“It’s definitely a bipolar world right now,” said Sue Marks, chief executive officer of Pinstripe Inc., a talent management consulting group based in Brookfield, Wis. “Demand is strong for the best talent, yet most businesses aren’t adding staff.”
It’s a challenging conundrum for staffing and organizational development specialists who must find ways to get the maximum potential out of their organizations’ already strained talent pools.
“With the current economic climate, employers will have to focus their organizational development and human resources activities for keeping their companies in business, and, hopefully, find a way to grow the business with limited resources,” said Ken Moore, president of Ken Moore Associates in Schenectady, N.Y.
Moore believes that, to meet those objectives, HR professionals must focus on gaining the support and understanding of three key stakeholder groups: executive leadership, owners and shareholders, and customers.
“The real challenge that HR professionals now face is finding ways to show how good talent management strategies and practices add value to their organizations,” Marks said.
Demonstrating that these practices and policies do add value can be a hard sell as other business functions compete for their share of tight and sometimes dwindling organizational resources.
“It’s a very tough business climate, so HR professionals will have to work even harder to convince decision-makers that organizational development interventions are essential if the intervention involves additional expenditures,” said Libby Anderson, president of Human Resources Now in Naples, Fla. “OD initiatives will also be influenced by the ‘making more with less’ and the ‘wait and see’ perspectives of business decision-makers.”
The result is that HR professionals will be forced to be more creative in the use of resources and approach to organizational development and talent management.
“I think 2010 will be one of the most challenging times for HR professionals as they struggle with these tough issues,” said Marks. “But it’s also an exciting time, because there are unprecedented opportunities to really make a difference and help reshape how your organization works. I believe there’s great excitement about the opportunities but also great fear as we face an unknown and very unsettled situation.”
Marks says that the economic climate is creating a “new normal” for businesses and that the old methods of finding, identifying and developing talent within businesses will no longer work.
With tightened resources, most businesses will be less inclined to invest and spend money on new training or organizational development programs, so finding ways to identify and nurture business leadership in an organization will be important. Open communications that provide a clear and accurate picture of an organization’s talent pipeline are an essential part of that process, according to Marks, Anderson and Moore.
“It’s a great time now for businesses to really assess their talent situation. HR should start everyone in the organization talking about who’s at risk for leaving and target the people the business really wants and needs to retain.”
Employers that have made the efforts to assess their talent and organizational development needs and have strategies in to meet those needs will be better prepared to grow their business when the economic picture begins to brighten, Marks contends.
Bill Leonard is senior writer for SHRM.