“What keeps you awake at night?” Over the last few months in 2018, Wilbury Stratton posed this question to its extensive network of hiring managers and talent heads.

Our aim was to provide talent leaders with a greater understanding of the issues that their peers and colleagues have been facing and how they plan on managing them in the new year. We hoped that gathering, and sharing, these insights would help leaders in the field devise effective changes and novel strategies to tackle their most pressing concerns.

As part of this project, our research team engaged with numerous sources across a broad range of industry sectors. Initially, we expected to obtain a mixed array of responses, especially when considering the diversity of the industries covered. We soon realised, however, that the same topics arose again and again. Some of these included: diversity, technology, reputation & standing of talent teams and capacity.

With the gender pay gap gaining media attention and AI becoming increasingly prevalent, it was perhaps unsurprising that issues such as technology and diversity were raised during the conversations. What was interesting to note, however, was the way in which sources evaluated each of the areas.

Our findings suggest that the majority of senior talent leaders no longer consider diversity to be purely a numbers game. Rather than viewing it as a chore or obligation, many spoke of increasing diversity as an exciting opportunity to bring positive changes and fresh perspectives. This suggests that the conversation around diversity is evolving and that there is a growing respect, understanding and sophistication surrounding the matter.

The need to hire faster and smarter has undoubtedly put a strain on talent teams. As such, technology, and the shortcuts it can provide, were extensively discussed by our senior talent leaders. While some suggested that it was the excitement of integrating new technology into the TA function that “kept [them] awake at night”, others told horror stories of failed talent management platforms. It was also insightful to hear about the different ways that various teams have been integrating technology into their processes and how successful their methods had been.

The reputation and standing of talent teams within the context of large business structures were generally seen to be improving. One source commented that “we used to be seen as a service for the business. Now we have a seat at the table.” Our researchers also unveiled instances of new, strong communication channels between talent leaders and the heads of data and insight, as well as the leaders of D&I teams. Talent leaders still felt, however, a need for even greater influence within the business. Our sources discussed the potential of talent teams being moved away from the HR structure and the impact that this could have.

One thing that always stands out when talking to senior talent leaders and their teams is that they are never underworked. It was, therefore, unsurprising that capacity was named as a pressing issue faced by talent heads across various industry sectors. An increase in workload goes hand in hand with the increasing amount of influence and status that talent acquisition teams have reported.

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