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Recently, I spent some time talking to my colleagues and clients about what the biggest issues are for talent strategy. Throughout these discussions, three key themes continually emerged:

  1. The new world of diversified career journeys: changes in the employment market are influencing how talent think about and form their careers.
  2. The significance of experiential careers: how experience is having the biggest emotional impact on engagement for people coming into the workplace now.
  3. Personal and organisational narratives: how employers need to consider presenting the experience of working in their organisation.

Three big ideas that will influence your talent strategy – Part 1

Exploring these themes in depth, as will be attempted in this series of three articles, is a critical first step. However, it is even more important to understand the implications they have on an organisation’s talent strategy. Over the course of the next few months, I hope to investigate and share with you what these three big themes mean in practice throughout the talent cycle.

The new world of diversified career journeys

How talent move through their careers is evolving rapidly. This evolution has far reaching emotional and practical consequences as we adjust to new iterations of what a ‘career’ means. The traditional concept of career journeys following a linear path where people sought a ‘job for life’ is almost extinct. Staying within the one company for an entire career, or at least focusing on one area of expertise (e.g. moving from law trainee to solicitor) is no longer commonplace. The hierarchical progression from one role to the next that was formerly expected is now rarely an option.

Over the last few decades, financial uncertainty and the need for businesses to be increasingly agile to cope with market fluctuations has meant that employers can no longer offer the same level of job security. Short-term contracts have become more prevalent and progression is not guaranteed, motivating employees to create ‘portfolio’ careers. Typically, this involves taking on a number of roles with different employers (maybe more than one role at a time), but typically within a similar area of expertise or ‘ballpark’.

With continuing instability and uncertainty in the economic environment, we now see employees branching out even further, diversifying their careers to encompass three or four different areas of interest. For example, someone with expertise in finance may choose to run a photography business that has nothing to do with their central role. Employees have begun to take responsibility for their own progression, job satisfaction and security in a way they never have before. It is no coincidence that this idea of diversification has become more popular as our concept of success moves towards our quality of life and away from financial rewards and job titles.

In a diversified career, an employee may start in one area of expertise and move to others over time. Therefore, it is now more important than ever for people to have underlying transferable skills to apply in different functions or roles.

Staying flexible

What does this mean for you as an employer? Firstly, your organisation needs to recognise that diversified career journeys are here to stay. To attract and retain great talent, you will need to offer a flexible environment where employees can develop transferable skills and explore related and unrelated fields.

It is now less relevant for employers to think “We have these roles available. Who do we need to recruit?” and more about moving towards a mindset of “We have these great people. How do we use them?”

As an employer, how much diversification is possible for talent in your organisation without them leaving your world?

In the next article in this series, I will examine why our day to day experiences in the workplace are playing a greater role in an employee’s decision to stay at your organisation.