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The Blind Spot in HR’s Priorities

By Peter Weddle, CEO TAtech

Mercer recently released its Global Talent Trends 2022 Study. It’s an excellent report, which no surprise, found a high level of concern among employers about the ongoing labor shortage. What it also uncovered, however, was a blind spot in the priorities their HR Departments are setting to deal with the situation. They intend to tackle a wide range of human resource management problems to make their organizations more relatable to their employees, but are ignoring altogether the one factor that will determine the success or failure of those initiatives: the capability and capacity of their recruiting teams.

It's a simple axiom but profoundly important in an organization’s ability to meet it transformation goals: You can’t manage the human resources you don’t have. The foundation to any successful workforce improvement initiative is a recruiting team with the sustained priority, leadership attention, budget and technology to bring the required talent in the door at the required time. Without that commitment, employers’ reset plans for its workforce are nothing more than pipe dreams.

That’s what makes the findings in Mercer’s report so troubling. The company surveyed almost 11,000 c-suite executives, HR leaders and employees in 13 countries, and 55% of the executive respondents reported that their number one concern was their “Difficulty hiring the right talent at the right price quickly enough.” In addition, they also ranked retention or “Loss of talent due to pandemic or unrest” as a top five concern (it actually came in at number four) because it, of course, also contributes to their talent acquisition problem.

So, how are they going to solve this problem? Here are the top 5 priorities identified by the executives:
• Improving workforce planning to better inform buy/build/borrow strategies
• Designing talent processes around skills
• Enhancing Total Rewards packages
• Addressing pay, gender and other equity gaps
• Rethinking compensation plans.

The facts! In a talent market that is more competitive and less understood than at any other time in history, it’s the facts that matter most. And TAtech’s biweekly podcast Start Smart focuses on the facts. Join me and my cohost, Shelia Gray, VP of Global Talent Acquisition at Quadient, as we examine the findings from the latest talent acquisition research and explore their implications for recruiters and job seekers. This week’s show looks at a white paper by Public Insight Data Corporation on “Winning the War for Talent With Employer Branding” and the threat posed to that strategy by an organization’s review-driven reputation.

All of the above priorities but the first are basically investments in an organization’s employees. That’s certainly a positive development, but it assumes that the required talent has already been acquired. But what if it hasn’t? That’s what over half of the respondents in the study were saying. They didn’t have the talent they needed. So, prioritizing investments in current employees while not making a similar commitment to acquiring new employees is essentially putting the cart before the horse. It’s doomed to failure before it even gets started.

Even the first initiative, which does focus on talent acquisition is a compensation/training/gigging strategy. It MAY improve an organization’s value proposition and thus make it more appealing to job seekers and it MAY provide some short-term relief in meeting staffing needs, but it does nothing for the recruiters who will ultimately bring the required talent in the door.

Such a strategy doesn’t add more recruiters to the recruiting team so each individual recruiter isn’t handling 20, 30 or more open reqs. It doesn’t supplement those recruiters with data analysts, technologists and marketing professionals, all of whom are essential players in an organization’s ability to succeed in today’s highly competitive talent marketplace.

It also doesn’t sustain recruitment advertising, even during a downturn, so a company is always building out its talent pool. And, it doesn’t provide the budget for acquiring and effectively implementing state-of-the-art tools, so recruiters are better able to perform at their peak, whatever the state of the economy.

Now, granted, the Mercer report is a snapshot, and even the views of almost 11,000 executives and workers isn’t a complete picture of what’s going on in the HR and Talent Acquisition fields. It does, however, point to a blind spot in the way organizations are trying to deal with their workforce challenges. Failing to make a fulsome commitment to their talent acquisition teams (or worse, ignoring them altogether) virtually ensures that any transformation initiative will fall short of what it could and should be.

Food for Thought,

Peter Weddle is the author or editor of over two dozen books and a former columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He is also the founder and CEO of TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions. You can download his latest book – The Neonaissance – FOR FREE at And, if you don't have time to read the entire book, just download a short excerpt of his inspirational message.