January 22, 2019

Recruiting, employee development, and data are top HR priorities: report

Learning and development are once again a priority for HR leaders, but new HR and talent management benchmarking research reveals a need to better address advancement opportunities to retain top talent. Read on as we dive into the findings.

What are HR professionals prioritizing this year, and why?

According to the latest HR and Talent Management Benchmarking Report, conducted by HR.com (in partnership with Ceridian), HR’s key areas of focus are talent acquisition and development. Larger organizations are also focusing on making their HR operations more efficient, informed by data-driven decision-making.

The report survey gathered responses from more than 600 HR professionals from North America, India, the U.K., Nigeria, South Africa, and Australia. From a talent acquisition and development standpoint, the survey highlighted areas organizations will really focus on, and why. Here, more on those findings.

Top priorities: recruiting, development, and data

The report found that, for the second year in a row, talent acquisition, and learning and development, are top priorities for organizations. The bottom line? HR professionals are focused on skilled talent. This makes sense, considering the pressures employers face in today’s marketplace, such as a low unemployment rate and the changing needs and desires of today’s employees.

But depending on the organization’s size, the degree of importance differs.

Larger companies are more focused on streamlining HR operations and improving employee experience. The report found that 32% of businesses with at least 1,000 employees prioritize this over recruiting (29%) and learning and development (26%).

In contrast, 42% of organizations with fewer than 1,000 workers said learning and development is a top priority, with recruiting cited as their second, at 40%.

It makes sense that larger organizations are more concerned with efficiency, because they face greater operational and logistical challenges, the report notes. Larger firms are also in greater need of data, because it can be harder to pinpoint organizational problems – and identify insights to solve it – in larger firms. In that vein, 30% of respondents from large firms said they are prioritizing data and insights to support decision-makers, versus only 18% of smaller organizations.

What are HR’s top priorities? Download the report to learn more

A need for more effective and efficient recruiting strategies

Even though recruitment is a top priority for most organizations, only 17% of respondents (less than one-fifth) said their organization is extremely effective at recruiting, while 60% said their organization is somewhat effective. HR teams therefore need to take hard look at how their teams are identifying, screening, and matching candidates to open roles.

The report notes time-to-fill as an important measure to determine the effectiveness of recruiting and hiring. A longer time-to-fill can lead to challenges, such as lost productivity or lower morale in understaffed teams. However, 52% of respondents said they require an average of four weeks or less, while only 11% said time-to-fill averages two weeks or less, which, according to the report, is considered the standard length of time to fill a position.

Related: Download The optimal recruiting experience guide

Lack of advancement and succession planning impacts voluntary turnover

Nearly a fifth of organizations lose more than a quarter of their workforce to voluntary turnover every year. Why? The survey found that lack of career advancement is a primary driver of voluntary employee turnover rates, and further, that poor succession planning may play a role in this trend as well.

Voluntary turnover is costly, not only from a financial perspective (the cost to replace managers, for example, could be six to nine months of their salary), but it can also lead to loss of productivity and disruption. It therefore makes sense that HR leaders are looking at how to better prioritize employee development and advancement this year and beyond.

Thirty-five percent of respondents reported that lack of advancement was the primary reason for employee departures at their organizations.

These findings are in line with Ceridian’s 2018-19 Pulse of Talent, which also found career growth is a major driver for employees wanting to move on from their current jobs. In fact, this report states that a desire to tackle new challenges every few years drives 39% of respondents to look outside their current company, while 32% say they feel they need to leave to advance their career.

Employee advancement: the way forward

By providing employees with more advancement prospects, employers can both avoid replacement costs, and leverage the  benefits from the flexibility and increasing expertise that workers can translate into more effective operations.

The HR.com report suggests that organizations should put a greater focus on cross-training and other learning opportunities, which will not only deepen the employee skill set but also allow managers to move employees into new roles without sacrificing productivity.

Findings also show that few organizations pay attention to succession planning, which may be a key factor impacting lack of advancement opportunities. Most job vacancies are filled by external candidates – 66% of HR professionals find external candidates to replace up to 80% of their open positions.

How high-performing HR departments stack up

Unsurprisingly, the report found that lower performing HR departments (a cohort HR.com determined by their responses to questions about HR performance) were associated with notably higher level of voluntary turnover, whereas more than half of high-performing HR departments lose 10% of their workforce this way.

Also unsurprisingly, high performing HR departments were associated with higher levels of succession planning.

Simply put, for HR leaders to elevate their game this year and beyond, it’s time to focus their talent strategies on developing their people.

Learn more about the priorities and characteristics of high-performing HR teams: download the report

Danielle Ng-See-Quan

Dani is the Senior Manager, Content Marketing at Ceridian.

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