Not Just a Talent War – it’s a #Talent Famine!

Global survey uncovers importance of soft skills that emphasize collaboration emerged higher than individual skills and are just as important as technical prowess. Learnability is the most undervalued intangible skill, with lack of budget the biggest tangible barrier to reskilling the workforce

Infosys Knowledge Institute (IKI), the thought leadership and research arm of Infosys, today unveiled market research titled ‘Infosys Talent Radar 2019’ The report revealed several insightful findings, most importantly about the talent famine, skills in high demand, the rising importance of soft skills and the barriers to talent transformation across global enterprises. 

What’s driving the demand for digital talent?

According to the research, although nearly all large enterprises are pursuing improvement initiatives, digitizing the business is less about disruption and more about meeting focused objectives which include better understanding of customers and markets (46% of respondents), customer experience (45%), increasing productivity (40%), and employee experience (35%).

Which skills are in greatest demand?

  • Digital initiatives require people with sophisticated technical skills and the ability to continually update those skills as cycles continue to shorten. The five technical skills in greatest demand today are analytics (67% of digital initiatives), user experience (67%), automation (61%), IT architecture (59%) and artificial intelligence (58%).
  • Digital projects are focused on creating superior customer and employee experiences, and soft skills have become just as important as technical ones. Those in greatest demand are teamwork (74% of digital initiatives), leadership (70%), and communication (68%). However, our respondents seem to underestimate the relative importance of two soft skills: empathy (52%), which is essential for design thinking, and learnability (56%), which is key to the continuous personal and technical development essential for today’s digital talent.
  • For both hard and soft skills, the capabilities hardest to find and in greatest demand are analytics, communication, and adaptability. However, the skills companies need most vary by industry and the types of digital initiatives they are pursuing.

Meeting the need for talent – Talent Readiness Index

Digital initiatives require skills that can and will evolve. Organizational processes and culture determine the readiness to meet any talent need. Infosys analyzed five key areas on how well respondent companies were positioned to meet their talent needs – Planning, Hiring, Training, Incentives, and Workplace.

From their responses to questions in each of these five areas, Infosys developed a Talent Readiness Index. The research team sorted companies by their index score, and three distinct clusters emerged — Followers, Challengers and Leaders.

  • Followers have fewer approaches to develop talent and don’t measure their results or effectiveness.
  • Although challengers invest heavily in anywhere, anytime training, they still rely on traditional sources for talent acquisition.
  • Leaders build lifelong learning culture and use it to retain top talent.

 What sets leaders apart?

  • Pursue multiple talent approaches and initiatives to not only meet current needs but also be well prepared for future talent demands.
  • Are frontrunners in providing training programs and inculcating a lifelong learning tradition.
  • Have rigorous hiring methods and don’t compromise on quality of hires; however, they are also open to nontraditional sources.
  • Aggressively work toward sustainably smarter workplaces.

Barriers to talent transformation

Infosys looked at two perspectives on the barriers that prevent sufficient demand-supply match of talent — tangible and intangible barriers to talent transformation.

Among the tangible barriers, lack of budget is the biggest barrier to repurposing efforts, followed by organizational issues, lack of management awareness or support, and inadequate talent management plans.

Among the intangible barriers, learnability received short shrift in the research, and it limits the tremendous potential of reskilling as a competitive advantage for companies that embrace learnability. Undervaluing learnability limits potential of other talent initiatives.

What action to take?

Infosys identified four approaches that can help companies prepare themselves to address the talent needs of today and prepare for those of the future. For each approach, leader and follower categories have been designated to describe good practices and actionable recommendations.

  • Cast a wider net for new hires
  • Reskill and redeploy in-house talent
  • Engage temporary workers and gig economy strategically
  • Align organizational structure to evolving business needs

Pravin Rao, Chief Operating Officer, Infosys, said,

“There is not just a talent war – it’s a famine. To succeed, companies must hire, develop, and retain talent better than their competition. As enterprises progress in their digital journeys, the winners will be those who utilize multiple hiring sources and reskill workers in a culture of lifelong learning – invest in their people, who are the ultimate differentiator in a commoditized world. This is further validation of Infosys’ commitment to continuous learning and reskilling that has been a bedrock of our success for over three decades.”

Methodology

In July 2019, the Infosys Knowledge Institute conducted an online survey using a blind format, attracting responses from more than 1,000 CXOs and other senior-level respondents from companies with revenue greater than US$1 billion. Respondents represented multiple industries and were from Australia, China, France, Germany, India, the United Kingdom and the United States.

To gain additional qualitative insights, we also conducted primary interviews with 20 industry practitioners and subject matter experts.

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