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Dow Jones and the HR Certification Institute recently conducted a survey of C-suite executives.  One key takeaway? They consider identifying, retaining, and optimizing talent a primary concern.  The majority of respondents list it as a top-five item on their corporate agenda, but only 59 percent believe their companies have effective talent management systems in place. Nancy Halverson, MRINetwork's General Manager of Franchise Operations, says, "More organizations are making a talent management a top priority for 2018 . . . We've identified several significant trends that are already having an impact, or that are poised to become increasingly relevant."  Check them out.

1. Gig Economy

According to a recent report by The McKinsey Global Institute, 20 percent of the working population is employed independently in some capacity.  Couple that with the evolution of cloud platforms, and it's no surprise that more and more companies are leveraging a blended workforce. With the number of gig employees expected to nearly double by 2020, this trend shows no sign of stopping.  Do new technologies mean traditional staffing firms are on way out? Far from it, suggests Brett Felmey, MRINetwork's Director of Contract Staffing Sales.  For industries that require highly-skilled contingent talent they could prove as valuable as ever.  "Partnering with firms that have relationships with top candidates, and expertise as a single source provider," says Felmey, "can provide employers with the competitive edge required to recruit top performers. 

2. Predictive Analytics 

Predictive analytics are no longer the stuff of science fiction.  As new technologies develop, companies are increasingly able to anticipate and assess employee performance. Google, for example, has employed predictive analytics to determine the impact of every interview and hire since at least 2015. Collecting performance data early and often and comparing it to past assessments creates a feedback loop for companies.  They are able to continually perfect their profile for the ideal employee and make more strategic hiring decisions.

3. Blind Hiring 

To avoid accusations of bias or other controversies, many companies are developing a blind hiring process.  During the screening and interview stages, information that gives away an applicant's background or demographic data can easily introduce unconscious bias.  Eliminating this information makes for hiring decisions based exclusively on achievements and ability.  Thanks to the popularity of social media, however, initiating a totally blind process could prove challenging.  Many companies will find it necessary to utilize third-party recruiters. 

4. Gamification

A number of companies are beginning to introduce competitive games to their candidate screening process.  Using tools like ConnectCubed, makes for a more interactive, inviting application process and provides employers will valuable insights into applicants. Millennials, raised on video games and the internet, tend to find competitive applications especially appealing.  Reagan Johnson, MRINetwork's Director of Technology Operations remarks, "For candidates, gamification can take the chore out of the application process and add a bit of competitive fun."  Employers, Johnson suggests, "Gain access to valuable, actionable data to predict candidate fit and future performance." Once again, an independent recruiter could help facilitate this process by evaluating data and providing suggestions.

5. Preparing Employees for Future Change

New technologies both create and eliminate jobs.  When robots replace a tactical employee, for example, a company still needs highly-skilled human assets to manage and maintain these new, automated tools.  Companies need to look ahead and seriously consider how they'll leverage human and technological resources down the road.  "A key part of this," writes Marquis Parker, MRINetwork's VP of Business Services, "will be to identify people who are willing to embrace different aspects of jobs, including management, problem solving, troubleshooting, and other areas that require a human element, and determine how they can be deployed to align with a company's growth strategies." For many companies, this could mean fundamental changes to their human capital strategy.

Now is the time to act.  A competitive, ever-evolving labor market means companies need to develop strategies today.  As industries change, they demand a new caliber of employee.  These new employees expect new processes for hiring, career pathing, and skills development.  If your company can't offer these they can hardly expect to retain leading individuals.  Organizations that rely on the old methods for talent management will likely find themselves experiencing a distinct lack of talent before too long. 

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