HR Indaba Conversation puts enabling internal talent mobility in the spotlight

Revised ways of working, technology and proactive employee engagement will be key to enhancing internal mobility.

In a conversation powered by Oracle, top HR practitioners came together at this year’s HR Indaba Conversations to discuss how to dynamise and energise the process of hiring from within an organisation. One of the key outcomes was more ideas on how employees can take control of their personal career growth and how organisations can create environments that galvanise them to do so.

The session started with a powerful opening from strategic business solutions engineer at Oracle, Rob Bothma. Other than highlighting how the recruitment freeze in the midst of the pandemic forced organisations to look internally for further assistance, Rob emphasised the importance of using technology to optimise employee engagement processes.

Following much research about how the workforce was going to change over time and the rise of the gig economy, Rob explained that Oracle ascertained that organisations were going to have to manage the dynamics of needing certain skills with less stringent parameters than full-time employment, and making these opportunities available to staff.

This was to address when an employee has an additional skill that is only required for a limited period or a specific project.

Oracle heeded the call by creating a function called Opportunity Marketplace that allows managers to share what they were looking for, the duration of a project, the team and the skills required.

This has helped organisations improve their networking skills internally, assist staff to gain skills and enable employees to sell themselves in a more social environment. “You start building up capability within the organisation that resided outside of your job, which was a benefit to employees. From a management perspective, they were able to get the job done and had a resource to tap into,” he explained.

Michele Seroke, CHRO at Motus Corporation, sees mobility as proactively and strategically moving and deploying people across divisions, geographies and projects to give them maximum exposure to various roles, as well as removing barriers, such as alleviating the strain on families when one needs to move to work overseas.

Michele highlighted that in any successful talent programme, identification is the first step so that organisations can find a way of leveraging and mobilising existing talent.

Michele mentioned that supportive identification helps one understand how talent will increase revenue, improve organisational efficiency, reduce costs and create profitability: “My particular passion is identifying talent for critical business objectives rather than simply identifying talent for the sake of it,” she said.

“We must have the ability to find the critical skills and roles that drive business, add value and learn what type of talent we require to drive business strategy forward.”

Elsie Pule, group executive human resources at Eskom, asserted that it is important for people to take you under their wing. She encouraged leaders to empower and uplift others.

“You require people to bet on you and give you opportunities. I have had many people take a chance on me,” she explained. “Sponsorship at all levels is key to enable people to have enhanced mobility.”

Technology is also important in facilitating visibility, since you can identify your talent pools as a business, and optimise them. Akhona Qengqe, chief people officer at YUM brands, said technology has really streamlined processes because it helps HR make decisions faster. “You know there is a vacancy and can see who in the organisation has highlighted that as an ideal role,” she explained. “You can look at the data and determine their readiness.”

Giving employees agency
Elsie said that employees need to be clear about what they need, and seek help when they don’t, which coaching programmes can assist with.

Employees also need to understand the environment in which they operate to have an impact: “I would urge professionals to be drivers of their own careers and get as much help as you can to define what progression looks like,” she said. “Find alignment between your personal needs and what is impactful in your organisation.”

Rob said employees needed to understand that the onus of fufilling their career aspirations was on them. Organisations needed to provide opportunities, but the ownership thereof was actually on the employees themselves.

Process and methodology
Akhona said while it is important to identify talent to future-proof businesses and create business success, it is also necessary to create structures and processes to develop talent and drive retention and engagement, as well as replacing talent in the areas of the business where they will add the most value.

“In the same way that every company has a financial year end, KFC South Africa has a building people capability cycle which starts with goal-setting right up to year-end appraisals,” she explained. She said they have an IDP (Individual Development Plan) process which looks at how one leads as an individual and where their growth in the organisation can be pinpointed.

They define talent through the high-performance framework. They look at people who have the respect of their peers, who are constantly developing themselves (giving and receiving feedback, education and being involved in your own progress and development) and who advocate, lead and co-create their culture.

They look at your potential and how far you could possibly grow in the organisation. They look at your skills and where else they could gain traction in the organisation without keeping you limited to your sphere of interest. “We want to keep our talent engaged and create pathways for them to grow, even if it is lateral and gives them exposure to other parts of the business – so we can build better leaders,” she said.

They have structured conversations that help them learn more about each person and their leadership. They assign long-term strategy ratings to people with potential and determine how they can climb up the ladder in the organisation.

This is followed by a recalibration process to manage and develop employees and establish what needs to be done to support them by way of mentorship, education or similar gaps that need to be closed. This also helps them address diversity opportunities.

“What you end up with is a complete talent strategy – people take on new roles, get promoted, are exported to global businesses to learn or get short-term assignments,” she added.

Looking to the future
Akhona is a huge advocate for collaboration and constant feedback to drive employee growth and aspiration. “As HR, we need to look at ourselves as facilitators in the whole talent and strategy development process. Our role is not to tell people what they can do and who they are, but rather to show them who they can be and partner up with them to help them get to the other side of the bridge,” she said.

Michele said she believed the role of HR is about fostering talent and ensuring that businesses have the right people to execute business objectives and encourages practitioners to delve into that and familiarise themselves with more solutions for optimising that role

Elsie reminded other HR practitioners to remember that employees are capable of deciding what they want to be – provided that they have the right framework, tools and skills. “Make sure you don’t find yourself complaining about a skills exodus. Ensure you have a pool of people you can draw from,” she cautioned.