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SAP’s newest Cloud for HR business lead and market expert, Mike Ettling talks about managing talent in the current climate and how to engage an age-diverse workforce.

What challenges come with today’s economy?

I think talent has had a lot of focus over the years. I’ve seen a lot of Chief Executive surveys in the last couple of months, or the last year, where CEOs are saying that the talent problem is still not solved. If you look at CEO priorities and agendas talent is still in the top five items. So we have economic downturns and economic upturns. I think the smart companies in the downturns are the companies who double-down on investing in talent management and how to retain their talent. Many people take the stance in a downturn that you don’t have to invest in talent because people won’t leave but it’s a great opportunity to really increase engagement and lock your talent down. I think the whole issue of talent management is still a huge issue in corporate life today and is an issue which is getting more and more complex for a number of reasons.

One reason is the fact that the contingent workforce is increasing, not just in hourly paid people, but right across the board. So how do you manage talent not only in your permanent, but in your contingent workforce, who are often very critical contributors to an organisation? Engineers, doctors in a hospital etc.

Then I think the second one is around the fact you have contingent workforce dynamics but you have the dynamic of the first time you have five generations in the workforce, from millennials to baby boomers. We see that millennials are fundamentally changing the workplace forever in the way that they engage, the way they see work, how they behave, how they learn and how they want to be managed. You now have to come up with talent management in context of five generations of workers. So that makes it even more complex and more challenging.

How do you go forward with a multi-generational workforce in terms of engagement?

I think one of the overarching principles is you need to engage particularly the millennials - you need to engage them in a way they are familiar with. So when they leave their home environment, using their mobile smartphones and working on Facebook and different social media tools, and they come to work they are kind of in a similar mode in terms of what they are using.

So these are the reasons you’re seeing HR software and talent software go through such fundamental change at the moment in terms of embracing social philosophies and social principles, absolutely being mobile and ready from the start. People work on a mobile, they don’t go and sit down on their desktop, many workers are purely mobile-driven. That is really changing and you have to engage people through the tools you give them in the workplace to get the jobs done and to better themselves. And that’s partly what’s creating this whole real excitement in the HR industry around the new technologies in the way it engages people. The technology is all there to solve some of those fundamental problems.

Originally posted on HR Grapevine

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