensure that they are gender, race and age neutral.

When it comes to reviewing resumes, some countries are mandating that certain personal information be withheld during the early stages of the recruiting process. Practices such as ‘Blind Screening,’ whereby personal information, such as name, date of birth, college the candidate went to or the city they were born in are not revealed until later in the hiring process, are becoming more prevalent.

And even when resumes are anonymised, AI can still often embed gender biases.

One way to help alleviate the issue is to feed the artificial intelligence with non-partial data, such as talent assessment data, that highlights success factors. AI needs to be trained to look more for the skills needed for a specific role, such as the ability to program specific computer codes, instead of focusing on subjective modifiers (e.g. ‘collaborative’ or ‘tough task master’) that may have gender bias.

3. Personalised Pay: Go Ahead, We’re Listening

Traditionally, corporate pay and reward teams and their consultants were tasked with creating packages that would be cost effective to the company while still providing value to their employees. The problem is today, with four generations now in the workforce, there are different expectations when it comes to pay and rewards packages.

In order to understand the differences in what might incentivise one group, such as millennials, from another group, say baby boomers, organisations are beginning to listen to what matters to employees. They are doing this through social listening, focus groups and surveys. With information from these efforts, they are able to tailor rewards packages, offering different mixes of pay, flex time, paid time off, international assignments, student loan repayment, etc. This turns the pay and rewards discussion from a company communicating with the entire employee population to a 1:1 discussion with employees.

4. Rethinking the Annual Performance Review

The days of ‘40 years and a gold watch at the end’ are long over. Job tenure is short: about four years on average and half that or less for younger professionals.

With such short tenure, annual reviews are no longer the primary way to help employees develop professionally.

In a recent Korn Ferry survey of professionals, nearly a third (30 percent) said their annual performance review had no impact or was ineffective at improving their professional performance, and 43 percent said it had no impact or was unhelpful at making them understand what to do more of or differently to improve future performance.

In that same survey, nearly all (96 percent) of respondents said real-time feedback and ongoing performance discussions with their bosses are more effective than an annual review.

Even if the employee does not have a long tenure, ongoing feedback will help them learn, stay engaged, and create an employer value proposition to help attract future employees.

5. Digging Deeper into the Diversity and Inclusion Pipeline

Across the globe, there have been mandates that boards of directors of publicly traded companies have female representation. And while this is a positive move to increase diversity and inclusion at the top, organisations are more readily seeing that there has to be an increased focus across all levels of an organisation to create an ongoing pipeline of diverse talent, including women, people of colour, disabled persons and LGBTQ employees.

To measure their progress, many organisations have begun using applicant tracking systems (ATS) to find out what percentage of minority applicants were hired. While it is against the law in most parts of the world to favour those in minority groups, organisations are working to increase their diverse candidate pool and using unbiased assessments to ensure the most qualified persons are hired.

In addition, organisations are having an added focus on the retention of a diverse employee base. Many are using a ‘D&I Diagnostic’ that helps get to the root problem of why employees are leaving and what can be done to reverse the trend.


Stay tuned for part 2.

Korn Ferry

2019 Trends Employment gap AI Personalisation Performance Review Diversity Inclusion

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