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| 2 minutes read

More thoughts on talent and potential

I wrote recently about talent and potential - to my mind the most pressing and strategic imperative for leaders today.  Employee turnover continues to be exceptionally high and is likely to remain high for the foreseeable future baring a significant economic recession.  Companies are struggling to identify and hire the talent that they need fast enough to satisfy the needs of their business - both to cover employee turnover as well as growth.  There are now more open vacancies in markets such as the US than there are unemployed workers, a dynamic which is further driving the increase in employee turnover as workers move from one employer to the next.

Alongside the challenges of hiring and retaining talent, skills requirements are changing rapidly within most businesses.  Gartner research shows that for sales, finance and IT roles over 30% of the skills needed to do a job in 2017 will now be obsolete. 

Yet there are solutions to be found.  A recent article from HBR highlighted that there are millions of 'hidden' workers who are not being considered by recruiters and employer - more than 27 million hidden workers in the United States alone.  And many companies are investing significant amounts in new initiatives to better upskill and reskill their existing workforces in the face of changing skills requirements, and better retaining their valuable workers in the process.

As I wrote in my previous article, we need to put potential at the heart of our talent strategies.  We need to move from hiring from job-readiness to hiring for potential if we are to stand a chance of tapping in to the 'hidden' workforce as well as hiring talent that will develop and grow with our businesses for longer.  

So what does good look like?  Let's take a look at Accenture who are putting potential at the heart of their Talent Acquisition strategies. This is an organization with 700,000 employees and an organization that has hired 200,000 new employees in the last 18 months.  Accenture clearly recognize the strategic importance of potential and every candidate hired in to Accenture is evaluated on Learning Agility.  

Accenture also recognize the strategic importance of upskilling and reskilling:

"In the first six months after the pandemic, we upskilled about 100,000 people with programs that ranged from eight to 15 weeks, depending on what we were upskilling them for. And we were able to do so very rapidly, which enabled us to emerge from the pandemic much faster, because we could shift our people towards the new places of demand. And of course, it’s part of what makes our Accenture such an attractive place to work because people feel like they’re constantly being invested in.

In fact, we spend about $1 billion a year, an average of 40 hours per person of training, which is a really strong reason why we are able to recruit quarter in and quarter out such amazing talent.".

Please do read the interview below with Accenture CEO Julie Sweet - both fascinating and inspiring.  


Let’s just start with one of the most important things that we look for actually, no matter who you are, is your ability to learn, learning agility. Because we know that while we may hire you for a certain set of skills, the rate of change and the need for skills is quite rapid. So there’s lots of research on this, that skills that were around in the Fortune 500, for example, in 2017, that approximately 40% are no longer relevant.


future of work, innovation, reskilling, talent acquisition, talent retention, upskilling, life sciences, leadership