The theme of the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2014 (AMNC), “Creating value through innovation,” brings to mind some of the amazing advances in technology that has allowed companies to minimize bureaucracy, tap new markets, and extend their supply chains the world over. But how has innovation had an impact on one of their most valuable resources—talent?
It may not be entirely clear that innovation has a role to play when recruiting and retaining employees. And no wonder: many companies are still struggling with just how advances in technology can be used to innovate in the talent space. More than 40 percent of executives surveyed in Deloitte’s 2014 Global Human Capital Trends report said their companies were “not ready” to address talent as it relates to technology. But with aging populations, an increasing demand for a more select set of skills, and knowledge growing out of date at an alarming rate, the pressure to use technology to innovate is more critical than ever.
Digital technology can play a powerful role in both attracting and keeping employees. The most significant impact, of course, has been through the rise of social media. In 2013, more than 67 percent of internet users around the world used a social network at least once per month. The figure will rise to more than three out of four internet users by 2016. And worldwide, more than one-third of workers use social media for career and employment decisions. That jumps to 51 percent in the Asia Pacific region.
This trend is particularly prominent among millennials. For this demographic, living with digital technology is not a new reality—it’s the only reality. In almost every country, people under age 30 (and those with a college education) are more likely to engage in social networking and use a smart phone, according to a Pew Research poll. This access and connectedness has shaped millennials’ views of work. Nearly three-quarters, according to Deloitte’s millennial survey, see themselves working independently, rather than for a company. Forty-five percent will choose workplace flexibility over pay.
Companies need to adjust their recruiting and work models accordingly. Many are already using social media extensively—more than 60 percent of HR executives say they rely on social tools for sourcing and advertising positions . But social media can do much more. With blogs, targeted ads, stories, and word-of-mouth, social media can raise a company’s profile, building appeal before ever even advertising a position.
Keeping employees also requires an innovative approach; 60 percent of millennials will leave their companies in less than three years. Open talent networks, in which companies tap the right talent as needed, allows workers the flexibility they are seeking. Open talent networks encourage work to be designed on a project basis—a model that appeals to many millennials. Work can also be broken down into discretionary parts that can be farmed out over the network—freeing up the time of employees for more productive and challenging work.
To be sure, digital technology is still making its mark when it comes to talent. But with so many of the AMNC’s participants comprising the employers and employees of the future, the value to be created by innovating in this space couldn’t be more relevant.
Gary Coleman is Managing Director, Global Industries, of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. He will be moderating the panel “Got Talent” on 11 September at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2014.