Employee Engagement is an Attitude, not a Project!
Education and Employee Engagement

ROI on Talent Management? You're Joking!

Self-development is an essential part of life. In fact it is an unavoidable part of life, but in today’s world it is perhaps more vital than ever before. That is one reason why I subscribe to a number of e-zines and newsletters, despite sometimes feeling that I am drowning in emails. Only you never know when you will get something that will transform your life! Unfortunately, trying to identify these can sometimes leave you feeling like an old wild-west prospector, trawling fruitlessly through tons of mud.  

ROI_000014630950XSmallThis week there was mostly mud, including an invitation to a series of webinars. One of these included something about the “ROI on talent acquisition.” That stopped me in my tracks! Return on Investment on Talent Acquisition? Two things about this immediately irked me.

Firstly, it seemed to illustrate just how pervasive this obsession with “talent” has become. This fad seems to be spreading through all aspects of HR, removing the profession further away than ever from the idea of people. Originally the function for dealing with employees was called “Personnel.” Then some bright spark latched on to the idea of people as resources and “HR” was born. Now this new fixation on talent and talent management is opening a new Pandora’s Box of diminution, division and discord, where we no longer even look at people as whole beings.

Talent does not come on its own; it comes in a package called a person - a human being - and, as I have said so often before, “You don’t recruit talent, you recruit people!”  Thus to talk about “talent acquisition” is to perpetuate this poison. How can you create any sense of belonging, pride of purpose and commitment when you “acquire” people and highlight their differences? Perhaps it is no wonder that employee engagement levels are not improving and that 70 million people in the US alone are disengaged.  

Secondly, the idea of looking to measure ROI on acquisition seems absurd when the profession as a whole has still not found a way to consistently measure the human contribution to the business. How can you measure the “newbies” when you don’t have an overall measure for the entire workforce?  

Do you feel the same? Even if you don’t feel this as strongly, I hope you are aware of, and alert to, the dangers of this approach. Not for nothing is a fad sometimes called a craze, and if you want to avoid being called crazy, this pre-occupation with talent is something you should avoid, rather than blindly following the crowd. Respect your people; listen to them; involve them more, and you may find that they possess talents you never even knew they had. After all, talents don’t just come with people; they grow with people.  And you are responsible for enabling that development.


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