Staffing Management

2016 Talent Forecast: Foggy, With Intermittent Rays of Insight

By Rick Bell

Dec. 18, 2015

Staffing giant Korn Ferry’s division Futurestep has offered up some predictions for 2016 talent trends. And seeing as how this blog is committed to filter through the cavalcade of forecasts, prognostications and predictions for next year, here are Futurestep’s top eight thoughts, accompanied by my sharp, biting analysis:

1. Candidates are in the driver’s seat: According to McKinsey’s 2015 Global Growth Model study, from 2005-15 there were three times as many workers as retirees. By 2025, the ratio of workers to retirees will be 1:1, making the candidate pool much smaller. Couple that with a need for specialized employees, especially in the technology and life sciences fields, and it is clear candidates are in the driver’s seat.

My take: Are they really? Totally depends on the industry. If you’re a tech whiz in the Silicon Valley or some other tech hotspot, yep, you’re steering that bus. But if you’re in education, construction, banking and especially the media, it’s standing-room only with dozens of other hopefuls praying that the whims of your chosen field expands just long enough to hop off at the next stop and get a job.

2. Investment hiring to edge out competition: Companies are increasingly looking beyond just the skills and background workers bring to the table. Instead, they are hiring people with the right traits and motivations who can be trained on the job for professions from software coding to customer service. More often than in the past, these employers are becoming less adamant about hiring only college graduates and are evaluating people on their ability to perform in the future.

My take: Mmm, yeah maybe. In this results-oriented workplace, employees gotta produce — now. Otherwise they’ll find themselves back at the aforementioned bus stop.

3. Smart data to source and develop talent: Metrics like time to hire, cost per hire and source of hire (while remaining key operational metrics and relevant) are now simply table stakes, and many companies are today hiring full-time analysts to mine for more in-depth talent metrics.

My take: Yep, data’s important all right. But they better be for Yelp-like data, or they’re missing out on what employees and others are saying about the organization, its culture and its executives.

4. Streamlined HR technologies enabling centralized global recruitment: HR technology will become more streamlined as clients turn from multiple HR technology vendors to bundling their human capital management, applicant tracking systems and video interviewing, all on one platform. Even the areas of talent acquisition and talent development, which have traditionally worked in silos, will come closer together for improved succession planning.

My take: We’ve been hearing this for years. So why hasn’t it happened yet? Video interviewing? There’s still a lot of skepticism about it, as far as I’m concerned.

5. Candidate concierge experience:
Talent acquisition leaders are more conscientious of the candidate experience, and 2016 will see a rise in adoption of new services and investments designed to make a lasting impression on future employees. Services will become more personalized as the likes of candidate concierge services come into play.

My take: A fancy (insert eye-roll emoji here) way to say, treat candidates with respect and dignity or they’re gonna post something nasty on Glassdoor/Twitter/Facebook or someplace where others will see just how poorly you treated them. You don’t have to take them for a steak dinner and martinis at Morton’s but at least offer a bottle of water for cryin’ out loud. 

6. Talent from within will be realized as a true asset: Instead of focusing outside of their organizations for talent, many companies are integrating formal internal mobility programs with dedicated portals for employees to learn about opportunities and share their interests and abilities. Sourcing internally has its benefits, from a shorter time to productivity — existing employees already have an understanding of the business — to lower staffing costs, which as a result means better financial performance.

My take: This is nothing new. Internal job-hopping is often talked about but seldom truly implemented. If you're gonna offer it, no lip service; practice what you preach. And while you're at it, beef up incentives to employees who recommend candidates, which been and will be the No. 1 source of recruiting. A tried and true method to be sure.

7. Graduate recruiting for today and into the future: College recruiting is more prevalent than it has been since the Great Recession. Companies see grads as a strategic asset — they bring new, fresh thinking, are drivers of innovation and change, and can immerse themselves and seed the culture of the organization, making them “home-grown talent.” If they don’t have all of the needed skills and experience, they can be trained on the job.

My take: Like the caveat there. They can be trained on the job. So, you’re hiring for potential then, eh? Sure, you coach them up but how long will that homegrown talent stick around? Two years or so, according to the prevailing research. Might be wiser to pay a little more and hire someone with experience. Like … a baby boomer?

8. Embracing diversity proving key to growth: While equal opportunities in the workplace have always been important, this has now changed tack from a box-ticking exercise to a true necessity. This year we saw organizations understand the real value of minority groups, including women and veterans, and moving forward into 2015 we can expect to see them receive even further attention. This isn’t just a volume exercise for industries that are plagued by a lack of skilled talent, such as STEM, but also a strategic one. New data are constantly supporting why diversity positively affects business performance, and in 2016 we will begin to start seeing its impact.

My take: Now this is interesting, and it makes sense. A recent story in our sister publication Talent Management urges to forego diversity training among the ranks. Authors Adam Galinsky, Jennifer Olayon and Maurice Schweitzer argue that your money is better spent on recruiting, compensation and other related aspects of talent management rather than diversity training.

To summarize, we’re not breaking a lot of new ground here. But the eight points offer some sound advice. Don’t cheap out, continue blending your HR technology and lean on your team for new hires.

Rick Bell is Workforce’s editorial director. For comments or questions email

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