You Gotta’ Get the Horse Before the Cart

By Peter Weddle, CEO TAtech

Corporate investment in technology is a zero-sum game. If a company’s money is spent on one technology-based product, it isn’t available to be spent on another. Equally as important in today’s rough economy, the game is getting smaller. Companies are cutting their investment budgets, which is certain to make the challenge even greater for solution providers offering products for recruiting.

Historically, companies have used a cart-before-the-horse strategy when investing in workforce related technology. The vast majority of the funds have been devoted to HR products – from performance management systems and ERM tools to compensation and benefit management systems and even workforce survey apps. Walk down the aisles and aisles and aisles of exhibitors at any HR conference, and you’ll see a blizzard of such products, all designed to improve a company’s workforce.

The unspoken assumption, of course, is that the talent will be there to be managed, appraised and surveyed. HR products only make sense if there are human resources already working for a company. And that’s simply not the case. Despite record levels of unemployment, employers are still struggling to find the talent they need to sustain operations and hang onto profits.

The War for Talent Is Not Over

TAtech has held a digital conference every month since April. (You can see the conference materials for our European and North American Congresses here and our professional development webinar series on TA technology here.) We’ve asked our HR, TA and industry attendees, just one question: Other than dealing with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic what’s your greatest challenge in recruiting. In every single poll, the number one response has been finding quality talent.

Despite that affirmation, however, HR vendors are going to fight like crazy to continue to get the largest share of employers’ investment dollars. They’re going to argue (as they always do) that a company needs a well-managed workforce for today’s competitive global marketplace, and they just happen to have the perfect solution for them. They’re going to do everything they can to win the zero-sum (and smaller) game.

So, the greatest challenge for TA solution provider over the next 6-8 months (and beyond) will be to convince employers to do exactly the opposite. We’re going to have to get them to change their traditional buying habits and put the horse-before-the-cart. And, we have to begin right now. Budget decisions are being made at this very moment for 2021, so there is no time to waste in launching this campaign.

What points should you make? Here are a few that will get you started:

• As shown in the poll results above, acquiring top talent remains a huge challenge for most employers, and without those workers, a company’s ability to survive let alone prosper in today’s tough market will be imperiled.

• Today’s technology-based TA products have never been more capable, so having the most up-to-date versions of those products will help ensure a company can acquire the workers it needs with the right skills and culture fit to perform at their peak.

• Using products infused with TA technology to acquire top talent can help overcome historical systemic and individual biases in recruiting, and thus create a more diverse workforce for the company that can bring both a broader perspective to its leadership and better relationships with its customer base.

It’s not easy to get an organization to change its longstanding habits, but putting the horse before the cart has just the kind of logic to make it happen.

Food for Thought,

Peter Weddle is the author or editor of over two dozen books and a former columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He is also the founder and CEO of TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions. You can check out his latest books on Amazon or in the TAtech Bookstore.

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