SumTotal Blog

How HR Pros Can Predict the Future (Really!)

January 10, 2017



I think if you drew up a wish list for HR folks, a crystal ball would claim the top spot. And yes, some might use it to get the winning lotto numbers – and then it would be goodbye HR, hello R&R – but many would use it as an opportunity to see what changes are coming down the road in order to prepare accordingly.

Future Looking

Jack Welch said, “Change before you have to.” As Jack and others will testify, few people enjoy having to scramble in response to changes in laws or company growth. It is far better to be prepared for change: to have a strategy in place that ensures everyone feels confident that no matter what is thrown at them, they are prepared and have a plan.

But back to the crystal ball. Already we know that issues like globalisation, digital disruption and the constant amending of regulations present huge challenges to HR. Uncertainty about what is going to happen next looms like a huge dark cloud over every HR concern. And trying to hustle together a L&D strategy before the cloud bursts? Well, it’s exhausting and frustrating. But if you knew the forecast and could foretell the tempestuous weather that lay ahead, then you could easily plan and pack accordingly.

But it would appear many working in HR never get any forecasts or warnings and are simply working in the dark. When we asked over 100 of our customers in the UK and Germany about their L&D planning strategies, the responses indicate how underused talent management data is in the vast majority of businesses. When asked about upskilling, 38% cited lack of insight in the key skills in the business making it hard to know what training is needed.

How can you upskill when you do not know what skills need upping? Less than a third of survey respondents felt confident in their ability to know what the company actually needed, what learning content aligned with the most essential skills to develop.

We can’t give you a crystal ball but we can give you something equally valuable in predicting the future: data. Data you can use to prepare for the inclement weather, because with insight you can foresee the storms ahead and design and implement the programmes you need to manage and see out the storm. Data that tracks employee skill needs and requirements. Data that will identify future leaders and data that highlights any disconnect between skills that will be needed and the skills your workers actually possess. Putting that data to use, we then offer solutions that best help your team develop those skills.

Currently this is data that is seriously underused in most companies. But given the current HR quandary, such data could play a pivotal role.

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