Talent Management in a Future-Proof Organization

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“Technology changes exponentially but people and organizations change logarithmically. So how do you get people to change exponentially through buy-in and movement across the organization?” Professor Behnam Tabrizi , Consulting Professor at Stanford University and internationally recognized expert on organizational and leadership transformation, asked this question when addressing the topic of rapid organizational change.

With the recent disruption of organizations due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a common concern in becoming “future-proof” has arisen. Companies are seeking to become responsive to fluctuating markets and shifting workplace roles. A vast reskilling agenda paralleled with digital mindsets and adaptability skills are needed to create a resilient workforce ready to face any disruption. Brand new competences, upgraded technical skills, as well as accessible and ethical analytical tools will require talent that is well equipped and capable of keeping pace.

As a primary step, digital strategies should be re-structured in a people-oriented manner. It’s not simply about adding new technologies but how this technology will help employees connect more effectively with their work. It’s a shift from the here-and-now to more sustainable long-term strategies. To get optimal results from digital investments, organizations should think more about how to connect people to strategic goals using that technology. As we step into this new era at a faster speed than anticipated, there is always a risk of organizations losing sight of what is truly important. Employees must first comprehend and adopt the company’s vision and strategic objectives for the transformation. It’s also equally imperative to incorporate a thorough understanding of the customer in every change implemented. This includes current and potential customers in addition to all the “megatrends” affecting them.

A recent report by Mercer identified some of the biggest transformation challenges faced by organizations in 2020. These challenges include:

  • Workforce capability and future skills
  • Organization’s ability to finance change
  • Lack of understanding of the need for transformation
  • Inertia and change resistance
  • Inadequate deployment of new technology
  • Leadership willingness to drive the change agenda
  • Decline in employee trust and motivation
  • Employee change fatigue
  • Sub-optimal communication mechanisms

What is noteworthy about these challenges is that most of them are people-related. For that reason, the priorities of human resources (HR) departments for the coming era are shifting more and more towards transforming talent practices and optimizing employees’ experience. What could these talent management practices encompass and why are they important in creating a future-proof organization?

Ideas group (ig) summarized these practices in our latest post, where we listed the following:

  1. Employee Experience: According to the above-mentioned study by Mercer on more than 7,000 executives and HR leaders in 16 geographies, 58% percent of organizations are redesigning their structures to become more people-centric and 26% have built a fluid team to respond to different business priorities. HR leaders are stepping away from traditional structures to meet their businesses’ escalating need for agility.
  2. Reskilling and Upskilling: With the accelerated transformation in 2020, significant skill gaps are bound to appear. HR leaders and employees view re-skilling and up-skilling as a crucial part of a wider human capital agenda, including talent attraction and retention.
  3. Purpose-driven: Employees’ expectations are now, more than ever, focused on their organizations’ purpose to have a positive impact on employees, society, customers and shareholders, as well as environmental, social and governance (ESG) aspects. This signifies integrating this purpose into their strategy and operations.
  4. Well-being: Due to the combination of uncertainty, remote work, and swift changes, a big percentage of employees globally feel at risk of burnout in the year ahead. 61% of employees expect their employer to look after their well-being which includes an expectation that organizations take a holistic view on careers, health and wealth. 78% of employees appreciate long-term financial planning initiatives for all generations and a rising number of employees further expects health programs to be put into place.
  5. Analytics: Predictive analytics adoption rate increased from 10% in 2016 to 39% today, and the use of metrics on HR strategies more than doubled. Going forward, the usage of data analytics to guide strategic HR insights is only forecasted to rise, according to Mercer’s study, with Covid-19 serving as an accelerator. Organizations are benefiting from analytics to answer key questions related to: sustainable performance, workforce management and cost-saving strategies.
  6. Digital Transformation: Digital human resources transformation enhances efficiency and quality of delivery. It can also help HR provide employees across the organization with more insights and interventions to improve productivity through real time access to information.

As HR today plays its role in accelerating progress and enhancing talent management practices, organizations are moving towards replacing traditional management hierarchy with a flexible network of teams. They are implementing flat structures that ensure transparency in role accountability. Agile companies can now put together networks of teams in various ways, based on present circumstances and this has proven to have advantages in terms of promptness, accuracy, decision making, and employee engagement. With all of that taking place, HR professionals are stepping outside of classic HR roles to the center of business challenges by aligning work teams with future value creators. This requires embracing skill-based talent management and generating structures and talent management processes that facilitate internal and external talent sourcing and recognition, incentivizing skill development and cultivating the practice of sharing and synergizing diverse ideas. This also signifies identifying relevant data, creating simpler decision making chains, and placing the best talent in the face of critical challenges. In the “new normal” world, empowered teams that can quickly adopt new ways of working and effectively leverage technology will prosper while preserving their natural balance.


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